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Laramie – Rowdy’s Hope in Motion (RHIM) was started in memory of nine-year-old Rowdy Smallwood, who passed away after a tragic ranching accident in 2010.

“We were at our ranch, and he was trying to help his dad and the guys unload some big, 800-pound hay bales,” says RHIM President and Rowdy’s mother Stacey Smallwood. “One bale came off and landed on him.”

Rowdy was lifeflighted to the Children’s Hospital in Colorado, where he stayed for over a month.

“God had other plans for him,” comments Smallwood.

After being amazed at the support and generosity of the community, the Smallwoods decided to begin a non-profit organization to support other ranching, farming and rodeo families.

“We had so many people donate money to help us with whatever we needed help with at the time,” she says.

Smallwood continues, “The money we had leftover we used to start the foundation to reach out to other farm, ranch and rodeo families who have been in some kind of tragic accident of their own or have lost someone due to a tragic accident that has to do with farm, ranch or rodeo.”

Families

Over the last seven years, RHIM has been able to help approximately 14 families with various expenses.

“Our goal is to pick a couple families per year to support,” explains Smallwood.

Promotion of their foundation is primarily done through word of mouth, as well as through their website and Facebook page, with potential families either being nominated or contacted directly by the foundation.

“A lot of times people nominate families, or if we hear about them, we’ll reach out to them to see if there’s anything we can do,” she continues. “Families can be nominated through our website, too. Basically, the online nominations are emailed to us, and we get ahold of the family to learn their story.”

Smallwood reflects on the first family the foundation was able to assist.

“Our first big person that we’ve helped was Russ Weitl, a professional roper from California. We were able to help buy them a handicap accessible van,” she says.

  She comments, “We don’t really do a lot with insurance because we can’t touch helping with medical bills, but we typically will give families money to help pay for any of their expenses.”

Fundraising

The largest fundraiser the foundation has held to raise money for families was raffling off a Corvette, says Smallwood.

“We have done done raffle drawings in the past. One of our family members donated a Corvette, and we did a big huge raffle where we sold tickets all over for several months,” she says.

Now the foundation is established, RHIM raises money through an annual barrel race, with their seventh annual event scheduled for this year.

“Every year, we have a fundraiser event in Rowdy’s honor around his birthday,” comments Smallwood. “Our event is usually always held the very last weekend in June.”

She continues, “During the race, we do several fundraising activities to try and raise money for the foundation.”

Race

This year’s race is a commemoration of Rowdy’s 16th birthday, and the foundation is hosting a two-day event on June 24-25 in Laramie.

“The last two years, we’ve been able to host a two-day event, and we’re excited to be able to do it again this year,” says Smallwood.

The race will feature a wide variety of events, including barrel racing, pole bending, dummy roping, stick horse racing, exhibitions and a silent auction.

“We try to gear the event toward family, so kids can come and it can be a whole family event,” she comments.

This year, the top six competitors in each division will be entered to win a donated saddle.

The annual Spirit Award buckle will also be given away in Rowdy’s honor.

“We give the buckle to somebody who had some hard luck during the race, went out of their way to do something extra special or who showed really good sportsmanship,” explains Smallwood.

While entries are allowed up the day of the event, preregistration for the race ends on June 19.

“Prices vary depending on the event,” says Smallwood. “Those interested can go to our website and click on the entry form to find out more and to enter.”

Growing

Looking ahead, Smallwood notes their work is just beginning with RHIM.

In addition to Smallwood and her husband, the foundation also has board members to help plan and make decisions.

“We just barely started. We’d love to see RHIM grow. We hope to get more people involved so we can give more and grow,” says Smallwood.

She concludes, “It’s kind of been a slow, hard process, but we’re excited for the future.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Casper – “I remember going into Tom’s office every morning to drink coffee,” says Clay Smith, a former Casper College student. “Being around Tom was always great. We had lots of laughs and memories.”

Tom Parker, who passed away March 15, is fondly remebered by former student Clay Smith.

Students, faculty and community members surrounding Casper College all echoed Smith’s sentiments, using phrases like “honest,” “kind hearted” and “focused on students.”

Heading into the College National Finals Rodeo June  10-17, Parker's leadership legacy are remembered.

Long career

Parker began teaching at Casper College in 1990, and he retired in 2013.

“Aside from teaching, he also coached full-time,” says Heath Hornecker, Casper College Agriculture Department Head. “Tom taught and coached for 23 years. He was a vital member of the ag department for more than two decades.”

For Parker, teaching was about student development and opportunities, continued Hornecker.

“Tom was really focused on student success, and he was really willing to work with students to make sure they succeeded,” Hornecker adds. “He expected students to be there but was willing to bend over backwards to help students out.”

“Tom was really student centered, and he tried hard to get students through school,” he says.

Smith started school at Casper College in the fall of 2007.

“I met Tom for the first time in the fall before to ask him if I could rodeo for Casper,” Smith comments. “I didn’t know if he knew me, but Tom said he had an eye out for me and he would love to have me, so I went to Casper.”

Impacts

Smith notes that Parker was willing to do anything for his students.

“No matter what the circumstance – whether it was rodeo, school or personal – Tom was always there,” he comments. “Tom was always a phone call away, and that was really important for me.”

Even today, Smith says he still reached out to Parker up until his passing.

“I’d call him every time I went through Casper - which was pretty often - just to chat,” Smith says. “Tom always took the time to talk with me and ask how things were going.”

However, it was Parker’s devotion to providing opportunities for students to succeed that was really impactful for Smith, who comments, “The biggest impact Tom had on me was just giving anyone who wanted a shot the chance.”

Smith described Parker as honest and kind-hearted and says that Parker played a big role in encouraging him for his future.

“Tom taught me how to be a better person, both inside and out of the arena. He told me to always trust myself, and he said that to get the best, I had to be the best,” Smith continues.

“I always really liked that Tom never turned kids away from the rodeo arena,” he adds. “Even if he didn’t know what they could do, he always gave everyone a shot. The one thing I always admired about Tom is that he gave everyone a chance.”

Coach

In the rodeo program, Hornecker says Parker came in with big shoes to fill.

“Tom came in after Dale Stiles,” he comments. “I never knew the rodeo team before Tom, but I know that he was always willing to give kids a chance.”

While other coaches may not have offered all students the chance to compete, Parker was well known for offering everyone an opportunity.

“Rodeo teams were big at Casper College,” Hornecker says. “Tom wanted to give kids the chance to rodeo and go to school.”

Co-worker

As a co-worker, Hornecker notes that Parker always provided a level-headed perspective.

“He had advice if we asked, but he let us do our jobs if we didn’t ask,” Hornecker continues of Parker. “Tom was always willing to help us work through things or come up with new ideas.”

“Tom as always concerned about students, and he wanted to make sure students were taken care of,” Hornecker says. “He focused on all students – not only the ones who were academically inclined. Tom knew that some of the best students weren’t the ones who got straight A’s.”

“Tom was a great mentor,” Smith says. “He was always there and always happy to help.”

Hornecker comments, “Tom will most definitely be missed.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Shawn Barber of Barber Designs found that rustic roses appeal to many people for many occasions. While his biggest markets may be Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, the roses are also popular for Memorial Day and Christmas.

“I also get orders for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries,” he notes.

Starting a craft

Three years ago, Barber was wandering through the Black Hills Stock Show and saw something he never imagined would turn into such a lucrative part-time career.

“I happened to stop by a booth selling rustic western furniture,” he recalls. “Laying on one of their coffee tables was a crude rose made out of some scrap metal. It was made from rusty metal and faded John Deere paint.”

“What really caught my eye was the rusted barbwire they used for the stem,” he explains. “I went on to the next booth, but the wheels were turning inside my head.”

“When I got home, I started doing some research on making rose buds until I came up with my own design. The next time I went to town, I came home with some sheet metal and a pair of tin snips,” he explains.

Getting big

Barber’s vision came to life. One rose turned into three, which turned into half a dozen. He welded the stems of these roses together and turned it into an arrangement that was placed into a vase and given to a special girlfriend for Valentine’s Day.

“The bouquet turned out so nice I made three more for my close friends to give to their girlfriends for Valentine’s Day,” he explains. “I also made one for my grandma. She loved it.”

“After that, people would see the roses and just love them,” he says. “It became a calling for me and has turned into a nice part-time, seasonal business.”

Barber says the roses can be used for inside or outside décor.

“I receive a lot of interest from people in regards to outdoor placement, particularly for gravesites,” he explains. “They work perfectly for that. In fact, my biggest sale yet was a local woman who purchased two dozen roses from me. Most of them were used for gravesite placements.”

Designs

The rose design was created from a four-petal simple cutout that takes four pieces to make one rose head. Barber has hired out the cutouts to a company who can laser cut the petals out of a full sheet of sheet metal and ship it to him.

From there, he hand-mints the roses using two pairs of needle nose pliers to bend up each pedal one layer at a time.

“I can have one rose head up in about two minutes or less,” he says.

He then cuts a nine- to 10-inch piece of barbed wire, which is welded to the rose bud and masked off to be painted. The barbwire serves as the stem and gives the rose a rustic look.

Barber then sandblasts the rose head and paints it. He offers a variety of finishes from rusted to painted, as well as powder-coated and numerous hydro-dipped patterns.

Expanding interest

Barber has crafted over 2,000 roses since he made the first one three years ago.

“There are three different occasions where my roses were used for marriage proposals, and two of my family members are buried with two different roses six feet underground.”

“They truly do last forever,” he says.

He has shipped roses to the lower 48 states and Canada.

“People really like our roses for weddings because I can do specific shades and colors,” he says. “They also make great anniversary gifts.”

Barber has marketed the roses primarily through social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and a website.

“Business has spread mostly through word of mouth,” he says. “It is a powerful tool.”

A story with every order

Making the roses has come with a few unique and memorable experiences, Barber says.

His first order of roses for a marriage proposal came from Canada. 

“They ordered a dozen purple roses with one hand-engraved with the words ‘Will you marry me?’ I did the engraving before the rose was painted, so when I painted it, it filled in the engraving and was hard to read,” he explains.

“Last summer, an old high school classmate made a request for a set of five roses to honor the five fallen police officers of the Dallas Police Department. Those roses were done in a blue and black fade paint job, and each rose featured a silver vinyl decal of each of the officers’ badge numbers,” he explains. “These roses were given to the Dallas Police Department by my classmate and I.”

Looking forward

Although Barber currently offers personalized service to his customers, he hasn’t ruled out creating an online store in the future.

“I do everything the old-fashioned way,” he says. “All of my sale orders are custom and built-to-order. It usually takes me one to two weeks, depending on the quantity I have to make.”

“I really enjoy offering customers the personalized touch. I want to make sure they get the color and shade they want so they are really happy with it,” he notes.

Although Barber is happy making roses, he is looking to expand his business into other unique items. After finding a supplier for old railroad spikes, Barber started making different sizes and variations of crucifixes with roses and barbwire on them.

“People have really been receptive to them,” he says.

He is also commonly asked where he gets the rusted barbwire for rose stems, and his usual reply is from the neighbor’s fence, which typically generates a chuckle.

While visiting with an older gentleman, he came up with the idea of using old fence stretchers and mounting roses to them.

Barber acquired some fence stretchers that were unusable and welded the jaws, ratchet and handle shut. He then cleans up the stretchers and applies either a clear coat or a chrome, powder-coated finish and welds roses to the stretchers.

“It has generated a lot of interest. People really like the idea of re-purposing fence stretchers as home décor,” he explains.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Miles City, Mont. – On May 18-21, the 67th annual Miles City Bucking Horse Sale was held, drawing roughly 9,000 visitors to the area this year.

Amid the horse races, bronc events, concerts and sales, organizations around the city also host events for town visitors each year.

Bunny Miller, the curator for the Range Riders Museum of Miles City explains that their volunteers stayed busy with events and activities throughout the week.

History

According to Miller, the Range Riders Museum has been involved with the sale since the first event.

“The organization started in 1939 and our first building was built in 1942,” says Miller.

She continues, “At the turn of the century, the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale was called the Miles City Roundup.”

In 1950, the event changed into the bucking horse sale and was hosted in Miles City.

“The first bucking horse sale was held in Billings a year or two ahead of that, but then the men here in Miles City had a sale but it wasn’t advertised or anything,” she comments. “They had so many people stop in to watch the horses buck that the next year, they did some advertising and it morphed into what it is today.”

Events

Miller explains that one of the major events that the Range Riders Museum hosts during the sale is a cowboy breakfast on Saturday morning.

“We have biscuits and gravy, hot cakes, sausage patties, scrambled eggs and, of course, juice and coffee,” she says.

After attendees have had their fill, they head over to the annual parade, where the museum features two items each year.

“The museum always has two items from our museum in the parade. One of them is a Model T car, and this year we also had a sheepwagon,” comments Miller.

New this year, the museum hosted the wagons and teams from the wagon train that is a part of the parade on the museum grounds.

“We had a lot of people stopping on the highway to look at it. They had teams within electric fences throughout the area down by the river,” she says.

The museum wraps up the day with a fiddler’s dance, featuring the Southeastern Montana Fiddlers.

“We have some of the people from the bucking horse sale will come over to dance to that. They have a street dance downtown, but that’s more for younger and middle-aged people,” comments Miller.

She explains, “This is an opportunity for middle-aged and older folks to have a place to go and come listen to music and dance if they choose.”

Growth

Not including their special events, Miller notes approximately 300 people tour the museum during the week of the sale, with that number growing every year.

“My husband and I have been curators here for seven years, and we’ve tried to make a few small changes such as more advertising,” says Miller.

“We have a Facebook page and a web page that gets the word out that we’re here,” she adds, noting that it has helped increase visitors both during the sale and throughout the year.

While the sale does host some activities on Thursday night, Miller explains most of the activities don’t begin until Friday evening, leaving visitors with a day to explore Miles City.

“People start to come into Miles City early, and they spend a week here,” she comments. “We have a lot of people who show up to see the museum on Friday.”

She continues, “It increases our count from the Tuesday before the actual sale to the Monday afterward.”

Mission

Miller explains the mission of the Range Riders Museum is to “preserve and protect the history of the people that settled here.”

She notes the museum offers a comprehensive view of many different demographics that were pivotal in shaping the West.

“A lot of museums focus on one thing and they don’t have much for the women. The women of the West are portrayed quite well here,” says Miller.

The museum facility is currently made up of 13 buildings, which Miller comments are “ceiling to floor full.”

A feature of the museum Miller appreciates is that everything for the museum, including money for the buildings, is donated.

“Everything in our museum has been donated, including the money to build the buildings. We do not get any city, county, state or federal money,” she says.

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Big Piney – On March 11, the Green River Valley Cattlemen and CattleWomen Association (GRVCA) gathered at the Daniel Schoolhouse to recognize members and receive updates on the latest issues affecting the livestock industry.

The daylong meeting culminated in a banquet and dance, where members took the chance to catch up and celebrate another year of cattle production in the Green River Valley.

Among the awards presented were the Ranch Woman of the Year, Friend of Ag and Lifetime Member awards.

Ranch woman

Madeleine Murdock was presented with the 2017 GRVCA Ranch Woman of the Year Award, which recognizes her numerous years in the livestock industry.

Nominator Molly Landers wrote, “Madeleine married Stan Murdock in 1973, beginning her ‘career’ as a ranch wife. Within the first year of marriage, Stan bought Mad a purebred Hereford heifer for a gift.”

At that time, Murdoch began a herd of purebred Herefords, and since then, she has continued to serve as ranch wife on the family operation.

“Madeleine loved all the animals that she cared for, and as I understand, she was given the charge of all the bottle calves,” continued Landers. “Madeleine loved to ride and be outside, always taking in the landscape.”

Murdoch helped move cattle during the Green River Drift each year, and she was instrumental in irrigating, cooking, vaccinating and more on the ranch.

When her husband passed away in 2007, Murdoch continued the ranching operation.

Landers concluded, “And here she remains, smiling and continuing to give back to her family, friends and the community.”

Friend of ag

As the 2017 Friend of Ag Award winner, GRVCA honored the Mackey Family and the Chuckwagon Days Barbeque Committee. 

“This year 2017 will mark the 83rd anniversary of serving Wyoming beef to hungry locals and guests,” said Bob Beiermann in his nomination letter. “The Chuckwagon Days Barbeque has the distinction of being the longest-running free barbeque in the nation.”

Chuckwagon Days has been an important part of Big Piney’s Fourth of July celebration, and each year, beef donated by area ranches is served to attendees, bringing with it a reputation for high-quality hospitality and its ability to feed large groups.

“The barbeque committee hasn’t let anyone down in this regard in the past 80 years,” Beiermann added. “The barbeque is the highlight of the festivities that brings everyone together. It is a much anticipated community event and part of our culture and custom in Sublette County.”

The Chuckwagon Days Barbeque Committee, he continued, is much deserving of the honor of Friend of Ag for its support of the livestock industry and beef promotion, as well as its commitment to fostering community spirit at the event.

Lifetime members

Three lifetime members were honored during the meeting, as well, including Shirley Tanner, Betty Lou McLoughlin and John and Susie Blaha.

Tanner was honored as a 2017 Lifetime Member of GRVCA for her commitment to the farming and ranching operation.

After she moved from California during her eighth grade year, Tanner jumped right into the agriculture industry, cooking for haying crews and running equipment, among other duties.

“Mom cooked for haying crews of what seemed like 20 people, three meals a day, every day – full meals,” said Tanner’s daughter Lynn Rodell. “She often also was the equipment runner and ran to town to pick up that needed part to fix a piece of equipment.”

She added, “Mom never missed a meal, and she always kept up with us kids, too.”

McLoughlin was born and raised on a cattle ranch in the Kendall Valley on the Upper Green River, and she started working as soon as she could walk, helping with fencing, haying and cooking.

“In 1969, Betty Lou and her husband Melvin built ‘The Place’ in Kendall Valley and, with the help of family and many friends, operated the café and bar for over 20 years,” says McLoughlin's daughter LaDonna. “She has had a very busy life raising three children, working on the ranch and operating The Place.”

John Blaha moved to Wyoming after he graduated high school, coming from Illinois with a dream of owning a cattle ranch.

After moving to the state, he soon learned about Boulder and met his future bride Susie Bousman at a square dance. That same summer, he started working on the Richie brother’s ranch on East Fork.

In 1974, the couple was married, and Susie started vet school at Colorado State University. John moved to Fort Collins, where he worked at Larimer Equipment, while she worked on her degree.

After graduation, they moved to Saratoga and then Boulder in 1983, where she started Boulder Veterinary Clinic. John worked for Susie’s parents on the family ranch.

When her mother passed away in 1990, Susie’s father sold the ranch to his children, and John’s dream of owning a ranch came true.

“John and Susie’s ranching dreams rightly came true as they have owned and operated Blaha Ranch since that time,” reads their nomination letter.

Joy Ufford of the Sublette Examiner and Pinedale Reporter compiled the biographies and nomination letters for these awards. Saige Albert, managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup compiled this article from her work. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..