The trophies are displayed in the living room. Miss Rodeo, Rodeo Princess, Rodeo Queen… Three generations of riders are honored at Ranch Thoman, 50 kilometers from Green River, on the arid plateaus of western Wyoming. Mickey Thoman, the pioneer, will soon be 93 years old. She still wears beautiful, with her western shirt and her silver belt from the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame, the club where she was one of the first women admitted in 2018. Her forehead is crossed with a scar: a quad accident , the all-terrain vehicle she uses to feed the animals. Mickey took over the ranch in 1998 after her husband, Bill, was killed by a driver while fixing his van on the side of the road. “People advised me to sell. But why ? I had always taken care of the farm like him. »
This late July morning, the women of the Thoman Ranch are seated around the table in the dining room. Laurie prepared a beef stir-fry and the traditional apple pie (apple pies), served à la mode. We discuss business. The sale of sheep is difficult this year. The slaughterhouses of Greeley (Colorado), the neighboring market, have not yet recovered from the congestion of 2021, due to the pandemic. The 3,000 animals are in the summer pastures. In good times, “we had up to 9,000”, sighs the matriarch.
“Everything on a ranch is a physical challenge”
At the ranch, each has its function. Mary Thoman, 73, the eldest of Mickey’s five children, handles finance and administration. For seventeen years, she led the Conservation District, an organization responsible for the management of local resources. In 2020, she was elected county commissioner of the county of Sweetwater, a territory almost the size of Belgium, straddling the continental divide. Mary has been a lifelong Republican, like everyone else in the family and practically in the state. In 2020, Trump garnered 69.94% of the vote in Wyoming, his highest national score.
His sister Kristy takes care of the sheep: since docking, docking the tail of animals, an exercise in endurance that lasts several days, up to relations with the shepherds. These were Basques, Mexicans. Now they come from Peru with a work visa. Since the Obama administration, they must be paid minimum wage, while the ranch provides them with food, equipment and accommodation in small trailers. “And even the telephone”, she points. To supplement her income, Kristy is a truck driver. It transports machinery or animals on behalf of neighboring mines and farms. “It’s getting harder and harder to survive,” she says.
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