If you have ever driven north from Cheyenne on Interstate 25 or west on US-85 you have driven past a conserved agricultural landscape with a story to tell. The Warren Livestock Company sits on the outskirts of Cheyenne and is home to a thriving ranching business, rich history, and several families.
In 1847 Francis E. Warren, the first Governor and first Senator of Wyoming founded Warren Livestock Company. In time, Mr. Warren worked with Dr. John Hill to create and introduce the Warhill sheep breed. In the 1970’s, the ranch was purchased by the Etchepare family, and then sold to Doug and Susan Samuelson in 2000. The Samuelsons have maintained the historic sheep and cattle operation, and in 2010 chose to partner with the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust to conserve the landscape and history of this iconic ranch.
Community and Family:
I sat down with Susan last spring to discuss what the ranch means to her and her family. Not surprisingly, I discovered that the importance of the ranch goes beyond the everyday agricultural and business benefits, to the sense of community which comes from the ‘families of the Warren’.
“It takes a ranch to raise a child.” Samuelson says as we sit down at a long, white table in the Warren Livestock Company bunkhouse. Susan and Doug pride themselves on the fact that many of their 18 full-time employees and their families have been part of the ranch since it was purchased.
When I asked Susan about her favorite aspect of the ranch, she didn’t hesitate to reply that it was the community within the ranch. She explained there are eight boys and one girl who live and learn on the Warren. She continued that much of what the kids do, is done together, “The kids come [to the ranch headquarters] every morning to catch the bus.” She taps the table and explains that the kids learn their manners at this table and everyone lends a hand in keeping them on their best behavior.
“We have a good sense of community,” Samuelson says about the ranch, “We treat our employees as we would like to be treated, and we have good employees.” These two elements make the Warren a place where families want to stay and raise their children.
Later that day I had the opportunity to learn about their shearing process, and how the kids are involved in the activities at the ranch. One of the boys, Trigg Garaventa, was helping sort and pen sheep. He was moving so quickly that my goal was to try to stay out of his way while also getting a picture that was not blurred (I did not always succeed). Trigg knew exactly where he needed to be and exactly where the next group of sheep needed to go. He appeared to work seamlessly with the shearing crew and I could tell he loved every minute and was working hard to do the best job he could. Susan and I stopped to speak with his mom who told me that he had waited all year for this and that he loves helping and learning about the agricultural operation.
The mutual respect shared between the Samuelsons and the people they employ, and the sense of community between the families on the ranch is a prime example of what makes Wyoming so great. Just outside of Cheyenne, Warren Livestock Company is growing more than our food and fiber; they are growing the next generation of Wyoming ranchers and families.