Long Live Ranchers: Ferris Mountain Ranch patriarch celebrates centennial year: Fourth generation prepares to return home
Ferris Mountain Ranch outside of Rawlins is home to Kenneth Raymond, who will turn 100 in December, and his son and daughter-in-law Gary and Judy Raymond. Kenneth bought the ranch in 1949 with his dad and brother and since then, the family has adapted their ranching practices to stay afloat through changing times.
Gary and Judy have two children; Mabel, 23, and Kenny, 20. Mabel doesn’t live on the ranch, but her mother says she is just a phone call away when help is needed. Kenny is taking ag business classes at Sheridan College and plans on returning to the ranch when he is done with school.
Helpers and the day-to-day
Judy says God has sent many helpers over the years. With both kids away from home, they are extremely grateful for the people appearing on their doorstep looking to learn about ranching through hands-on work.
These helpers have reached out through mutual friends or even the internet, hoping to gain real ranch experience from an honest ranching family. Big days on the ranch are still planned around the availability of Mabel and Kenny being able to go home to help.
“We’re a mostly commercial Angus cow/calf operation,” says Judy. “We have private acres and also lease federal land here in northwestern Carbon County.”
With a couple hundred pairs on the ranch, as well as yearlings and flood irrigated hay meadows, it’s enough to keep the couple busy. Gary has focused on shifting the herd to thrive at high elevations and in the harsh conditions.
The use of epigenetics has been beneficial. The long-term goal is to develop no-input cattle closer to hardy native bison.
“My husband has chosen genetics over the past couple of decades to get a little bit smaller framed cattle than most people run because we want our cattle to fit our conditions a little better,” explains Judy. “Something we do a little different than most is we calve at the end of May and mostly in June, the same as the antelope and elk. We don’t have to watch our first-calf heifers because the bulls Gary has chosen throw smaller calves, so we don’t have to keep an eye on them around the clock.”
Facing drought conditions
Like many producers across the state, they Raymonds are feeling the effects of drought.
“The conditions around here are pretty dry – not a whole lot of grass grew this summer, so we didn’t have a lot of feed to hold over for the winter,” says Judy. “We even got rid of the replacement heifers this year, which is pretty unusual for us. We have to do what the conditions dictate.”
The drought not only affects their standing forage, it also dictates how much they can irrigate their hay meadows throughout the summer. In spite of the trying times drought brings to all producers, Judy says they never give up their faith.
“We have a strong faith, and we pray every day about what God wants us to do that day,” says Judy. “In the big picture and in the little tasks, we just leave it up to Him.”
Rain or shine, life continues at the ranch. Family is very important to Gary and Judy, and they say they are blessed the ranch can encompass the lifestyle for three generations on the ranch.
As Kenneth gets closer to his 100th birthday, the family notes he was still horseback and in the tractor well into his 90s. With Kenneth holding things down at the ranch house now instead of in the pasture, the rest of the family has adapted their roles to follow the transition. Judy usually stays close to Kenneth in case he needs something, which leaves Gary to carry the majority of the responsibility of ranch work.
“We’re getting along and we enjoy it,” says Judy. “It’s working out well for our family generationally.”
Tressa Lawrence is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.