Ag in the Classroom - Fremont County family shares with educatorsWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Riverton – Andrea Dockery of Jeffrey City introduced a group of Wyoming educators to her family ranch on June 9 during the 2015 Wyoming Agriculture and Natural Resources Science Institute.
“Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom (WAIC) appreciates Fremont County’s hospitality as we host our annual professional development opportunity for educators,” stated WAIC Executive Director Jessie Dafoe during the event.
Visiting the Dockery family ranch was one of the many activities the program participants were involved with June 9-11, including a Devon Energy tour and trips to the Riverton Livestock Auction, Raspberry DeLights Farm, Sprouts Nursery and more.
“The two-and-a-half day class offers local agriculture and natural resource operations as a classroom with hands-on activities and lessons to implement in the classroom,” added Dafoe.
At Dockery’s ranch, participants received a first-hand account about the successful and sustainable cow/calf operation from family members living and working on the land.
“The first person in my family to live here was John Myers, my great-great- great uncle,” Dockery noted.
John Myers moved west from Ohio to work on the 71 Cattle Company and later homesteaded a place of his own nearby.
“Uncle John talked my Great-Grandpa Albert Myers into coming to the Sweetwater in 1900 from Kansas. He was 18 years old, and he worked for a sheep company,” Dockery said.
After going back to Kansas, where he met and married his wife, he returned to Wyoming to begin ranching in 1910.
“They made a living by selling cows and horses,” Dockery explained, “but only two of the Myers children stayed on the ranches – my Grandpa Albert Myers and his brother Sam.”
Dockery’s mother moved back to the family ranch with her new husband in 1970, and Dockery is also currently living on the place with her husband Thad and daughters Rylee and Laura.
“Rylee is my five-year-old, and Laura is 11. They are the fifth generation,” commented Dockery.
The Myers Ranch still makes a living by selling yearlings.
“We’ve been here for 98 years. We provide part of the economy for Fremont County, and we provide beef for the world,” she said.
Calving season on the ranch arrives in the month of March, keeping the family busy checking on heifers for their cow/calf yearling operation.
“We calve all of our heifers through the corral and we watch them about every two hours,” Dockery explained.
Bum calves are typically bottle-fed, as exemplified by one of this year’s calves introduced to the group, who got to spend his first 10 days in the house getting warm and healthy.
“Then it becomes branding season, and we get to see our neighbors again after a long winter,” Dockery continued. “We really rely on neighbors in this area. We trade help, and we have a good neighbor system.”
Pairs are turned out on either May 1 or May 15, as per their BLM agreement, depending on the year.
“Every other year is a different date, and that’s just part of our BLM allotment management plan,” Dockery explained.
Summer and fall
The summer season gives everyone on the ranch a chance to work on irrigation and other upkeep projects.
“In July, we get one cutting of hay. We only get one cutting because of our high elevation, and we are thankful for it,” she stated.
Yearlings, culls and bulls are gathered by horseback in September, and the rest of the cattle are gathered a few weeks later.
“After that, we go through weaning and preg testing. Then we start feeding,” Dockery added.
The cows are kept on deeded property about seven months of the year and fed a ration of hay, cake and mineral throughout the winter, usually starting in December.
“When calving comes, we are back to that time of the year, and it’s a full-time job,” she commented.
The Myers Ranch also has a variety of horses, including a 25-year-old horse named Sparky and a horse named Dusty who is 34.
“We also have younger horses. Right now three of them are not yet broke, but they are in the process,” Dockery noted.
The Dockerys own a stud and some mares. They raise colts that are starting to build a name for themselves.
“Some that we haven’t kept on the ranch have gone on to be trained as performance rodeo horses,” commented Dockery’s husband Thad.
Horses are also an important part of the family on the Myers Ranch.
“They are our only source of gathering cattle,” stated Dockery. “The four-wheelers might be used if we need to check on something and get there quickly, but we don’t herd with four-wheelers.”
In June, the Dockerys and their fellow grazing permittees come to help with a calf roundup and shoes are checked and replaced on the horses.
“That’s been going on since the early 1900s,” Dockery said.
The Myers family ranch continues into the future with horses, cows and a proud tradition of sustainability, celebrating 100 years of operation in 2017.
Natasha Wheeler is editor at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.