Idaho man has no regrets about living a rancher's life

By Andrew Weeks


Published: Monday, May 27 2013 10:30 p.m. MDT

Jed and Rick both said they'd like to one day own their father's property, but don't know that they'd continue the cattle operation — at least not grow it. There are just not enough cattle on the ranch to turn a good profit these days, Rick said. They'd have to become a big operation — 500 cattle or more — and that's something neither of them said they have plans to do.

There's another challenge, Rick said. His dad lucked out years ago when he purchased the property in the early 1970s. These days it'd be tough to get that much land.

Before purchasing the property, the Gearys developed land in the Pella area southwest of Burley, which they used to grow beans, potatoes, sugar beets and other commodities.

On a recent Thursday, Tom Geary went to his garage, donned overalls and boots, and then walked several yards to the new metal barn he had built on his property.

"You can ride mine," he said, as he started a Honda ATV. "Seems like we all use four-wheelers more than we do horses, these days. ... Let's go find some cattle."

Geary uses the four-wheelers every day to check his property and livestock.

He led the way, stopping now and then to open gates, across pastureland and on the hillsides to show where his cattle graze. A few calves walked or chewed cud with their mothers, staring at the two machines and their drivers as we rolled along the farm-green landscape. The mountain was still capped with snow.

He stopped and pointed out the boundaries of his property. There was more to his goal of becoming a rancher than earning a livelihood, he said: It's been a nostalgic lifestyle, one that in his early days he knew from friends and family that he wanted, and that he achieved.

Now, he's the one supporting the next generation of workers. As a butcher while still in high school, he said, he was paid 20 cents an hour. When teenagers recently came knocking on his door, they asked for $10 an hour.

"I gave it to them," he said with a laugh. "They helped mend some fences."

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