More than know-how

Ranching industry

The joke about starting a ranch goes something like this: The three most common ways to get into ranching are through a womb, tomb or altar. That’s because you’re either born into the industry, inherit it or marry into it.

“All joking aside,” John Heyneman said, “it’s very rare for anyone to start a ranch, at least a traditional cattle ranch.”

Why? Cost, mostly. But also because running a ranch takes a wide range of skills, including stewardship, business acumen and grit.

Heyneman comes from a long line of ranching. His grandparents, Homer and Mildred Scott, started the Padlock Ranch in 1943, and now the cattle operation covers 400,000 acres. In the 1950s, his father started a ranch in southeast Montana, and his two brothers still manage it today. While still serving on the Padlock’s board of directors, Heyneman also runs the Plank Stewardship Initiative, which focuses on long-term sustainability of high plains ecosystems.

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Editor's note: This feature was originally printed in the spring/summer 2020 edition of Destination Sheridan, the official lifestyle and tourism magazine of Sheridan County, created by The Sheridan Press. Pick up a copy of DS, free of charge, at The Press (144 Grinnell Plaza in Sheridan).

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