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Torrington – Wayne Tatman, following 33 years of service and a positive impact on an untold number of producers and youth, has retired from the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service (CES).
    “I started Jan. 2, 1975,” reflects Tatman, who began his career with CES in Powell, later moving to Niobrara, Albany and Goshen counties. “I’ve been everywhere man,” he jokes. For three years during his time in Laramie he was part of the University Integrated Resource Management team and coached the livestock judging team. With each stop Tatman brought new information to area ag producers and inspired youth to develop beneficial life skills.
    “Wayne is one of the most dedicated extension professionals I’ve encountered,” says fellow extension educator Dallas Mount of Wheatland. “His passion for the work, desire to help the clients he serves and genuine care for the youth in the 4-H program is among the top in his field. Wayne is the true definition of a great extension educator. It has been a pleasure to work closely with him over past few years.”
    Others who have worked with Tatman agree.
    “I think Wayne Tatman typifies what Extension is and should be,” says extension educator Tammie Jensen of Lusk. “He is an awesome teacher and has a special way of imparting knowledge to others, both youth and adults. In addition, he has a special talent of knowing how to communicate with people. He is great at helping people solve their problems, find the information they are seeking and, most importantly, he makes people feel good about themselves.”
    For Tatman, his work wasn’t a job. He enjoyed watching the youth grow and learn.
    “You get to watch kids grow up and you’re with them anywhere from eight to nine years,” says Tatman. “It’s fun to watch them grow and then to watch them after they become adults.” It’s when the second generation from the same family enters the 4-H program during your tenure that, Tatman jokes, “You start to feel old.”
    There’s no better recipe for learning opportunities than mixing kids and livestock, if you ask Tatman. “They make a pretty good combination whether it’s a steer, a lamb or a pig.” He and wife Kathy’s three sons, Marty, Todd and Shawn, participated in and benefitted from 4-H and FFA.
    Tatman says he and Tammie Jensen did a survey a few years back asking former 4-H members and their parents about the impact of the 4-H judging program. They confirmed their beliefs in the 4-H judging program’s ability to develop life skills, says Tatman. “They also said they least liked oral reasons, but the kids and parents alike said it was the one thing that was the most beneficial lifelong.” Tatman says responsibility, public speaking and decision-making are just a few of the skills with which youth walk away from the program. He likes the fact that youth in the program are asked to make a decision and then defend it orally.
    Work with the Supreme Cow Program, first in Albany County and later in Goshen County, is one aspect of the youth program of which Tatman is particularly proud. It’s what he describes as a two-phase program where youth first bring a bred heifer to fair and return with a two-year-old heifer and her calf the following year. Educational events, an interview with a panel of local ranchers and a first-hand chance to learn about production agriculture from financing to breeding programs are key to the program.
     Drawing students to the 4-H program, given the growth in school athletics, has become increasingly difficult, says Tatman. Thirty years ago he says it wasn’t uncommon to have two-dozen kids competing for four spots on a judging team. The addition of several project areas in the programs 4-H offers has helped spur additional interest, but Tatman says drawing youth to the programs is increasingly challenging.
    Tatman has hosted numerous educational programs that producers walked away from with valuable new information in hand. “That’s a program you get a lot out of,” says Tatman of producer education. “It’s rewarding to think you helped somebody economically or helped them make a decision by looking at different options and alternatives. Most of the people have an idea what they want, but are looking for unbiased, research-based information.”
    Kitchen table discussions are Tatman’s favorite approach to working with producers. “I always felt I have more impact at someone’s kitchen table than having them come to a meeting and listen to speakers all day.” With either approach, Tatman is known for being approachable and as a knowledgeable source for producers seeking information.
    “When I started,” reflects Tatman, “I never thought of going into extension.” Looking back, he’s glad he did, saying the career provided the “opportunity to interact with kids, producers and people involved in agriculture. There aren’t a lot of jobs out there that provide you the flexibility to do those things.”
    As his 33-year career comes to an end, Tatman says he’ll spend his days ranching. The family’s cattle winter at Lingle and summer in Niobrara County.
    “He has been a great leader, mentor and role model for his colleagues, his peers and those he has taught and worked with,” says Jensen. “We know they will hire someone to fill his position, but they will never replace him. He simply is what Extension educators were meant to be – teachers, leaders and role models for those they serve.”
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Thermopolis – Teresa Brown breaks her own horses, and has castrated every calf on the Diamond Bar Ranch for 20 years. She shares all of the ranch work with her husband Matt and when they raised sheep she loved lambing time.  
    “I was born and raised a ranch girl,” comments Teresa. “When I’m horseback with my dog, I’m the happiest.”  
    The Browns raise Charolais-cross calves, operating on deeded ground, state and BLM leases. They winter their cattle on open range without having to feed hay, and hold their calves through the winter, selling them in February.
    Teresa grew up on the Hyatt Ranch near Hyattville, the daughter of Milton & Loretta Hyatt. After earning a degree in accounting she returned to the ranch.  
    “We raised Hereford cattle and had two bands of sheep. I was my dad’s helper. My uncle Wesley Hyatt was an active member of the Society for Range Management, and I traveled with him to meetings, giving speeches and slide shows about range management on the Hyatt Ranch.”  Teresa spent her summers in the Bighorn Mountains tending the livestock and loved it.
    Teresa and Matt met at a Wyoming Stock Growers convention and married in 1977. They have four grown children. Their son Merrill is a computer engineer and he and his wife Ella live in Denver. Daughter Elizabeth is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Washington in Seattle and is preparing for her residency as an obstetrician-gynecologist and family practice doctor. Daughter Katsie is a registered nurse. She and husband Morgan McConnaughey and one-year-old daughter Kaylor live in Riverton. Daughter Mary earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. She is the assistant basketball coach at Central Wyoming College in Riverton and is applying to dental schools.  
    “We are real proud that each of our kids earned a four-year college degree, and one is in medical school,” says Teresa.
    In addition to helping their children with school, 4-H and FFA projects, Teresa served on the school board in Thermopolis 14 years and was involved in building the new auditorium, track and middle school.        Matt’s parents are Merrill and Katie Jane (Sanford) Brown. “My dad died when I was 16 and I’ve run the place since then,” Matt says.
    “My grandfather Tom Sanford started the ranch in the 1920’s,” Matt recalls. “Our range is 100 percent better than when Granddad was here. There were 350 wild horses in Coal Draw year-round then, and they devastated the range. We improved the quality of the water and the range, but we didn’t document it. We need to be able to prove to range cons, and to the public, that we are good stewards of the land,” he explains.    
    “In the early1980’s, every major ranching operation in Hot Springs County went broke,” comments Matt. “Our family ranch ran cattle and yearlings in five states, and over night we lost our financing.  It broke my mother, uncle and step dad.”    
    “It seemed awful at the time, but turned out to be a good thing,” says Teresa. The couple was able to buy back the family ranch and made it successful through hard work, communication, cooperation and diversification.
    The Browns understand the importance of diversification. “We went into the sheep business in 1985, but sold in 1992 when coyote predation increased and we lost the wool incentive,” comments Teresa. The couple also raised corn and experimented with other ag opportunities.
    In addition to ranching, in 1983, Matt became a licensed realtor and Teresa a sales person, operating Matt Brown Real Estate in Thermopolis.
    Matt and Teresa Brown have dedicated their lives to the land and the agriculture industry and through hard work, communication, cooperation and diversification have kept their family ranch alive.   
    Matt also believes he and Teresa have made a strong team. “Thank God I’m married to a true cowgirl,” says Matt. “She loves the industry, and she’s the real thing.”   
    Echo Renner is a Field Editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“I grew up competing in rodeo, and it has been a part of my whole life. All of my family is very interested in it,” says Coralee Spratt, a sophomore student at Gillette College. 

Spratt began competing in rodeo during junior high, and it was in high school where she won her first region championship for breakaway.

“Rodeo differs from other high school sports in that once a person graduates, they are no longer able to compete in that sport anymore,” added Spratt. “With rodeo, there’s always another rodeo to go to and compete in.” 


Spratt is currently a member of the Gillette College rodeo team and is looking forward to competing at the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Casper, June 15-21. This is Spratt’s second time of qualifying to compete in breakaway roping for the CNFR.

Spratt is one of four women of the Gillette College rodeo team who individually qualified to compete in this year’s CNFR. 

“At the CNFR, I’m hoping I can help my team because we have a very good chance of winning the national title,” says Spratt, “and as a team we are all very encouraging and competitive.”

Earlier in the season, Spratt won the breakaway  roping event in the Central Rocky Mountain Region, as well as the breakaway competition at the Kari Burns Memorial. 


“Coralee’s ability to rope calves is probably the best I’ve ever had at Gillette College,” states Will LaDuke, Gillette College Rodeo head coach, “and I think we’ve had a team for approximately eight years.”

He continues, “She’s just the best with the rope we’ve ever had at Gillette College, and I think she’s ranked right up there. I’m sure she expects a lot out of herself this week at CNFR, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her do well on a national level, as well.”

To keep up with her competitive edge, Spratt practices her breakaway technique every night on two to three horses. During the summer she practices at home with her family and competes in several jackpot rodeos around the state. 


Spratt mentions that,  to compete in breakaway, there is a limited amount of rodeos she can partake in. 

While she enjoys breakaway the most, she also competes in barrel racing, goat tying and team roping when competing at rodeos. 

“Every competition we go to is going to be different, and as a competitor, it makes us change and think about what we are going to do. That’s also the fun part,” explains Spratt. “We always have to keep getting better if we want to keep winning.” 

“I love that I can never grow out of being able to rodeo. A person can compete in rodeo their whole life,” she says. “It’s also fun traveling to rodeos with my family and to compete with them, as well.” 

National champion

Spratt mentions it is undeniable that every competitor in rodeo dreams about becoming a national champion, and she is hopeful that she is working towards that goal. 

“When I’m competing, I concentrate on one run at a time and try not to be so oriented on becoming a national champion,” states Spratt. “I focus on each run and hope at the end of it I’ll be a contender.” 

“Last year at the CNFR I didn’t do so well, but hopefully this year it will be much better,” she adds.

When asked how Spratt is as a competitor, LaDuke responded, “Coralee is a great kid. I think she’ll do well at the CNFR. I know she certainly expects it of herself.” 

Future plans

With all her rodeo experience, Spratt does not foresee rodeo as being a part of her future career. She is, however, planning on returning to Gillette College in the fall to complete her degree in psychology and social sciences. 

“After college I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing, but I just can’t see myself pursing a career in rodeo,” comments Spratt. “Right now, the only opportunity for women in the professional ranks of rodeo is in barrel racing, and I’m not very interested in that.”  

Family ties

Along with having a family connection through rodeo, the Spratts also raise their own horses they use to compete on at rodeos. 

“It’s really cool that, in our family, all of the horses that we compete on are our own,” states Spratt. “My dad and grandpa rope calves and team rope on our horses, and it was my dad that taught me a lot in breakaway.”

She adds, “The whole family takes part in raising the horses. My dad breaks them in and then all of us take them to rodeos to compete further on them in the rodeo arena.”

Madeline Robinson is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thayne – In 2006, Steve and Jill Cakebread purchased land along the Salt River just north of Thayne. The property had been part of a family farm for nearly 100 years but was scheduled for development before they purchased it. 

Since then, they’ve continued to add adjacent parcels to the property. They’ve restored native grass pastures and fields, encouraged healthy habitat for Brown and Cutthroat Trout and other wildlife, developed an organic vegetable garden and greenhouses brimming with vegetables and herbs and planted hundreds of vibrant young trees. 

In 2011, they went into the cattle business, raising full-blood Wagyu cattle.  

The Cakebread Ranch now includes a cattle business, farm, fly-fishing operation, greenhouses and garden facilities. In the near future, they plan to build a lodge and restaurant, and eventually add guest cabins. 

The place consists of 230 acres of irrigated and dry alfalfa, river meadow and grass pasture, with an early water right. 

The Cakebread family also owns Cakebread Cellars, producing high-end red and white wines. Steve and Jill’s vision for Cakebread Ranch is to produce high-end beef, fruits and vegetables using sustainable practices on the ranch, which is located just 45 miles south of Jackson Hole. 

Ranch staff includes General Manager Chase Averill and six other employees. 

Ranching focus

The ranch focuses on breeding and raising 100 percent full-blood Wagyu cattle from Japan and Australia, descended from historic and preeminent Japanese bloodlines. Their goal is to produce Kobe-style beef – often called “butter beef” for it’s flavor and marbling – available for dining in the ranch lodge, as well as in prestigious restaurants in Jackson. 

The word “Wagyu” refers to all Japanese beef cattle – “Wa” meaning Japanese or Japanese-style and “gyu” meaning cattle. Kobe-style beef often grades Prime Plus Plus, or off the USDA Meat Grading scale.  

Ranch Manager Jim Pigg says most of the Cakebread’s Wagyu cattle descend from the Tottori strain – one of the dominant black Wagyu strains – used in Japan as pack animals for the rice and grain industry in the Tottori region. In Japan, these cattle were selected for their size and strength of topline. 

“We’re doing a lot of genetic research, and we feed the cattle well to find that perfect balance of milk, marbling and size,” Jim comments. “A lot of folks like the idea of grass-fed beef, but don’t care for the flavor or texture. These cattle are pasture-fed a magic ration.” 

Pasture-fed refers to a process of livestock grazing and feeding organic grain products in the pasture to improve beef flavor and marbling.  

While developing de-sired genetics, the ranch now runs 21 head of cattle. Soon, they’ll work their way up to 40 head, and eventually up to 160 head, according to Jim.  


Situated on five acres, the farm includes a wide variety of herbs, flowers, vegetables and a fruit tree orchard cared for with sustainable organic farming methods.   

Produce from the garden and hoop greenhouses includes a diverse array, ranging from lettuce mix, heirloom tomatoes and assorted hot peppers to kale, rutabagas and baby fennel.

Todd Baron, head gardener, thoroughly enjoys his job. 

“The goal for the organic farm is to be self-sufficient, growing produce for the lodge when it’s built, as well as restaurants in Jackson,” says Todd. “We also have produce to sell locally, and plan to have a show garden.”

Todd and one employee care for the farm on a daily basis. He and three employees work together on Thursdays to prepare produce for the Star Valley Farmer’s Market in Alpine. Some of the produce available from the Cakebread Ranch at the farmer’s market in late September included Swiss chard, lemon cucumber, pea shoots, micro greens, sunchokes, purple plum radish and watermelon, as well as thyme, rosemary, sage and caraway seed. 

“This is the third summer for the test orchard. We grow semi-dwarf apples, cherries and plums. Semi-dwarf seems to work best here because of our very short growing season,” Todd explains.

He also tends a lavender test field. 

“We grow English lavender that we’ll harvest and sell to spas and wellness centers. It’s a great cash crop, selling for about $10.50 a bundle or $38 a pound,” he explains.

Todd says the farm may eventually offer classes and workshops focused on the farm-to-table concept and production at Cakebread Ranch. 


The Salt River and additional feeder creeks meander through the willows and hayfields, offering about four miles of private fishing for Brown and Cutthroat Trout. Ranch staff has worked to restore the river and creek banks to increase fish habitat. A professional fishing guide offers guided fishing trips on the ranch. 

“The Salt River here is mostly land-locked,” explains Jim, “with few Wyoming Game and Fish access points, so the river is not over-utilized.”

Fishing at the Cakebread Ranch is set up on a “beat” system. To ensure productive fishing for each fisherman, each beat is rested on a regular basis. A historic cabin built with square-cut logs serves as a riverside fly shop on the ranch to increase the fishing experience. 

Lodge and cabins

With the fly-fishing aspect of the operation flourishing, the Cakebread Ranch has broken ground for the lodge, which will seat about 40 people. 

“In the restaurant they’ll cook mostly with wood, using oak, hickory, apple and mesquite. They’ll use a large wood-fired pizza oven with an Argentine influence,” explains Jim. 

The beef raised on the ranch will be served in the restaurant.  

The Cakebreads are planning to build six to eight cabins on the north end of the ranch in a secluded area for guests. 


“We are working toward an organic status, which presents challenges,” comments Jim, “like not being able to chemically amend soil, or chemically treating weeds. Right now, we are using about 28 goats to help reduce weeds in small areas.”

He says one of their largest challenges includes building the place from scratch. 

“We purchased pastures or parts of several different ranches and started with basically no infrastructure. We’ve accomplished quite a lot in a short time,” Jim adds. 

Ranch staff has amended pastures with native grass mix, planted 800 trees and built fence. 

Jim estimates they will have beef available for the lodge restaurant by 2014. Chase says the farm should be in full operation within three years, and the restaurant operating within about one year.

Jim says, “The Cakebread’s are the most gracious and polite owners. They desire to have a strong leadership role in the community and to be strong local employers.” 

Steve and Jill Cakebread, and their knowledgeable staff, are well on their way to creating a first class ranch representing quality and excellence. 

For more information, visit Echo Renner is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup may be reached at 307.250.9723 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Riverton – Of all of his different projects in leatherworking, custom leatherworker Grant Shippen notes that building saddles is both the most rewarding and most challenging part.

“Saddle repair and most of the leatherwork is fairly easy after building a saddle because I know how they’re put together,” comments Shippen.

He continues, “Building a saddle is the most challenging. They’re all different. People always want something a little bit different, so I never get bored building saddles.”

Ag background

“I’ve worked on ranches all my life. I was raised on a ranch. Then when I got out of college, I worked on surrounding ranches until about 1984,” says Shippen, explaining that he attended Casper College and the University of Wyoming, where he received his degree in Animal Science.

Along with two of his brothers, Shippen began piecing together land parcels in Riverton until they had acquired 220 acres.

“Starting in about 2000, I was able to stay home full-time and work on the ranch and my saddles,” continues Shippen.

While not busy with leatherwork, Shippen and his brothers raise Angus cattle and sharecrop land with neighbors.

“They plant malt barley, alfalfa hay and corn. We use up some of the corn silage to feed the cowherd,” he says.

In addition to ranching full-time in Riverton, Shippen owns and operates his own custom leather and saddle making business.

Getting started

While his leatherwork career started in high school, Shippen first began building saddles 14 years ago after acquiring a set of Stohlman books on the subject.

“I had always wanted to build a saddle, but I never could figure out how to get started,” he says.

Shippen continues, “I was in the Double J Boot Shop in Riverton, and I saw those Stohlman books. I bought them, deciding I could follow the books step-by-step and figure out how to build a saddle.”

Once he purchased leather and a saddletree, Shippen began going through the series step-by-step.

“I built my first saddle for myself, and I’m still riding it,” he explains.

After advertising for custom saddle work and repair, Shippen was contacted by saddle maker Ralph Shuman about an opportunity to do piece-work.

“I started doing piece-work for him, sewing billets. I made fork covers and different parts for him. He’d send me a package of parts, and then I’d work on them and send them back,” continues Shippen.

Gradually, Shippen began building custom saddles for others as he expanded his business.

“I started out building for my friends, and then I gradually branched out a little,” he notes.


According to Shippen, the opportunity to watch saddle maker Cary Schwartz build a saddle helped to refine his saddle making technique and was a top moment in his career.

“I saw an advertisement that the Cowboy Artist Association offered a $500 scholarship to go and watch a master saddlemaker make a saddle,” he comments. “I applied, and I got the $500 to go to Salmon, Idaho and watch Cary Schwartz build a saddle.”

Shippen continues, “It took him about a week to build a plain saddle. I went up and watched his process. He let us photograph step-by-step as he built it.”

Shippen also learned valuable lessons from fellow Wyoming saddle maker Steve Mecum.

“He’s a good saddle maker and helped me a lot. Watching him helped me get started,” he says.

Building business

In addition to making saddles, Shippen also stays busy with saddle repair and other leatherworking.

“I’ve done some rawhide braiding, making hackamores and riatas. Sometimes I’ll tool a billfold or a belt. I also build a few pairs of chaps every year and some headstalls and breast collars, as well,” he says.

In the future, Shippen hopes to continue growing his saddle making business.

“The main thing I’d like to do is spend a little more time building saddles and not as much time ranching,” he concludes. “I’d also like to get a bigger saddle shop built, so I have more room to work.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..