This blog is a repost from our friends over at the Diablo Trust. This particular post was written by a cowgirl named Sheila Carlson who has worked on the Flying M Ranch for 10 or so years and before that worked on the Bar T Bar Ranch. She’s a horsewoman from Utah and is a good hand on a ranch. Enjoy some thoughts from her perspective on caring for the land.

Caring for the LandThe myth of the rancher who is out to make a buck by letting his livestock damage and destroy public lands is far from the truth as I know it.

In reality ranchers care more about the land and the waterways than most people I’ve come across. They make their living off the lands and over-grazing it is NOT something that is done.

They carefully monitor the land, use grazing rotations, watch for invasive and non-native species of plants and work closely with local agencies to maintain a positive impact on the land. Many times they will not use a pasture in their rotation because they feel there isn’t enough growth or moisture and would rather let it rest than use it.

They are the ones hauling water during drought times, not only for their livestock but for the wildlife in the area. The run-off from winter snows and summer rains flow down ditches they maintain, to fill water tanks and flow into lakes.

This isn’t something that nature has created in most places; this is something that they have worked hard at accomplishing each year. Those ditches need to be cleared and cleaned. The same with those water tanks that provide a life source for so many different species.

Without the rancher taking time, money. and effort, those same water tanks would fail.

There are so many scare tactics out there, so many un-truths being spread and the saddest part is that so many will believe what they are told without questioning the source.

Speak to your local rancher if you have a question. Treat them as you would like to be treated; don’t just assume they are the “bad guy.” I think that people would find out they have a common interest when it comes to care of the land . . .


  • Thank you for writing this, I grew up on a ranch in North Central Wyoming. It was hard work, but as a kid I loved it. Well not the branding time, this was before tip pens and we didn’t have a branding shoot, and I always got the back end of the calf. You know what happened every time. We ran about 2000 thousand cattle on our land and 3 forest leases in the Wind River Mountains. As we were moving cattle around the end of April, we would always have snow squalls, sleet, wind and rain. We would have to drive for 3 days to get to our farthest lease, We thanked God for hot food, a good fire and tents!!
    Once we were up top the days were easy and the scenery and wildlife were beautiful to watch. Have an occasional black bear or lion, but we were always on the look our for them Only had a Griz once. It was a wonderful, hard life, but the lessons learned and the being with nature made it all worth it. I thank you again as a steward of our beautiful country!

    • Patt,

      That sounds like an amazing upbringing! Thank you for sharing your story with us. We will pass your kind words on to the O’Hacos.

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