AoR 36: Women In Ranching, SRM Forum

This forum highlighting leading women in ranching operations was recorded Feb 20, 2020 at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado as part of the Society for Range Management annual meeting. The speakers included women from non-traditional ranching backgrounds as well as women whose families have been in the ranching business for several generations. The speakers provide a breadth of perspective as to what ranching is and why women are critical to the mission of sustainable ranches. This list is certainly not comprehensive of all the qualified women, but a group who carry the flag for all those who are instrumental in their ranch operations. Speakers were: Mary Budd Flitner, Wyoming rancher-- "Betting It All " Ashley Hibbard, Montana rancher--"Impostor syndrome". Starts at 19:25. Julie Sullivan, Colorado rancher--"Hippie Meets Rancher". Starts at 40:30. Nancy Ranney, New Mexico rancher--"Regenerative Ranching in Mesa Country". Starts at 1:04:35. Mimi Hillenbrand, South Dakota bison rancher. (With apologies to Mimi, we’ve not included this talk because recording quality was poor and listening would depend on seeing the accompanying video). The session was coordinated and facilitated by Pat Pfeil, a Florida rancher. 


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>> Welcome, to the Art of Range, a podcast focused on rangelands and the people who manage them. I'm your host Tip Hudson, Range and Livestock Specialist with Washington State University Extension. The goal of this podcast is education and conservation through conversation. Find us online at

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>> We are reproducing some of the symposium and plenary sessions from the Society for Range Management's 2020 Annual Meeting and Training in Denver for the podcast. These were recorded live on February 17 through 20. I selected sessions in consultation with the meeting and technical program chairs that we believed would be widely applicable and that would not depend heavily on the listener being able to see the accompanying slideshow with photographs and charts. With the speakers permissions we will provide contact information for each speaker so that you can request additional information from them directly if you are especially interested in their topic. So, this episode is from a producer forum held on February 20 at the National Western Complex in Denver, Colorado. This was a producer forum titled Women in Ranching. The forum highlighted leading women in ranching operations around the West and the East. The speakers include women from nontraditional ranching backgrounds as well as women whose families have been in ranching for several generations. The objective was to get a breath of perspective from this group of all-stars as to what ranching is to them and why women are critical to the mission of sustainable ranching. The list is obviously not comprehensive of all the qualified women, but this is a group who carry the flag for all those who are instrumental in their ranch operations. The first speaker is Pat Feil [assumed spelling], Florida rancher; then we hear from Mary Bud Flitner [assumed spelling] from Wyoming; then Julie Sullivan [assumed spelling], a rancher in Colorado. We hear from Nancy Raney [assumed spelling] from New Mexico and there is a talk by Mimi Hillenbrand [assumed spelling] from South Dakota who raises bison. With apologies to Mimi we have not included this talk because it depended too much on seeing and hearing the accompanying video and slides and the physical context for that talk did not allow us to record that appropriately.

>> Well, good morning to everybody. I'm glad to see you found the place. I had a little trouble myself but here we are. So, hope y'all found a good place to sit and if you can't hear raise your hand. I did, I grew up in ranching. My family brought cattle into Wyoming from Nevada in the late 1800s and my husband's family brought, set up a ranching enterprise in Northwest Wyoming in 1906. So, we are still around and feel really grateful for that and I think, looking around the room, I think we all have things to learn from each other no matter how recently we arrived or how long we've been in place. I had the good fortune and the opportunity to write a book and I'm going to read to you from that because I think there's a chapter here that kind of expresses my setting in this group and we'll see where it goes from there. I'll have time to answer questions afterwards if you wish because I don't have that much to say. This chapter is called Betting It All. "I don't know why we did this," Delmer [assumed spelling] said glumly chewing on his toothpick. He paced along the country racetrack, "I'm not a gambling man." A short, wiry man with leathery skin, he tugged the brim of his cowboy hat and scuffed the toe of his boot in the dirt. In the gathering darkness a small crowd of us stood together waiting for a horse race to start. We were fifty miles from home in the little Wyoming cow town of Tinsley where the traditional Labor Day celebration was in full swing. Things had not gone quite the way we planned. At the end of the day we'd made a reckless bet with the man we now waited for and most of us were secretly hoping he wouldn't show up. Earlier that week, in September 1978, Stan and I had declared a holiday for ourselves. We were tired and discouraged, behind in our summer's work, and afraid we'd never be otherwise. The hay had been rained on, our fences were slack, our livestock was scattered in pastures where they didn't belong. The bankers were leaning on us to provide income estimates and inventories asking for meetings we wanted to avoid because we knew there weren't going to be good answers. Livestock market prices were low, our loan payments were coming due, interest rates were high, too. Like many other ranchers, we didn't know how we were going to get through our next year. We felt dangerously close to complete financial failure. Still, we agreed a day away from the ranch wasn't going to affect the big picture we faced. We called some friends to see if they'd go with us to the races which were always part of Labor Day in Tinsley. "I've worried as much as I can and it doesn't help," Stan said to our pals, most of whom were in the same boat themselves. "I've worn out the eraser on my pencil trying to get numbers to add up right. I'm tired of it. Let's go have some fun. Maybe it will change our luck." Our ranch neighbors Delmer and Marge [assumed spelling] said they'd come too and they brought a couple of horses we knew to be extra fast. Their handsome cowboy son came along as the jockey and with several other couples we formed a jolly caravan driving along the Nowood River Road sharing laughs long overdue. "Indeed, it was a great day for the race," our friend Tom said. "The human race," we shouted on cue. We couldn't fail to have fun in the shirt sleeve weather, sunny and bright with vibrant red and gold foliage and a blue, blue sky. People brought horses to Tinsley from both sides of the Big Horn Mountains, mostly ranch horses with some speed. No professionals and the races offered modest entry fees and prize money. Spectators came to see friends, add a little money and watch good horses run. We parked beside trucks with saddled horses tied to them and we wandered easily among people wearing Levis and cowboy hats, drinking beer, eating barbecued beef sandwiches served up by the local woman's club. No one drove shiny diesel pickup trucks or pulled fancy horse trailers. No one had big money to throw around and everyone was congenial and friendly and ready for fun. The racetrack was an old dirt landing strip outside of town. It didn't use a starting gate, just a line in the dirt. Each race began with the drop of a flag, then the quick quarter-mile run, four horses each time, several elimination heats, a final run-off for the winnings. We made some money when our horses won their races and we won a few side bets as well. We laughed and joked about being the Shell Creek syndicate enjoying good natured rivalries with folks from nearby towns: Basin, Buffalo, Worland, and Hyattville. After the races, our little syndicate stopped to celebrate with the crowd at a Tinsley bar before heading away. We'd still be back at the ranch before dark, we thought. Our kids had stayed in Shell to play with cousins and neighbors and we planned to be home early. We elbowed our way into the crowded bar, a smoke-filled, noisy, old, pine-log joint with the neon Coors beer sign blinking away, the jukebox belting out country songs. The barmaid hurried from table to table with a tray of drinks taking cash and making change from the apron she wore. We found a place to sit and joined the fun. Inside the bar, though, a big noisy fellow wandered annoyingly from table to table bragging about a horse he had back at his ranch faster than any of the winners, he said. And he wanted to bet a thousand dollars cash to prove it. He kept heckling everyone and somehow we heard ourselves saying, "Well, go home and get him. You're on, we'll take your bet." He left to get the horse telling us to get our money ready, he'd be right back. So, now, we waited at the track and no wonder Delmer was nervous. We all were. Our talk had been too tough, we agreed. When we pooled our money to cover the bet our syndicate only had $300 of the thousand dollars we needed. We emptied pockets and purses and dug through the jockey box of the pickup and that was all we could come up with. Cashing an out-of-town check on a holiday was difficult. ATMs had not been invented yet. The bartender reluctantly agreed to honor our friend Tom's check for the remaining $700 and we headed to the track with the money and our horse, each of us wondering if that other horse really could outrun ours and how to manage if we lost. With a lump in my throat I worried about buying groceries and paying school lunch money, which had been raised to $8 a month that year. Suddenly Stan turned to Delmer, "What the hell, Delmer? This isn't betting it all like ranching is. You don't think we're gamblers? We've been gambling for years. Gambling that the cow business is going to get strong again and that we're going to make it through. Gambling that it'll rain, that cattle prices'll come up, or that it we'll heal up after we've been bucked off or run over. We've walked home when the truck broke down, worked day jobs, made a living against the odds. We've gambled for high stakes, higher than this horse race for sure. Too late, anyway," Tom called, "here he comes. We're entered and it's a great day for the race." No one laughed. I stood with my hands clamped together to keep them from shaking and we all watched as the man unloaded a big, leggy, thoroughbred from his truck and we sized him up. "Man," Tom whispered, "he's built to run." Each of the two riders handed a thousand dollars cash to Dave, a local rancher who would flag the start and declare the winner. He rolled the bills up tight and snapped them with a hard click into the pocket of his orange, plaid, polyester shirt. As the horses pranced toward the starting line, people from the bar angled for a place to watch. When the flag dropped, the horses jumped out neck and neck, hooves pounding the dirt and kicking up so much dust that we couldn't see the finish line. We didn't know whether we'd won or lost until we heard Stan cheering at the far end of the track. "We did it. We did it. We won. We're okay." We jumped up and down and clapped each other on the back to congratulate ourselves but we felt more relief than triumph and we gathered up our money and left town as quickly as we could. We knew that a thousand dollars was a lot of money to the loser, too. I didn't know at the time how prophetic that conversation was about betting it all for our family's future and, too late now, we're entered. For a while there was no way to get out of ranching. Even had we wanted to do that. Many ranches were on the market, but few were selling. Ranch land had no recreational value then, no glamour, or prestige for millionaires or absentee owners. Bankers described ranchers like ourselves as land-rich, cash-poor; an expression that referred to the worth of a ranch on paper but that did not manifest into cash for paying debts. I saw our starting line judge Dave at a community picnic this past summer. We laughed and reminisced about that thrilling day and I couldn't help but notice that his once red hair and mustache were more gray now than red. "More than thirty years ago. Just imagine," Dave said, "lots of changes since then." We spoke of neighbors who made it through the tough times and others who didn't. Delmer and Marge were among those who sold out and moved away. On Shell Creek and throughout the Big Horn Basin only a few of the ranches of that time remain intact. Many others are divided into residential parcels without agricultural purpose. Our conversation honored the sadness brought by the passing of old friends and we shared personal disappointments from politics to business deals that didn't go our way. We laughed as we talked about fancy, modern tractors and ranch equipment people use nowadays and the convenience of computers and cell phones. I recalled how proudly we'd rattled our old blue truck into Tinsley that September day pulling an open top horse trailer. I never forget I told Dave that it could have gone the other way. We could have lost just as easily. Some good people went under those days and chose to bail out when they got a chance. Dave nodded in agreement and we sat quietly for a few minutes remembering how each of us had seen record high prices swing to record low more than once during past decades. And we acknowledge that we'd likely see that swing again. "Since then," I said, "Stan and I spent a lot of days trying to figure out how to be prepared when that happens next time. We worked hard," I said, "but that wouldn't have been enough. We had to ride it out. It took determination and moisture, of course, and at last a favorable cattle market. Change bigger than we could control, and our banker stuck with us." We did a lot of crazy things to make a little extra money and keep holding on. I reminded Dave that we'd gotten an outfitters license so we could take in paying customers who wanted to hunt elk or deer on our land. With a friend, Stan contracted to build fence for profit selling electric fence supplies to sweeten the deal. When our girls reached high school they waitressed in town in addition to doing ranch work and the boys put in long, hard days working side by side with Stan and me. We never gave up. We did every little thing we could think of to make a few dollars. It all added up. It was a gamble. Things could have gone the other way. We bet it all and we won. So, for you young women who are here in the crowd today and the men too, not to be exclusive here or make this gender specific, a lot of ranching does have to do with betting it all and holding it on and sticking it out and I don't have to tell you that and I want to give you encouragement and say that you are inspiring to many of us as well. I had some questions when I first had the book show up about whether I was writing this from a feminist posture or exactly what my intent was and I said, "Well, no, my intent was just to write things down that I remembered and that I wanted to preserve for ranching history and for friends and for our family and ourselves." And that's that I've done. It's a collection of stories, basically. And I'd like to read you a few paragraphs from this other chapter titled, the title of the book, "My Ranch, Too". On a fall afternoon I drove a heavy livestock truck down the steep, winding Shell Canyon Highway carefully, but not anxiously. Snow was predicted which would bring ice to the road and mud to the corral where we'd begun our day's work but here the highway was dry. The truck was loaded with noisy, bawling, big, calves just weaned. A full load and I paid attention, shift down, save the brakes, take the turns wide, especially don't get in a hurry. In my concentration I'd almost forgotten that a woman sat beside me until she spoke. "I envy you," she said, "things are so much easier for you. You have confidence. You know how to do things." Her husband, a neighbor, had offered to haul a load of calves for us, too, so that we could get them all down before the storm set in. His truck was behind us and Stan drove a third one in our caravan. The woman had volunteered to ride with me although we didn't know each other very well. "That's not the way it works," I said preoccupied and a little annoyed thinking to myself that things aren't always the way they look. I didn't always know how to do things. I tried, I learned, it doesn't have much to do with confidence. After a moment silence I wondered if I'd been a little sharp and I went on to tell her about the first time I drove a truck on this canyon road. I was scared to death. The men asked if I'd do it and they said it'd be just that one time if I could please help it would help so much and they would keep a close eye on me, they said. I fell for it. I got behind the steering wheel. I didn't have a test drive or a license at all. They just said don't ride the brakes and away I went. I've been doing it ever since. "We'll be past the worst of this in no time," I said to her, barely touching the brakes, shifting down, finding the lower gear as we saw the steep grade sign. One of those bright yellow ones showing the black shape of a truck comically nose-diving down, down, down. "I like to help," I said, "I like learning things, I like doing things, and I like seeing that the work gets done. It's my ranch too." And that's how I felt since forever, I guess. I grew up on a family ranch and we all felt that it was our ranch and we all put everything we could into it to see that it would succeed. And we've all gained and learned from so many new opportunities, new equipment, new techniques, new, you know, if you're going to stay in it you are going to diversify as they were saying last night. You're going to stay with the times, you're going to learn how to do new things, and then you can bet it all and hope you win. A lot of it, I confess, had to do with whether or not bankers would stay with us in those days. Okay, now I have to tell a joke because now I just feel uncomfortable and awkward. So, what does a cow sound like going by ninety miles per hour? By the way, my husband was like don't tell a joke, don't do it. Here I am. [Inaudible] Yeah. What does a cow sound like going by ninety miles per hour? Ready? Moo [laughter]. All right, ice breaker. So, "Letting Go of the Imposter" is the title of my presentation and if that isn't suggestive enough; I am not from a ranching background. Far from it, in fact, and finding my role and rhythm in a fifth-generation operation with so much history and a culture that was never inherently my own, finding that role was very hard for me but it was also very rewarding. As discussed by Mary we didn't have opportunities, women didn't have opportunities for a very long time that we do now. And so, I have had the honor and privilege to enter into a fifth-generation operation and find my way. So, years of self-criticism, years of imposter syndrome, years of feeling like I had to pretend to be something I'm not or prove how ranchy I am or prove my skill set as a rancher. What I realized after years is that what I have to offer is actually been with me this whole time and that's that I am an outsider. And as an outsider I can actually help usher our vision forward and I could help bridge a cultural gap. That's really important in order to spread the message that ranching is really or that certain ranch practices are actually crucial for thriving landscapes. So, how did tree-hugging artist, hippie, Jewish girl from southern California find herself as a gun-toting Annie Oakley? I will say this photo's kind of a joke. I've shot a gun maybe twice in the last 12 years. This is one of those times. At cans, I should say, not even live animals. Anyway, how did hippie become the role of the outsider in Montana? It all started in college when I met my, the first rancher I'd ever come to know who is subsequently became my husband, Cooper here. We both went to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California and I had just returned from studying abroad for a year in Florence, Italy. I was painting nude models and 500-year-old buildings every day. That was my reality and I found so much comfort in being vulnerable in a new environment where I didn't speak the language, I didn't know the culture, I didn't understand, you know, when I first arrived how to thrive. And then, with time, and with patience, and with experience you learn how to exist in any culture. So, little did I know that that would stick with me. It's very presently my mantra. So, anyway, I meet Cooper in college. This is actually a photo from my senior thesis art show. I tried to have this mock-up map here to demonstrate the difference between our backgrounds. Tucked-in plaid shirt, ag major, right there; that's telltale sign right there; unintentional uneven bangs, artist, art chick, right? Anyway. So, we meet, and he tells me things I had never, ever sought. Information I had never sought. For instance, we're talking about holistic management. We're talking about grazing systems. We're talking about what it actually means to manage land. I'm from Southern California, from Los Angeles. I never knew that these opportunities even existed beforehand, so I never thought to seek those opportunities or that information. Ethical hunting and how that's actually crucial for thriving elk and deer populations. It's not that I disputed that beforehand, it's just that I didn't know. So, that's just a glimpse into how I had become sold into the lifestyle. But, anyway, we're in college, we're young, we realize that we need to pursue our individual needs. So, I end up becoming an art intern at a gallery in LA for a time as well as a sign artist at Trader Joe's. I don't know if you guys are familiar with, well I guess it's Colorado so yes. Trader Joe's. There's not one in Montana, yet. So, that's what I was doing. Meanwhile, Cooper was living in Mexico working on different holistic ranches. And then, ultimately he was brought to right here to Colorado, Chico Basin Ranch. He apprenticed there for two years and we creatively found a way for me to be there, too. And that's that I became an artist in residence. And if you're unfamiliar with that concept, it's that artists who typically are from urban backgrounds will go to a place in order to, a place that's usually remote in order to focus on their work and, you know, make a whole body of new work. So, that's what I did. And then, I also helped Chico Basin Ranch see if that is a program that they wanted to have on their ranch. So, Toto I have a feeling that we're not in Kansas anymore? First of all, did you know that that's the real quote? Because I thought it was we're not in Kansas anyway. So, the reason why I put that there is because going to Chico Basin Ranch and learning how to apply all the principles that Cooper had been telling me over the last year. That was my very first exposure to ranching and boy, was I challenged in new ways that I had never been before. Exposure to a new culture, exposure to a new way of life. Now, these are principles that I had acquired while I was traveling in Italy and this was something that I was very -- I had experience in being vulnerable in a new place but never had I put my body, my physical body in circumstances where I would be uncomfortable, awkward, look bad, and be really bad at something at first. It took me a really long time to understand how to move livestock. It took me a really long time to understand that livestock and understanding the land and nature; that it's actually had been within me, but I had never known how to access it. So, impostor syndrome. Boom. Kicked in hard. And it was unlike a feeling I had ever had before. Far beyond feeling vulnerable in a new country. And-- So, Coop -- but they're the harshest critics. Yeah. So, Cooper and I both, we, you know, after years I continued to travel. I went to the Middle East by myself. I was more comfortable doing that than working livestock. Cooper also continued to go to different ranches. He went to Australia for a time and we both went to South America and he worked on two different ranches there and I wanted to learn Spanish and anyway, years of kind of in and out and trying to understand how we could meld our lives together. Me as an artist, him as a rancher and ultimately I moved to Sieben Livestock Company six years ago now and the imposter syndrome was still very much a part of my reality. The, let's see. Sorry, I have a video of this one. This video, can I play this from here? Let's see. It's worth seeing so I really hope this works because it's exactly how I internally feel. Right now, a little bit, too. The fact that you're watching me and not my husband's uncle, Whit Hibbard right now. He's someone you need to watch if you haven't. Please play. Okay. If it-- Behold. No. This is imposter syndrome in a nutshell. It's a swirl, yes. I found this on Instagram, and I thought, yes. I get you. Yes. Thanks for your help, yeah. Thank you. So, 66% of all women experience imposter syndrome to some degree and have in the last 12 months. Basically, it is that you, despite all of the information that proves that you are fully capable of doing whatever task, you constantly and continually feel like a fraud. And that was my reality and mainly it was because I knew despite clearly being able to move livestock at this point, understanding systems, grazing systems and fully competent in so many ways I still knew that I had a greater purpose that wasn't being served and I didn't really know what that was. And it took a little help from my friends. These buddies, along with a lot of women, a lot of women, helped empower me to realize that my truth and reality had actually been with me all along. And, again, that's that being an outsider, being a creative, being an artist, and being someone who really appreciates land stewardship, being new to ranching, being always inquisitive and really awkward all the time. All these things helped to lead me to my true passion which is, I started an artist residency program on the ranch. It's called AIR Seven, Artists in Residency Seven because the ranch is called Sieban Livestock Company and Sieban means seven in German, named after Cooper's great-great-grandfather Henry Sieban. Now, it was a family effort. It wasn't just something I decided to start. You don't get to be the outsider and just call the shots, you know? This was a family decision and it was a vulnerable decision because this is the first time that a fifth-generation branch has brought in outsiders to this capacity. And so, my mission really took that into consideration and really wanted to apply all of the principles that interest me. So, the mission is that AIR Seven is an artist residency program that provides space and time for artists to work on their projects while also creating an opportunity for cross-cultural pollination connecting urban artists and rural ranchers through mutually beneficial exposure to art and land stewardship. The program is also inspired by Cooper's grandmother, Jane, who had been an avid supporter of the arts and a ceramicist and it only seemed appropriate that this was my true calling; to pay homage to her and to also just carry this on on the ranch. So, the residency provides opportunities for crucial conversations. This is one of my artists, Julia, from Brooklyn. And we're not just talking about art. We're not just talking about ranching or land stewardship. We're talking about everything and bringing that sort of diversity to a place with a culture already set in stone just expands everyone tenfold. We're sharing ideas through art. Artists at the end of their residency, they have an art exhibit where our families on the ranch, the neighboring ranchers come and get to support the artist and learn more about her process or his process. And the conversations that emerge are fascinating because what we've come to find is that so much of artmaking and so much of land stewardship and so much of what we do as ranchers actually correlates with the process of artmaking. We're sharing ideas through ranching so here's my one of my writers, Douglas. He had spent the day branding with our employees and friends and just getting to use your body in a new physical way really understanding the physical demands of what it means to care for animals and be around the cultural phenomenon of branding, which is also as an outsider, fascinating. The dogs even love it. It's another video but we're not going to, it's not worth it. Musicians have been out there too and what's fascinating about this particular musician is that he was focused on, he composed his music based on landscape and his interaction with landscape. And you could really feel that through listening to it and obviously our employees really, really resonated with that. Now, I've also been lucky enough to participate in a women in ranching group which is put together by Western Landowners Alliance. You basically are, you spend a weekend with a bunch of fascinating, interesting women from different backgrounds despite thinking you're the only non-rancher. Everyone has that feeling, as we talked about Julie, yes. It was actually Elaine Patarini who is one of the founders of Women in Ranching who really encouraged me to focus on finding artists who can create interactive work with the landscape. And so, one of my artists, Garrett, he cut down an Aspen tree that had been dying. Cut it into these different shapes and then had the community get together and make a sculpture with it. And it was just the temporary sculpture but the focus on creating something with, that had originated on the land was very important to me. And it was fascinating to see how artists couldn't help but translate their work or their work had very clearly been impacted by our surroundings and their surroundings at the time. And this last artist I'm showing you, again, my artist from Brooklyn. She would forage for natural pigments on the landscape. So, she'd go around and fine ochre and other minerals and rusted pieces of metal, bone and grind it up. You add a medium to it and then she would make paintings out of those pigments. And so, that was really neat to see and a quote from one of the guys on the ranches. "I don't understand the paintings worth a damn but they sure are cool." So, there they are close up. That one that kind of looks like a moon surrounded by like a rust color, that's bone ash. I found that fascinating. So, now we come to this slide. This will wake you up. This is not me preaching that we shouldn't eat meat, folks. This is me; this slide was a little controversial for me even to decide to put up but anyway. The message that I'm hoping to bring to the artists that come to Sieben Livestock Company is that despite what we're reading, despite all the information they're trying to gain, despite all the information that they're used to reading, because this was me before I met Cooper and before I was introduced to ranching. I would read a headline like that and think what am I doing eating a burger? What am I doing, you know? I need to be more health-conscious for the planet and the reality is is that people are trying to do good. Just because they believe this, and we don't agree doesn't mean that they don't feel this way. And so, with the residency program my goal is to sit and listen to each other because in order to spread the message of how ranching is actually helping the planet we need to hear these people who believe things that we do not. We need to hear why they believe these things and we need to help them better understand ways to learn the opposite. Ways to actually learn how producers and farmers and ranchers all over the place are in waves. Learning new ways to better the land and are constantly improving the land. Sequestering carbon, you know, building soil resiliency. These are things that outsiders, to anything wouldn't necessarily come to the table knowing or come to the table comfortably accepting. These are things that need to be discussed and I find that being an outsider and being able to be a gateway has been a valuable for our ranch and our message. This is the Hibbard family constitution and I find it very beautiful. And that's that we are stewards first, owners second. Stewardship implies a nurturing of the asset for a purpose greater than the individuals who have control of the asset. Owners have a responsibility to add value to the land for the sake of the land. In this sense, the ranch lays as much claim to us as we do to it. And that's a message that I think should resonate with everyone, but people just don't have access to and it's our job to sit with our uncertainty to accept that we too are outsiders and to be able to spread our message. I didn't have an appropriate ending for this slide, but the sheep accept me now, that's what I will say. Thank you.

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>> My first career was as an actor, so I'm used to working with a script so I'm going to be reading some of this, so. So, it's the picture, okay. Thank you, thank you. And if I need to, as I advance it how do I [inaudible]. Either that one or, okay. All right. I'm of that like, you know, pre-technology generation, so. It's like my gosh, technology. So, our ranch is in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. So, this is just a picture from our front window. And I'm not going to really talk about our practices, I'm going to really sort of talk more about kind of the sort of really following a lot on what Mary and Ashley have both done. Really talking about sort of the why. Like what is it in our hearts that keeps us going and what is it in our hearts that causes us doubt? But you'll see these little hay piles. We cut and pile our hay rather than bale it. So, that's just, I'm not going to talk about that, though. In fact, when I was trying to figure out what to talk about I thought well do I talk about these practices that George has been doing since the 1980s and then I joined him twenty years ago or do I talk about the apprentice program that we co-created with the Quivira Coalition and have been mentors for now 11 years or like when you try to figure out like what twenty minutes or thirty minutes of like my life do I want to share with people? And what do I think would be of any value or interest or use to anybody else? And I have no idea what I chose is going to be any of those things but here goes. So, the poet Rilke has a quote that I really love which is about living into your question and that by living into your question you'll find your answer. And I really feel that a lot of, but ranching is for me but being a woman in ranching is and maybe what right relationship is with our planet is living into that question. I don't think any of us really know what the answer is from one day to the next but if we actively live with the question we will continue to find the right answer for this moment. And I think that that's one of the things that we all recognize is that what worked this year isn't necessarily what works next year whether that's with the people in your life, with your land, with your animals. So, I came home from my first Women in Ranching gathering feeling like a fraud, that I didn't belong because I can't ride a horse. Somehow it seemed that all of the other elements that go into ranching didn't matter because I couldn't ride a horse. Well, obviously, this has a much to do with my inner demons as it has with anything anybody said to me. But it really made me start to think about what do I believe Women in Ranching should be about? How do I define a woman who ranches? And while I was grappling with that question George, my husband, said, "Well, I think a man in ranching event. I need a place to talk about what's hard for me. I need a place to talk about my doubts. I need a place to where I can talk about how I feel like a fraud, how I feel like I don't know what I'm doing even though I'm third generation on this place." And I said, "Well, do you really think a bunch of guys are going to sit in a room and talk about being vulnerable?" You know. I said, "I think it'd be great. I'm all in but I'm not going to design this for you. You need to figure out what you want." But what I realized was that I think what we really need isn't so much a women in ranching movement, but we need a humans who ranch movement. How can we all be whole humans and do this work? Ranching needs to be a world where it's okay to tell the stories of tenderness and sadness as well as the stories about being funny or successful. We need to be able to sit and drink coffee and tell those stories. A lot of young women I know in ranching are focused on being as badass as the guys. And you do need to be as badass as the guys but what we really have to offer is how to be good ass too. How to be our full selves with this work. Working with our full capacities in order to face the challenges because that's what ranching needs in the 21st Century. So, I'm going to tell one story about what I love about ranching and sort of along the lines of a question that Ashley was asked. For four years I wrote an article in a magazine that was for, it was basically a food and health magazine and I was the only food producer who wrote for it. So, that thing about how do we get our story out to the people who are making judgments about our lives, this was one of the ways I tried to do that. So, meadowlark's trill in the chilled dawn air of this early erratic spring. Oriental poppies in the garden came up and wilted back with frost. The locals, the bushy currant decked in yellow blossoms, the red-brown glow of the crack willows and the cottonwood's kiwi-green halo cast by new leaf buds. All of these survived much better and the calves are doing well, too. I've always doted on the calves but this year I realize that I am in love with the mother herd. I love the mother words. Mother love, mother god, [foreign language], written as compound words they become icons rather than alphabetic symbols to me. And like an icon, the paint would in guilt is believed to be infused with the sacred nature of what it depicts. The word and the herd smooth my skin when I'm angry and rattled. A visit to the herd calms and revives me better than a nap or coffee. I'm returned to equilibrium hearing the cows murmur, grunt, and chew. And while I'm neither a cow nor a calf I feel invited into the sisterhood of the herd in the same way my friend Lorraine Boylard's [assumed spelling] mom took me in after fourth grade and made fried bologna sandwiches for us. I can't imagine ranching without a mother herd. Other ranches custom graze other people's cattle seasonally rather than live with the resident herd but I loved knowing the herd. This cow had a rough birth last year, this one hates the horses, and this one is likely to break my ribs. Maybe this love is ancestral, that whisper of Irish worry or queens heard within the mooing and munching that washes over me like my mom singing lullabies. Maybe it's that all my human mothers are gone. My mom, my stepmother, my mother-in-law and the generation's rich matriarchy of the herd fills the gap. So, I think this is one of the things I love most about ranching. I feel invited into the sisterhood. I'm part of the matriarchy; belonging. Isn't that really what we all want? According to the social scientist Brene Brown belonging is the innate human desire to feel part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal we often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging but often barriers to it because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. So, belonging requires me to be myself rather than altering myself in order to belong but we all need a herd in order to feel safe. Well, my first herd was my birth family of actors, musicians, writers, and attorneys. So, how the hell did I end up a rancher? Paradox: a statement or tenant contrary to received opinion, self-contradictory, a phenomenon conflicting with perceived notions. George and I are definitely a phenomenon that conflicts with perceived notions. We couldn't have grown up more different from each other. I grew up in a small city, began acting lessons at seven, spent every summer day at the beach and I wanted to be a dryad, a tree spirit. George grew up on the family ranch, a sheep ranch in the High Lonesome San Luis Valley playing in the dirt building freeze bugs from old car parts and walking behind the sheep from the valley floor to the high country every summer. I never had a date in high school because I was shy. He never had a date because he went to school smelling like the milk cow. I protested the Vietnam War and he was ready to serve. How could these two people possibly belong together? And how could they possibly run a ranch together? After spending only five days in each other's company and that was with twenty students and two other faculty with the college group I was there visiting with and writing a series of love letters to each other over the ensuing three weeks, George and I spent three days together talking about all of the things we thought we would never agree on. Things like gun control and the Wilderness Act. Not normal dating conversation. We decided after those three days to give it a shot. Either it would work, or it wouldn't and we were in bed during most of those conversations. And at some point George got into a tight spot in the conversation and in order to change the subject he proposed marriage. And what was more unexpected was that I accepted, and I never even wanted to be married. He's convinced it was the border collies that did it. Everywhere in nature you find examples of diverse species living together in mutually supportive relationships. George and I may be the same species, but our differences are real and continue to be real and challenging. We have a lot of respectful debate as a couple. We cajole, tease, and force each other to open our minds and our business, our ranch, and our lives are better for it. And we are better versions of ourselves as well. So, one thing I know is that it is really hard to embrace paradox and most of the time we try to run away from it. But it's really worth trying to embrace it. And we can't get away from it; life is full of paradox. It exists between people, but it also shows up between our desire to love the land and our need to use the land in order to survive. Our relationship to the planet isn't one thing or the other. It isn't just love. It isn't just spiritual. It's also utilitarian. Paradox also exists within each of us. The contradictory impulses and opinions we have inside ourselves. I'm constantly working with the contradiction of being a deep ecologist, someone who believes that all life has intrinsic value separate from any value humans place on it but I also raise animals for food. How can those two things co-exist? Which one is up, actually? I just needed to orient myself. Partnership; partnership comes from the Latin partake meaning equal in value, equal footing. Everything we do is partnership. We're partners with the cows, we're partners with the sun, the grass, the federal agencies with our apprentices, with the farmer in the farm field where our steers finish, with the earthworms and dung beetles, with the harriers that hunt our piles all winter, and the eagles who eat the carcasses in the spring. The definition of partnership makes it clear that we have to deal with the paradox that your goals are as important to me as my goals; equal footing. And I think most of us don't think about that when we seek out partnerships. We're motivated because we need something that you have; an idea, money, land, resources. When I seek out partnership I'm not necessarily looking to make your values my values, your goals my goals. And that's one of the reasons our partnerships fail. Our partnership with other people, our partnership with the land, our partnership with our planet often fails or is limited because we don't come to partnership with the intention of making the needs and goals of the other as important as our own. But partnership makes us embrace the paradox of mutual need with the, and with mutual need and the goals seem to conflict with each other. For example, George likes to watch TV in hotel rooms. I want to read and go to bed early. What's the win-win solution? I bring noise-cancelling headphones on trips and look for hotels with nice lobbies and he turns the TV off at nine. Not all paradox and partnerships solves as easily as that. We're all working with this all the time, those of us that live and work with land. We do it when we leave the grass behind, when we don't take every bite. We're actively choosing to value the needs of soil microbes who need shaded soil surface to survive as well as the needs of our cows as well as the needs of our pocketbook. Another example is Sweetgrass Co-op which my husband actually co-founded with Dan Flitner, Mary's son. In the last few years, the price of organic cattle has dropped drastically. The co-op has two markets. An organic market and a nonorganic market. This last year the members of the co-op decided that because those price points are so different we were going to average the price so that everybody in the co-op is getting the same price regardless of which market they're selling into so that all of the cattle can still run through the co-op if we stayed siloed in our markets organic or nonorganic. Some cattle would have to be sold outside of the co-op and the co-op wouldn't benefit. So, some people chose to take a lower price in order to average the price so that the co-op as a whole would stay strong. That's partnership. There's another kind of partnering that may be even harder to navigate. That's partnering with the different elements of our own character. There's a part of me that's really shy and awkward with new people and gets really nervous in situations like this. There's also a part of me that loves telling the story and loves talking with people. I'm always having to navigate that challenge inside myself let alone any challenge I have with anyone else. And that brings me to wholeness. Wholeness; in good and sound condition not divided into parts. So, this is what it's about as far as I'm concerned. This is what I want, and hope Women in Ranching can be and can do as a movement and as individuals. It can help us create homes and workplaces and relationships that keep us all in good and sound condition, not divided. To be whole and to be living wholeheartedly and to be clear to quote Brene Brown again, "Living wholeheartedly means love and belonging are irreducible needs of all people, we're hardwired for connection. It's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering." Number two; people who feel loveable and worthy don't necessarily have easier lives, but they have more ability to handle what's hard. Number three; believing you are worthy doesn't just happen. It's cultivated by choice and practice. Number four; the main concern of wholehearted men and women is living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection. And number five; the wholehearted identify that vulnerability is the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection. Being able to be vulnerable is key to living life as a whole person. So, here's an example. When George and I met I'd been a vegetarian for 25 years. After about six months I knew I needed to have a really hard conversation with him. I couldn't ranch if it meant we were selling our animals into the feed lot system. This was a scary thing to talk about. It might mean that our marriage ended before we even had our wedding. As it turned out he had never liked selling his cattle into the conventional system, but he didn't know what else to do. He didn't feel that it was okay to acknowledge that to anyone else. He didn't even think he could acknowledge it to himself. It had never been safe for him to say, to even himself, that he wanted to try to build an alternative. But we both were vulnerable, we were able to have that conversation, and as a result we started to build a business so that we could grass-finish our own cattle. It hasn't been easy. I wouldn't say we'd figured it out but rather than pushing the conflict away and hiding it in a dark corner we decided to face it. And as a result, we felt like we have a business that actually reflects our values and our hearts and we feel happy and more whole as a result. And that's not a judgment on anybody else who does choose to sell into the conventional market. It just wasn't what we wanted to do. So, this is what I think this new iteration of Women in Ranching is about. Women have always been in ranching. When this women in ranching movement sort of started, George like to talk about his Aunt Virginia, who we all called the wicked witch of County Road T. Aunt Virginia is 95 years old. She runs her ranch with her daughter. She is tough as nails, drinks whiskey, smokes cigarettes even though she lost her breasts to cancer. She could care less. She's blind, she's out there in her little runabout feeding cattle every day, mean as snot, absolutely true to herself. There've always been women in ranching. But one of the things that I watched in the 1980s is that as women started to enter the business world they actually had to be meaner, tougher and harder on themselves and on other people than the men in order to be taken seriously. That's the Aunt Virginia model of being a woman in ranching. I don't think that's what it's about. I think it's about all of us being able to be our full selves as ranchers, tender and tough, not just badass but good ass too. We want to be whole and authentic versions of ourselves to be liked for who we really are, supported when we're worried, forgiven when we screw up. And because I love Brene Brown I'm going to quote her one more time. "We want workplaces and families and lives where we feel we can show up as whole people and when we build those kinds of lives and families and businesses we have more of the things we need. We have more empathy, more trust, more innovation, more creativity and God we need creativity at this point in our lives with ranching and with our relationship with the planet." Inclusivity, equity; it's easier to have those hard conversations. It's easier to give and get feedback and we're better at problem-solving if we feel that we can show up as our whole, true, flawed selves. And we have less of the things that get in the way. Shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. One of the big reasons that apprentices choose to come into our ranch and pursue a life in sustainable ranching is that they want their lives to have purpose. They want an authentic life. They want a life where the change they're making and the work they do is tangible and that they see immediate consequences. They don't want a cyber world. They don't want a cyber life. They want their work and their selves to be congruent rather than siloed into different hours of the day. They crave wholeness. This is how I want to live and that's where I want to work. So, we strive to create an apprenticeship and a workplace that lets us all come with our silliness, our flaws, our creativity, and our mistakes. George and I talk about what's hard for us. We talk about our screw-ups. We talk about how after all these years we still don't get it right. We try to model what it means to show up as whole people and we also talk about our hopes, what makes us happy, and we laugh a lot with our apprentices. We asked them to be whole people at work, to talk about their concerns and fears and hopes rather than leave them at home like most workplace culture requires. I fiercely believe that the critical thinking and creativity that is needed to face the challenges of sustainable agriculture in the 21st Century cannot come from cutting big parts of ourselves off and leaving them out of the conversation. We need to talk about our concerns openly; not take our grief, our anger, or our uncertainty out on each other. Or if we do we need to recognize when we've done that and say that we're sorry. My husband was in his fifties before he was able to start saying "good job" to somebody who worked for him because he didn't grow up in a family where that was ever said to him. That's not the work world I want to live in. It's not the work world these young people want to live in and I'm damn sure we that can change it and make it better if we decide we want to. So, the answers we need for how to live in right relationship with our planet are only going to arise if we're living in right relationship with ourselves, with one another, in wholeness and in partnership. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

>> Great. Well, thank you all. This has is a bit of a different take on my usual ranch presentation, to be asked to think about being a woman in ranching and I appreciate the opportunity. It actually made me observe some patterns and ideas that I'd never thought about before. The Ranney Ranch lies in rugged Mesa Country at the heart of New Mexico. We're at 6,200 feet, a land of the limits as is much of the Southwest. Not suitable for farming and vulnerable to overuse. In its rough limestone-capped mesas and open canyons we still find echoes of the Native American heritage of the 1100s and the homesteaders of the 1880s. Corona's boom occurred between 1930 and 1950. The 1940 WPA Guide to New Mexico lists the population of 717 and describes Corona as a thriving, trading, and shipping center steadily growing in importance. Well, now we have barely 100 people in the town and evidence of the typical rural challenge in our country. My parents bought two adjacent ranches near Corona in 1968. They were enchanted by the town and by the old rock headquarters built in 1911. My father loved the West as a young man but became a lawyer in Chicago. At the age of 50, thinking ahead to his retirement, he acted on his dream and bought these ranches in New Mexico. My mother was on for the ride. Fortunately, they were both competent horsemen. They lived in this home as they built their headquarters and barns and finally an adobe home. I was 18 at the time heading off to college in the East but made a detour to stay in New Mexico. I was so taken with the ranch and I spent much of two years exploring on horseback and drawing the landscape. I brought my husband-to-be here in our early years of courting and happily he passed the riding test. The ranch was a gathering place for my family. My three brothers and their families, wonderful to bring our children here over the years to know their grandparents and get a taste of the life in the West. My dad yearned to fit into the local ranching culture and over the years he did carve a niche and became much loved. He had many, many dear friends. He managed the ranch as a conventional cow/calf operation through the 1970s and '80s with our average precipitation of 14 inches a year, experimented with breeds and eventually settled down into an Angus-Hereford herd, had a number of managers until he hired Melvin Johnson in 1984 who's raised his family on the ranch and is still with us today. He followed a model of continuous grazing during his tenure; 19 herds on 19 pastures. There was a monoculture of blue grama, and I remember how proud he was of that blue grama as were our neighbors. It's a terrific native perennial; nonetheless, it was a monoculture. And when the drought arrived in the mid 90s that monoculture suffered. My dad was a tough codger and he remained very closely involved with the operation of the ranch until his death in 2002. He left a family partnership to my three brothers and myself, our 10 offspring, and our spouses. He talked often of me running the ranch as I was the most interested and had spent the most time there but like most patrician ranchers he never made room for me. And I remember, I recall in the 1970s trying to reason with him about his brush clearing techniques. He wanted no part of it. So, I was a neophyte with no training when I took over in 2002. It finally occurred to me the other night as I packed for this conference almost twenty years later how incredibly foolish that must have been of me to think I could do this. Happily, for me Melvin resisted a few local offers as manager on other ranches and stayed on. This was serendipity for me. My boys, two boys had just gone off to college and my federal judge husband in Sacramento was working so hard he barely noticed my increasing absences. I had grown up on a farm in northern Illinois. My dad came home from the war convinced that he wanted to raise his children on a farm, so he commuted an hour and a half each way to his job in Chicago. We had sheep, cattle, and horses. I was the youngest of four, only girl with three older brothers so I learned to scrap from the get-go. For years I participated in 4-H in horsemanship and wildlife conservation. Still, my proudest moment was winning the adult barrel race at age 11. College in the 1960s: assassinations, race riots, women's rights, the first Earth Day. I married soon after still focused on the ranch and reading literature of the Old West. I recently found a college paper entitled "From Range to Ranch: Breed Improvement in the Open Range". Out of the blue I discovered that I could bring together my interest in land and the earth sciences with design in the field of landscape architecture and environmental planning. David and I moved to California where I worked in planning firms and had actually some very interesting jobs planning ranches. It was a perfect chip for me. This was still an isolating time for women. We were receiving constantly mixed messages from our parents and from society. You should be working; you should be at home with your children. We had to forge ahead confused and often angry but following our own stars. Generally, we were on our own with few women around us with very few advisors and role models. During the 80s I learned Valance Avery [assumed spelling] and during the 90s of Courtney White [assumed spelling] and his worked with Quivira and by the fall of 2002 following my father's death I was at a Quivira conference in Albuquerque. I met Kirk Gadsea [assumed spelling], HMI instructor and by the spring of 2003 he was with us at the ranch. I had made my first map of the ranch and Kirk was helping us plan our first grazing plan with my son, Joe. Much to Melvin's horror we were immediately down to two herds from 19 and by 2004 one herd. Melvin and I now do presentations together and he tells the crowd that he thought we'd very shortly be back to the old management style. I was an oddball in the community three times over. I was not yet full time on the ranch. I worked with a manager and I was a woman. Somehow these differences created space for me and now I see that being a daughter and a woman gave me the freedom and latitude to do the work I did. And as accustomed as I was in both family and work to being the only woman, after three brothers I had two boys, I had no hesitation stepping up. Frankly, I don't think it would have been as easy for a guy. I was a woman. I was crazy anyway. And Melvin could afford to be more tolerant of a woman in that situation. I did have women friends in Corona. They were strong and independent. Being a woman for them was not limiting although they were definitely used to not getting much credit for the work they did. And over time I got to know the neighboring ranching men through long days moving cattle and working in the pens. I don't need to give -- here's Melvin with me. I don't need to give this crowd the usual speech about the benefits of rotational grazing and holistic management. We witnessed a remarkable resurgence of native grassland from monoculture to healthy diversity even during the drought years. In three years, we went from five native grasses to over thirty. And today we have over fifty perennial, native perennials. Numbers of cool seasons grasses, too, that had not been on the ranch at all which extend our growing season. No seeding, no irrigation, no artificial fertilizer, just grazing animals. It was this experience, particularly during drought years that convinced Melvin of the new approach. He witnessed our resilience compared to neighboring ranches threw in his support and even speaks publicly with me now about how this came about. We run one herd now on 35 pastures with short grazing periods and rests of a year to often two. Here are three fence line photos. I particularly like showing these to skeptical environmentalists as we're on the left. This is during one of the last years of the drought, but we still have turf on our side. Two years later, 2013, some rain has returned and incredible resilience. A year later here we are but the real point is that we graze our animals for three to four weeks, our whole herd, on this pasture during the year and our neighbor has had no cows on this land for twenty years. We started marketing grass-fed beef, grass-fed grass-finished in 2003, the initial inspiration to provide healthy product to the Southwest. Only 2% still of New Mexico's beef is consumed in state and processed, we process locally at small family processors. We're AGA and AWA. For many years I was president SWGLA, Southwest Grass-Fed Livestock Alliance. My son, Joe, handled our online sales for years and last year his wife, my daughter-in-law, took over which has been wonderful, also representing us at local events. Here she is where, for the second year in a row we were voted the best burger at the Santa Fe Green Chili Cheeseburger Smackdown. Thank you. My husband always laughs at that. If I could leave one idea for posterity it would be to market our calves at weaning off our cow/calf operations for grass-fed sale. We've marketed this grass-fed product now for 18 years and with success. It's a management model that's an ecological and economic fit for the semi-arid West and avoids the need for finishing our feed lots. It occurred to me the other day that the only producers who have picked up on this idea are women. I know three in New Mexico. The male response is typically lifted eyebrows and occasionally later, well, I penciled it out, it does seem to work but that's about it. We call is rose veal. In Italy it's called [foreign language spoken] and in France [foreign language spoken] and it's a specialty product. Just last year the Wendell Berry Center in Kentucky started marketing it so we may see a little more movement. In 2016, we caught the eye of the New Audubon Conservation Ranching Program and we became the New Mexico pilot ranch. It was a lot of work and I was just so very interested in it that I spent a lot of time helping them reframe their protocols for ranchers which were far too onerous. And it was possible, here again, that being a woman and new to the ranching community helped me take up this work. Audubon realized that 70% of the US grasslands are in private hands. So, to turn around the steep decline of grassland birds they really needed to reach these ranchers and cattle were the management key. Here was an opportunity to spread regenerative ranching techniques and increase biodiversity across the West by offering a premium for beef grazed and bird friendly land. I'm very hopeful about this and it's providing a new market for us and garnering support for ranching. When I think of the projects we worked on over the past twenty years perhaps being a woman gave me the freedom to push the envelope. A few times I've, of course, I felt I was horsed around on business deals or calf sales and had to stand my ground. They say women are better multitaskers, so I thought well, too bad I don't have selfies of me both setting up the workshops, running the workshops, making the meals, the beds and cleaning up but there you go. We cleared over 3,000 acres of juniper within our CS equipped support, so our grasslands rebound. We've put in over fifty miles of rolling dips we call water harvesting, conservative estimate of retaining over 10 million gallons of water and the land a year and erosion control structures a la Bill Zedyke [assumed spelling], helped by the Quivira Coalition among others. Last May we had our first prescribed fire which was very exciting with the help of partners for fish and wildlife. These practices have boosted our productivity both ecologic and economic over time and having Melvin as a manager meant that I had the time and flexibility to pursue community commitments. I joined the Quivira Board in 2009 and inspired by the potential to mitigate climate change by a large-scale management of grasslands. In 2010 gave my first talk on the Carbon Ranch at a conference of the same name. Many of you have spoken about the family ranch, how it is both challenging and inspiring and yes that is very, very true. Although I speak much of my dad I'm always aware that I stepped into my mother's shoes. She died in 1987 when I was 37 and I felt very strongly the duty that it was my duty to hold the family together. I'm grateful to my family, my brothers for their support, my son and his wife for their work in the grass-fed and our unsung hero my niece, Sarah, who did our bookkeeping, these people never see the light of day, for 12 years and compiled 10 years worth of encyclopedic CSP reports for us. Perhaps also in my mother's vain we have hosted three writers and artists at the ranch at our old rock house. This is artist John Beerman from the East who then put on a show in Santa Fe and a writer Sean McCoy who recently started an online journal which you should check out called Contra Viento, which is writings from rangelands across the world; it's really pretty interesting. And finally, most inspiring we were able to participate in the Quivira New Agrarian Program. Our first apprentice was a woman horror of horrors. It was a huge challenge for Melvin to bring on a woman but a wonderful success. Jesse Adcock from West Virginia, Ben Vanderhoof from California, and Mitchell Robert [assumed spellings] from Oregon. And I'd like to say a special thank you to Julie Sullivan for carrying us through all that time. It wasn't what you expect. Most of these young people don't come from rural backgrounds so it's all new to them. My theory is that young people, many young people today are going into agriculture to find a contemplative space in our crazy world and interestingly many of them are artists and writers as well. It's pretty great. This has been a journey for me. My strongest emotion now is gratitude for all who have inspired me through this time and the difficult moments, the cattle, the horses, my family, Melvin, my friends, advisors, and Quivira pals, and of course wonderful women, and the land. Now my task is to work on the future of our ranch which I do with joy as I welcome two new cowhands onto the land. Both male, of course. There you go. Thank you.

[ Applause ]

>> Thank you for listening to the Art of Range Podcast. You can subscribe to and review the show through iTunes or your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. Just search for Art of Range. If you have questions or comments for us to address in a future episode send an email to For articles and links to resources mentioned in the podcast please see the show notes at Listener feedback is important to the success of our mission empowering the range line managers. Please take a moment to fill out a brief survey at This podcast is produced by Conner's Communications in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University. The project is supported by the University of Arizona and funded by the Western Center for Risk Management Education through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

[ Music ]

Mentioned Resources

For more information on rangelands and rangeland science, visit the Rangelands Gateway.

The forum was sponsored by:
National Grazing Lands Coalition
Colorado Cattlemen's Assn
Western Landowners Alliance
Bird Conservancy of the Rockies
Colorado Dept. of Agriculture
AgRisk Advisors
Colorado Sheep and Wool Authority
Bamert Seed Company

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