John and Cynthia
Circle S Ranch,
for someone ever since we came back!”
Managing more cows and farming a
little less than the three original partners
keeps them busy. They started
with a Hereford base and “were out
to change the world” when returning
home. Later, Simmental infl uence was
added. Angus bulls had been used on
the heifers and they really liked the
baldy calves,“but I guess we couldn’t
see the forest for the trees. I was kind
of a slow learner”, Steeples says, adding,
“We fi nally realized big cows
don’t make money!”
Enter Ohlde Cattle Company.
Steeples started buying bulls from Tim
and Trudy Ohlde 14 years ago and
scaling down cow size. The frame has
gone down and the ability for a cow to
survive on forage has improved. The
cows spend the winter grazing milo
stalks with little or no supplement.
Being particular about the udders on
cows, great changes have been made
with cow and bull selection.
The only cake ever fed to cows is
to coax them around a little. Heifer
calves are weaned off the cow and go
directly onto winter barley to graze.
With the drought last winter, the
cows got more cane hay and barley
hay than in previous years, but no
grain or supplements. “A good mineral
program really makes a difference,
and we are diligent about making it
available.” according to Steeples.
Cows are treated like cows from the
weaning process on up. Will you have
fall-out? Sure, but why not eliminate
the free loaders from the start? They
already know how to graze and manage
on the range – it’s all they ever
knew. No bunk scooping or feed truck,
tractor, silage, grain or distillers. “Feed
salesmen don’t like me very much!
We’re practically going broke, not
having free jackets and caps to wear.
We gotta buy our own,” Steeples jokes.
On the working side of things, they
still fi nd a need for horses. A side-byside
is used to check calving cows but
there is not a replacement for a horse
when there is a problem. All the heifers
are calved out on grass and there
are times one needs to be brought
in to be helped. There are fewer calf
health problems since getting them
out of the lots.
All of this would not be possible without
good help. Steeples feels fortunate
he was able to hire Trever Gire. Trever’s
horse training and feedlot and doctoring
experience has been a very valuable
asset to the operation. His two Border
Collie dogs are also a big help.
Speaking of help, the Steeples have
a great network of friends in the area
that are real handy. Come branding
day, people come from up to 90 miles
away to help. They also come to enjoy
Cynthia’s cooking! Being one of the
few in this area that still rope and
drag calves to the fi re, branding day
is a big event.
John and Cynthia have two adult
children. Summer is married to Brad
Yoder and they live close to Wichita, KS.
Their son, Josey, is married to Cortney
(Reimer) and they live in Hastings MN.
Both kids have ag-related careers and
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2019 I WORKING RANCH I 43