Teresa Brown: The Real DealWritten by Echo Renner
“I was born and raised a ranch girl,” comments Teresa. “When I’m horseback with my dog, I’m the happiest.”
The Browns raise Charolais-cross calves, operating on deeded ground, state and BLM leases. They winter their cattle on open range without having to feed hay, and hold their calves through the winter, selling them in February.
Teresa grew up on the Hyatt Ranch near Hyattville, the daughter of Milton & Loretta Hyatt. After earning a degree in accounting she returned to the ranch.
“We raised Hereford cattle and had two bands of sheep. I was my dad’s helper. My uncle Wesley Hyatt was an active member of the Society for Range Management, and I traveled with him to meetings, giving speeches and slide shows about range management on the Hyatt Ranch.” Teresa spent her summers in the Bighorn Mountains tending the livestock and loved it.
Teresa and Matt met at a Wyoming Stock Growers convention and married in 1977. They have four grown children. Their son Merrill is a computer engineer and he and his wife Ella live in Denver. Daughter Elizabeth is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Washington in Seattle and is preparing for her residency as an obstetrician-gynecologist and family practice doctor. Daughter Katsie is a registered nurse. She and husband Morgan McConnaughey and one-year-old daughter Kaylor live in Riverton. Daughter Mary earned a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology. She is the assistant basketball coach at Central Wyoming College in Riverton and is applying to dental schools.
“We are real proud that each of our kids earned a four-year college degree, and one is in medical school,” says Teresa.
In addition to helping their children with school, 4-H and FFA projects, Teresa served on the school board in Thermopolis 14 years and was involved in building the new auditorium, track and middle school. Matt’s parents are Merrill and Katie Jane (Sanford) Brown. “My dad died when I was 16 and I’ve run the place since then,” Matt says.
“My grandfather Tom Sanford started the ranch in the 1920’s,” Matt recalls. “Our range is 100 percent better than when Granddad was here. There were 350 wild horses in Coal Draw year-round then, and they devastated the range. We improved the quality of the water and the range, but we didn’t document it. We need to be able to prove to range cons, and to the public, that we are good stewards of the land,” he explains.
“In the early1980’s, every major ranching operation in Hot Springs County went broke,” comments Matt. “Our family ranch ran cattle and yearlings in five states, and over night we lost our financing. It broke my mother, uncle and step dad.”
“It seemed awful at the time, but turned out to be a good thing,” says Teresa. The couple was able to buy back the family ranch and made it successful through hard work, communication, cooperation and diversification.
The Browns understand the importance of diversification. “We went into the sheep business in 1985, but sold in 1992 when coyote predation increased and we lost the wool incentive,” comments Teresa. The couple also raised corn and experimented with other ag opportunities.
In addition to ranching, in 1983, Matt became a licensed realtor and Teresa a sales person, operating Matt Brown Real Estate in Thermopolis.
Matt and Teresa Brown have dedicated their lives to the land and the agriculture industry and through hard work, communication, cooperation and diversification have kept their family ranch alive.
Matt also believes he and Teresa have made a strong team. “Thank God I’m married to a true cowgirl,” says Matt. “She loves the industry, and she’s the real thing.”