Jordans continue with grazing association
Shoshoni – “The Midvale Grazing Association started in 1968 in the Midvale Irrigation District. Each member of the irrigation district was given the choice of being a member of the grazing association, and that’s how it began,” explains Gene Jordan, whose family manages the association.
“They divided it up based on irrigated acres. The original ratio was probably about 10.2 acres per cow, and I believe there were 77 members to start with. Some ran 12 cows and some ran 80 cows, depending on their acres,” adds Jordan.
The grazing association is composed of leased Bureau of Reclamation land and is comprised of 56,000 acres split into five pastures. Capacity is approximately 6,500 AUMs. Today there are 29 members,who have the option to run for five months in the summer or two-and-a-half months in the fall and winter.
“We got down to 25 members and were catching some criticism for our low numbers, so we had a drawing for five additional members to bring them back in. That was 15 years ago, and since then we’ve only had one member drop out,” comments Jordan.
Summer cattle are primarily pairs, with some yearlings mixed in. They run until Oct. 15, then around Oct. 20 winter cattle arrive and stay for their two-and-a-half months. Winter cattle are strictly cows. Members choosing to run in the winter months are allocated double the AUMs of summer users due to their shorter stay on association grass.
“Roughly half the members turn out in the winter and half in the summer, so we’re usually looking at 14 to 15 in each group. But they can switch back and forth without telling you, so you have to able to adjust accordingly. It’s usually not a problem, and if we’re light in the summer we only use two pastures, if we’re heavy we use three and vice versa in the winter,” explains Jordan.
He adds the cattle are run together and rotated through the pastures. “We will use some pastures in the spring one year, then in the fall. We continually switch it around so everything can go to seed at different times in the growing season,” notes Jordan.
“We started managing it in October 1982, so about 28 years ago. We do pretty much everything; we put out salt, keep up the fences, check and doctor the cattle, move the cattle and keep the water going. There’s an irrigation ditch that runs waste irrigation water through the middle of it, and we maintain that also.
“It’s convenient for us, because we live right in the middle of it. We drive through it practically every time we go to town and we’ve been doing it so long now we know all the ins and outs,” says Jordan. He adds that he also enjoys that it involves a lot of riding in wide-open spaces.
Jordan’s daughter-in-law breeds and raises horses, which lends itself nicely to the amount of riding required by the association. “We are able to start those horses and put a lot of miles on them. By the time we sell them they’re pretty solid, seasoned horses,” comments Jordan. “I really enjoy the riding part of it.”
He adds it’s a family affair, just like the ranch is. “If I’m gone, my wife Debbie fills in and checks the cattle and water. My son and daughter-in-law are the same and way, and my other son helps during the summer months. Our grandkids also help move cows and fix fence,” says Jordan.
For years the association had a Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) plan, and Jordan says he would like to see that start back up.
“We did that for five or six years, then kind of lost it. It was a really good project and involved a lot of people. For instance, the Game and Fish have corridors on both the north and south sides of the association and were active members. Both the Arapaho and Shoshoni tribes were involved, because they have all the mineral rights. Our active association members and several bordering neighbors contributed, as did local conservation districts. I would like to see that become active again,” comments Jordan.
The Midvale Grazing Association’s lease is up in 2016, and Jordan says they don’t know for sure which direction it will go. “We don’t know if it will be renewed as is, or if there will be a change in the government that will result in something else done with the land. There are several different entities working on it right now, and I have no idea which direction it will go,” comments Jordan.
“One advantage to the grazing association is there are a lot of farms in this country with between 20 and 60 head of cows. This allows them to get rid of those cows during the growing season, and it’s really convenient because they have very little trucking in them. It’s local and allows a lot of producers to diversify their income,” explains Jordan.
In addition to running the grazing association, the Jordans run cattle and put up hay and some crops. They are also members of the grazing association and typically run their yearling heifers on it during the summer months. “It’s convenient to have them close. The rest of our cattle go to a leased ranch on South Pass,” notes Jordan.
Today managing the grazing association is one more aspect of the diverse and generation-spanning Jordan operation. “It works well for us and we’ve been at it so long it’s just automatic. Everyone knows where the cattle are and which water tanks to check and what the weak spots in the fences are. It’s a family thing,” notes Jordan.