The Klump family has a long and storied history in the southwestern United States. Like many multi-generational ranch families, there were ups and downs in the past but something all these families have in common is the ability to overcome adversity. Ranching is often said to be in a person’s blood, and it seems this statement holds true for the Klump family. Timm Klump, a fifth-generation Arizona rancher, shared his family’s history while also looking to the ranch’s future.
Timm’s great-great-great-grandfather was the first to start in the ranching business. After fighting in the Civil War, he slowly made his way west through Texas, New Mexico, eventually settling in Arizona, west of the Dos Cabezas Mountains. There he raised a family and began to pass down his cow sense and passion for ranching. Timm’s great-grandfather was a skilled cowboy and well-known as such in the community and with the big cattle outfits of the time, working on many of them. According to Timm, though, it was not until his grandfather was older that he started planning for the future of his family and their place in the ranching community.
Timm’s grandfather had many brothers and as they grew, their focus turned towards saving, keeping records on their financials and cattle, and purchasing small parcels of land as they were able. They always paid with cash and never sold their heifers (female bovine who have not yet had a calf), which meant every time they bought a new stretch of land, they had cattle to stock it. At one point during this generation, the Klump ranch stretched, non-continuously, from Willcox, Arizona to the New Mexico state border.
As it sometimes happens with family, the ranch eventually split apart, but Timm’s father was able to maintain his portion. In the early 2000’s, a major drought hit Arizona, causing the Klumps to sell most of their cattle. Timm did not see a future on the ranch so he went off to college where he completed his bachelor’s degree. The job of a rancher is to care for the cattle and the land, but it is also their job to find a solution when there does not seem to be one. Johnny, Timm’s father, comes from a long line of problem solvers who figured out a way to keep ranching and in this case, he was no different.
The drought left the Klump ranch with few cattle to its name. Johnny took what some would consider high-quality cattle and sold them. With that money he invested in smaller cows or ones that were not as popular in the cattle market at the time. This meant he could purchase and stock his ranch with more cows which were bred to produce more calves. There is often a large emphasis on quality cattle without thought given to the situation or environment a rancher might be in. To combat what might be considered the lower quality cows he purchased, Johnny invested in bulls who carried desirable genetics. By improving his cattle over several years while also producing more calves to sell, the Klumps were able to keep the ranch afloat. This also allowed him to save money for future investments and necessities. Timm has five brothers who all work alongside himself and his dad on their ranches, a story that is not often heard of in the ranching community.
Many things have changed on the ranch in Timm’s lifetime including the usage of vaccinations to help ensure all their cattle stay healthy and are able to produce quality beef. The Klump family also breeds their own horses because the work is never ending, and the horses must be able to keep up. They choose genetics for horses that can go all day and cover many types of terrain, both flat and mountainous.
Because Timm is passionate about caring for cattle and raising beef, he enjoys helping to correct common misconceptions about beef, particularly about food safety, proper cooking temperatures, and shopping for beef.
Myth: Rinse beef under water before cooking.
Fact: One issue that is of particular importance is how to properly handle beef to ensure its safety upon consumption. Timm has heard the rumor that one is supposed to rinse beef under water before cooking which is incorrect. Storing beef at 40 degrees or below, thawing in the refrigerator, and cooking to an internal temperature of 140 degrees for steaks and roasts and 160 degrees for ground beef are ways to ensure food safety when cooking with beef in your kitchen. Check out this link for more food safety tips.
Myth: One method of raising beef is better than the other.
Fact: Another misconception he hears a lot is that beef bought straight from the ranch tastes better. Timm often consumes the beef he raises but commented that he’s also often had excellent beef from the grocery store. Most of the beef you find at the grocery store has followed the traditional beef lifecycle with its last stage of life spent at a feed yard. Feed yards work with a cattle nutritionist to mix the perfect ration (the mixture of feed fed to the cattle) to ensure health for the animal but also to add marbling and flavor to the end product, the beef. No matter where you get your beef, there is a family like Timm’s who has helped to raise it.
Timm is in many ways a typical millennial. His wife, who is originally from California, has probably helped in this regard, but Timm loves sushi, avocado toast, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and of course, steak. He also knows what it means to work all day, through blood, sweat, and maybe tears. He knows what it means to put other creatures before his own wants and needs to protect and care for them. He also sees the myths and misunderstandings that circulate about the beef community. He feels if he could talk to every person on this earth, he could explain a lot of what happens on a ranch and why, thus helping others to feel more comfortable with eating beef.
When asked what the best part of ranching is, Timm shared that it is doing something tangible. He witnesses the birth of new calves every year and raises those animals until they are sold to the next stage of the beef lifecycle. The feel of the leather reins in his hand, the saddle creaking under him, and his horses’ hooves on the ground are all things he enjoys and encounters almost daily. He knows the struggle, hardships, and passion that go into this line of work and he continues to do it day after day, year after year. We think if Timm did have a chance to talk to everyone, he would have a lot of new friends who feel good about enjoying beef.
This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.