Cullen Ranch: Family works to grow Wyoming roots
Pat and Sherri Cullen moved to Wyoming over 50 years ago to pursue their dreams.
Although they have been in Wyoming for 50 years now, the couple was born and raised in central Texas. Both were raised in the agriculture industry and attended Texas A&M University. After graduation, Pat and Sherri moved to Laramie where Pat continued his education before the couple gradually made their way back into agriculture.
A family who ranches together, stays together
Pat and Sherri raised their two daughters at the ranch. Now grown, the women are still active in the ranching operation.
Daughter Amy and her husband Kelly Artery, as well as daughter Kim and her husband Jason Goertz, are instrumental in the success of the ranch. Both daughters have full-time jobs and their own operations in addition to helping Pat and Sherri.
Pat and Sherri’s grandchildren and their families are also part of the operation, owning cattle individually as well as helping when possible. One granddaughter, Morgan Douglas, works full time on the ranch.
“It helps a lot to have all of our family is involved in the operation. They have their own operations too, and they each have a different expertise,” explains Sherri.
Diverse operations and landscapes
The Cullen’s ranching headquarters are based on the Goshen/Platte County line. The couple also has a feedlot where they wean their calves and feed out their heifers as well as take in custom cattle.
Amy’s expertise as a vet tech puts her in charge of the health of the cattle. In the spring, Kim artificially inseminates all of the heifers at the feedlot. Her and her husband have an annual female sale in November featuring all of those heifers.
Along with the headquarters and the feedlot, the family has summer grazing pasture in Niobrara County. The operation includes everything from rough, rugged pastures to big, open pastures. The homeplace is up on a plateau, sitting higher in elevation than Wheatland to the west or Lingle to the east.
The summer pasture north of Lusk is filled with native grass, but the family makes sure they bring the cattle home before winter really sets in.
Being so spread out, the couple echos the same concerns of many ranchers this year – with the cost of fuel so steep, the cost of trucking and transportation is at an all-time high.
“Most of these cattle get on a truck twice a year. It’s just something we have to deal with, but it’s a challenge,” says Pat.
“This lifestyle itself is a challenge because of the hard work. But, now more than ever, it is a challenge economically because it’s getting to be more of a cost all the time,” agrees Sherri.
Steeped in tradition
In spite of the ever-changing times, the Cullens hold on to many of the traditions of the ranching industry. Come branding season, one will find their crew on horseback, roping and dragging calves to the fire. Many places on the ranch are only accessible by horse. They have let the next generation take over the night calving these days, which seems to work out great for everyone involved.
“Each of our daughters and son-in-laws split the heifers in half, and they do all of the night calving. We don’t do anymore heifer calving like we did before, but our daughters calve out the heifers in two different locations on their ranches. And they both love it, actually. They really like the calving,” says Sherri. “The daughters love it, and the next generations are coming up the same way. So, it’s a lot of fun to have the whole family involved.”
Cows calve at the homeplace in the spring. Pairs summer at home, and yearling heifers are shipped off to the pastures in Niobrara County for the summer through the first of October.
The main cow herd is sent over the state line to graze cornstalks in Nebraska through the winter, and they are brought back to the homeplace prior to calving to start the cycle all over again.
In addition to taking care of their livestock, Sherri is active in the local farm bureau, and Pat is active in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. They both enjoy working with other people in agriculture and promoting the voice of agriculture within their communities.
Those who happen to attend the Goertz Female Sale in the fall or bull sale in February should be sure to keep an eye out for Pat and Sherri. They will probably be busy behind the scenes, but they’re sure to greet everyone with a kind smile.
Tressa Lawrence is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.