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Marbleton – On March 8, dozens of members, friends and families of the Green River Valley Cattlewomen (GRVC) and Cattlemen’s Association (GRVCA) gathered in Marbleton for the groups’ special awards luncheon and banquet.

About 40 attended the GRVC luncheon at the Southwest Pioneers Senior Center in Marbleton to applaud the group’s annual “Lifetime Member” and “Ranch Woman of the Year” honorees.

GRVC committee member Sheri Bohleen read aloud the nomination letters and brief, but weighty, biographies of the Lifetime Member nominees -– with special recognition for 2014 going to Janice Kanski and Ann Barney. 

Kanski’s sister Kathryn Briggs happily collected Janice’s gift basket and certificate, and Ann Barney waited humbly as the biographical sketch provided by her husband, rancher Bill Barney, was read for the crowd’s appreciation.

The GRVC’s highest individual honor for the “Ranch Woman of the Year” is an annual highlight, with the winning woman receiving a specially-made sign to mark the award.

As details of her busy and fulfilling life were revealed to the luncheon crowd, Jody Thompson’s face expressed a range of emotions – from disbelief to awe. Nominated by her daughter Amanda, Thompson was speechless as she received her honors.

Another GRVC awards luncheon highlight is the annual recognition of a truly special “Friends of Agriculture.” For 2014, Paulette and Norm Waller of Waller Trucking were nominated for their unstinting support of many aspects of the Sublette County community.

GRVC’s Centennial Ranch committee also noted that three Sublette County ranches have operated within the same family on the same land for at least a century. 

Special plaques were presented at the GRVCA banquet to the Campbell Cattle Company of Bondurant, the Richie Family of Boulder and Thompson Ranch owners Joe and Diane Boroff.

The cattlemen also honored a special couple with a Lifetime Members award -– Gerry and Rusty Endecott, now of the Little Jennie Ranch in Bondurant – for their longtime commitment to the ag and ranching ways of life they have helped support around the county.

Many who attended Saturday’s GRVC awards luncheon continued on for the prime rib banquet, also held at the Senior Center in Marbleton, with about 200 people, young and old, coming from all corners of the Green River Valley and Hoback Basin to visit with good friends, have some laughs and kick up their heels to the Sundowners’ great dancing music.

Joy Ufford 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..

Sheridan – Over 100 people attended the first annual Wonderful Wyoming event at the Historic Sheridan Inn on May 13 in Sheridan.
The non-profit organization Guardians of the Range raised over $27,000 to further their cause of assisting ranchers with public land grazing issues, advocating for multiple use of public lands and helping to better inform the public about their enduring benefits to this nation.
Craig Mead of Council Bluffs, Iowa was awarded the American Spirit Award.
“As a very successful independent businessman, Craig has repeatedly made time to help build the Guardians infrastructure, at no cost to us,” says Guardians Executive Director, Kathleen Jachowski of Cody. “Craig is a man with an American spirit to the core. He volunteers as our webmaster. He also participates in public comments relative to our issues, which makes the blood pressure rise among extremists who can’t seem to understand his respect and appreciation for the American way of life that is so evident in the ranching culture.”
Kimberly Michaelis of Las Vegas, Nev. was awarded Guardian of the Year.
“Kimberly has proudly supported the Guardians for several years in a number of ways,” comments Jachowski. “A highly successful entrepreneur and owner of the Rafter Star Ranch near Sheridan, Kimberly has a valuable and unique perspective. She has stepped forward on more than one occasion. Kimberly represents what it really means to be a Guardian of the Range; she has a strong mind and character and a warm spirit.”
Guardians Board President Dana Kerns of Sheridan adds, “The point that was so well made at the fundraiser is that people across this great country are desperate to protect private property rights. Our award recipients do not have public grazing allotments. Craig Mead doesn’t own a horse or a cow, but both Kimberly and Craig have put more into this organization I have.”
“In our live and silent auctions we had bidders from 19 states and Canada. Once people get exposed to what we offer in the West – whether it’s hunting, fishing, a cattle drive, or whatever – they realize we offer a way of life that helped to build this nation. We offer a life of integrity, morality, hard work, getting knocked down and getting back up and finding joy in life’s simple pleasures,” says Kerns, continuing, “It’s our job to better inform the general public our way of life. Groups like the Guardians are essential in the education process of preserving the building blocks of this great nation.”  
Krayton Kerns, DVM and Montana State Legislator, was the featured speaker. Local FFA members served as the Color Guard.
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..

Jeffery City – The Gullion family has found their niche in cattle and art to diversify their income in agriculture.

James, his wife Becky, and their children have a cow/calf herd, do day work for local ranchers and operate Nomad Saddlery in Jeffrey City.

Leatherwork

Gullion has made saddles, bridles and other leatherwork for 10 years, and in the last couple years has begun to make bits, spurs, conchos and jewelry. He enjoys the art aspect of engraving silverwork and is mastering the technique of flowed silver and copper inlays.

“Saddles are expensive to make,” Gullion said, “and they don’t sell well when people can go buy a factory-made one for $500. I can build a bit that a cowboy can afford on payday. I don’t want to build my income on hoping cowboys can save enough to buy a saddle.”

Silver work

Gullion was introduced to silver engraving by Gordon Andrus of Cody, and he also learned from Allen Taylor of Riverton and Ernie Marsh of Etna. Gullion works in the bright cut and single point styles and will often combine them on a piece according to a customer’s preference.

“The difference is the scrolls and the style of the cut,” Gullion explained. “I don’t open the cut up twice on the single point like on the bright cut. I designed a cheek piece for my bits that is somewhat unique and fits my style. People have been making bits for as long as humans have been riding horses, so it is hard to come up with something new.”

To build bits and spurs Gullion has found that it is about learning the tricks to metal work.

“I’ve been playing with flowed silver, a cast in-lay. A friend told me how to do it and swore me to secrecy. There are only a few people doing it, and more have tried and are not doing it. I’m hoping to fill a niche in the market with the flowed in-lay,” he said.

Bit work

For his bits, Gullion mainly makes spades in the traditional Californio-style. To learn about spade styles, he has gone through museums, such as the King Museum in Sheridan, measuring bits.

  “If a piece in a museum has not been used much, it’s probably not worth copying,” Gullion said. “I look for stuff that has been worn out, because it has a functional design. Most of my study is so that I’m not just copying what everyone else is doing.”

When it comes to bits, they have certain parameters that fit the horse, but I have to fit people’s expectation of what it is going to look like,” he continued.

“One reason bits are easier than saddles is that I can please the eye of the buyer and fit the horse’s mouth. With saddles I have to fit the buyer — I have to fit their whole body — and the horse’s back,” Gullion explained. “It’s worse than selling clothes.”

Unique pieces

The shape of the spoon on Gullion’s spades is uncommon, with the width no more than 1.25 inches.

“Most spoons are wider than this, and I can see they have been chewed on. I build the spoon to lean back a little more than most do,” he said. “The spoon rides on the tongue and as soon as the spoon leaves the tongue the horse has a signal, and before it touches the top of the mouth the curb strap catches it.”

“With spade bits there is more metal in the mouth, but fewer pounds of pressure per square inch on the mouth,” he continued. “I kind of liken it to a high-heeled shoe compared to a boot heel, which one would we rather have step on a toe? One of them could be life threatening!”

Gullion noted that he strives to provide bits that help maintain low stress for the animals.

“The spade is balanced so it does that by signaling the horse through the spoon that they carry on their tongue and not applying a crushing pressure to the mouth as a snaffle does,” he explained.

Gullion has used heated blue steel for bits and by playing with different temperatures can get it bright purple when turning it.

On the bit bars, the copper and steel – two dissimilar metals – generate a little electricity from the acid in a horse’s mouth. This tastes better and causes the horse to salivate and lubricate their mouth instead of drying out.

Engraving

In between trailing cows and branding, he works on metal techniques and developing his engraving art.

“I did a jewelry set for  a friend’s 10th anniversary,” said Gullion, “and he wanted a forget-me-not or a shooting star. My dad was a Natural Resources Conservation Service range conservationist in Idaho, and I always competed in the range days. I’m very familiar with the native plants, and that’s something I don’t see a lot of in silverwork. I like to practice and different themes, like the Celtic shamrock and thistle, are popular.”

Bits for ranchers

Gullion works to keep the structure of his bits high quality but also economical.

The base price on his silver bits is $500, averaging $750 according to the amount of engraving and in-lays.

Expanding business

The Nomad Saddlery business has expanded through word-of-mouth and Facebook, surprising Gullion on the amount of orders.

“It is a little intimidating,” Gullion said. “I tried for 10 years with leather and rawhide, and the interest just wasn’t there. There aren’t a lot of people making bits and engraving because of the cost to set up and purchase tools. I took the profits from making bridles and saddles and bought tools over the years.”

“I made anything that I thought people needed and would buy,” he continued. “The kids are braiding tie ropes and selling them. I’m trying to teach them how to make something useful that people need to buy that they can make money at.”

As Gullion’s work has become known, he has gained enough silverwork orders to begin concentrating more on his Nomad Saddlery business and leave full-time ranch employment. 

“We’re going to day work for the neighbors to supplement this and our cows,” Gullion said. “It will also give me exercise outside the shop and keeps the kids on horses.”

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..

Evanston – “I have a hard time staying in the house when my family is all out working, so I’ve always chosen to go out and be with them,” says Dixie Guild of the Guild Ranch near Evanston.

Guild arrived on the ranch 34 years ago when she married her husband, Kelly, and her children are sixth generation on the place.

“I have eight children and 19 grandchildren that all live close by, so that takes up a big part of my life,” she comments.

Two more grandchildren are also on the way.

“I love to take the kids out and take them for four-wheeler rides. We call them our adventures, and I take them out and let them enjoy the ranch,” she explains.

One of her sons will soon be returning as a permanent resident of the ranch, another one of her sons is a schoolteacher who comes back each summer, and all of the kids and grandkids visit and help whenever they can.

Family

“I love riding and being out with my husband and children,” she notes.

In fact, the Guilds are putting up a lodge and recreation building with rooms built into the top floor to accommodate everyone.

“When all the family comes out, we will have a big area so that we can enjoy each other and they can all stay. We have several children and son-in-laws that come back and help during the summer, so it’s really a family thing,” she says.

Family has always been important to the operation, and all of the children grew up working on the ranch.

“At spring break or holidays when other families were going different places, my kids always knew that we went out together and worked on the ranch. They were always so good about it,” she states.

Caring for everyone

Guild also notes that whenever family, help or other visitors are out on the ranch, she prepares meals and feeds the crew.

“At branding, I take down meals for the branding crew and help out there,” she says, adding, “I help out wherever I am needed.”

Whether she’s gathering firewood, vaccinating calves, taking care of grandchildren or feeding hay to the cows in the winter, Guild is an active and important member of the ranch’s operation.

“We also plant alfalfa here. We have a big center pivot that’s getting plowed up,” she comments.

The field will soon be re-planted with alfalfa for the next season’s crop.

“We have a big army truck, and we use it to feed three-by-four square bales to cattle all winter, which is something I’ve always enjoyed,” she adds.

Ranch projects

Guild also likes to maintain the books, tracking the numbers for the ranch.

“I really enjoy keeping the records on the farm and the cattle and looking back through them when we are trying to sort for replacement heifers,” she notes.

Guild also has a garden and a greenhouse. She uses the greenhouse for peppers and tomatoes, and in the garden, she grows squash, pumpkins, lettuce, spinach and rhubarb.

“I want to have a lot of stuff that will come back yearly, like raspberries and strawberries. I have a variety of stuff that I’ve been growing,” she explains.

Guild continues, “I also have chickens. I love working with the chickens.”

Last year, raccoons killed 30 chickens. This year, Guild got a coon dog to help keep the birds safe.

“We haven’t had dogs before,” she comments. “Now I have this new dog, and we are trying to get him to work cattle really well. I want to learn more about training a good cowdog. That’s something I’m really interested in.”

Guild operation

The ranch runs a herd of mostly Lim-Flex cattle, an Angus and Limousin cross.

“This year, we put some of our baldy cattle back with Hereford bulls to get a little bit of white back into them,” she adds.

Although they are not currently part of the operation, sheep were also ran on the ranch at one time, and sheep trails are not the only historical paths across the ranch.

“The Pioneer Trail and the Pony Express went through here. We run pioneer handcarts on our place,” Guild says.

Her sister-in-law manages that particular part of the operation, but everyone helps out wherever they are needed. Six thousand youth have come through the area with handcarts.

“We also have historical charcoal kilns that are on the place, so we have a lot of people who come and look at those,” she continues. “We have a lot of history here, including the ghost town of Piedmont, which our ancestors started.”

The railroad went through the area as well, adding more history to the ranch.

“I love to be out here, and I love to help out with the ranch,” she says. “I enjoy being with my family, and I really enjoy the ranch lifestyle.”

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..

Worland – Al Hefenieder grew up on the family farm and feedlot operation, and since returning from college, he has become an integral part of the operation.
    “I farm with my dad, his two brothers, my cousin and grandpa,” says Hefenieder. “All of our help is family.”
    Hefenieder graduated from Northwest College in Powell this May with a degree in Farm and Ranch Business Management and says he hopes to farm as long as he can.
    The Hefenieders’ operation consists of over 1,000 acres of farm ground, as well as a feedlot operation that custom feeds 3,000 cattle during the winter months.
Custom feeding
    “We don’t own any cows,” clarifies Hefenieder. “It’s all custom feeding. We mix our own feed.”
    Hefenieder notes that the calves they take in are backgrounded and fed a primarily roughage diet, rather than high-energy corn.
    “We aren’t pushing anything real hard,” he explains. “They are on a more roughage diet, so they are developed and grow better.”
    The operation feeds a large number of cattle that go to grass or are shipped to other states for fattening.
    “We feed a lot of cattle to about 800 pounds, and they are shipped to Nebraska, Kansas or Texas where they are closer to the big packing houses,” explains Hefenieder. “It’s more cost efficient to fatten them down there.”
    He also adds that a number of heifers are AIed in their feedlot for local producers as well.
Irrigated farming
    The Hefenieder family also raises hay, corn silage and malt barley, all of which require irrigation.
    “Most of the challenges we see, we just overcome, but weather is always an issue,” comments Hefenieder, adding that hail and rain are major concerns. “We’ve been pretty fortunate and dodged a bullet as far as hail, but our area is really dry.”
    The average rainfall in the Worland area is only about eight inches each year, so their irrigated land is surrounded by badlands.
    “In places there is no irrigation, there isn’t anything,” he continues, “and we hardly get any snow, so we depend on the snow runoff from the mountain.”
    Hefenieder notes that areas that aren’t reached by irrigation waters are unproductive, but if they can get enough water, their crops flourish.
    “We’re always dealing with making sure that we have enough water to irrigate,” he says. “We have good crops if we can get water.”
    While the Hefenieders utilize part of their harvest for the custom feeding operation, they also sell the crop from their 500 acres of malt barley to the Coors grain elevator in Worland.
All in the family
    Hefenieder knew that he would be coming back to the family operation after college and says, “I worked for a lot of farms in college, and it was fine, but it wasn’t our place.”
    The family involvement in the operation works well, despite the common concern that families don’t work well together.
    “Some people have told us that when blood and money mix, it makes poison, but we can make it work as a family,” he comments. “It’s an incredible asset, because we all have a vested interest in the farm, and we work together to make it a lot better.”
    The family all takes control of different parts of the operation, and they work together to help it run efficiently.
    “Everyone has their own jobs and takes care of business,” Hefenieder says. “It works smoothly and efficiently.”
Passion for ag
    “The thing is, I have spent my whole life farming – we have a lot of dirt and a lot of iron – but I also have what I love, and I might as well do what I love,” says Hefenieder of the reason he came back to the farm.
    He adds that it might be possible to get an easier job, but he’s happy on the farm.
    “I could have a better job working from eight to five instead of from five to eight, but I like that we can all work together here,” he comments. “I like our outfit better than if I was doing anything else.”
    “We are fortunate,” adds Hefenieder. “I’m pretty happy with what we have here, and I’m looking forward to the future.”
    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..