Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tricia Miller - Wyoming Ranch Wife and Entrepreneur

Today we welcome Tricia Miller of Wyoming! Tricia and her family live on a ranch raising Black Angus cattle. She enjoy's working on the ranch but has also has some special endeavors of her own.

My name is Tricia Miller. My family and I live on my husband’s family’s ranch in eastern Wyoming. We reside in Niobrara County, the least populated county in the least populated state in the nation and also an agriculture-based community with a small-town atmosphere, where everyone knows everyone and friends and neighbors are still happy and willing to help each other out, whether it’s working cattle or fighting fire.

Milking "Jewel" the cow

My husband and I were both raised on ranches and wouldn’t trade the country life for the world. We’ve continued the tradition by raising our kids to appreciate the land and animals and the lifestyle that promotes responsibility and hard work ethics. The sport of rodeo is another part of the Miller heritage, and our older son, Colton (19), rides saddle broncs for Central Wyoming college, and our younger son, Blake (7), enjoys participating in local junior rodeos in the summer.

The Miller Ranch, established in 1951 by my father-in-law’s (Patrick) parents, is located outside of Lance Creek, Wyoming, and supports a Black Angus cow-calf operation, with Patrick and his two sons, Justen (my husband) and Jason, as the main operators, plus a full-time hired hand. To help support the cattle income, Jason continues a thriving career in rodeo (2007 Steer Wrestling World Champion), and although Justen was an accomplished saddle bronc rider for many years, he chose to leave rodeo to help his dad with the family’s booming business, Miller Enterprises, Inc., an oil field roustabout company.

As for myself, while I help out with ranching duties as needed, I also have other furry and feathery endeavors I pursue, such as rabbits, chickens, ducks, pigs, and a Brown Swiss milk cow. We have a couple of pet rabbits for Blake, a trio of meat rabbits, and one English Angora rabbit (Scooter), which produces a lovely fiber for spinning, another hobby I’ve recently taken up. We typically have around 80 chickens of varying breeds, such as Barred Rock, Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, Leghorns, and a few others. We buy them as chicks and raise them. I sell eggs to locals who enjoy farm fresh eggs, delivering in town every Tuesday afternoon. And just for fun, we have some White Crested and Khaki Campbell ducks around the yard, as well as a pair of Muscovy ducks, but we also use their eggs for baking as well. They’re quite entertaining to watch and fun to feed! We raised three pigs this summer, which was a first for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed them and would love to do that again.

Gathering eggs
Every morning when I return from taking Blake to the school bus, “Jewel” the milk cow is waiting for me to come milk her. She is quite possibly the sweetest cow you’ll ever meet and you won’t find better tasting milk and cream anywhere! She is giving about 4-1/2 gallons per day currently, but was up to 6 gallons a day for a while earlier this summer. I use the milk and cream to make wonderful butter and soft cheeses, such as cheese curds, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and others, and hard cheeses, such as cheddar. I also use it to make delicious sour cream, kefir, and buttermilk to drink.

Making mozzarella cheese!
A few years ago, after a conversation with my husband about the things our great grandparents knew how to do/make that we don’t anymore and have to depend on the grocery store for, I decided to learn to make soap. Little did I know what my curiosity would lead to! I found that making soap was really fun and so satisfying to make something with your hands for your family that was better than what we could get in the grocery store! After giving it to friends and family with lots of positive feedback and encouragement to sell it to the public, I also started Miller Soap Co. a few years ago, a handmade soap hobby that blossomed into a successful business that has enabled me to work out of our home. I have a business page on Facebook ( for online customers, have soap in a few stores around eastern Wyoming, and also attend craft shows.

Photo courtesy to the Lusk Herald
The country life is definitely not the easy life. The animals and land require a lot of tending, and it doesn’t matter what the weather is, and in Wyoming, that can be anywhere from -30 degrees in the winter to 100+ degrees in the summertime, most of the time with wind. The hours can be long and the critters don’t always cooperate to make the job easy. It’s a long drive to town for groceries and kids’ school and 4-H activities, and the gas prices put limits on trips to town. But overall, there is something special about living hand-in-hand with nature on the wide-open spaces and having the freedom that comes with a little control over your own schedule. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s an extremely satisfying experience. It may not be the life for everyone, but it is most definitely for our family!

Thank you Tricia for a great feature!!! We wish you much success in your soap making business!! Be sure to check out their Facebook page to check all of her homemade products!!

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