Timely (and sometimes touchy) ag topics

Cali O'Hare file photo

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Two very important conversations are coming up in the near future that interest me – one is diversification in the ranch and farm worlds of Wyoming.

How do you make some extra money by offering what what you do, seasonally, and educate people about your lifestyle? Whether you grow hay or corn, cattle or horses, there are interesting ideas out there. For some the downside would be that you need to be social and welcoming while you do your chores.

In more temperate counties, for example, an autumn industry is growing among farm families– pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Families flock to pick their own pumpkins and navigate mazes of standing cornstalks.

I heard about one Campbell County family that decided to create a maze with no special engineering required, just a sense that there shouldn’t too many dead ends. The corn was already in the ground so it was a natural fit with the autumn visitors and Halloweeners in particular.

Hay or straw bales are also stacked up and turned into slides and mazes and entrepreneurs make child-sized versions. Hayrides are another safe entertainment if you have a well-broke team and haywagon and someplace to highlight your views, livestock or your own landscapes.

When I searched for “Wyoming corn mazes” I hit on www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org. Ranches and farms are building up the attractions with fresh produce stands, already-picked pumpkins, eggs, concessions featuring homegrown beef and pork. Birthday parties. Group reservations. Beansbags, basketballs and cornball.

Sublette County doesn’t have any listing on the website, nor does Teton County. With a nod to winter weather coming early, maybe you could entice visitors with haying season itself, hayrides into the woods or a trip to a bonfire barbecue or Dutch-oven outdoor kitchen?

Maybe a restaurant or private family would like to hire you for evening hayrides with horses steaming through the snow? For weddings and family reunions.

The second timely and touchy topic is conservation easements – what do you need to know, want to know?

Keeping Wyoming Wyoming

My thought is conservation easements are less complicated and more sophisticated than many people believe. People think they’ll lose their precious lands’ market values, get paid to not run the ranch or have it signed away forever. Probably some plans are dubious.

But there must be good reasons for a noticeable number of Sublette ranchers and landowners to choose to enter conservation easements with trusted organizations.

For those with questions, a get-together on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Pinedale Library might hold answers. “Keeping Wyoming Wyoming – A community discussion about conservation easements” is hosted by the Sublette County Conservation District and Green River Valley CattleWomen – Cowbelles.

“This is a chance for landowners and members of the community to ask us about conservation easements, even the hard questions, and for us to learn about landowner needs,” said Jessica Crowder, executive director of Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust.

Crowder and WSGLT engagement coordinator Sarah Kauer invite questions in advance to make the most of the two-hour discussion; contact them at 307-772-8751, HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]"[email protected] or HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]"[email protected].

Women in Ag

Ag-diversified businesses and other very timely – and touchy – topics are on the 29th Annual Women in Agriculture’s Symposium & Diversified Ag Tour, Nov. 17, in Riverton. There is a tour to the 410 Ranch to learn about Wyoming Hay Cubes and a tour of Central Wyoming College’s Ag Department and meat-processing unit. Sessions about financial planning,  tallgrass prairie disturbance, estate planning, meals for field crews, carbon and ranch vehicle safety kits. And plenty of opportunities to visit, network and brainstorm. For more and to register, go to wywomeninag.org.