Lally continues line of strong womenWritten by Saige Albert
Savery – As she looks back at her life, Meghan Lally sees strong women who have guided her path toward the ag industry her entire life.
“I’ve been back on the ranch for 15 years,” Lally comments. “During that time, I’ve seen a large increase in the number of women in agriculture, and we’re seeing bigger acceptance of women in the industry.”
Lally notes that she has a history of strong female role models in the ag industry, which was instrumental in her choice to return to her family’s ranch, Ladder Ranch.
“My mom is the heir to our ranch,” she says. “My dad grew up in Florida. My grandpa let my mom be the heir to his operation, and my parents have continued that and let my brother and I continue the operation.”
At the same time, she adds, “My mom is my best friend and a real inspiration for me.”
Growing up on the ranch, Lally says she never saw a resistance to women in ag.
“We grew up in the desert with my parents and the sheep. We were always there and always working,” explains Lally. “I hear that there is a lot of resistance to women in agriculture, but that’s not something I’ve ever seen.”
She also notes that her grandmother, while not intimately involved in the day to-day ranching activities, was a ranch wife who took care of the home.
“Grandma taught me how to cook, sew and raise a family,” Lally says. “She was incredibly involved in the community and always took care of us.”
“Even though she wasn’t working on the ranch, she was an important part of the place and an influence to us all,” she adds.
Lally says that she has felt strong support from her family throughout the entirety of her life.
“My family has always been supportive of me wanting to come back to the ranch,” she says, “but they were supportive of me when I didn’t want to come back, too.”
Coming back to the ranch
Though she grew up on her family ranch, Lally says that she had an Air Force ROTC scholarship, and she didn’t plan on returning to the family ranch.
“The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I spent three months working in South America on ranches,” she comments. “I realized that I like working with livestock and being on the ranch.”
Lally continues, “I called my dad and said, ‘I think I want to come home.’ I changed my major to farm and ranch management and graduated from college. Then, I came home, and I’ve been on the ranch every since.
Today, on their family operation, Lally manages their sheep operation, does the bookkeeping and also manages the recreation portion of their operation. She and her husband Brian have four children – Siobhan, Seamus, Maeve and Tiarnan.
“Being able to have my kids with me, teaching them to appreciate where their food comes from, being able to see the wildlife and enjoying the beauty of our ranch is really important to me,” Lally comments.
Outside of the family ranch, Lally has also jumped in to be involved in a variety of different board and councils.
“I’m currently vice chair of the Environmental Quality Council, and I’m also vice chair of the Little Snake River Conservation District,” she says, adding that she has also served on the Wyoming Board of Ag and the local clinic board.
“It’s important to be involved in the local community organizations to make sure that things are done, done right and that the community stays viable,” Lally explains. “As far as the state organizations go, it’s important to be a part of the industry that we are in.”
She adds, “It’s important to be involved in general because, if we don’t speak out for our interests and our industry, who will? By being involved, we get to know what the message is going to be, and we don’t rely on other people to do it for us.”
As she continues to ranch, Lally comments that she looks forward to continuing to work with her family.
“It’s important for us to work together,” she explains. “Even though I manage the sheep and my brother Eamon manages the cattle, we do what needs done every day and work together.”
Any large tasks on the ranch, such as gathering, docking or shipping are done as a family.
“We all do what needs done,” Lally says. “We enjoy working together, and our kids get along and work well. It’s important to us to continue to do that.”
She hopes to continue their work and make the ranch as successful as possible, not only with the ranch but in the conservation work that they do.
“Taking care of our land is important to us in the ag industry,” Lally comments.
Working the ranch
As they continue into the future, Lally says that continuing their conservation work will be important.
“The conservation aspect of our whole operation is really important,” she says. “We want to be the example of how agriculture and conservation can work together to not only survive but improve the operation.”
Ladder Ranch has been instrumental in installing structures on Battle Creek, the Little Snake River and Savery Creek to improve fish passage and the health of streams on their property.
The conservation district was instrumental in similar improvements on the rest of the Little Snake River and Savery Creek. “Enhancing Battle Creek and the Little Snake River have been really big, important projects,” she says.
“I love being able to go out and see the birds, wildlife and our livestock coexisting,” Lally comments. “Watching the deer, lambs, elk and Sandhill cranes all in the same pasture in the same spot is really exciting, and being able to show that all to my family is important to me.”