Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from, what do you do?
My name is Chaylon Shuffield. I live in Summer Lake, Oregon on my family’s ranch. I am a third generation rancher. My wife and I have 3 boys under the age of 7. We raise Angus Cross beef as well as alfalfa and grass hay.
How did you get started in ranching? What's the best part about the job?
Ranching and farming has always been a part of my life beginning at an early age. I feel fortunate to have the ability to raise my family on the same ranch I grew up on. The best part of my job is being able to incorporate family time with work. It is a great feeling knowing that I can be with my family and complete the tasks of the day. I can teach our children the importance of agriculture and develop their skills throughout the day.
Life on the ranch comes with a lot of challenges, what's the biggest?
The biggest challenge of life on our ranch is being on call 24 hours a day. Whether you are fixing a tractor breakdown in the field during the summer, to pulling calves during a snow storm in the winter months, there is never a dull moment. You have to be creative as a rancher in a remote area. Driving down to the parts store is not an option, so you have to learn how to improvise and fabricate your own parts to keep the ranch going in a cost-effective way.
What is the future of ranching for you? What can Americans do better to support their local ranchers?
The future of family-operated ranches will involve finding niche markets and develop marketing strategies to better connect with consumers. Americans can support their local ranchers by buying local and supporting local business who directly support local ranchers.
Local co-ops will be critical to the survival of family-operated ranches. Support groups such as Oregon Farm Link, Oregon Pasture Network, and various County Pasture Exchange programs are great efforts to connect ranchers with local landowners. Ranchers are very busy, so the more groups dedicated to helping market a rancher’s product, the more sustainable family-operated ranches will be in the future.
How do you use your DECKED Tool Box? How has it made life easier on the ranch?
Durable products on a ranch are important. I use my DECKED Tool Box and accessories every day, from storing calving supplies and medicine during brandings, to tractor parts in the summer. The latch mechanism and durability is far superior than any other toolbox I have owned.
The large space also allows for easy storage of groceries during our weekly grocery store outing, and is very easy to unload given the readily accessible Tool Box ladder. Whatever is stored in my DECKED Tool Box, I know I can have peace of mind knowing that parts and supplies will stay dry and secure. Recently, I used my DECKED Tool Box to deliver frozen meat to a customer straight from the butcher.
What advice can you give to people looking to get into raising cattle? Do you hope that your boys follow in your footsteps?
My advice to people looking to raise cattle: reach out to local ranchers and develop a relationship. Not every rancher is the same and opinions vary depending on experience. Understand the local challenges associated with your unique environment. Familiarize yourself with the social, political and environmental constraints.
Try to predict market shifts, but don’t be discouraged when you miss the mark. You will be faced with many struggles and challenges. Enjoy the moments when things go right, but don’t give up when things seem to fall apart. Ranching and farming goes beyond making money. It is a lifestyle and a lifestyle you learn to love and appreciate.