Ag in Action 2017
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to Agriculture and
the War on Weeds.
— Milk River Bull Sale Consignors —
1:00 p.m. • Lunch at noon
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Bear Paw Livestock • Chinook, Montana
Bulls can be viewed at Hould Feedlot in Malta.
Complete Sale Information and Sale Book, Contact
Clayton Hofeldt • 406-945-0850
“Your Source for Bulls on the Hi-Line”
View videos atwww.billpelton.com,
and bid sale day by phone & live online atwww.lmaacutions.com
By Hunter D’Antuono |
Curled into a tight ball, wobbly legs tucked under
its small body, a black calf, mere hours old, its soft hide
still wet with birthing fluids, pokes its head up from a
pile of straw in a muddy field in the Shields Valley. An
attentive mother reaches down to lick it clean. Perhaps
not as cute as a golden retriever bouncing around on a
manicured suburban lawn, but still a heart-warming sight
nonetheless. This scene will play out 500-some times on
Stuart Dunkel’s ranch this year.
Dunkel, a 27-year-old rancher from a multigenerational
Montana family, embraced the ranching lifestyle early in
life, and hasn’t looked back. At age 15, he borrowed money
from his mother to buy 45 cows. And raising cattle is what
he’s done since.
“I love it. I just have fun,” said Dunkel, wearing a
characteristically large grin. “I play all day, I guess. It’s fun
being your own boss.”
In Big Sky Country, Dunkel is an example of how
ranching remains a cross-generational pursuit. Dunkel is
well on his way to raising a family of his own with his wife,
Rebecca, in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains up Horse
One of the most trying times of any rancher’s year is
In the height of the season, 18-20 hour workdays are
not uncommon with cows birthing around the clock. The
calves are a rancher’s top priority. They are the future.
Without a maximum healthy crop of calves to sell at
market, land leases risk default and bills may go unpaid,
putting the livelihoods of all of those on the ranch in
jeopardy. And ranchers are at the mercy of the market
price of their product. Dunkel and Myrt Woosley, a rancher
in Sedan, both recounted a dramatic swing two years ago,
when beef prices rose to well over $2 per pound and by the
next year had sunk to a $1.40.
“That check has to last an entire year,” said Woosley of
money earned from cattle sales.
Her husband Lyle’s family is seventh-generation
Montana ranchers, and the first to settle in Sedan, who
named it after their former home in Kansas when they
headed west. For four decades, Lyle and Myrt have worked
cattle together with their family in the shadow of the
“Any time you see someone who is calving, if you are a
rancher, you can tell, because they look so exhausted,” said
One cow, two cow, black cow, red cowContinued on page 9