Brickman Ranch: Started from scratch and steeped in tradition
Doug Brickman comes from a long line of farmers and ranchers, but his upbringing did not line him up to inherit a generational ranch. Instead, Doug started from the bottom and worked hard in pursuit of the American dream.
Although Doug was born and raised in Alaska, his father’s family was from the Wheatland area. Doug moved to Wyoming when he was 20 years old, and took jobs cowboying on the Petsch and True ranches.
He also punched the ticket working on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and putting up small square bales in Kentucky. All of this experience set him up for success when it came to taking on his own operation.
At the age of 29, Doug and his wife Anne bought a ranch from Don and Jerry Cundall north of Wheatland on Cottonwood Creek.
Almost 30 years later, the operation is still going strong. The couple raised their two children on the ranch and homeschooled them so they could get a real world education in addition to their schoolwork.
“In addition to the homeplace, we also managed a pretty sizable operation on the plains for quite a few years. We managed about 100,000 acres up there. We would take our cattle up in the summer and then take in several thousand cattle for other people,” says Doug. “When my kids were teenagers, they did some pretty serious cowboying, and I partnered with them on our operations up there.”
Doug and Anne’s children are now grown and have children of their own.
Doug’s son Kent, his wife Kaelea and their three children live on the ranch and run cattle and sheep. Doug’s daughter Karmen lives near Bosler and ranches with her husband Lane Stevenson and their three children.
As with many operations, everyone at the ranch has a side hustle to help stay ahead of the game. In addition to being a weekend warrior on the ranch, Anne has been a lifelong emergency room nurse. Kent has a contract fencing business. Over the years, Doug has spent time driving a semi or taken in outside cattle.
“We’ve done what we need to do in order to hustle up whatever we can find for more income and try to hang on to our quality of life,” explains Doug.
And to the Brickmans, quality of life means trying to do things as traditionally as possible. Even on the coldest days, one can find them bundled up on horseback instead of an ATV.
Doug raises and trains his own horses, including draft horses or work mules to pull a feed wagon in the winter. He has even built special wagons adapted to feeding modern hay bales.
For many years, the family made an eventful tradition of trailing cattle home from the Laramie Plains. The trail took five days. When the kids were younger, they would recruit friends to come along and help.
The family built their own chuckwagon they would pull with a team of mules along the trail.
Though the tradition took a short hiatus, Doug expects the trail ride will be resurrected this year along a different route, now that the grandkids are old enough to participate.
Doug has become well known for his tinkering and ingenuity. In 2000, he bought a tugboat on the West Coast and brought the hull home to fix it up. He re-plated the hull and built the cabin of the boat at the ranch before hauling them back to the West Coast to reconstruct the boat.
Doug’s cowboy yacht, as he calls it, is completely refurbished and has made many sea voyages for the Brickman family.
“They called me Noah when it was sitting here by my shop. It was such an odd thing for this part of the world. It’s 45 feet long so it’s a big boat. In between ranching, I’ve taken my family on several cruises in the Pacific Northwest, even as far as Alaska and back on the inside passage,” says Doug enthusiastically. “I taught myself all of the navigation since I had never been on the ocean before.”
He adds, “We’ve had wonderful times with our family and friends, many of my ranching friends have joined us.”
Doug epitomizes what it truly means to work hard and build the life one has always dreamed of. The Brickmans spend their days chasing Red Angus cattle and living out their American Dream.
Tressa Lawrence is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.