Hello to all of you from the Hayhook Ranch, located in the Shields Valley, north of Livingston, MT. Pehr and Gail Anderson started the Hayhook Ranch and now ranch it with myself, Sky, and my brother Shiell Anderson. We are proud of our choice of livelihood and the career of ranching. Being ranchers, we are caretakers of the livestock and as farmers, we are caretakers of the land. WE CARE FOR OUR SILENT PARTNERS!
We were all born nurturers, not only to our own families and children, but to the livestock and the land too. We have the opportunity to raise our kids in the way that teaches them responsibility, respect, with integrity and character. We teach them how and what to do in possible dangerous situations. These kids are around ranch work from the time they can get in a backpack on Mom’s back or in the play pen outside of the corrals while we are working cattle. They are taught the values of taking good care of the cattle and the land. With that comes the work ethic that employers are looking for today and pride of being able to be a partner in a productive agricultural business that feeds America and other parts of the world.
Our silent partners, (our kids and the animals we raise) need us as parents to be responsible for their healthy upbringing, protecting them from sickness and disease. We teach our kids to make good, healthy food choices and eating habits and that quality of life is worth something.
We make decisions, like if our children should be vaccinated or not, to help prevent some of the diseases that are out there. We do the same for our cattle, to prevent them from getting illness and disease and treat them accordingly for any sickness that may keep them from becoming a high quality product for our consumers.
We make sure that our kids are eating a rich in nutrient diet, vitamins and minerals for growing strong bones and muscles, to help them have a long and healthy life. We want the cattle to have a healthy quality diet too so we can produce the highest quality of beef, high in protein, and nutrients such as iron that help make the people who end up eating the meat healthy too. We supplement our cattle with minerals and salt after obtaining knowledge of what our soil and feed have in it so they can have a healthy diet.
We find out what is needed in order for the cows to have a higher fertility rate and healthy calves…just like we give our children extra vitamins and mineral if they can’t get a good balanced diet.
We protect our children from the hazards of farming and ranching, just like the urban people protect their children from the different hazards that are in the city. It’s what you grow up with in your environment; it’s what you teach them for the different circumstances that should pop up. We train our children the safe and correct way to do things with each individual task just as they are trained in any job they are about to tackle in any geographical area and lifestyle they choose.
We protect our cattle from the hazards of living in the wild on private property, by fighting for our private property rights. We are accountable for our livestock by keeping the fences up and intact the best we can. Wolves, free-roaming bison and elk pose a real threat to Montana ranchers and we fight for our property rights in order to keep our own cattle from being exposed to diseases such as brucellosis, which bison and elk carry.
If we had the opportunity to choose again what our lifestyle and what we instill into our children would be, we would not change a thing! We are proud of whom they have become, and they work hard and believe that what they do is for the betterment of other people.
Meet Montana Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Chair, Peter Taylor. Peter ranches in Kirby, MT, in the Wolf Mountains with his family, brothers and parents. Peter’s grandfather purchased the original place in 1947.
The Taylor Ranch runs a commercial herd of predominantly black Angus and black baldies with a few full bred Hereford cows. The ranch puts up 1000-2000 tons of hay per year depending on how much rain they receive in a year. Peter explains that they keep about 150 to 200 replacement heifers (heifer calves who will eventually raise their own calves and replace the older cows who are taken out of the herd) per year, and will usually keep their light steers (castrated male cattle raised for beef) on the ranch at least until they are yearlings (one-year-olds) before they are sold. The replacements and lighter weight calves are fed hay on the ranch during the winter and then turned out into large grass pastures as early as possible in the spring. They have to wait for the snow to melt and the grass to grow sufficiently before they can turn the yearlings into the large pastures so they have enough to eat without supplemental hay feeding.
In addition to raising cattle, the Taylors raise horses. Peter explains that they raise around 12 Thoroughbred brood mares that have been bred to an Argentine Thoroughbred stud. The offspring of that cross are currently being bred to one of two AQHA studs. Peter notes, “We have worked hard to raise horses with good cow sense, and a whole lot of travel and go. It’s not just important to us that they can travel long miles but they also need to be comfortable for the guy on their back.”
As a young rancher who wants to raise his family on the ranch and eventually pass it on to his children, he feels very strongly about two subjects: the federal estate and capital gains taxes and defending agriculture against all of the current attacks.
“Let’s face it, passing on the ranch to the next generation is critical to keeping food production in our country viable, and for our Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, eliminating the estate tax and reducing the capital gains tax on agricultural lands is a number-one priority,” says Peter. “My grandmother passed away two years ago, and we are still waiting to see what the tax bill is on their estate. I truly believe that both the estate tax and capital gains taxes hurt any opportunity ranchers have to grow their businesses. We have three families living on this ranch now, and our chance to grow is extremely difficult. I don’t see how with my kids and my brothers’ kids will be able to pass anything on with enough production value to be significant to them. Land values are so high, many ranches far exceed the estate tax limit. Some ranchers around here have been forced to subdivide the place just to cover their estate tax bill.”
Peter is also very passionate about speaking out for agriculture. “I see a real need for people my age to be talking to their peers and defending agriculture,” Peter says. “It’s great that groups like Farm Bureau educate younger kids about agriculture in the schools, but if those students go home and their parents believe the erroneous articles in The New York Times and TIME, they’ll just undo all the hard work that goes into those programs.”
Peter says his big push is to use social networking venues like Facebook, to talk to his friends and acquaintances and say, “This information is wrong. Now HERE are the facts.”