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Working Ranch - November/December 2017

The Lockhart family has ranched outside Jackson since the 1930s. L-R: Shawna and Cody Lockhart, and their daughter Amelia. Chase Lockhart, and Liz and Kelly Lockhart. The red barn and white house at Lockhart Cattle Company were built in 1909 by one of the fi rst valley residents, Stephen Leek. DAVID STUBBS of ranching within sight of the grocery store. “If I lived out at the end of the road in Big Piney Wyoming and ran out of coffee, it would be a 20-minute ordeal. Here, in two minutes my problem is solved. “Though I can’t tell you how many people drive in here, saying, ‘You got a cow out there having a calf!’ Like, ‘Good, that’s what they’re supposed to do’.” Nearly fi ve million tourists annually funnel through Jackson, full-time population 10,135, to visit ski resorts, and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. “Most people that come to Jackson,” Lockhart continues, “don’t know the difference between me, and the guy at the shootout in the town square or leaning on the bar wearing a cowboy hat.” Many Jackson residents also don’t understand the fi nancial challenges and variability of the ranching business. In 2004, the Lockhart cattle herd contracted brucellosis from grazing among elk. Regulations at that juncture forced the family to destroy the entire herd; calves, cows, bulls and yearlings… close to 900 animals. At the time, the Lockharts held the last active grazing permit in Grand Teton National Park. With no cattle, they fi led non-use on the permit and the park fully closed grazing access. The family re-grouped, and decided to transfer ranch operations to Chase and his brother Cody. “We leased the ranch one summer,” says Chase Lockhart, “and hayed it the next. But if I’m going to hay, I want to feed it to my own cows. So I began re-building the herd.” To add value to his cattle, Lockhart purchased registered Herefords to sell bulls and replacement heifers. A couple years of attending bull sales and Hereford shows taught him it’s hard to compete with large producers, and the added costs of showing, heated barns, and embryo transfer were beyond his resources. “Also, I’m not really in ranching country,” Lockhart admits. “Jackson is not a common place people come to buy bulls.” GOING LOCAL Casting for another value-added opportunity, Lockhart saw Jackson’s 200 restaurants reviewed on TripAdvisor.com, the popularity of local food, and the 145-year-steady tourism industry. “I fi gure half of those tourists eat hamburger,” Lockhart explains, “and if I can sell the restaurants a fi fth of that hamburger, that’s still a lot of hamburger.” A restaurant where a friend worked 82 I WORKING RANCH I NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Working Ranch - November/December 2017
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