Young rancher follows in his family’s footsteps

Trent Pynch, a 21-year-old rancher, puts in long days, working at the Douglas County Farmers' Co-op in Roseburg, Ore., and then tending to his sheep in the evening. Pynch has a flock of 180 ewes and a herd of 12 mother cows.

DIXONVILLE, Ore. — At just 21 years old, Trent Pynch is already a couple years into the responsibility of carrying on his family’s ranching tradition.

Both his grandparents, Jim and Bonnie Pynch, and his parents, Jamey and Heidi, had sheep. Trent Pynch has purchased those animals and is now making the decisions regarding their care.

“Since he was 3 years old, all he wanted to do was to get into sheep,” Jamey Pynch said of his son. “He’ll always have livestock, it’s in his blood. My dad had always done this and I’ve always done it.”

Trent Pynch does get help from the older members of his family and from his girlfriend, Arica Hunter, because he has several other responsibilities in addition to his 180 ewes and 12 mother cows. He’s a full-time employee at the Douglas County Farmers Co-op in Roseburg, Ore., in the spring he’s a leader of the Dixonville Livestock 4-H Club and he’s possibly one of the youngest-ever board members of the Douglas County Livestock Association.

“I do sleep occasionally,” he said with a smile. “I’m busy, but that’s how I like it. It keeps me out of trouble.”

Roseburg area rancher George Sandberg said he is not surprised by the young rancher’s involvement in agriculture.

“What I saw in Trent was a lot of ambition, working his way into agriculture by showing sheep, talking to adults and always looking for something to get involved in,” Sandberg said. “He’s in an industry that’s not known for having young people. To be 21 and doing what he’s doing is pretty exceptional.

“There’s just not very many young people in agriculture and Trent is already doing what seasoned people in agriculture are doing,” the rancher added.

Trent Pynch grew up on the family sheep ranch. At age 4, he and his grandmother Bonnie worked together to nurse a sickly, cold bummer lamb back to health. The lamb was then given to Trent and 17 years later his flock has offspring from that ewe lamb.

In the first grade, Trent, with his father’s help, picked out and purchased two ewes at a Roseburg sale. Offspring from those two are also in his flock.

In the fourth grade, the boy became a member of the Roseburg Stockman 4-H Club. Three years later as a seventh-grader, he and his lamb earned grand champion honors in the Douglas County Lamb Show.

In his sophomore year at Glide High School, Trent Pynch got into the sheep business full-time. He took out a loan and purchased 40 ewes from his parents and grandparents. A year later, he diversified his livestock operation by taking out another loan and purchasing 12 mother cows.

In his senior year, he concluded his lamb showing career as a 4-H member with the reserve champion at the lamb show. That same year, he was named the Round Robin Master Showman for both 4-H and FFA, having been judged the best at showing his sheep, pigs and goats. He celebrated by taking out another loan and purchasing 40 more ewes from the family ranch.

Pynch’s success with his livestock operation was recognized in 2015. He had utilized the USDA’s Youth Loan Program and he was named the program’s most successful youth in the nation. He was the first Oregon participant to win that honor.

“He’s really good at being organized and detailed with his animals,” Jamey Pynch said of his son. “He’s got the history of most of his ewes in his head.”

Trent Pynch learned by listening to older ranchers and now, even at a young age, he’s already sharing what he knows. He does that by raising show lambs for purchase by 4-H and FFA members, by being a 4-H club leader and answering questions posed by customers at the co-op.

The young rancher said his realistic goal is to have 200 ewes and 15 mother cows, and to work his way up and to take on more responsibilities at the farmers co-op.

“It’s not just the business aspect, but I enjoy doing this,” he said of ranching. “I don’t picture myself anywhere else. I love it here.”

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