ROSEBURG, Ore. — “We’re getting too old to argue much anymore,” said Gary Hendy.
With that thought in mind, brothers Scott, Craig and Gary work together as co-owners of Clover Hills Ranch LLC, a cow-calf operation based in the foothills on the west side of the Cascade Mountains and several miles east of Roseburg.
“We get along now a lot better than when we were growing up,” said Scott, the oldest brother at 68. Craig is 67 and Gary 58.
The brothers run an operation of 115 mother cows with the dominant breed being red Angus.
They first experienced the ranching lifestyle about 45 years ago when their parents, Stan and Gertrude Hendy, made a major life change. Stan was a salesman and Gertrude a bookkeeper in California, first in Covina and then later in the San Francisco Bay Area. But when visiting Scott, a recent veterinary graduate, at his new job in Roseburg in 1975, they almost instantly fell in love with the area and its topography.
Within a year, they had sold their Bay Area home and purchased a 640-acre ranch. It was a major move, becoming full-time ranchers.
“They sold their house and put every dime into the ranch,” said Scott Hendy.
That first year, the couple leased 175 mother cows from Eastern Oregon. The Hendys calved out the “wild and crazy” cows and were rewarded with half the calf crop.
The learning curve was steep in the early years of ranching for the Hendys, but they made a go of it. Logging some of the Douglas fir trees on the ranch helped make some payments.
Gary began working on the ranch in the late 1970s and Scott was available to help on his off days from his veterinary practice. Craig visited from his California home several times a year, helping work the cattle and keeping the books and data on the cows and their calves.
Both Stan and Gertrude died in 2005, but their sons maintained their ranch work schedules.
Scott admitted there can be a debate when discussing what ranch work to do or strategy to follow, but they are few. He said one year when Craig came up to the ranch, the brothers decided to take a fishing trip on the Umpqua River before getting to work. They each caught fall Chinook and “the next day when we worked cattle it went a lot smoother than normal,” said Scott with a laugh.
Gary said he enjoys working for himself. He added he doesn’t care what color or breed a cow or calf is just as long as they are calm.
“It’s satisfying to be producing a lot of our own food, our own meat,” he said of being in the cattle business.
Scott said he enjoys living in the country and seeing wildlife close by after spending his younger years in metropolitan areas of California.
“Walking out the front door and seeing five bull elk is fun, but seeing a herd of elk out in the hay field is not so fun,” he added.
The Hendy brothers keep a few replacement heifers each year, they sell a few yearling bulls and the rest of their calf crop is shipped to a feedlot. The Hendys retain ownership of the calves in the feedlot and collect carcass data through DNA testing for marbling and tenderness from the animals after they are processed, providing their breeding program with the best genetics for future calves.
Stan and Gertrude Hendy would be proud of their boys for continuing what they started.