First Annual

Ranch Sustainability Forum

May 12-14, 2014



Purpose: To provide informational resources and tools for ranch stakeholders that will help provide healthy and sustainable ranches in 2020 and beyond.

For reservations call Emily at Padlock Ranch 307-655-2264 or


Draft agenda;  some changes may be made but speakers are confirmed.

May 12

Low stress livestock handling:  Whit Hibbard (at Sheridan College) ($30)

Range monitoring; Charlie Orchard (at Padlock Ranch) Learn the Land EKG techniques for range monitoring.  Size limited to 20 people.  15 spots left. ($200 which is one half of regular price)


May 13

Low stress livestock handling (continued)

Range Monitoring (continued)

5:30-6:30pm  Open house and Social Hour (University of Wyoming Ag Experiment Station, Watt Building)

7:00pm  Dinner with keynote speaker  (Bob Langert, VP McDonald’s Corporate Sustainability)($20)


May 14 Symposium ($20)

Dr. Paul Young; Agriculture at Sheridan College

Wayne Fahsholtz; “Why Are We Talking about Sustainability?”

Dr. Jude Capper  “Marketing in a World of Sustainability Concerns.”

Burke Teichart   “Three Keys to Healthy Ranch Businesses”

Dr. Trey Patterson  “Real Life, Low Cost Replacement Heifer Strategies”

WWF speaker; “Why WWF is concerned about ranching”

Brian Mealor; U of Wyoming;    Range Weed Status and Control


Hosted by: Sheridan College, Padlock Ranch and Fahsholtz’s AgWin Group, First Interstate Bank,

University of Wyoming,


Contact: For reservations call Emily at Padlock Ranch 307-655-2264 or

Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation urge well owners to learn about the importance of groundwater safety, maintenance

Photo: Evelyn Smith

Photo: Evelyn Smith

Whether for drinking, irrigation, industry or as part of a healthy ecosystem, groundwater is a vital natural resource affecting all walks of life. The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) and Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation (WNRF) ask Wyomingites to learn more about their groundwater wells.

 “Wyoming’s families, businesses and ecosystems are dependent on healthy groundwater supplies,” WACD Executive Director Bobbie Frank said. “We encourage everyone to join us in learning about proper stewardship of this precious resource and to take action to ensure its abundance.”

Groundwater is a renewable natural resource that comes from precipitation that soaks into the soil and moves downward to fill openings in beds of rock and sand. These geologic formations that contain groundwater are called aquifers.

In many areas of Wyoming, surface water is fully appropriated and residents are relying more and more on groundwater.

“Groundwater appropriations have steadily increased over the years. Increased development places a greater demand on the state’s groundwater resources and requires a more comprehensive view when acting as stewards of Wyoming’s water,” Lisa Lindemann, Ground Water Administrator, Wyo. State Engineer’s Office, said.

 More than 75 percent of Wyoming citizens depend on groundwater for part or all of their drinking water supply. Nationwide, groundwater supplies nearly half of all drinking water and 40 percent of irrigation water, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

It is the sole responsibility of well owners to test, protect and maintain private drinking water wells. Well owners should be aware of potential groundwater contaminants, their health risks and how to test for them.

According to the Wyo. Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division (WDEQ/WQD), the most common contaminants are nitrates, bacteria, arsenic and uranium. Consuming polluted groundwater poses serious health risks for anyone, but is especially harmful to infants, young children, pregnant or nursing women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Testing groundwater can help ensure its safety. The Water Quality Rules & Regulations Chapter 23A provides a complete list of common contaminants for which to test, but the WDEQ/WQD recommends at least annual testing for bacteria. Well owners should also test when there is an unexplained illness in the household, someone in the household is pregnant or nursing, there is a spill of chemicals or fuels near a well, neighbors find a contaminant in their water or if there are changes in the color, taste, or odor of water. There are several water quality laboratories located around Wyoming and in adjacent states. These laboratories can explain to homeowners how to collect water samples and what constituents to analyze for.

For proper well maintenance, the NGWA also recommends keeping a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between wells and hazardous materials. Regularly check the well cover or cap to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Well owners should also have their septic tank cleaned and serviced every two years to eliminate the opportunity for waste backing up and unwanted materials leaching into the soil. This will affect the operation and life of the system and leachfield.

While there is no government agency that regulates water quality from private drinking wells in Wyoming, homeowners can get information about groundwater safety from the following sources:

  • A local Conservation District. Visit for local contact information.
  • The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office at 307-777-6163.
  • The Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division at 307-777-7781.

To learn more about groundwater and how to keep your drinking water supply safe, visit, and

 About The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation

The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) provides leadership for the conservation of Wyoming’s soil, water and all other natural resources. WACD works to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat, protect the tax base and promote the health, safety and general welfare of Wyoming citizens through a responsible conservation ethic. The Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation (WNRF) is dedicated to conserving Wyoming’s natural resources, heritage and culture. A sister organization to WACD, WNRF has established partnerships with many local, state and federal agencies, as well as private and volunteer organizations to serve as a strong foundation for all future efforts initiated by WACD and WNRF. Call 307-632-5716 or visit to learn more.

Contact Bobbie Frank, WY Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director, at or 307-632-5716

We are excited that March will bring the first day of spring along with National Ag Week. Starting March 23rd – 29th National Ag week will be in full swing, but we decided why just start on the 23rd? So our contest is starting March 17th and will end March 28th. We want to gain as much participation as possible from you, your neighbors and friends. Let your friends know!

If you would like to learn more about National Ag Week please follow this link for more information:

Contest Date: March 17th – March 28th (National Ag Week: March 23rd-29th, special recognition to March 25th as National Ag Day!)

Contest Options:

Cutest Kids in Ag

Young cowboy riding miniature bull at the Wyoming State Fair during Star Spangled Banner

Photo by Liz Lauck of Wheatland, Wyo.

  • Do you want to share how cute your kids are? Take photos of your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friends out on the ranch or farm
  • Send them into Haley Lockwood ( and she will post them to the RealRanchers Facebook page
  • The photo with the most ‘Likes’ at the end of the contest will win an agricultural related children’s book

WYO Calf Watch 2014

Whose got the cutest calf crop this year? We'll let you be the judge!

Whose got the cutest calf crop this year? We’ll let you be the judge!

  • Calving season is in swing and we want to see your calf crop for 2014! Take photos of the new babies while you are out calving, checking, doctoring or just admiring their cute faces.
  • Send photos to Haley Lockwood ( and she will post them to the RealRanchers Facebook Page
  • The photo with the most ‘Likes’ at the end of the contest will get a chance to pick from a selection of Wyoming Stock Growers Merchandise

The Rancher and Farmer: How I work in Ag

Rancher Nikki Marincic watches the Price-Sommers cattle during fall gather near Pinedale, Wyo.

Rancher Nikki Marincic watches the Price-Sommers cattle during fall gather near Pinedale, Wyo.

  • For ALL Ranchers and Farmers
  • Submit your agricultural story and tell us how you work in agriculture and why it is important to you!
  • Story may have up to 5 photographs included
  • We ask that stories be no longer than a page in length
  • Story due: March 21st 
  • Submit story, and photos, to Haley Lockwood at
  • Story will then be judged by the WSGA staff  and the selected  Rancher and Farmer will win a one year Membership to the Wyoming Stock Growers Association
  • We will then post the winner’s story to the RealRanchers blog during National Ag Week!

Wyoming History Quiz Bowl

Picture 113_Edited

How much do you think you know about Wyoming? 

  • Every other day starting March 18th we will post history questions related to anything Wyoming on the RealRanchers Facebook page! ( March 18, 20, 24, 26, and 28th)
  • First correct answer will win a special prize related to Wyoming

We look forward to your participation in the National Ag Week contests and if you have any questions please contact Haley Lockwood at!

It’s about 7 degrees right now, which based on recent temperatures, is downright warm.

I’ve been taking advantage of the frigid temps by staying inside and doing some office work. One of these projects was to organize the files on my computer. As I looked through 2013 photos, I ran across these images highlighting a visit from several Canadian producers.


Our friends, Brook Brockman with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Haley Lockwood from the Wyoming Stock Growers Association guided a tour in October 2013 for Jolene, Andrea and Erika of the Canadian Cattlemens Young Leaders, along with Pamela Rose of the Canadian Consulate in Denver.


The Wyoming ladies took the Canadian gals on a tour of several SE Wyoming ag operations including our small, family farm where my husband and I raise corn, dry beans and malt barley. We’re anything special, we just can’t say no when people ask us to do stuff.

I gave the gals a general overview of our farming operation. And by general, I mean the very little I actually know about our operation. I’m still a farm wife in training.


Then I took them down to the field where my Farmer Husband was combining corn. He gave them the real story. It was really cool to compare operations. The gals were from different parts of Canada, so we got some different perspectives of livestock production and farming from our neighbors to the north.


Pamela gave us some neat goodies that represent the trade partnership between the US and Canada. Included was a handout that gave specific statistics, including the fact that in 2011, $17 million worth of goods were traded between Wyoming and Canada. Visit this website to learn more. I also urge you to visit Erika’s ranch blog! The neat thing about agriculture is, even though our operations vary greatly from state to state and country to country, we all share a lot in common.

From RealFarmer Liz Lauck – Wheatland, Wyo.

Read more from Liz at

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From our WSGA friend and contributor, Roy Barnes 

Denver, Colo. Once again, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) participated in the Wyoming Day Festivities of the National Western Stock Show Saturday, Jan. 25, by taking down a group of Wyomingites from Cheyenne for a day trip so they could enjoy the sights and sounds of the event, the 108th in total that showcases the best of rodeo cowboys, ranchers, plus other livestock and agricultural producers over a 16-day period.

I was invited by the WSGA to cover this trip, but my observations in this article were not vetted by the organization.

Some 40 people took part in the Wyoming Day festivities that the WSGA organized, including those who drove themselves to the stock show, which helped to get the grand total stock show attendance to 640,022, according to a Jan. 26 National Western Stock Show press release

The crowd included Myra Hannah, whose “centennial ranch” (a ranch that’s been in the same family for 100 years-plus) is some 30 miles from Wheatland, Wyo. She has traveled down to the stock show via the bus ride for several years with her daughter, though she does have some fond memories of a time when the trip was made via train from Cheyenne to Denver and back, saying it “was a little slower, but very interesting,” especially when she got to sit in the observation car to take in the sights during the late 1960s/early 1970s. But she keeps coming back because, “I…enjoy it. It’s a handy way to go and interesting to be with the group, for I know some of the people” who take the annual bus trips.

Scott Sims, who has a cattle ranch in Albany County, Wyo., came down with his wife and daughter for the first time by bus. He commented that he doesn’t get a lot of leisure time due to his duties at his ranch, but appreciates the opportunities “to get away form the ranch [to have] a little vacation time, family time.” Furthermore, he like to see the numerous exhibitor booths and stands that feature the latest in farm and ranching equipment “because you learn what the new technologies are, the new exhibits to check out to bring back home to help make changes in the operation.” He was hoping to check out the draft horse show, an event which actually took place in the early afternoon.Picture 028There were plenty of activities going on throughout the day both inside and outside, where the weather was very sunny and mild. One could pay a fee to pose with a Texas Longhorn, while another booth was charging to pose with a bald eagle or an owl, which drew a steady of crowd of onlookers taking pictures with their own cameras. Even longer waits could be found (10-15 minutes) on the second floor of the Exhibition Hall where the petting zoo was located. Here, children and adults got the chance to not only pet, but feed the sheep, lambs, goats, kids, ducks, geese, and pigs (the latter wouldn’t look at anyone, but kept their snouts on the ground to forage for food). One little lamb was laying down by itself along a wall of the petting zoo, not trying to freeload off of the humans like all the other friendly animals were.

The luncheon at the National Western Club featured a buffet which included prime rib, brisket, and Polish sausage, along with potatoes, salads, desserts, etc. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, First Lady Carol Mead and their children attended the luncheon.

Picture 024

After lunch, the participants had time to take in more of the goings-on of the stock show such as a bison auction and the draft horse show. Colorado State University once again displayed a large farm exhibit to educate the stock show goers about the importance of agriculture in the daily lives of everyone. This included demonstrations and talks by beekeepers, and hands-on exhibits where people could look at and handle various kinds of grains, including oats, millet, and barley.

The rodeo was deemed the equivalent of “The AFC and NFC Championship Games,” per the public address announcer, who also spoke of God and His role in the lives of cowboys and cowgirls, much to the approval of the 8,000-plus in attendance, who also heard the announcer espouse the appreciation for the state of Wyoming’s role in agriculture. Gov. Mead and officials of the WSGA took part in the 6-Horse Stage Coach Hitch in the arena between the team roping and saddle bronc riding events. The top finishers of the events such as bull riding, tie down roping, barrel racing, etc., were set to compete in the finals on Sunday.

Before another feast or spare ribs, brisket, baked chicken, and smoked sausage with all the trimmings at Nordy’s BBQ in Loveland, Colo. Cynthia Cloud and Mark Gordon, two high-ranking Wyoming State Government officials, spoke about their tine at the stock show. Cloud, the Wyoming State Auditor, said that the trip was her first to the National Western events, and added, “I enjoyed the draft show. I was amazed how the draft horses were, [that is], how the participants in the competition took such pride in their horses, buggies, and carts. What really surprised me is that there was something for everybody there.”

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And Gordon, the Wyoming State Treasurer, while a past attendee of the stock show many times, was also on his first trip by bus. “I really loved the saddle bronc. I used to calf rope, so I liked it, though it’s called the tie-down now,” he said. Gordon described the Wyoming Day group as one full of “good camaraderie – good folks to go with.”


With the holiday spirit in tow, I know many parents are hoping, and some praying, that their children don’t eat their weight in sugar! While this advertisement my be outdated, and frightening to some parents (“instant energy!”)  it markets a good point to consumers. “You cannot buy a finer sugar in America!” For those of you in Northwestern Wyoming, you understand my statement fully; if you aren’t, stay tuned for some interesting and sweet finds.

As consumers it is important to understand the process and location of our food, from beginning stages to the final product, and we have demanded labeling of food to understand the origins. It adds value to the product knowing who helped create the products you use in your household and a sense of pride knowing it came from the United States and sometimes from our neighbors.

Driving through Northwest Wyoming you have a chance to see cattle, hay meadows, and farming across the landscape. It is a necessity and part to Wyoming’s heritage and agricultural industry. Generally, it’s these things that we think of first, but can you believe that we have a fairly large sweet tooth too? If you follow our Facebook page,, you read some interesting facts about Western Sugar Cooperative, located in Lovell, Wyoming. This plant supplies enough pounds of sugar, about 30,000,000 pounds to be exact, which is enough to make a very large amount of Snickers bars and pop.

Can you guess how many individual cans of pop and candy bars can be made out of that much sugar? As our guide asked us, most of us were grossly under estimating the amount, so guess high! If you guessed 500,000,000 you would be right.

Hard to believe that Wyoming helps curb the United States sweet tooth, but it is an industry and business that we all rely on in one way or another. Lovell, Wyoming is a part of that landscape and industry; home to Western Sugar Cooperative – Lovell Plant and Queen Bee Gardens, who we will feature in our next post. Each business very unique as well as sweet.

I have driven by Sugar Beet storage piles for years, but until last week never knew the process of extracting sugar, one of the 2,000 different chemicals, from the Sugar Beet. While the process is complicated  and fascinating, much of it hasn’t changed since the factory was built in 1916. The only changes made since the turn of the century is the addition of new equipment, automatic controls and  higher standards for the finished product.

Beet Sugar Process Flow Diagram - Starting upper left and ending lower right.

Beet Sugar Process Flow Diagram – Starting upper left and ending lower right.

At the Lovell Factory they slice about 3,000 tons of beets in one day during an individual campaign after the Sugar Beets have been harvested. This accumulates into about 900,00 pounds of sugar per day in batches of 60,000 pounds each.

According to the Lovell Chronicle, on February 9, 2012 the plant was, “…chugging along 24/7 in an effort to process the record-breaking yield of 38.9 tons per acre grown by local farmers this year.”

It’s hard to believe that much sugar comes from an unsuspecting Sugar Beet, but surprisingly only 17% sugar is found in the beet. Of that 17% – 84% is manufactured into white sugar and the rest creates molasses sugar. While on tour of the plant, we were lucky to see the process from start to finish and it is very interesting to watch the various process as they extract the sugar. Below are various pictures of the processes we saw – follow the captions for more information.


Shredded beet pulp coming from the slicer on a conveyor belt.


The motor and shaft, in the middle of the photo, turn a bin full of white sugar at high speeds to extract moisture called the White Centrifugal. This is towards the end of the processing of the sugar.


White sugar from White Centrifugal bin. The sugar is tacky and wet to the touch.


From the White Centrifugal bin, but this is molasses sugar. This sugar has a richer color and can be turned into molasses sugar or molasses syrup that we find in jars.


The sugar is put through this sifter, which also dries the sugar more, to create a uniform product.


The Fine Granulated Sugar fills BNSF rail cars after emptying into the Scale Tank.


Set of sugar bins – each 35′ in diameter and 165′ tall – which hold about 30,000,000 pounds of sugar. Enough sugar is made each campaign to fill the bins over three times!

After the beets are processed, the sugar is used for various products such as Snicker’s bars and soda, but it is also packaged as GW Sugar (beginning photo depicts). For every 2/3 cup of sugar used in the household for baking equals one average sized beet, which weighs between two and three pounds. Try it out this Christmas when baking sugar cookies with the kids to see if they can guess – Who knew agriculture could be so fun?

If you would like more information about the Beef Sugar Process Flow Diagram please follow this link. Each of the processes have full details that explain how they work and their purpose as the sugar is processed.

Please stay tuned for our next post about Queen Bee Gardens! This business is also out of Lovell, Wyoming and is known across Wyoming and the nation for their delicious honey made candies.

I left Cheyenne early last Saturday morning to drive to Buffalo, Wyo. for the Johnson County Cattlewomen’s Rancher Relief Benefit. I first heard of the event over social media, specifically Facebook, and knew that I wanted to help. Little did I know that it would also not only help the CattleWomen, but also create lasting ties to a great group of ladies and the community of Buffalo.

Several weeks before the event was to be held, I called up my closest girlfriends, who are also closely tied to the agricultural industry, to help me. They, of course, were more than happy to help for the cause. We met that Saturday afternoon to start setting up in one of the coolest buildings I’ve seen in a long time. An old feed mill was our stage for the night and we had a great time decorating and creating an inviting atmosphere to the locals of Buffalo.

A wide array of silent and live auction items were donated and proudly displayed for all to see. Anything from home décor, stallion services, and hunting trips were available to a willing bidder, and there were many willing bidders. Many of the live auction items went for over one thousand dollars adding to the funds accumulated over the course of the night.


The Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Resources Center Basket – Donated by: Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Beef Council and Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust


Community members look over silent auction items donated by individuals near and far.

After Blizzard Atlas hit, many producers and those with ties to the agricultural industry were in shock. The aftermath left around 20,000 cattle dead, fences down, and hearts broken. It’s a loss that no one can fathom, but some had to face this reality. Pictures on local news stations and newspapers depicted the sight of strange black dots strewn along faraway fences, draws, and the landscape. It was hard to imagine all of these far-off “dots” were dead cattle and the reminisce of one producers livelihood. Any business who suffers a 50 percent loss is going to have a hard time coming back, and what happens to those who had a loss of 70 percent or more? Absolutely devastating.

Rapid City Journal Photo

Photo by: Rapid City Journal

Funds were immediately put into place to counter act the destruction that was left behind. It was amazing to see the outpour of help over the course of several weeks, but there was more to combat here than just the destruction. There were misconceptions and scrutiny from the American public, who are several generations removed from agriculture. I remember reading a post online asking, “Why do you care about these people. You don’t even know them?” My first reaction was shock. After any other natural disaster, a flood of help and ways to donate nationally are plastered at gas stations, online, at the grocery store and on the news. What’s the difference?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s synonymous. We take care of our own and understand loss on a deeper level. It’s not just a monetary loss, but one that digs to your core. These are animals you care for on a daily basis and you rely on them as much as they do you. Seen from generation to generation, we help our neighbors in any way possible. Whether it be the ranch wives coming together to plan supper for the branding crew or saddling up to move yearlings that escaped; we are always there for each other. Working toward a common goal and livelihood that we hold dear. This camaraderie left many of us wanting to do more for these producers and we did just that.

Live Auction Items

Several of the live auction items went for over $1,000 easily.

That night of November 16th the Johnson County CattleWomen raised $26,000 for the Rancher Relief Fund. My girlfriends and I were amazed, but not surprised that this community came together so willingly to help those in need. I’ve come to realize that we need more selfless giving in America and in the world. The girls and I didn’t get paid to help, we were paid in new friendships and a delicious beef dinner; much like the brandings every year.


The old feed mill near downtown Buffalo, Wyo. was filled to capacity during the benefit dinner and auction.

As we welcome in the Thanksgiving Holiday, I can honestly say that I am thankful for a lot more things than before and I already have a lengthy list. I have faith that our close-knit agricultural community will thrive in years to come and that not even Mother Nature can stop us. Disasters like this may hinder us, but if nothing else, make us fight harder for our livelihoods and each other.



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