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Sweetwater Station – In response to the question of why Sweetwater Station, Lynda German and Polly Hinds laugh and talk on top of each other, saying they arrived as soon as they could.
Lynda and Polly first started their Mad Dog and the Pilgrim Bookstore in 1990 in Denver, Colo. In 2001 they moved to Sweetwater Station and today they run the bookstore as well as a wool business known as Drift Fence Sheep Company.
Polly says the move northwest from Denver took 12 trips with a 20-foot moving truck – and that was just the books.
Before moving, Lynda “Mad Dog” and Polly “The Pilgrim” logged 3,000 miles in Wyoming, looking for a place with land and a good location for the bookstore.
“Then we saw this place on the Internet, and it hadn’t been lived in for a few years,” Polly explains. “The realtor told us it was boarded up because the moose kept breaking the windows, and I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’”
“She was right. When we moved here they terrorized us. They came up to get our hay, and we had to have the Game and Fish come help us because they were tearing everything up. We were afraid to go out our back door!” says Polly.
Polly and Lynda built a reinforced and climate controlled two-story building to house their 70,000-plus books. This collection does not include the 600 cases of paperback books they’ve never unpacked from their Denver move. They’ll open them as soon as they sell enough books to fit them in, but with Polly’s (a self-proclaimed insane reader) habit of selling 10 books and buying 100, that might take a while.
“People say, ‘Oh my, 70,000 books,’” Lynda says. “And I reply, do you have a hobby? And they’re like, well you know, I collect buttons. Do you know how many buttons you can collect? We know people that have jars and jars of 100,000 buttons.”
The ladies do not advertise, unless you count the “Used books, fresh eggs for sale” sign on Highway 287 north of Sweetwater Station Junction. They only have about 12,000 books listed online, as Polly finds it tedious to enter them into the database.
“Generally what we do is put books online that we know are good but that we don’t have a market for here,” Polly explains. “I sell a lot of books overseas; about 70 percent of our sales on the Internet go mainly to Europe and other countries like Japan. The most difficult places we ship are Africa and South America.”
In 20 years of business they have lost one book order and it was mailed to California.
“Everywhere we go we look for books, it is just a passion,” Polly says. “I’m dying to find the book I’ve never seen before, to discover some subject I’ve never heard of. Like dendrochronology, I found a textbook on dendrochronology. I didn’t know what it was about but I had to have it. I read the whole thing and it’s about the study of tree rings. Who would have known? And now I have a whole section of books on dendrochronology.”
The Mad Dog and the Pilgrim draws a fair amount of business from Denver and across Wyoming. Lynda says they receive a lot of support from Fremont County and Wyoming Catholic College.
“You can’t imagine how many people go past here on the highway and how many of them stop,” Polly says. “I know they probably think it’s some little old guy with a shed of paperbacks or something, but they stop, and then they walk into the book shop and their mouths drop open.”
Polly and Lynda’s wool business began with a few bum Rambouillet lambs. When Polly first looked in the box she asked if they were real, and her second question was, “What do they eat?”
“We didn’t know anything about sheep then!” Lynda remembers. “We definitely learned as we went along and we started with two really sick lambs. They both made it and we were hooked.”
The ladies now have 39 sheep, which include a friend’s herd on winter pasture. Most of their sheep are the old, the lame and the sick when they come to Polly and Lynda, who purposefully do not have a breeding operation.
They currently have eight breeds used for wool. Their main product, In Sheep’s Clothing, is all-natural, hand-made soap with Navajo Churro wool felted around it.
“We haven’t built a website yet,” Polly says. “We hope to do that soon for our wool products. Basically, it’s been word of mouth and fairs so far. We have a couple places we stock the soap and they always need more. We do all the little bazaars in Fremont County and around. We did the Jeffrey City Christmas Fair and sold out!”
Lynda is a needle felting extraordinaire, having won the Fremont County Fair People’s Choice Award twice and the Fiber Arts Guild Grand Champion three times. They sell a lot of their wool to needle felters, and have begun to sell dyed roving.
“We also use our wool as insulation, as it’s fire retardant,” Polly says. “Wool melts if you try to burn it, but it won’t start on fire. Our whole barn has wool inside the walls. I wrap it around water pipes and use it anywhere I need insulation.”
Lynda and Polly use guard llamas to protect their sheep from coyotes and other predators. They tried guard dogs first, but found that llamas work best logistically for them.
“Guard dogs need to be busy, moving the herd around and going for miles,” Polly explains. “They don’t work well for small flocks that are pastured in a confined area. Llamas eat less proportionally than a sheep and are low maintenance. Joe, our llama, is a fierce protector of our sheep.”
As their highway sign says, Lynda and Polly also sell eggs. Lynda delivers to customers in Lander and passers-by frequently stop in.
“Honestly, we have such demand for our eggs it’s terrible,” laughs Lynda. “We have a waiting list and are always sold out.”
When counting the inhabitants of Sweetwater Station, Polly counts one for herself, points at Lynda for two, and then numbers their neighbors as three and four.
“You know, things will adapt,” Lynda says. “The realtor lady kept saying it’s 40 miles from town, and she probably said that a 100 times. But you learn to live this way and we love it. We should have gotten here sooner.”
Melissa Hemken is a correspondent for 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..

Glenrock – Located in Glenrock, Echo Mountain Ranch was purchased eight years ago by Bill and Gaye Farleigh, says Echo Mountain Ranch Office Manager Tom Swanson.

The couple purchased their first Gypsy Vanner horse approximately 1.5 years later.

“The Farleighs were in California when they saw Gypsy Vanner horses and fell in love with them,” Swanson explains. “Bill and Gaye decided they would like some on the ranch and started their breeding program.”

After acquiring frozen semen from the internationally renowned sire The Lion King, who passed away in 2008, the ranch started its reproductive program.

“It was thought that The Lion King’s semen had all been lost in a fire a Colorado State University (CSU) several years ago, but our ranch manager Donnie Dalen had a friend in Colorado who had some frozen vials,” he continues.

Specialized

After semen from The Lion King was evaluated at CSU, it was determined to be immotile and unable to be used in a traditional artificial insemination program.

Instead, the ranch elected to use the advanced reproductive procedure Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) to most effectively use the limited number of spermatozoa.

“The only way to effectively use The Lion King’s semen at the time was to use the ICSI program at CSU, which is the injection of a single sperm into a single egg,” says Swanson, noting that the oocytes are currently collected from their mare Babydoll.

The process allows the reproductive technician to select the motile and morphologically good sperm, which is then inserted with a micropipette through the zona pellucida and deposited directly into the cytoplasm of the oocyte.

After the fertilized zygote is cultured to the appropriate size, it is transferred into a surrogate mare, he explains.

Operation

“We have 18 Gypsy horses on the ranch right now, seven of which are one to two years old and are the result of our current breeding program,” says Swanson.

A large aspect of the ranch’s breeding program is the use of equine ICSI using semen from The Lion King.

“Babydoll is the most famous of our mares, and we send her to Fort Collins, Colo. for the ICSI program,” he continues.

Echo Mountain also uses genetics from other top sires, breeding them to Babydoll Delight, the daughter of Babydoll.

“We have bred her to highly acclaimed stallions from different parts of the United States, and we’ll do that again this year,” comments Swanson.

Looking ahead

Once the foals reach three years of age, Swanson explains the ranch will begin seeking out suitable breeding matches.

“We’ll begin breeding those horses to high-value or well-known stallions and mares,” he says.

Colts born to the ranch will be raised and evaluated based on their conformation, quality and other important characteristics.

  “Any colts we have now that grow into good stallions will be offered for stud,” continues Swanson.

As Echo Mountain Ranch looks toward the future, Swanson summarizes, “We hope to keep breeding and to continue make our breeding program better.”

Industry

The Gypsy Vanner breed was created by the gypsies of Great Britain and Ireland following World War II with the goal of creating the perfect caravan horse.

Dennis and Cindy Thompson are attributed with first importing the horses to the U.S. and with aiding in the breed being officially recognized, explains Swanson.

“The breed was first brought to Florida by Dennis Thompson back in the 90s,” he says.

The majority of Gypsy Vanner horses in the U.S. are located on the East Coast and in the Midwest, Texas and Oklahoma.

“There’s also a few in California and Arizona. There’s only one other Gypsy Vanner ranch in Wyoming. We were the first and only for awhile,” Swanson comments. “There’s a very small ranch in Montana and a few in Washington and Oregon, too.”

The large distance to and from other Gypsy Vanner breeders does provide some challenges to their operation, Swanson comments.

“One of our greatest challenges is the fact that Wyoming is a long way from other Gypsy Vanner ranches,” he says. “When we go to a Gypsy show, we have to travel a long way.”

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..

Chugwater – In one year, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Immediate Past President Philip Ellis estimates that he’s been in over 25 airports, more than 16 states and at six national meetings – and that only accounts for those he can recall offhand.

“This was a fabulous year personally, and the beef industry had some successes and challenges,” Ellis says. “As the great-grandson of an open-range cowboy who became a pioneer Wyoming cattleman, to look at every sector of the industry and every segment along the beef chain, to visit with folks across the country and understand their concerns and to see the progress made across generations was really impressive.”

He adds that, during the year, the beef industry tackled some important challenges.

Dietary guidelines

One of the first major challenges NCBA tackled during Ellis’ year at the helm was related to the dietary guidelines.

“When I started my year, we had a report from the Science Advisory Panel to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services,” he says. “The report had not even included red meat as a part of the diet, and they wandered off into environment and sustainability issues.”

Ellis also notes that the involvement of cattlemen and state associations across the country was essential to the successful outcome of the issue.

“We kept the pressure on all year, and we had a lot of research to bring to the table,” he explains. “Our Washington, D.C. staff in the policy arena talked to the Secretaries and regulators to pass on our information.”

When the report was released in January 2016, he adds that red meat was included as important for a healthy diet and environmental and sustainability commentary was not referenced.

“We checked this issue off as a success,” Ellis says.

Cancer report

Ellis notes that, also related to health, the International Agency on Research for Cancer (IARC) report on cancer and beef was a concern for NCBA.

“This was something that has been brewing for several years,” Ellis says. “We were, of course, positioned well by our staff. Our Interim CEO Kendal Frazier and I were at a meeting in Mexico, so we left early to be back when the report came out.”

After IARC released the report implicating red meat as a potential cancer-causing agent, Ellis, along with Shalene McNeil, NCBA nutrition expert, did more than 50 telephone interviews with the media.

“Our data research indicates that 70 percent of messages related to the report did have our message included,” he says. “We had our balanced message about red meat and beef in the media.”

Ellis adds that, by the end of the same week the report was issued, conversations about the report were nearly nonexistent.

“That is why we have trade associations – both state and national – and why we have the beef checkoff,” he says. “This is just another example of beef promotion and research working hand-in-hand with issues and policy management to keep our positive message at the top of consumers’ minds.”

Other efforts

The Waters of the U.S. rule was another top priority issue for NCBA during 2015, although Ellis notes they have seen setbacks in eliminating the detrimental regulation.

“We tried to stop the Waters of the U.S. rule, and we didn’t get it done,” he says.

With more and more farms and ranches across Wyoming affected by overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency in their regulation of water bodies not intended to be covered by the Clean Water Act, Ellis says, “This rule will be a top priority for 2016, as well, as Tracy Brunner of Kansas takes over as president.”

Moving forward

“This was a pretty exciting year,” Ellis comments, joking, “for a Wyoming kid, I got to the point where I enjoyed getting on an airplane.”

As he traveled across the country, he adds that he always wore boots, a cowboy hat and, often, an NCBA shirt.

“Those clothes got me into many conversations,” he says. “By the time I got to a state association meeting, I’d already had conversations about beef with people ranging from fellow passengers to flight attendants to airplane captains. Then I got to sit and visit with beef cattle people.”

“Sometimes we get discouraged on the ranch, but we are right for the land we are stewarding, and we are raising the right protein product for people here at home and abroad,” Ellis comments. “People should have the opportunity to eat beef. We raise a great product that is good for the land and good for the world.”

“The past year was a remarkable year,” Ellis comments, “and I look forward to continuing to be a part of NCBA leadership as Immediate Past President this year.”

Saige Albert is managing 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..

Laramie – After taking the position of immediate past-president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) in January, Chugwater cattleman Philip Ellis noted that Wyoming’s history of leadership at the national level is unprecedented, especially when considering the state’s population.

“I am quite proud of Wyoming’s leadership, and I’m not ashamed to talk about it,” he said during a brief presentation at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association Summer Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Laramie.

As a child, Ellis noted that his grand-uncle founded the ranch that he now operates.

“He was the son of an open-range cowboy who could see the opportunity to establish his own ranch,” Ellis explained. “In the 50s and 60s, under the leadership of Cliff Hansen in the governor’s office, he advanced to the level of Wyoming Stock Grower’s president.”

With a strong history of leadership from his family, Ellis noted that he followed in the footsteps of many great Wyoming cattlemen as NCBA president.

“We have a history of leadership, and three of the nine offices last year were from Wyoming,” he said. “It was noted and asked why that happens during one of our meetings.”

Ellis explained that Wyomingites exhibit common sense and character, two important traits, but he also noted that the state’s small population means that those with good character and leadership potential are quickly drawn to the top.

“People can’t hide,” he commented. “If  Jim Magagna, Niels Hansen or others recognize something in someone, they are going to work to get them involved, and there are more people out there with the leadership ability.”

“Anyone who has the opportunity to serve should. Get involved because I think we need more Wyoming leadership coming up the ranks,” Ellis said.

While serving as NCBA president, Ellis commented that the beef industry is strong and full of talent.

“When I was visiting with people and looking at cattle from Hawaii to Florida to Veracruz to Canada, my message was the same,” he commented. “We are the right people as beef cattle producers, doing the right things, on the land raising the right protein by every way that we can measure it. It’s the right protein that people need in their diets globally.”

“I’m proud to have served beef cattle producers across the nation, and I’m proud to be in Wyoming in my leadership role,” Ellis added.

Saige Albert is managing 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..

    From blue and gold FFA jackets to brown and gold University of Wyoming jerseys, Wyoming-native Emily Horton has strong allegiances. Now her loyalty is paying off as she proudly represents the green and yellow tractors that keep much of the agriculture world running.
    Horton grew up near Riverton raising row crops and cattle and as a State and National FFA Officer she distinguished herself as the girl who loved the green steel of John Deere. It was her passion for the agricultural machinery maker that eventually led her to the career of her dreams.
    “I love my job. Being a part of the process to bring solutions to producers and help them be successful is something I am very passionate about,” she says.
    As a University of Wyoming student majoring in agriculture business, Horton landed an internship with John Deere in 2006. Horton made a lasting impression and after graduation she had a job waiting for her. She went into a marketing representative program and her first venture was with John Deere Harvester Works in Moline, Ill. There she helped introduce the new 70-series combines to more than 5,000 dealers across the country.
    There is no rest for the ambitious and Horton’s second project was coordinating a customer fly-in program where she was responsible for everything except packing the customer’s bags. During the project Horton also took on the task of opening a retail store at the factory’s visitor center. She was involved at all levels of the project from choosing room fixtures, to selecting merchandise to hiring a manager.
    And that was just the first six months on the job.
    Horton’s career path then took her from Illinois to Des Moines, Iowa where she now works at John Deere Intelligent Vehicle Systems (IVS). Her role at IVS is in product development.
    “My job is to ensure the voice of the customers is heard, as we engineer future precision ag products.” Horton says.
    Iowa doesn’t have Horton for long as she faces yet another move - this time to Idaho. Horton says there’s never a dull moment and as June edges near so does her new job as a crop systems specialist. This position involves helping dealers in their business related to sprayers, tillage, seeding equipment and precision farming products in Montana, Utah, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Horton says she is happy to be moving closer to home and closer to Cowboy football games.
    This new position will have Horton logging long miles but traveling is something she is accustomed to. As the 2004-2005 National FFA Secretary, Horton traveled all across the country and even to Japan.
    “The traveling part doesn’t bother me,” she says. “My goal is to help ensure that we are providing solutions for customers that enable them to be more productive and profitable in their operations.”
    Her experiences, she says, have also given her a strong foundation for success in her career.
    “My experiences in FFA, on the Wyoming Board of Agriculture Youth Advisory Committee and being involved in Wyoming agriculture on the family farm have helped me immensely,” Horton says. “I experienced different types of agriculture and how producers run their operations. Without these experiences I would not be able to relate to customers and understand their needs.”
    The customers she serves have also taught her a lot about the agriculture industry nationwide. Horton has learned that customers’ perceptions change based on geography and situation. She says she sees and experiences different approaches to farming and ranching, different labor systems and different perceptions related to challenges.
    “I knew about Wyoming grown row crops and irrigation and I knew about ranches with cattle and hay,” she says. “Through this career I have expanded my customer knowledge and am a part of the process to provide customers solutions that help them become more profitable and more productive.”
    Although there are many regional differences, Horton also finds universal trends among the nation’s agriculturists.
    “Whether it’s Wyoming, Iowa or Arkansas, farmers and ranchers are committed to  production agriculture as a career and lifestyle,” Horton says. “They want to be a part of putting quality food on tables around the world while pursing a way of life they truly enjoy.”
     Horton’s work with John Deere is rewarding, but the dream job isn’t without challenges and sacrifices.
    “I really miss Wyoming, the people and the mountains,” she says. “I miss having 500,000 close friends.”
    Being away from her home state is especially tough for Horton who is a Wyoming girl through and through. In Wyoming she could be found screaming at a Cowboy Football game, tackling tough issues as a WDA Youth Advisory Committee member and sharing her passion for agriculture on a daily basis.
    “I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of things and there is no place in the world like Wyoming,” Horton says. “Nowhere else can you look at the Owl Creek mountains while operating a windrower or sit at 7,200 feet on Saturdays in the fall.”
    Horton says she is able to make other places feel like home because she can find ways of appreciating them. But no matter what, Horton will always have the brown and gold running through her veins.
    “Regardless of my love for the job and the opportunities, I keep Wyoming in my heart everyday,” Horton says. “No matter where I’m at, I’m keeping true to my Wyoming principles and am representing who we are.”
    Liz Lesatz is summer 2008 intern 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.