#AgLife: A spool of wire or a rope – TJ and Amy Jarrard

    There may be life off the ranch, but any Fremont County farmer or rancher will tell you – The #aglife is “the good life!” #Aglife is a County 10 series, brought to you by Wyoming Community Bank, that pulls the curtain back on farm and ranch life in Fremont County.

    Spend a few minutes with TJ Jarrard and you can’t help but think of Toby Keith’s first hit, “I Shoulda Been a Cowboy.”

    It’s not like TJ had much choice. He is from a family of cowboys and his wife Amy (Hittle) shares the same ancestry.

    TJ is a 1990 graduate of Shoshoni High School, and Amy graduated in 1995 from Pinedale. Needless to say, the couple met “horsing around.” Horsing around rodeo style that is.

    TJ Jarrard at the Ranchers Rodeo – h/t Randy Tucker

    The couple met in Wickenburg, Arizona where TJ was roping with JJ Butler, and Amy was working as a personal assistant for Butler’s girlfriend Julie.

    “We met through work,” Amy said.

    It was the type of work that TJ looked for, “We made a lot of money roping in Arizona,” TJ said. “There are good cowboys down there, but not everybody is the best. It was good competition.”

    Competition is something TJ enjoys. He was a football and basketball player in Shoshoni and earned a rodeo scholarship to Torrington in the fall of 1990, though it didn’t work out.

    “It was a horrible experience. I wasn’t happy, I was broke and done,” TJ said. “I made four dollars an hour working for Lex and Shawn Madden at the sale barn 12 hours a day.”

    The Jarrard roping horses hit the feed bunk – h/t Randy Tucker

    Eastern Wyoming College wasn’t a good fit. TJ went to work for his uncle in Medicine Bow, calving 800 cows, but he returned to school.

    He enrolled at Central Wyoming College and met Butler there. TJ was a roper and Butler competed in rough stock.

    “I had a good year in Riverton,” TJ said. “I almost made the national finals.”

    Jarrard had some advice for young cowboys looking to compete in college rodeo.

    “If you don’t have a reason to go to college, don’t go there,” he said. “You have maybe 10 rodeos in nine months of school. You can do that without going to college. It was fun and I met a lot of people. I’m just a few hours short of a degree in English.”

    TJ is a cowboy through and through, his powerful frame disguises a thinking man beneath his tough exterior.

    Ranch and fencing equipment – h/t Randy Tucker

    Being on a horse or working cattle for long days and nights in the great expanse of the West gives a man a chance to think, and Jarrard is a thinker. It started when he was a kid, growing up near Rawlins until his family moved to Shoshoni when he was in fifth grade.

    “We didn’t have television,” TJ said. “I read the classics, War and Peace, Moby Dick, The Grapes of Wrath, all the good stuff.”

    He received the senior award as the outstanding English student at Shoshoni from teacher Tim Ervin.

    Amy has a similar story, but a different path.

    “I went to Sheridan College for a year, and then to the University of Wyoming,” Amy said. “I moved to Texas, worked for a veterinarian, and came back to Pinedale to work in the oilfield.”

    When she moved to Wickenburg, their lives changed.

    Wedding day for TJ and Amy Jarrard with Amy’s mom Mary Ann – h/t Amy Jarrard
    Amy Jarrard with her sons TR and Tel – h/t Amy Jarrard
    TJ Jarrard and his sons TR and Tel – h/t Amy Jarrard

    “I went down there thinking I had to be on my ‘A’ game,” TJ said. “I came down pretty hot.”

    The couple were married on July 15, 2011. They have two sons, Tel in seventh grade, and Thomas Robert “TR” a freshman, both are students and athletes at Shoshoni.

    Amy’s parents are Bobby and Mary Ann Hittle, the late Sandy Hittle (Barton) who developed the Riverton Job Corps is her cousin.

    “My dad’s family homesteaded in Pinedale,” Amy said. “It’s now the Sommers Ranch Homestead Historical Ranch.”

    TR playing chess with his mom’s cousin Albert Sommers – h/t Amy Jarrard

    Amy’s cousin, Sublette County State Representative Albert Sommers runs the ranch.

    “Mom and Dad bought a ranch in Boulder when I was 12,” Amy said. “She met Dad at a rodeo. She taught school for 50 years.”

    Mary Ann was a unique woman in 20th-century Sublette County. She was a graduate of Vassar College.

    “Her experience with horses came from fox hunting,” Amy said.

    Amy Jarrard with her mom Mary Ann and her sister Annie – h/t Amy Jarrard

    Amy went back to school, enrolled in the nursing program at Central Wyoming College, and now works as a registered nurse at Sage West Hospital in Riverton.

    TJ comes by cowboying honestly as the slang goes.

    His grandfather Harold Jarrard was a legend, often referred to as the “greatest cowboy alive.” He was born near Kaycee in 1919, worked on the famed Matador Ranch in Texas, and spent his life literally in the saddle.

    TJ shares the same sense of humor his grandfather possessed.

    When Harold was inducted into the Hall of Fame he said. “I appreciate you guys thinking of me for this, but I think you should have given the award to the guy who invented heaters in pickup trucks.”

    Harold Jarrard – TJ’s grandfather – h/t Cowboy Hall of Fame

    He was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 1996, and the Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015. He passed away in 2018 at 99 years of age.

    “He ate chocolate and smoked until the day he died,” Amy said.

    Smoking was a ticket for TJ’s father, Tom Jarrard with the Phillip Morris Agency.

    Tom worked as a Marlboro Man with Darrel Winfield.

    “He was the head wrangler for Leo Burnett,” TJ said. “Dad is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild.”

    TJ has worked with the Phillip Morris agency as well in their advertising campaigns.

    TJ working on a waterline with his dad Tom Jarrard – h/t Amy Jarrard

    TJ and Amy own 150 acres of land along Burma Road, just south of the intersection with Paradise Valley Road.

    Heifers line up at the feed trough – h/t Randy Tucker

    TJ built a 1,000-head capacity feedlot on the south side of the place in 2015 and currently feeds 500 spade heifers, and 75 bulls for Sam Linden, Jake Nicholas, and Josh Anderson.

    TJ has many talents, including operating equipment and welding. He built the feedlot with highway guard rails attached to heavy drill stem. It can handle the largest bulls with no problem.

    He built a road that loops between the two corrals that comprise the feedlot so a tractor, with a feed grinder on a big bale trailer, can feed up to a thousand head with one slow trip around the circuit.

    TJ Jarrard about to finish morning feeding – h/t Randy Tucker

    TJ picked up those skills on the job from 1990 to 1999.

    “I worked in the oil field, water wells, and on ranches,” TJ said. “I was drinking and roping, a lot of drinking.”

    In 1999, he began building fence.

    “It was the first intelligent thing I ever did,” TJ said.

    He started Jarrad Fencing.

    “I learned real quick not to use your name as a business,” TJ said. “There are too many regulations and taxes if you use your name.”

    In addition to fencing, raising alfalfa, and running the feedlot, he went into business with his dad and Warren Thompson for 15 years at Mill Iron.

    TJ Jarrad with the wire machine he built – h/t Randy Tucker

    Since beginning the business, Jarrard estimates he’s built about 500 miles of fence. He built a fencing sled that can spool up to eight barbed wires at a time hooked to a skid steer.

    He has taken state contracts with a notable one for building 11 miles of highway fence from Rawlins to the Burns Brother’s Truckstop along Interstate 80.

    “I like working for individuals better than the state,” TJ said. “They tell me what they want, I deliver and if something ever goes wrong, they can call me, and I’ll fix it.”

    On an average day, he can pull and replace a quarter mile of four-strand barbed wire fence.

    TJ Jarrard stands by the feedlot he built – h/t Randy Tucker

    He has a knack for laser straight fences, but he doesn’t use any surveying equipment.

    “I set two posts, and stretch the lowest strand of wire tight,” TJ said.

    It’s like a 440-yard carpenter’s chalk line and once it’s in place he uses his equipment to drive either steel t-posts or pointed wooden posts along the wire.

    TJ and TR Jarrard – h/t Amy Jarrard
    TJ and Tel in the arena – h/t Amy Jarrard

    While fencing and the feedlot are the primary income, TJ still enjoys competing.

    “I like team roping, it’s just you and your partner,” TJ said. “In football, you had to depend on too many guys.”

    TJ is a heeler. He has roped with Jeff Brown, owner of the Riverton Livestock Auction, and Clint Brower.

    Amy and TJ’s spacious home has buckles and photographs of winning roping’s all around it.

    They built their home with a pair of rambunctious sons in mind. It has a large open area in the main room, big enough for wrestling matches or maybe even a little indoor football.

    TJ Jarrard and Scott Collingwood winning the Wrangler Team Roping National Championship – h/t Olies Images

    TJ won the buckle for the Dubois Friday Night Rodeo twice, the first time in 2009 and two years ago in 2022.

    “It goes to who has the most money at the end of the year,” TJ said.

    He won the heeler buckle, and his partner Clint Brower took the header buckle.

    In October 2016 TJ and his partner, Scott Collingwood of Greybull won the Wrangler National Team Roping Championships. They earned $20,000 for their efforts.

    Away from the ranch and the rodeo circuit, Amy and TJ are active in their community.

    TJ is a school board member at Fremont County School District 24 in Shoshoni and will help produce events at the Wyoming State Fair Rodeo in team roping, barrel racing, and breakaway roping.

    Amy is crafty, not in a devious way, but in designing, creating, and painting a variety of art.

    Tel Jarrard with his aunt Annie Espenscheid – h/t Amy Jarrard

    “She makes earrings for teams, Wind River, Big Piney, and Shoshoni,” TJ said. “She paints on belts, headstalls, saddles…she can do about anything artsy you want to do.”

    Amy’s sister Annie is married to Big Piney head girls’ basketball coach Brian Espenscheid.

    The hands-on work has a therapeutic effect on a busy nurse as well.

    “I make earrings and necklaces and different things out of paper such as journals,” Amy said. “Mostly I do it cause it’s mindless and my job at the hospital can be very intense, stressful, and difficult at times.”

    Tel and TR team roping at the Pinedale Roundup – h/t h/t Amy Jarrard

    With a few years ahead for Tel and TJ at Shoshoni, the couple has plans after they graduate. The boys don’t share the interest in team roping that their dad did, and though they have competed in it, they have stepped away from it, at least for a while.

    “My plan is to get the kids graduated then spend the summers in Pinedale, and the winters in Wickenburg,” TJ said.

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