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Chad Woods, seen here with grandson, Sterling, moved in the 1980s from Grass Valley in Sherman County to Polk County near Baskett Slough.

Dallas, Ore. — Whether it was due to nature or nurture, Chad Woods believes he was always meant to work on the land.

“Farming is an inherited blood disease,” he quipped, describing his life as a son adopted into a family with a long history in farming and ranching. Later, when he connected with his biological siblings, he discovered that many of his blood relatives were also farmers.

He’s passed on his passion for ranching to his youngest son, Nathan, who is building the family’s Angus-Hereford herd from its current 100 head. The family also runs about 18 goats with the cattle. All four of Chad and Bonnie Woods’ children grew up on the Polk County farm, where they moved in the 1980s from Grass Valley in Sherman County.

Chad said he roped his first cow when he was 5 years old on his grandfather’s Eugene-area farm. “I just loved it,” he said, describing the lasso he made from baling twine. “I caught the bug.”

After a stint in the Army, he married Bonnie in 1974, and moved to Sherman County, where he raised hogs and cattle. When his rangeland began to disappear to the Conservation Reserve Program, he moved to the Dallas area.

In 2006, he was named Cooperator of the Year by the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District. The same year, he joined the district board, an elected position he has held for 12 years.

Chad has weathered his own storms in recent years, battling “every kind of cancer you can imagine,” he said. Health issues have slowed him, but not stopped him. Nathan, now 33, runs day-to-day operations, while Chad maintains a real estate office at Windermere’s Dallas location, where he is a broker.

Like most ranchers, Chad Woods understates his hard work. In addition to assisting his son with haying, calving and other activities on the ranch, the Woods’ ranch is home to several wildlife, soil and water conservation projects, thanks to Chad’s dedication. These days, he serves as a cheerleader for other landowners in the Baskett Slough area who are interested in riparian protection. Most farmers, he said, are in it for more than money. “These are people who are invested in the land,” he said.

“This is just a great way of life,” he said of farming. “I don’t want to see it slipping away.”

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