Family cattle ranching legacy survives through the years

Credit: Ryan Larrondo / KTVB

Family cattle ranching legacy survives through the years

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by Dee Sarton

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 1:25 PM

BRUNEAU -- The lifeblood of the economy in Owyhee County is cattle ranching.

The Tindall ranching family has managed to stay in business through the tug-of-war with federal agencies and environmentalists over cattle-grazing on public lands, over the years.

"We operate about 45 miles from Idaho into Nevada. This lay of the country right through here," said Dave Tindall, an Owyhee County rancher.

There are 600-700 cows, and about 600 yearlings that roam the Tindall Ranch, a ranch his family has worked on for 128 years.

"Tindall, Idaho is on most of the old atlases," said Tindall. "I think we're fortunate."

Everywhere he looks, it reminds him of his family's history.

"They were a hardy bunch," he said.

It's on old homesteads like this one, that have their own school houses, where the generations of Tindall's learned to read and write.

"There's two rooms in there, one's for the teacher to stay, the living quarters. And then, where all the windows are on this side, this was the classroom of it. And the rock-house down below it is where his dad went to school," he said.

The Tindall Ranch legacy started in 1885 when William James Tindall moved to Idaho from Delaware. He left his job as a street-car operator, trying to find a better way to support his growing family, out west.

Perhaps not unusual for the time back then, but William Tindall worked with his hands to tame the land, willing it to produce more than rattlesnakes and sagebrush. He managed to make a hand-dug cave to shelter his livestock.

"They didn't have much and didn't need much," he said.

Tindall said it was a time when hard work, persistence and resiliency seemed to be enough. He said things are different today.

"The challenges I see today. When they failed, nobody was there to push them out and that's not the way it is today. Now you mess up and you're done. There's no give and take like there used to be," he said. "Every generation will adapt but the economics of it is getting tighter."

Tindall admitted, stuck or not, he's asked himself multiple times why his great-grand-dad stayed put in Owyhee County, a spot where nothing's easy.

"I got in trouble with my dad one time about my great grandfather," said Tindall. "I told my dad, 'Great-grand-dad wasn't too smart.' My dad said, 'He worked hard, dug ditches by hand, even dug a tunnel right through here.' And I said, 'Well, he crossed a lot of good country to find a pile of rocks."

"And I knew I was in trouble with my dad when I said, 'And we're dumber yet. We stayed here,'" said Tindall.

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