100 Years and CountingWritten by Curt Cox
I love them, and it might shock anybody who knows them, but my in-laws are a persistent, hardheaded and uncompromising lot! Now, I’m sure I am not the first person to ever think that of their spouse’s kinfolk, but I don’t think the majority of the time it is meant as an enormous compliment, as I do with 100 percent sincerity.
A couple of weekends ago I had the opportunity to help them celebrate the centennial anniversary of their family’s ranching operation in the Big Horn Basin. You can’t argue with the fact that it takes some form of long-ingrained genetic grit for one family to hold on to a business, let alone a single ranch, for five generations of ownership over a period of 100 years. I am sure it helps, looking back over the family history, that they have always been well educated, progressive, hard working and highly intelligent.
I really enjoyed listening to the stories my wife’s grandparents and parents told over the weekend. There is a lot that takes place over 100 years, and it was an honor to get to sit and listen to them as they recalled the triumphs, trials and tribulations that the family and the ranch have endured. Regardless of the obstacles that arise, whether it is tough economic times, untimely deaths in the family or a long list of other attritions that can affect any family that has made a living with one business over a long period of time, they have withstood them all.
I have always enjoyed studying history, so I got a kick out of looking through all of the old, grainy black-and-white pictures of their ranch throughout the years. I was especially struck when I came across one picture in particular that was taken from the top of a hill overlooking the ranch looking down the creek. Today, when you stand on top of the same hill as the photographer stood those many years ago, you can see modern machinery shops, numerous irrigation pivots and a feedlot. Despite that, standing in the exact same spots, are the round pen, corrals and open-faced shed seen in the old picture. They may have gotten a few new poles and have had a board or two replaced over the years, but there they stand.
It was exciting that over 150 neighbors, friends and family from as far away as Texas, Wisconsin, California, central Nebraska and South Dakota came to the ranch to help celebrate with an evening barbeque. As with any event in agriculture, everyone who arrived started off by asking how they could help, and the volunteers outnumbered the work by a wide margin. I am not sure when the final guest went home that night because my wife’s grandparents were still visiting with quite a crowd when I wandered up the hill to bed. They have been around for a majority of the ranch’s existence, so it didn’t shock me that they could outlast me for one evening.
I hope that all of you take the time to celebrate and share your heritage and operation’s milestones. It is an opportunity to shine a positive light on our industry and show the world where it is we come from and why it is that we do what we do.
Until next time,