Maggie Miller - 2021 Ranch Woman of the Year

Joy Ufford photo

“This ranch woman is known as a self-made cowgirl! She came to Wyoming and learned from scratch. She loves just being on the ranch, her grandkids, her dogs and her horse. She loves to collect old stuff and go shed gathering every spring. She is the real deal!”

“She keeps a big place together and viable. She is the final yay and nay around the ranch. She means business but at the same time she is so kind and friendly.”

All of these are quotes I have heard about this outstanding ranch woman. 

In 1948 she was born and lived with her parents and sister in the state of Wisconsin, with little knowledge about ranching or farming. As a child she loved animals, outdoors, hunting, fishing and swimming. After high school she attended college at the University in Mexico City. Soon after that she arrived in the Green River Valley in the late ‘70s with no experience, but she was hired on at a local ranch.

She told a friend once, “I was hired as a camp cook, but I failed miserably so I started night calving instead!” Much of what she learned on the job many, many years ago is what she still uses today!

In 1980, she married and later had a daughter. This ranch woman was now a mother and was totally in love with her little baby girl! This ranch woman was known as one tough lady! A male neighbor of hers stated he was “always impressed with her strength and ability to load hay bales with hay hooks!”

It sounds as though he might have been a little bit scared of her back in the day!

Later on in life she remarried, to a local rancher. She then took on the many duties as a ranch wife! Her husband then passed away, but she has continued to run one of the largest ranches in the Green River Valley. She owns many acres in Sublette County, raising over 1,200 head of black Angus calves every year. She has placed the ranch in the conservation easement.

The Grindstone Ranch has many places compiled together to form her operation. She also has a small ranch in Arizona where she loves to be in the warm weather, ride her horse and visit her southern friends. When I asked one of her Arizona friends (who visits the ranch in Wyoming lots too) about her, she said, “Her compassion for people and ranching is unmatchable. Her determination to strive when the bottom has fallen out is very inspirational.”

This comment was just one more of many that described her as an outstanding ranch woman. 

I know this lady as my neighbor with two beautiful silver braids and a neat old cowboy hat. She has been vaccinating calves at the branding for many years now! Her smile always reminds me to be grateful for what you have and love what you do, because that is exactly what she does every day!

I will always remember a branding day, not too long ago, when her crew decided we would rope about 750 calves in one day since it might snow the second day they had originally planned. She never questioned the decision and she was all in for a long day’s work as the head vaccinator! On that long windy dusty spring day, I tried to take her vaccine gun many times, so she could rest, but she would refuse every time! So we would continue on and she would keep up with the best of them! As we neared the last 20 calves to be branded in the late afternoon, the ranch foreman told me that if I traded her something she might give in and take a break. So, I grabbed a Corona beer from the cooler and without even asking her, I told her, “ Trade me, you take this and sit down. I will finish these calves for you, Maggie.”

You could tell she still didn’t want to comply but finally after working many, many hours on the ground and 600-plus branded calves later, she finally gave in to take a break – at the age of 71. This is just one example of many that demonstrates how tough and hardworking Maggie Miller is, and why I truly believe she is an outstanding ranch woman that I look up to.

A more recent female neighbor mentioned that she is a great friend and neighbor and that they would sort mix-ups, share water the best they could and believe that they did it better then the men!

As a ranch woman, she continues to improve her cattle bloodlines and keep updated machinery to get the jobs done on the ranch. Maggie is proud of her herd quality and the people who help her run the place. Her son-in-law, who also works on the ranch, said that the hardest thing he sees “her struggle with on the ranch is leaving the ranch.”

I am sure many ranch women can relate to that. Maggie is a hardworking woman who loves to just be on the ranch. Not very long ago this ranch woman lived without indoor plumbing, but she said it never really bothered her. In the past she has been found beaver trapping too. Another neat thing about her is that she made a bedspread many years ago and still uses it today! She is an all around hand who will probably never retire!

Maggie now has two grandchildren who she loves dearly! Her grandson said, “She is a tough lady, she never gives up and always finds a way to accomplish all things.”

When I interviewed her granddaughter, she mentioned that her favorite thing to do with Grandma was riding their horses together. Even the kids in her life know she has many qualities of an outstanding ranch woman.

As you can see, she is not only an outstanding ranch woman, but she is an amazing lady, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a boss, a neighbor, a banding vaccinator, a rider, a business owner, a hunter, a stewardess of the land, agriculture activist and the list can go on and on. 

Please help me by congratulating, Maggie Miller as the 2021 Green River Valley Ranch Women of the Year!

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