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Lander – “My dad moved to Lander from Nebraska in 1948, and we were a couple years on a place above Lander. Then we moved down on the river in 1950 and have been here ever since,” says Gary Frank of how his family arrived in the Lander Valley.
“I’m originally from rural, northern New Jersey and came to Wyoming for college,” says Gary’s wife Diane. “I hung out with the more rural kids, because that’s how I was raised. I became integrated in that crowd, which included most of the rodeo team, and Gary was on the rodeo team. We met through a mutual friend, dated, got married, and here we are. I learned everything I know about cows from this family. They are excellent, knowledgeable people when it comes to cows.”
Today the Frank operation is primarily focused on cow-calf production, in addition to running a few extra bred heifers.
“We’ve been taking our steer calves to a feedlot in Torrington and going to fats with them. We’ve improved the grading on our steers from 50 to 55 percent choice to 93 percent grading choice last year, so our cattle have changed a lot,” notes Gary.
Gary’s dad purchased summer range on South Pass in 1969, and added additional acreage around the home place in the late 1970s.
“When we were building our cow numbers we bought a lot of heifers from over by Kemmerer and those were Angus. We bred to Charolais bulls for while, and then got into Limousins. We had those for a number of years, then started crossing back to Angus. Today the younger cows are getting quite a bit of Angus in them and the older cows still have a lot of Limousin blood,” explains Gary.
“We’re really proud of how well the steers came out looking this year. The changes we’ve made are working,” adds Diane.
In addition to cattle, the Franks also put up hay to feed during winter months and some corn that goes into silage.
“It’s not a low-cost operation because we feed a lot of hay in the winter, whether it’s a good or bad winter. We just feed more when it’s bad. Once those cows come off the mountain the first part of November, they’re on aftermath and we’re going to feed them hay,” says Gary.
Feeding hay all winter is one reason the Franks start calving early, around Feb. 1, and only for about 60 days.
“We try to have everything calved out by the first of April. We keep enough cows so we can sell what hasn’t calved by that date, and then we’re done.
“We AI all our heifers after feeding MGA for five days and giving them a progesterone shot. We synchronize and AI almost all our heifers, then we turn a bull out. We keep the heifers that calve first, which are mostly those that stuck with AI. Then we sell the others so we’re done calving heifers in about two weeks,” says Gary. He adds they market the extra bred heifers in a variety of ways, depending on the year.
Cows are wintered and calved at the home place, prior to being scattered for the summer.
“We have a state lease on the other side of Lander where the bred heifers go. It’s large enough to allow us to run more heifers than we need. The commercial cattle are all run on the South Pass allotment, and we have some registered cows that spend the summer down here by the house,” says Gary.
The registered cows are part of a separate entity called SO Cattle, which is a partnership between Gary and Diane and their daughter Anjie McConnell and her husband Mike McConnell.
“We got started in the registered business by putting embryos in our commercial cows, then taking those calves and breeding them to registered bulls. This year we have about a dozen embryo calves running on commercial cows on the mountain,” notes Gary.
Of starting with embryos as opposed to buying live cattle, Anjie says it’s a longer process, but it also has it rewards.
“I think we were able to start out with better cattle than we could have purchased because we were able to pick out what we wanted our cattle to be, and what genetics we wanted to use,” she notes.
The registered business is growing slowly, and will include about 40 registered cows calving next spring. Bulls are primarily marketed private treaty, which has worked well the past couple years. “At least the ranch has access to bulls, if nothing else,” says Gary with a chuckle.
“It’s fun to see what we can get from the registered cattle through selective breeding,” adds Diane.
Prior to expanding the ranching operation, the entire family was involved in the Bill Frank and Sons Rodeo Stock Contractors business from the 1950s through the 1970s.
“We had bucking horses running behind our house and also had bucking bulls, roping steers and calves,” notes Diane.
“We supplied the whole package from the 1950s on. We even put on night rodeos in Lander for awhile,” adds Gary.
“It was fun, but took a lot of time. We were doing both the ranch and stock contracting full-time for a couple years, then Gary and Bill said we were either going to be ranchers or stock contractors. We really couldn’t keep doing both, it was like having our fingers in so many pies,” explains Diane.
Gary and Diane’s two daughters live right across the road from them, and their son and his family reside in Cheyenne. “This was a great location to raise a family,” notes Diane. She adds that other benefits to the ranch’s location include having a well-maintained, paved road at the end of the driveway, and being minutes from both Lander and Riverton.
“It’s a family operation, and it’s taken all of us. Everyone still helps whenever they can,” adds Gary.
Heather Hamilton 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..

The Wyoming Angus Association sponsored their 2012 Wyoming Angus Tour May 18 and 19 in Fremont County.

Tour participants from Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana where able to see cattle displayed by Gary Frank/SO Cattle, Lander; Buline Angus, Crowheart; Angel Angus, Riverton; Gardner’s Heart Dot Angus, Shoshoni; Lucky 7 Angus, Riverton; and Pingetzer’s Six Iron Ranch, along with Bovagene, Shoshoni.

In addition to the herd stops, the tour also visited Wyoming Custom Meats in Hudson and Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Facility in Shoshoni. The tour also featured a banquet and auction supporting the Wyoming Junior Angus Association, which raised over $1,000 to support the Junior program.

Please see Page 9 for further coverage on this year’s Angus Tour.

 

 

Jeffrey City – Ever since 1892 the Graham family has lived and ranched north of the Sweetwater River near Jeffrey City in southeastern Fremont County.
“My granddad bought this place in 1892 after coming from Nebraska, near Creston, and he added some other homesteads to it,” says Jim Graham, who runs the operation today with his brother Tom Graham. Both brothers have houses at ranch headquarters.
“We met in high school, she was a year behind me, and we went to school together,” says Jim of how he met his wife Nadine, whose mother was born in Lander and whose great-grandfather worked at Fort Washakie as a carpenter when it was still a military base.
Jim and Tom have operated the ranch together since their dad passed away in 1989.  “I was in the Army for two years, and I’ve been here ever since,” says Jim.
The Grahams have a cow/calf operation, selling their calves every fall. “We’re mostly Herefords, but that’ll change pretty quick,” says Jim of their switch to black cattle to coincide with the other families with whom they run in common. The allotment runs from Sand Draw to Riverton, east of the highway, clear around the rim, and encompasses around 275,000 acres. “We like Herefords for this country, but it’s pretty hard to keep them. We think they’re tougher cattle.”
“The neighbors are looking to switch, so we’re about forced to,” adds Tom.            “We have to be off the federal land in October, and we winter them right here,” says Tom of the ranch’s cattle management. “Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it’s not.”
“In the fall we gather beef, for those who sell their yearlings in October,” says Jim. “We don’t sell our calves until November, but we get them in with everyone else’s cattle.”
“The neighbors all help, and we all go together to gather,” says Tom. Jim adds that everyone pitches in to buy the food, divided among the families.
“We have a friend that’s gone out to cook for several years now,” says Nadine. “We split the expenses by our AUMs, and everyone pays on the groceries and the cook’s wages.”
When it comes time to sell, the ranch markets calves through order buyers. “There’s getting to be fewer of them around anymore, but we’ve been selling to the same ones for quite a while,” says Tom.
The Graham family owns a set of scales, which most of the neighboring ranches use each fall. “Most everybody from around here brings their calves here, and it works pretty good,” says Jim. “We installed them in 1969, I think, and it’s still the same set, and they’re inspected by the state every year so they stay up to certain standards.”
Another roundup is held in the spring, at which the Grahams brand their calves. “The neighbors brand before turning out, but we brand all ours on the roundup,” says Jim.
“If they turn slicks out after they’ve branded they usually mark them, so they know what they are and we don’t have to mother them up,” says Tom.
As for predators, the Grahams say they have the usual coyotes. “I suppose it’s a matter of time before the wolves get here from South Pass,” comments Nadine.
“Anymore, everyone in the country hunts coyotes, trying to keep them under control, and the ones we see now are going wide open,” says Tom.
Jim says he thinks there are plenty of sage grouse on their place. Tom adds, “Everyone says there’s a shortage this summer, but if you go out in the hills, the grass was high and there was water everywhere, so they didn’t have to come in. We could stir big bunches up.”
The Grahams’ ranch does have hunter walk-in areas. “It’s worked out pretty well, the problems we have the most are the gates some people don’t shut. That gets a little bad, like one year hunters let a whole lot of wild horses in up here, and it was three or four years before the BLM got them out,” says Nadine.
“A horse never quits eating,” comments Jim. “If he’s awake, he’s eating. And if someone goes to stirring them up they tear more fence down than an elk herd.”
“It’s a good way to live. We don’t make much money, but it’s a good way to live,” says Jim of ranching in Fremont County. “My son and his family are here, with two kids, and he works in the oil patch nearby. I hope he’ll stick around, and his kids do pretty good helping on the ranch, when they can.”
“He’d be here on the ranch, if we could figure out a way to all make a living,” says Nadine, adding, “Our granddaughter will be 17, and she really likes the ranch. Our daughter-in-law runs a gluten-free store in Riverton, and they help her quite a bit.”
“I like it here. There are times I wanted to leave, but usually the road was closed,” says Nadine with a laugh. “We can get good snow, but last few years have been pretty open. This has been a good year, but we had about 10 years of very dry weather.”
Christy Martinez 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..

Riverton – “We started having just a few goats, and now we have the largest goat herd in the state,” states Terry Hayes of the Open A Lazy S Ranch.

“We have show goats and different types of goats for events, barbecues and backyard events. We’ve also branched out in the last 15 years into biological weed control and vegetation management,” he remarks.

Hayes uses his goats to browse weeds out of ditches and waterways, from around sewer ponds, and more.

“A lot of people have us clean up stackyards. Especially if they have horses, they don’t want top bales that have been rained on or bottom bales that are full of dirt. I also go out and pick up hay when people bale the outside rounds of their fields where cheatgrass and kochia grow,” he says.

When goats are introduced to an area early enough in the season, they can be used to eliminate plants such as foxtail, cheatgrass, Russian knapweed and other weeds.

“Goats browse off the seed heads, which causes plants to be unable to reseed the following year,” Hayes explains.

Microorganisms in the animals’ stomachs also prevent seeds from replanting after passing through their digestive tracts.

“In other animals, some of the seeds can make it clear through the system and then, with the fertilizer, can actually regrow faster,” he notes. Because they have a diverse diet, goats target plants other than alfalfa and grass and eat a large variety of plants in an area.

“Goats will eat about anything. The general myth that they will eat a tin can is pretty much true,” he mentions.

Hayes raises his goats on weedy forage and low-quality hay to acclimate them to a diet that targets unwanted plants.

“Milkweed is poisonous to them, but they can build up a tolerance. We cut down milkweed and feed it to ours,” he says.

Because they are resistant to many plant toxins, goats can be used in areas with leafy spurge or larkspur without experiencing abortions or death that other livestock are susceptible to.

Hayes adds, “Goats are capable of eating these undesirable plants while also producing a marketable product, such as meat from Boer goats or milk from dairy breeds.”

With the passage of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, Hayes is now able to sell goat milk to customers in Fremont County and around the state.

Before the act was passed, Hayes mentions, “I had been selling milk to a lot of veterinarians, but the bottles had to be labeled for non-human consumption.”

Along with vegetation management, Open A Lazy S Ranch also leases out their goats as rodeo stock and for breeding.

“There is a big, diverse market for them, so they are making money throughout the year instead of just six months in the summer,” he states.

Hayes also comments, “We’ve built relationships with a lot of different people because goats can be used for all types of different factors.”

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

Glenrock – With 126 years of family traditions behind them, William and Rachel Grant have begun raising their young family on a ranch 20 miles south of Glenrock.
    “I wouldn’t say we are doing anything really extraordinary here,” comments Rachel modestly, adding, “We’re just raising cows.”
From the beginning
    William was raised in the area where they now run Herefords and black baldy cattle on land the Grant family homesteaded in 1886. With the home ranch sitting at 7,000 feet, the property is the last on Boxelder Road.
    After growing up on the family ranch, William attended college for four years to study agriculture. It was at Dordt College in Iowa where the couple met.
    Rachel, a southeast Iowa native who studied theology for two years, says, “We’ve been married and living here 10 years this fall.”
    Along with running a cow/calf operation, the Grants raise hay to feed during the winter months when snow is deep and weather can be harsh.
Living in the mountains
    William says that the winter can be challenging at the high elevation where their ranch sits.
    “We do get snowed in, but it’s better than it used to be 30 years ago,” he says. “This year it wasn’t for more than a couple of weeks, and there were days we could have gone down.”
    The elevation and additional snows also makes their feeding season longer.
    “Winters are long sometimes, and we have to feed a lot,” William comments. “Last winter was pretty bad. Depending on the weather, we feed November through May.”
    To accommodate the high elevation and late spring snows, William notes they calve later, starting in May, to ensure a healthy calf crop.
    “We get lots of groceries in the winter,” adds Rachel, “but that’s something you just get used to.”
    It’s no short trip to town for the Grant family, either, which has created some challenges.
    “With kids, ensuring that there was a rural school was important,” explains Rachel. “If the rural school hadn’t been opened, we would have probably homeschooled because it’s just not feasible in the winter.”
    The Grants have four children: Anna, 7, Cora, 5, Daniel, 3, and Jess, 10 months, so educating the family was important.
    “Our school district out of Glenrock was really good about working with us to get the school open,” she adds.
Competing wildlife
    Large elk herds in the area are also challenging, but the Grant family has supported Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) programs to attempt to address the issues.
    “The elk come down onto our hay meadows at night and eat a lot of hay in the summer,” says William. “We are involved in hunter management areas, and have been in the Deer Creek Hunter Management Area since it started.”
    Rachel mentions that the WGFD has made a number of attempts to decrease elk populations, including hunter coordinator programs and early and late season hunts to obtain higher harvest rates on cows.
    Despite the challenges, Rachel and William enjoy the ranching lifestyle and the area. She also notes that there are benefits for the family.
    “Our kids are growing up knowing that, in the winter time, things happen and sometimes aren’t feasible, but that’s just how life works,” says Rachel, noting that the lesson her children learn is how to adapt to changing environments.
    “We also end up doing more things as a family because we’re all here,” she adds.
Continued improvement
    “We toe the line as to what’s been done and works, and we change things when we need to,” comments Rachel. “Things have certainly changed since the beginning, and we do things a little differently than even 10 years ago.”
    For example, they adapted from baling hay in small square bales to round bales. In making small changes to the ranch operations, they have worked to improve the property, including adding water lines.
    They also continually work to learn about policy issues that affect ranchers.
    “We’ve been a little more involved in the policy-type things,” notes Rachel. “Farmers and ranchers need to know all there is to know about property rights, water law, oil and gas and wind development, because it’s approaching us. I think that is different than the things William’s dad dealt with years ago.”
    At the end of the day, by continually improving the ranch, William and Rachel are able to continue longstanding traditions and hope to offer the choice to continue those values in the future.
    “We’re here to keep the ranch going and alive,” says William.
    “We hope that some of our kids do the same thing,” continues Rachel. “We feel a responsibility to maintain this ranch and be a good steward of the land so it’s available to the kids, whatever choices they decide to make.”
    Saige Albert 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..