October 23, 2017
Shanen Ebersole may not have been born into ranching but it’s clear that she is a RanchHer at heart. Growing up a horse girl, Shanen always had a love for animals. After meeting her husband at Iowa State University, they decided to move to southern Iowa to start their own herd of Maine Anjou cattle. Soon after that, they started their family, which is now complete with three children. Today Ebersole Cattle Company is a full-time job for the family. In addition to raising and marketing their own grass-fed beef, they also graze cattle for others around their area, adding diversity to their operation. In addition to cattle, Shanen has a new love at the ranch, a large herd of mustangs that she worked tirelessly to arrange the care of, through the United States Bureau of Land Management.
When I arrived at the farm on a rainy, gray early spring day, the Ebersole family was just getting their start. Shanen’s husband Beau was headed off to work cattle at a different location, their son was climbing on the school bus and Shanen and her daughters were headed to the barn to tend to their show cattle. As the kids have grown up and have developed their own passion for livestock like their parents, they have gotten involved in showing cattle and horses through FFA and other organizations. It’s clear they take it seriously in their care and attentiveness they had for the animals. I watched as the girls moved the cattle around, and even got a little lesson in how to properly brush out a cow’s fur when prepping it for the show ring. Who knew a cow could look so fluffy and soft!
Once that was done, the girls headed inside to work on school work while Shanen and I walked across the road and out to a nearby pasture so she could check all of the mama cows that she cares so deeply for. Shanen’s herd was nearing the end of calving season so she had a few specific girls that she needed to lay her eyes on.
From there, we hopped up in her huge truck to head to the co-op, to pick up some pellets so we could go out and check on the new herd of mustangs. Shanen explained to me that a few years ago, she became interested in and started the process to provide a home for the wild horses on her land. The horses come from the rangeland in the western part of the U.S. I learned that the number of wild horses on the range is greater than the range can hold. There isn’t enough food and water for all of them to survive. So, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a program where they gather the horses and place them in the care of ranchers and RanchHers, such as Shanen. There are strict guidelines as to how Shanen and Beau must care for the animals, how much land they have to graze on, and who can interact with them.
Once we arrived at the land where the horses were, we climbed into a UTV to drive the rest of the way out to the pasture. As we pulled within seeing distance of the herd, I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were running over a distant hill, and I had never seen such a large herd of horses running in their natural habitat. It was amazing, beautiful and totally breathtaking. We pulled up next to the herd we approached slowly. Shanen moved closer to them with slow movements and I could see that they were hesitant but curious. She has such a strong desire to care for the animals that have been entrusted to her, that it was a truly unique experience. We spent the better part of an hour near the animals, watching them move, seeing their grace and being in awe of their presence.
My day with Shanen and her family in the gently rolling hills of southern Iowa was a truly unique experience. I always say that FarmHer’s love what they do, but I think Shanen might be the exception. She doesn’t just love it, she lives through that love. You can see it on her face, in her actions and in every part of who she is. Shanen is a woman, mother, wife, friend, and a truly amazing RanchHer.
December 07, 2017
November 27, 2017
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