Arizona Cattleman Awarded for Commitment to Excellence 

By Morgan Boecker

Enjoy this write up from Certified Angus Beef (CAB) of Arizona rancher Ross Humphreys who was recently given the Commitment to Excellence award from CAB. Special thank you to Morgan Boecker and CAB for allowing us to reshare their work here.


Ross Humphreys walks like a cowboy and talks like one, too. His adept gaits tells of many days in and out of the saddle on his ranch just south of Patagonia, Ariz.

He wears many hats, but his black felt wide brim fits most naturally, shading him from the sun at San Rafael Cattle Company. Off the ranch, you can find him in Tucson managing stocks and his publishing company. 

Grit in every venture makes him a successful businessman, and his unrattled spirit makes the best of challenges. However, it’s his relentless drive for raising high-quality beef that earned him the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) 2021 Commercial Commitment to Excellence Award.  

A different background  

Humphreys grew up an army brat, frequently moving throughout his childhood. He earned a degree in chemistry and worked as a metallurgical engineer for a bit before going back to school for a Master of Business Administration. That sent him on a new route.  

He’s held a lot of job titles in his 72 years, from strategic business advisor to book publisher and CEO of multiple companies, just to name a few.  

In 1999 at 50-years-old, never having owned cattle or managed a ranch, he bought San Rafael Cattle Company. Admittedly, he took an unusual path to the cattle business.  

“I stood on one of the hills with my older daughter and said, ‘Anybody could run a cow on this place because you can see her wherever she is,’” he says. “So that’s how we got started.” 

Consistent little changes 

With no agricultural background, Humphreys went straight to the University of Arizona and bought a Ranching 101 textbook.  

Always curious, his questions led to new acquaintances, and Mark Gardiner, of Gardiner Angus Ranch in Kansas, became his teacher and connector.  

“I’ve hardly ever spent any physical time with Gardiners,” Humphreys admits, “But if I called them up, they’d spend two hours on the phone with me answering questions.”  

Humphreys leaned on good information and sound science. No ranch decision is made without running some math and looking at a spreadsheet.  

By genetic testing his herd, he saw steady progress by buying a little better bull than the year before. He focuses his selection to ensure balanced cows that can raise replacement females and a calf crop that produces the best beef. 

Humphreys confirms his plan works with results at the feedyard. Loads of his fed cattle have improved from 20% Prime in 2013 to 95% CAB or higher, including nearly 85% Prime today. 

“My goal is to try to produce the best carcass I can,” he says. “So, I keep trying to nudge up my cow herd so that the calves will be even better the next time.” 

Preserving today for tomorrow 

Conservation is as much part of the San Rafael story as the cattle. Named after the San Rafael Valley, the ranch is nestled in Arizona’s high desert country bordering Mexico. It’s the north end of a rich ecological site that looks like the Great Plains and is home to various plants and animals, many on the endangered species list.  

“Ninety-five percent of this ranch is perennial native grasses,” Humphreys says. “We are the last shortgrass prairie in Arizona.” 

Collaboration with conservation groups ensures the ranching operation, endangered wildlife and habitat are protected from housing or industrial development. The easements with Arizona State Parks and the Nature Conservancy led to work with U.S. Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  

The most important habitats on the ranch are water sources, including the Santa Cruz River, several springs and stock tanks. The endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander is only found in stock tanks in the San Rafael Valley. Humphreys developed water sources with support from NRCS grants, creating a mutual benefit for the cattle and wildlife.  

  

Looking ahead 

Environmental investment is key to Humphreys’ long-term goal of sustaining the land.  

Even with intensive management, the land still needs water and the current Southwestern drought continues to challenge his resources. As a result, Humphreys sold roughly 65% of his cow herd this year. 

Unsure if he will ever get back to pre-drought herd numbers, he remains committed to this final career as a rancher.  

“I want to come home to a beautiful place,” he says. “I started doing this when I was 50, but I like the work. I like the cows.”  

Ever the student, he meets each new challenge with a thirst for knowledge, determined to sustain, and focused on raising the best, one step at a time.  

Meet Your Rancher: Tim Petersen

While Tim Petersen is a first-generation rancher, ranching wasn’t his first career path. He was raised in Arizona, spending most of his life outdoors hunting, fishing, and camping with his father, who did work as a carpenter on several ranches, and taught his son a love for the outdoors. This love for the land and the outdoors gave Tim a genuine appreciation for those who managed and cared for the landscapes, leading him to his eventual career as a rancher and owner of Arizona Grass Raised Beef Co.

Tim’s career path varied and has included stints in mule training and real estate appraisal, which eventually led him to real estate development. When the great recession hit in 2008, he was at the top of the real estate game with custom home features in high-end magazines across the state of Arizona. However, 2008 would disrupt that success, as it did for many across the country. While this was a crushing blow to many, Tim used it as an opportunity to pivot, learn and grow, deciding he would do something different, which would pull from his diverse background and heritage. His father worked on ranches in northern Arizona, and his grandfather owned three butcher shops in Chicago, meaning the ranching and meat business made sense for Tim.

The ranching and meat businesses are not easy ones to break into, and Tim knew that. He came into the game with the financial knowledge on managing a successful ranch from his appraisal days. To fill in knowledge gaps, Tim took time to work on a friend’s ranch and even worked at the local Bashas’ meat department, where he learned the basics of cleaning the saw blades and other essential equipment care to the more complex requirements. These jobs may seem menial and unimpressive to some, but Tim had a greater goal in mind, and he took it all as a learning experience. The ranch he was working on at the time was leased, and he eventually took over that lease, where he was able to kick off his ranch and beef business. From there, it’s a tale of hard work and ingenuity.

Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

What started out as a small business that relied on a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected harvesting facility over 100 miles away has resulted in a more integrated company built piece by piece, from hard work and creative thinking. When Tim started selling his beef directly to consumers, he would haul cattle to the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab. Not long into this business, he located a harvesting facility in Chino Valley, which was ready to sell and, with his business partner, Tim purchased it. This was the best business decision as it allowed him to control the quality of the end beef product and the flow of that product. This harvesting plant is also UDSA inspected, meaning all the beef produced there can be sold anywhere in the USA.

Cattle produce about 60% edible beef, and the rest is bones, fat, tendons, etc. Tim doesn’t like to see anything go to waste, as many harvesting plants don’t, so he was keen on figuring out what to do with all the extra byproducts. His business partner is health-conscious and suggested they start producing bone broth. Bone broth is nutrient-dense, providing vitamins, minerals, and collagen. Those who are focused on their physical health find it very beneficial. Tim found a commercial kitchen to execute this idea where they eventually started to also make beef and other animal tallow (fat) which is used by restaurants. Pet treats are made from the lungs and other organs. Beef jerky is made from cuts that might not have the marbling needed for a steak or roast but is a better product in jerky form. Ground beef is a popular product, but as anyone who has raised a steer for harvest knows, there is always a lot of ground beef. So, Tim is currently developing a beef jerky that uses ground beef, ensuring that the product is used and not wasted.

Timing seems to be Tim’s best skill, as they launched an aggressive online business about two years ago, right before the COVID pandemic hit. When consumers were unsure about the reliability of their food supply, Tim and his company could keep harvesting cattle, producing beef, and selling it to people around the country. Tim reports that about 80% of his business is now done online. His product is also distributed by well-known foodservice companies such as Shamrock, Sysco, Peddler’s Son, and Custom Foods.

Tim supports the entire beef community and says, “American ranchers and feeders are raising some of the healthiest beef we’ve ever raised.” He’s found a niche in the grass-finished world of beef, and he has done everything he can to ensure the entire animal is used to the best and highest use. Grass-finished beef is a small portion of the overall beef product in the US, but there is a demand for it, and Tim is happy to fill it. Overall, Tim is a businessman who cares about what he sells to his customers. He is always willing to find a solution to a problem and find a niche to fulfill. Tim often says, “The market never lies,” and he’s proven that time and again with his current business and career path.

Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Advocating in Our Own Way

This summer we are thrilled to have Kailee Zimmerman as our summer intern. A past Arizona Beef Ambassador and Arizona FFA State Officer, Kailee shares about her roots, and how she continues to share about the beef community.


A recent study by the American Farm Bureau Federation showed that the average American is now at least three generations removed from production agriculture.  Rapid population increase and urbanization has left just two percent of United States citizens actively involved in raising, growing, and producing food.  We find ourselves in the middle of a reality that we have never faced before – the fact that American farmers & ranchers and consumers are divided by a large gap of knowledge and understanding. 

Whew!  Now is the time when we can take a deep breath!  While these statistics may seem daunting, there is great hope!  We also live in a world where many people are more interested than ever about their food and where it comes from.  We see foods marketed as “farm to table” and “locally grown” becoming more popular.  In order to bridge the knowledge gap between food producers and food consumers, it is so important for agriculturalists to share their story!

Picture of the Weathersby Ranch where my Nana grew up. This photo was used in the Arizona Highways magazine in 1957.

I believe that the story of American agriculture (especially, the beef community!) is one of triumph and inspiration.  Why wouldn’t we want to share it?  I am blessed to come from a family with ranching roots.  My Nana grew up on a ranch in Southeastern Arizona in the Aravaipa Canyon.  As a little kid, I loved hearing stories about the ranch and the adventures my family would have there.  However, as I have gotten older, through these stories and experiences, I have also grown a deep appreciation for the work that goes into raising cattle that will produce nutritious, sustainable protein.  I am also grateful for the example of hard work, integrity and perseverance that my Nana and other family members on the ranch set for me.


2T Ranch Show Team at 2019 Maricopa County Fair

While I did not grow up on a ranch like my Nana, I am grateful to have experienced a small degree of what it is like to raise cattle and provide food for families by raising and exhibiting show cattle.  I have raised market steers since I was 11 years old and have shown them at countless jackpot shows and fairs across Arizona.  It is hard for me to list all of the lessons that I learned from raising livestock and showing cattle, but one of the most important things I learned was how important it is to be a good representative of the agricultural community.  When we first started showing, my parents taught my brothers and me about the importance of being advocates for agriculture as we interacted with community members and visitors at the fairs we attended.  Though it was routine for us to care for our cattle and get them ready to show, this was very foreign to many people who attended the fairs.

My Nana’s Younger Brother, Jake, on the ranch.

Throughout my time exhibiting cattle, I was able to have many conversations with people who were unfamiliar with agriculture and knew very little about where their food came from.  I loved getting to talk to them and help give a little more understanding about what farmers and ranchers do to provide us with a safe, healthy and abundant food supply.


Kailee & Steer, “Switch”, and the Maricopa County Fair.

These experiences taught me that we each play an important role in advocating for agriculture – even if it feels like our part is small.  I hope that the conversations I had left an impact on the people I spoke with.  We each just have to be willing to share our story with those around us.  As we share our experiences with kindness, people are more likely to listen and respect what we are sharing and, in turn, we are better able to understand their perspectives and experiences.

“Nana” (Mary Smith) Showing Polled Herefords from the ranch.

Though there are challenges facing the agriculture community today, there are also great successes and innovations like we have never seen before.  The future is so bright!  We each just have to do our part and share our story when we are given the opportunity. 

Meet Your Arizona Rancher: Timm Klump

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.

Arizona rancher Timm Klump sharing his family history. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

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.

Tucker Klump, Timm’s oldest son, is the sixth-generation of this passionate, hard-working family. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

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.

Timm and Tucker take a moment to look at part of their ranch. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

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.

Tucker was basically born on a horse as most of the Klump kids are. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

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.

Top Ten Most-Read Arizona Beef Blog Posts of 2020

It’s the beginning of a new year, full of possibilities, but we can’t just forget about 2020. It was a year of ups and downs but the Arizona Beef blog continued to share the story of Arizona beef. Check out our annual round up of the Arizona Beef Blog’s top ten most-read posts. We visited with ranchers across the state to bring you more information on how beef is raised, delicious beef meals were cooked and shared so you can recreate them at home, and much more. Enjoy!

10th Most Read Blog Post

What is Range Management and Why is it Important?

A blog post all about what range management is and why it’s important with information collected from our many visits with Arizona beef ranchers from across the state.

9th Most Read Blog Post

Brooke Appetit: Beef Shish Kabobs with Lebanese Rice

Brooke is no stranger to our list! She has been on here before and she deserves to be here again with this delicious recipe. You probably want to check this one out if you haven’t already.

8th Most Read Blog Post

The Beef Lifecycle

The beef lifecycle can be confusing, and we mapped it out in this blog post.

7th Most Read Blog Post

From Ranch to Kitchen: Rancher and Chef Collaborate

A Q&A with executive chef Ryan Clark and Arizona rancher Dean Fish was compiled after they had the chance to visit each other’s places of work for a special collaboration with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. and Chef’s Roll.

6th Most Read Blog Post

Meet Your Ranchers: Emmett and Lori Sturgill

Some of our most favorite blogs are about the ranchers who raise the delicious Arizona beef we eat. This one was no exception! This blog and many others on this list were generously funded by the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

5th Most Read Blog Post

Arizona Beef’s Simple and Easy Prime Rib Roast

Lauren has worked on this recipe for literally years and it’s about as close to perfection as it can be. So we shared it with you this year! The goal of this particular recipe was to make it simple. And that it is! You’ll want to save this one so it’s ready for your next special gathering.

4th Most Read Blog Post

Meet Your Ranchers: Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn

Another blog funded by the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation and another great visit with a hard-working Arizona beef rancher. Anita and Sherwood place heavy emphasis on leaving the land better than they found it while raising high-quality cattle to give us delicious beef.

3rd Most Read Blog Post

Meet Your Rancher: Angie Newbold

Angie is a first-generation rancher with true passion for the beef community. She also happens to be a dedicated runner and this blog highlights how the two worlds mesh.

2nd Most Read Blog Post

Meet Your Sale Barn Owners: The Shores Family

The Shores family embodies heritage, dedication, and passion for what they do. They share all about the sale barn life, how important this portion of the beef lifecycle is to the community, and all about the genuine devotion this family has for the families in their community. Blog funded by Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

Most Read Blog Post of 2020

Meet Your Rancher: Cassie Lyman

Finally, our number one most-read blog post of 2020 features Cassie Lyman of Lyman Ranches. To say Cassie is a powerhouse would be an understatement because she is much more than that. She is a mother, a devoted church member, a dedicated wife, a volunteer, a business owner, a rancher, and the list goes on. This was the first blog post we published in 2020 and it did not disappoint.

Thank you to each of our readers for reading along. Please let us know what you want to see more of in 2021. We will be here, sharing the story of dedicated Arizona beef ranchers working hard to raise delicious beef for their families and for yours.

Meet Your Ranchers: Emmett and Lori Sturgill

The setting sun over rugged, mountainous terrain, with a cowboy’s silhouette to finish the image is what many people visualize when they hear someone’s profession is a “rancher.” While that image may be true, ranching and raising beef is also a business. Just like running a grocery store, marketing firm, or other entities, successful ranchers follow the same rules. Raising beef involves a living animal and a lot of heart, but it is still a business.

Emmett and Lori Sturgill are ranchers who have built cattle raising businesses with the end goal of producing delicious, high-quality, and nutritious beef. Now, just because one of their goals is to make a profit, does not mean that they lack the passion for their work. They are lucky because this business is built on the work they love.

Emmett Sturgill, retired law enforcement, comes from a long line of ranchers. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Emmett, retired law enforcement, comes from a long line of ranchers. His dad was a traditional cowboy and moved from cow camp to cow camp as the jobs came available. Lori, formally a successful real estate broker, comes from a farming background but animals were always a part of her life. Together, over the past 10 years, they have worked to build a successful ranching business. Purchasing the main ranch is a story about a good friend helping another good friend. That story ends many years later with Emmett purchasing the ranch from his good friends, the Neals, and their longtime friendship is just an added blessing. Emmett strongly believes he is where he is today because other people helped him get here.

Lori, who sights fellow Arizona rancher Chuck Backus and his educational cattle symposiums as a source of their success, helped turn their cattle business around. Emmett admits that before she came along, his ranch was what he called a “cowboy ranch” meaning he had a variety of breeds and the main goal was producing a calf each year from each cow. Lori came in, found a way to focus their efforts, and has helped to gradually shift the ranch to producing high-quality Angus beef for both the local, national and international markets.

Lori Sturgill, previously a successful real estate broker, and now turned cattle woman. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Lori, having a previous career in real estate, knows business. She knows what is required to succeed and it means time, persistence, and paperwork. The Sturgills worked to mitigate risk by diversifying their cattle. They primarily raise Angus cows which are bred to registered bulls, mostly Red Angus, each year. The calves produced from this part of the ranch are considered “program cattle.” The Sturgill’s ranch and cattle are 3rd party verified through an audit process which ensures the cattle meet certain criteria to sell in various markets, are given certain vaccinations at specific times, are fed qualified feed at weaning, and weaned no less than 45 days. There are many other criteria that the Sturgills and their cattle meet to address the growing concerns of consumers today and be able to ship overseas to other countries. The cattle that are raised in this program enter the traditional beef lifecycle also referred to as the commercial market.

The Sturgills also keep a limited number of animals for use in their local community, providing natural beef to consumers. These animals are grass-fed and fill the demand of people looking to purchase directly from a rancher in and around Kingman, Arizona. There are many challenges with this business including limited processing facilities and the amount of time it takes to raise an animal to harvesting weight, but Lori finds this an integral part of the business, even now.

An example of what a Corriente looks like. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Finally, they also raise Corriente (another breed of cattle) steers for the sport of team roping. These animals are typically smaller in size with horns making them ideal for roping. These steers follow the same vaccination and health protocols as the rest of the herd to ensure longevity and wellness. This has provided customers with a healthy animal who can preform longer and thus led to many repeat customers.

On their ranches, Lori and Emmett are adamant about excellent cattle care. Their animals are all vaccinated and follow health protocol which were developed in conjunction with their veterinarian and also through their learnings from seminars like Beef Quality Assurance and other educational events. They also practice low stress cattle handling. This is a way of working with the animal’s flight zone to move them where you need them to go causing less stress on both the human doing the work and the animal. The goal with both priorities is to keep stress to a minimum to allow the animal to grow to its full potential. Lori also invented a unique way to deal with pests. Dairies often have rollers that scratch the animals’ backs, so Lori bought some of those but has taken them up a notch – adding fly and pest repellent. Not only is there not a fly in sight, but it is also one more way to reduce stress. No all-day flicking of the tail for these girls and boys!

Lori is proudly a self-proclaimed environmentalist, as most ranchers are. Her focus is on the care of their livestock and on the wildlife that coinhabits the range lands their cattle graze. It is tough to care for livestock and the land and not be concerned about the environment in which they live. She is a firm believer in balance to ensure the longevity of a ranch. She has begun to start planting trees at all of the watering areas to help keep the water cool for both her cattle and wildlife. This also keeps the drinkers (water troughs) cleaner as red algae doesn’t have the sun it needs to flourish when shade is present. The ranch is also part of many conservation programs, including increasing the population of pronghorn antelopes and working towards a reseeding program in the valley pasture on the ranch to reintroduce native grasses. The ranch management plan also includes proper rotation of the pastures to maintain the forage conditions with regular monitoring from the University of Arizona.

Lori and one of her horses. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Lori and Emmett are firm believers that cattle take care of you if you take care of the cattle. The love the Sturgills have for their cattle, the land, and the people who buy their beef is evident in many ways. As we wrapped up our visit by the horse pens, with Lori scratching on one of her favorite colts, another family pulled in for a visit. Community is important and both Lori and Emmett embrace and nourish the relationships they have with fellow ranchers and town people, alike.  Ultimately, this is a business, and a successful one at that, but it’s a business with heart.

This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

Meet Your Ranchers: Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn

Near Kingman, Arizona is the Cane Spring Ranch, owned by ranchers and everyday environmentalists Anita Waite and Sherwood Koehn. As with most ranchers, caring for the land on which Anita and Sherwood raise their cattle is of the utmost importance, and Anita’s passion for the land’s natural resources and wildlife was evident as we toured the vast mountains and valleys of this northern Arizona ranch.

Encompassing 70,000 acres, the ranch is comprised of private, state and federal pieces that make up the whole. In Arizona, and in much of the West, it is common that one ranch might include private (deeded) land and long-term leases of land owned by the different state and federal public land agencies. Anita believes that cooperation and working closely with the various governmental agencies and others, including the Arizona Game and Fish Department, is the best way to manage their ranch. Connections and relationships help ensure the area is used correctly and is available for future generations to enjoy. 

The Cane Spring Ranch is one of great diversity in many ways including elevation, forage and grasses, and wildlife. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

The ranch is managed using a grazing pattern, which calls for cattle to be moved to one of four different pastures throughout the year. One pasture is always left empty to rest, much like when a person rests to feel rejuvenated and reinvigorated. The same goes for grasses and forages, allowing recharge and re-growth. This also allows for flexibility in having a “spare” pasture in case of drought or other cattle market issues. This resting pasture can hold their cattle for some time to get through until conditions level out.

The Cane Spring Ranch boasts diverse plant life throughout its varied elevations. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Cattle have a preference for what they would like to eat. If they are given access to their favorite forage for an extended period, they will eat all of what they like the most and then move on to their next favorite. By rotating pastures and ensuring the pasture is not overgrazed, the ranch can guarantee the variety of forage remains the same or even increases. Various agencies and institutions have recognized Cane Spring Ranch for its wide range of grasses and forage due to the range management practices. The Arizona Botanical Society has made many visits to the ranch and has identified 28 different types of grass. Another factor in the variety of forage is the various elevations of the ranch, which goes from 3,000 to 7,000 feet. The mountain pasture holds an abundance of Pinion pines and the southern pastures at lower elevations have more seasonal forages.

The focus of this ranch in one photo: is on maintaining the land and raising high quality beef. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Water development and improvement are a massive part of the success of this ranch. “If you build it, they will come” is a line from a famous baseball movie, and it also holds for water sources: where there is water, cattle and wildlife will go. Cane Spring Ranch had many wells drilled after Anita and Sherwood took ownership in 1993. Drilling wells at various locations around the ranch ensure cattle will travel to many areas to get water, which leads to their grazing patterns being varied. Cattle grazing in the same spot for an extended period of time is not good for the forage, so having water sources spaced out is beneficial for both the cattle and the land. Water sources are spaced out every two to three miles across the entirety of the ranch. The decision for each water source’s location was collaboration between Anita, Sherwood, the Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Game and Fish, and the United States’ Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

A solar panel pumps water from the nearby well or storage tank and sends it to the drinker (water trough). Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Exceptionally diverse, wildlife is an integral component of the Cane Spring Ranch. Mountain lions, deer, javelina, bobcats, black bears, badgers, rabbits, ravens, red-tailed hawks, desert tortoises, and more flourish on the ranch. While the wildlife and cattle mostly pose a symbiotic relationship, there is a need to keep predator and prey populations in balance. Hunting is another component of the ranch management and licensed hunters have access to almost all 70,000 acres. Working with the hunters who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle allows for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Wildlife on the ranch is diverse and we were lucky to snap a photo of this desert tortoise. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Not only do conservation efforts at the ranch find priority in Anita’s life, but she also expands her knowledge and works with fellow ranchers and agency personnel, serving as chairwoman of the Big Sandy Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD). The NRCD’s were initially formed during the Dustbowl when there was a need to introduce new agricultural processes. Local groups were developed, such as the Big Sandy NRCD, with locally elected officials who would help disseminate information on how to manage ranches and farms in a better way and get funding to put in beneficial projects. A unique trait of the NRCD’s is their ability to do work across all types of land – BLM, state land, and private.

One of the Big Sandy NRCD’s current goals is to increase water augmentation in the surrounding area. Water augmentation means getting water underground to build up the water table, which can be accomplished by slowing the flow of water, giving it more time to seep into the ground, and allowing for less evaporation. If this is achieved, it could put more water in the Colorado River. This is a huge undertaking and involves many agencies, including, Mohave County, Arizona Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife, Arizona State Land Trust, the National Resource Conservation Services, and the University of Arizona. While this project will be extremely beneficial to more than just ranchers in this area, the more significant point of this story is what can be accomplished through collaboration and cooperation.

The cattle on this ranch have lots of options when it comes to what to eat! Variety of forages is a point of pride for Anita and Sherwood. Photo by Hazel Lights Photography.

Anita and the Cane Spring Ranch have been the recipients of many awards, acknowledging the conservation efforts, including the Arizona Conservation District Zone 3 – Conservation Rancher of the Year 2000, Arizona Conservation District Zone 5 – Conservation Rancher of the Year 2000, Bureau of Land Management – Recognition for Cane Spring Ranch Land Exchange 2001, Society of Range Management – Range Manager of the Year 2008, Society of Range Management Certificate of Excellence in Range Management in 2010, and Arizona Game and Fish Wildlife Habitat Steward of the Year 2013.

When asked why so much time and effort are put in, Anita answers, “We love the land. We bought the ranch because we fell in love with it and want to do the best possible. And that was always our goal from the day of buying it. We love the cattle, of course, but our focus has been on the land. It comes from our life experiences. You take care of the land, and the land will take care of you.”

This blog post is made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation.

What is stockmanship?

Stockmanship is how ranchers interact with their animals with a focus on keeping the stress meter low for both the handler and the animal. Most cattle start their life cycle on ranches in large pastures. Here in Arizona, most cows calve alone and don’t usually need human assistance, but ranchers do interact with their cattle regularly. To raise high-quality beef, cattle must be healthy, and ranchers can help their animals achieve that goal with a vaccination program. Vaccinating, along with branding and other activities, does require ranchers to work closely with their animals and good stockmanship can help make it easier on both the cows and the people.

Dr. Dean Fish of the Sante Fe Ranch Foundation and Anchor F Cattle Company is shown moving cattle on horseback which can be a low-stress method when used correctly.

Ranchers don’t put a leash on their cattle to move them like one might a dog. Rather, cattlemen and women use their bodies (and horses) positioned in certain ways to move cattle where we need them to go. To understand this concept better, we first must know a few things about cows. Cattle are prey animals, meaning they want to gather in herds because that gives them more protection from predators. They also have a flight or fight instinct and tend to run if they are frightened. Some breeds of cattle are more inclined to fight if put into a sticky situation, like if a predator tries to attack a cow’s calf. Secondly, they don’t often move in straight lines, but rather in circular patterns. Knowing these two instincts tells us how we can work with cattle to decrease stress on the animal and to increase productivity.

Cattle flight zones can vary greatly and depend primarily on breed, environmental factors, and the amount of exposure they’ve had to humans. Micaela McGibbon of the Santa Rita Ranch demonstrates a flight zone that is relatively small because these cattle are used to interactions with Micaela in this circumstance.

Think about a large invisible ring around a cow. This is her flight zone. Depending on breed and how much human interaction this cow has had, her flight zone might be small or large. Pressure can be applied by stepping into their circular flight zone, in a certain area to encourage her to move forwards, backwards, away, or even towards you. Also knowing how much pressure to apply, meaning how far and how fast you must walk into the flight zone, is critical. If an animal looks at you or maybe flicks an ear towards you but doesn’t move it probably means you have to step a little closer. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, if an animal jumps and runs away you might have walked too far into her flight zone or approached too quickly.

This graphic shows how the flight zone works. When you move towards the head of an animal they are going to turn away, while moving towards the back of the animal will move them forward. The point of balance, which is generally at their shoulder, is the point in which those movements change. Stepping into the flight zone will cause an animal to move while stepping out of the flight zone will cause it to stop moving because of the pressure you are putting on the animal. Image courtesy of the Beef Quality Assurance Program.

Working with these natural flight zones and movement patterns help to decrease stress on animals while increasing productivity. The less stress an animal experiences, the better, so they can put their energy toward making healthy beef. It also makes it safer for the human involved to utilize these skills as the animal is less likely to tap into their fight response.

Arizona Beef Ranchers: Everyday Environmentalists

For Arizona’s ranching families, the land is not just where they raise cattle; it’s also where they raise their families. They have a personal stake in the quality of their environment – so they are always looking for new ways to improve the air, water and land on and near their property. 


Families and ranching go hand in hand. 98% of farms and ranches in the United States are family owned and operated and many of those are passed from generation to generation. The land isn’t just where ranchers raise cattle, but where they raise their families, provide open space and create wildlife habitat.

In fact, today’s cattlemen are significantly more environmentally sustainable than they were 30 years ago. A study by Washington State University in 2007 found that today’s farmers and ranchers raise 13% more beef from 30% fewer cattle. When compared with beef production in 1977, each pound of beef produced today:

  • Produces 16% less carbon emissions
  • Takes 33% less land
  • Requires 12% less water

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to beef sustainability. Rather, farmers and ranchers balance the resources they have available to meet the goals of their operation: responsibly raise cattle, take care of the land, provide for their families, and produce food for others. Rainfall amounts, temperatures, soil conditions, and vegetation are just a few of the regional geographic variables that affect how beef farmers and ranchers sustainably manage their operations.

Arizonans rely on farming and ranching families to manage and maintain more than 26 million acres of land in Arizona. A healthy aspect of sustainable beef production involves grazing cattle on U.S. rangelands, about 85 percent of which are unsuitable for crops. Raising cattle on this land contributes to the ecosystems by converting forages humans cannot eat into a nutrient-rich food humans can eat — beef.

St. Patrick’s Day: Celebrate with Beef

Green beer and corned beef day is just around the corner! While you don’t need a recipe for the beer, we can help with the directions on the corned beef. Plus ideas for breakfast and lunch the next day! Bonus: A perfect beef-y brunch drink is included in our recipe round up!

Slow-Cooked Corned Beef in Beer with Red Currant-Mustard Sauce

Let your slow cooker do all the work for this complete meal of beer-braised Corned Beef with fresh cabbage and red potatoes. It’s a great dish for your next celebration.

Dijon-Glazed Corned Beef with Savory Cabbage and Red Potatoes

While Corned Beef braises in the oven, cabbage wedges and potatoes are roasted for a full meal. A bonus recipe for the leftovers is included too!

Corned Beef Brisket with Roasted Vegetables and Lemon-Mustard Sauce

Cook once, dine twice. Enjoy Corned Beef Brisket with roasted carrots, parsnips, cabbage and a lemony sauce tonight, then spin the leftovers into a savory salad tomorrow.

Bloody Bull

Try this brunch favorite with a depth of flavor only beef can provide. Roasted Beef Stock is the secret ingredient to this one of a kind Bloody Mary. Garnish with a beef slider, beef meatball, or whatever you can dream up.

Corned Beef Hash

Tied with the Reuben for the ultimate expression of Corned Beef. Here it’s diced, skillet-cooked with cubed potatoes and thinly sliced leeks, and ideally topped with an egg.

Classic Beef Reuben Sandwich

Try this deli classic for lunch or dinner today. Thinly sliced deli Corned Beef or Pastrami is sandwiched between rye bread with sauerkraut and a tangy home-made dressing.

All photos courtesy of BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.