Notes from the Ranch: Ranching in Fire Season

Oregon Wildfires - Ranching is challenging.

As many of you know, Angela and I are in the ranching business. We have a cow/calf operation in Northern California and Southeast Oregon, where the last several years have been the driest in history.  

Last week on a Tuesday we noticed a wildfire called Bootleg Fire starting many miles from our Bly, Oregon ranch. (In the rugged Winema National Forest). It did not seem to pose an imminent threat to us, but one is constantly monitoring conditions in times like this.  

Within two days the fire traveled over 20 miles, driven by strong westerly winds. We talked with the neighboring ranchers who had narrowly escaped with most of their livestock ahead of the wildfire. Since we had cattle in the National Forest on the mountains further to the east, we decided to move quickly to bring them down to the home ranch. I scheduled trucks on Saturday morning and we would gather the 2,300 acre-pasture Friday evening after the day cooled.  

As we drove north up the road Friday afternoon the 20 miles to where the cattle were located, we saw flames from the front edge of the fire approaching our pasture area. We knew Saturday morning would be too late.  

A friend called and offered to help. I asked him to bring his truck and called other friends with trucks too. They all made a mad dash up the hill to help haul the cows and calves away from the wildfire.

With lots of luck and a few prayers, Angela, Cody, and I were able to locate all the cattle and have them to the corral by 7:30 that evening, just as the first truck arrived.  

In short order, we loaded all the trucks and moved down the hill. Timing could not have been closer. The Forest Service fire crews were just arriving to close the road. The cattle were unloaded in the dark to a safe pasture. 

Although the fire passed within ½ mile of the home ranch, we now seem safe. The fire continues towards the east, with a containment date of November 30, 2021.

We were the lucky ones. Many of our neighbors have either suffered losses or have cattle unaccounted for. The good news is that there has been no loss of life- everybody is safe. Most of the cattle are secure. Ranchers are hardy and survivors. Adversity is nothing new to a rancher. 

Chet Vogt


Oregon wildfire notes from a rancher


Chet: just got your update on the Oregon fire. Thank God your safe and your cattle are
secure at home. Leadership must come to realize good forest management is critical
going forward.
Your leadership in our western industry is essential in this crazy world, in the long run
good will win!

Tug Ross September 24, 2021

God bless you, all are safe.

Michael Sutherland September 20, 2021

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