For our next feature, please welcome Tana Beckstead and her family as they share with us their unique agricultural story!
We live in southeast Idaho in a small town called Swan Lake (about 45 miles south of Pocatello, Idaho and 45 miles north of Logan, Utah) along Oxford Mountain.
As a family we operate and manage two separate farm and ranch operations owned by different corporations and businessmen. Mount Oxford Ranch in Downey and Preston, Idaho is a cow/calf operation with 350 Black Angus beef cows and calves as well as alfalfa and irrigated grain crops. Oxford Mountain Ranch, LLC in Swan Lake, Idaho is a cow/calf operation with 100 head of Black Angus cows and calves as well as the alfalfa, irrigated grain crops and dry land grain and safflower. Our oldest son Wiley pretty much runs the Swan Lake place by himself - he does all the pipe moving, field work and runs the cattle on his own - with a little help from Grandpa Beckstead occasionally in the summer. All together we farm close to 4500 acres.
In addition to operating the two ranches we also started our own custom harvesting business as a family. Two years ago we purchased a John Deere 9560 combine and we custom cut grain crops for farmers in the local area. Our little business is growing and last year we were able to buy a semi and a grain trailer to haul grain. We also own about 10 good ranch horses and the kids like to participate in local rodeos and jackpots in the summer time. Our older children, Wiley and Savannah both got youth loans through our local FSA office and purchased their own Angus cows and heifers and raise them along with the bigger herds. The kids plan on attending college with the money they make from selling the calves.
Doug and I (Tana) have been married for 18 years and have been involved in agriculture our entire lives. I was born and raised on a small dairy and beef cattle operation in Downey, Idaho and was active in 4-H and FFA while growing up. I was the Marsh Valley High School Chapter FFA president in 1994 and the District FFA President in 1995. Doug started working for a dry farm in the Preston, Idaho area when he was in his early teens and grew to love every aspect of farming. He worked the dry land hills and fields with old D-4 caterpillar machines and John Deere hill side combines. His blood runs green and nothing compares to John Deere when it comes to farm equipment!
A typical day for our family is long and busy! Right now it is summer time so there is a LOT of pipe moving going on and we are just finishing up 1st crop hay. Wiley takes care of the pipe at the Swan Lake place and Doug, Tana and Savannah move the pipe at Mount Oxford Ranch. (Our little Hazen likes to play in the water and get the end plugs for us-pretty soon he’ll be big enough to lift the pipe!) We work together every day as a family. YES, we all have to work on the ranch! Whether we are calving cows or doctoring or branding calves or cutting or baling hay or disking or drilling a field, we all have important jobs to do! Doug hires a part-time hand to help out in the summer at Mount Oxford Ranch and also hires on temporary help from January to April for calving and branding season, but for the most part we do it all as a family.
My favorite part of working and living on a ranch is getting to raise my kids here. There is no better way in my opinion than growing up and working on a farm or ranch! Our kids have learned the value of a hard day’s work and they are responsible, knowledgeable kids for that very reason. We get up early and go to bed exhausted, but I know my kids aren’t out making trouble or doing drugs or worse.
We do like to have fun too! Our favorite time of year on the ranch is branding season. We make a big day out of the brandings and I cook a big meal and we make a party out of it. We have great friends that love to help us brand and we never have to pay them to help.
When our youngest son Hazen started Kindergarten they had to give him a test to see what level he was at and the teacher asked him a series of questions and one of the questions was “What are the four seasons of the year?”. Hazen answered just as cool as could be, “Well there is calvin’ season, brandin’ season, farmin’ season and huntin’ season!” The teacher thought that was the cleverest thing she had ever heard. In his world these are the seasons on the ranch. Our local FSA agent heard the story and has a poster hanging in her office with the Four Seasons by Hazen Beckstead.
The one thing I wish people could understand about our particular ranching and farming story is that just because we work for a corporation doesn’t mean the money for the ranch is just flowing free at our disposal. Many times we hear people say “You have it so easy because the owners just buy everything you need or you don’t have the stress because you don’t have to worry about the bottom line.”. This is so not the case! If anything we worry more about making things work and being in the “black” at the end of the year. Doug and I have to put together a yearly budget and operating expense account and we have to pencil out how things will work and run smoothly. If we are short or don’t pay off these expenses we have to answer for it at the end of the year. We run these ranches just like we would our own if we had our own ranch.
Thanks for the great feature Tana! Agriculturalist come in all shapes and sizes - just like you! If you or someone you know should be featured on Faces of Agriculture please contact us today!