COWBOYS

scenic viewRanching has been a long standing tradition in the "Borderlands" area. For over 150 years cattle, horses, and sheep have grazed the high desert range. During the early years it was a free range with no fences and large outfits set up huge holdings. According to local historian Kelly Murphy many of the first cows came from Texas, though the longhorns were devastated by severe winters in the late 1880s. Even so, the large ranches continued to dominate the region for some time until smaller operators and their herds began filtering into the area. Eventually small family operations were established throughout the country. They were successful for decades until the economics of running a smaller ranch began to work against them. Now many of the small ranches are gone, and most of the ranching is again done by large outfits like the Bracket Ranch and the Simplot Group.

Kevin Chapin, who was raised in the area, has been the ranch manager for the historic Diamond A and Three Creek Ranches for twenty years. Though both are owned by Simplot, Chapin runs them like his own, and he and his cowboys do much of their work the same way it’s been done for generations.

Kevin Chapin working"Basically we try to do things the old traditional way. I was raised that way. I’ve got four generations of ranching in my blood and my dad and my uncle taught me how to do things the old way and a lot of times that’s still the best. There are a lot of modern things we incorporate nowadays but still with cattle and livestock doing things the old way is almost still the best.

We do everything horseback. Of course they’ve invented the pickup and gooseneck trailer now and that saves us a lot of miles on horses but sometimes it’s not as good because the horses aren't as well broke. I try to get a good crew. I get good guys working for me, the savvy to understand what it takes to run a cow and there are so many things involved that people don’t realize...

A good cowboy is a very proud person. You guys have heard of cowboy pride. It is definitely there. They like things nice. Good horses and good cattle. You like to do things right and you don’t like to be put down. You’ve got good manners. I call it cowboy pride. If you guys could spend a week with me around here I can show you exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a matter of when you go to work with a neighbor, here’s a typical instance, you ride your best horse and you put your best bridle on.

I was raised that way. And if you’re going to go to town you look nice. That’s just part of being a cowboy. I think it actually adds character to you as a person too."

--Kevin Chapin, Ranch Manager--

Kevin’s wife Nancy understands cowboys and the ranching lifestyle. She pitches in on nearly everything that needs to be done to keep the ranch going. From cooking and putting up fence to riding and roping, Nancy does it all.

nancy chapin"On this place here and the Three Creek Ranch as well, the fact that Kevin can rely on having me and the two boys to help, he can count on getting something done if he knows he’s got us whether he’s got anybody else or not. I think if you get the women who appreciate the lifestyle, that want to become involved in it and be part of it it’s just better overall for the whole family life and everything in general...

It’s kind of hard to think about everything you do all day. Any woman can relate to having household things to do and yard work to do. Then you add into that going to move cattle now and then, spending a day cooking so you can have food available for people the next day when they are branding. There are sometimes long days and you’re tired at the end of the day. You sleep really well at night. It is nice. It is relaxing in a way but you are still working hard at the same time.”

--Nancy Chapin, Ranchers Wife--

Shawn Weeks work with the Chapins. He’s the lead cowboy at the Three Creek Ranch. Though he briefly tried other types of work, he came back to what he knows and loves, ranching.

Shawn Weeks working"For me what's important is the freedom, that’s part of the reason why cowboys are cowboys, we're free, we don’t have people hassling us all the time. The value's is knowing you did a job well and treated everybody well, and went above and beyond to get something done...

To me this is best life there is, the things that we do and the way we do em. Working cattle horseback, ropin cattle, those are good things in my mind and things I’d like to see the younger generation come up with... They help out, my kids are all learning how to rope and start colts which is great fun for me because then I can pass on to them what my dad taught me. I’m a fourth generation cowboy, I grew up on these ranches, it's really neat to me to be able to pass on to them the things my dad taught me and all the people I've been around throughout my life on these ranches."

--Shawn Weeks, Lead Cowboy--