#AgLife: BCM – Brook Carlson Miller

    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.

    The farm at 107 Klocke Road – h/t Randy Tucker

    The joys of ag life can be heard in the songbirds nesting in the nearby trees, the steady drone of water spraying from the heads on the center pivot, and the distant rumbling of trucks and farm equipment.

    Sunset on the big baler – h/t Randy Tucker

    It remains the song of the frontier well into the 21st century.

    The women of the American frontier were resourceful, hardworking, ambitious, and responsible on a thousand fronts. Hidden Valley farmer, rancher, and business owner Brook Carlson Miller could be the poster child for that concept.

    Brook, a 1996 Riverton High School graduate, lives on her 180-acre farm/ranch operation with her teenage daughters Callie and Cade, three dogs, seven horses, and a pair of 4H Jersey cows shown by the girls.

    Lady – h/t Randy Tucker

    Brook had a much larger cattle herd, but recent events led her to reduce the size of her herd.

    “We had 200 head until a few weeks ago,” Brook said. “Last winter got to me. It was rough. I’m just going to be a farmer this year.”

    Brook Carlson Miller – in front of her center pivot – h/t Randy Tucker

    She was referring to the brutally cold, long-lasting winter of 2022-23 that dropped temperatures to 40 below zero as late as early April.

    Callie is a junior at Shoshoni High School and Cade is a freshman. They are both active in 4H and FFA.

    Brook moved onto her farm in the spring of 2001.

    Cade and Callie filling bags from the grinder – h/t Randy Tucker

    “I wanted this place because my Dad used to farm it when I was a little kid,” she said.

    The BCM Farm is at the end of the Midvale Irrigation District. She has pressured water delivered to her pivot.

    “It’s nice for the pivot,” Brook said. “It’s not so nice for gated pipe.”

    Pressured water can blow joints of gated pipes apart, flooding an area with too much water if it’s not monitored closely.

    Callie setting pipe – h/t Brook Miller

    Brook comes from one of the established agricultural families of Fremont County with her father Brad, and mother Donna. She has three sisters, Bobbi, Bridget, and Becky.

    Her grandparents, Bill and Louann Carlson came to Fremont County in 1951 and raised five children, Mitch, Brad, Greg, Linda, and Melody.

    Brad owned Carlson Equipment, selling Case and International Harvester equipment as well as parts for a wide range of tractors and farming implements.

    Callie working at the BCM Store – h/t Brook Miller

    In 2020, Brook purchased Carlson Equipment from her father and opened BCM Sales.

    “Dad kept the ag equipment,” Brook said. “I’m starting to get into the equipment now.”

    She sells parts, fence supplies, and feed tubs from the operation on Zuber Road.

    Brook Miller is a successful Ag woman – h/t Randy Tucker

    The equipment yard and store are on property originally owned by her maternal grandparents, George and Dereva Johnson.

    As a high school senior, she wanted to become a veterinarian. She observed Dr. Jim Briddle while still in high school. She worked at Corral West and as a waitress at the VFW too.

    “I wanted to be a vet, but I didn’t like school that much,” Brook said. “I moved to Arizona and worked at a dentist’s office as a dental tech, but that wasn’t for me.”

    In 1997, she moved back to Fremont County and started working for her father at the parts counter.

    Working calves – h/t Brook Miller

    “Roger Hill trained me for two weeks, but he passed away during surgery,” Brook said.

    She was in a difficult situation, replacement parts and operating supplies are the lifeblood of farmers and ranchers during planting and harvest seasons. She took the job head on but was thankful for the reception her father’s customers gave her.

    The beauty of the field – h/t Brook Miller

    “Every farmer was so nice while I tried to learn the business. Everything was on microfiche. Most of them were so nice and patient,” Brook said.

    The agriculture connections run deep, behind the farm and parts business.

    Cade feeding hay on a cold winter morning – h/t Brook Miller

    “Dad was raised on Morgan Road on Missouri Valley,” Brook said. “We grew up on Hutchison Road.”

    Brad Carlson began his farming operation soon after graduating from Shoshoni High School in 1974.

    Peter a hard-working farm dog – h/t Randy Tucker

    “Dad bought Liz Bott’s place in 1979,” Brook said. “Liz lived in the house for over 30 years.”

    In addition to farming his own property, Brad custom-hired for other local farmers.

    “Dad did a lot of custom haying and farming,” Brook said.

    Donna Carlson drove for BTI, and now works for Four Corners Health Care in Riverton, with Bridget, who is a nurse and case manager.

    All four Carlson sisters were active in the Riverton FFA and the Fremont County Fair. They worked with Riverton FFA advisor Tad McMillan showing lambs, hogs, and steers.

    Winnie looking for shade – h/t Randy Tucker

    “For one of our ag projects Becky and I fed sheep for Steve Worton,” Brook said.

    Riding the often hard to read tide of livestock and forage prices can bring quick changes to an established operation.

    “In 1995-96, Dad sold all the sheep to a couple of Australians,” Brook said. “He got into cattle, now around 1,000 head.”

    Brook’s own herd topped out at 250 head in January 2023.

    Jersey – h/t Randy Tucker

    Starting on your own in farming and ranching as a 20-something is a challenge. Banks don’t want to loan money to young, inexperienced people, and to get an operational loan you have to have experience. It’s a difficult road.

    “They don’t want to loan you money when you’re 22 years old,” Brook said. “I had to lease the property from Dad for two years before they’d loan me the money.”

    The loan paid off for the bank with Brook operating a successful crop, cattle, and feeding operation for the past 23 years.

    The BCM from above- h/t Brook Miller

    “I started feeding cattle for Greg, James, and Jason Gardner,” Brook said. “Greg was my biggest customer with 600 head.”

    She had eight pens in her feedlot at one point, four on each side, but had to remove some when she put in the center pivot.

    “I had to quit feeding when the girls were one or two, it was too much,” Brook said.

    She still feeds 30 to 40 head of her own each year for beef.

    Show steers being broken to lead – h/t Randy Tucker

    “We have a regular customer list buying beef each year,” Brook said.

    She calls the cattle in her feedlot “steak makers.”

    She raised all the feed for the operation on the farm originally with silage and hay, now she just raises alfalfa.

    The corn they feed to the cattle comes from Rich Pingetzer.

    Peter, Elko and Winnie – h/t Randy Tucker

    Brook tried triticale one year and the yields were tremendous.

    “It made six tons per acre,” she said. “It was too much for my swather, so I hired Gordon Maxson to cut it.”

    Living slightly isolated on the southern end of Hidden Valley, with frontage along the Wind River and views of the Wind River Range to the southwest and the Owl Creeks to the north is an ideal location.

    “The girls really like the lifestyle,” Brook said.

    Cade enjoying time with some newborn calves – h/t Brook Miller

    When she’s not irrigating, feeding, harvesting, or chasing parts, Brook enjoys crafts, especially leatherwork.

    “I enjoy doing leatherwork,” she said. “I made my Dad a saddle a couple of years ago.”

    Cade and Callie each have a pair of show steers they’re breaking to lead for the upcoming Fremont County Fair in one pen, and their two Jersey cows with the rest of the herd in a larger pen north of the house.

    Cade preparing a steer for the show – h/t Brook Miller

    “The girls take care of the show steers and the steak makers,” Brook said.

    They grind the kernel corn before they feed it and by late summer the amount of feed is substantial.

    “They’ll feed 35 buckets of corn a day,” Brook said.

    The seven horses hang out in the original house on the place, a few yards south of the family residence.

    The original house on the farm works well for horses – h/t Randy Tucker

    The girls enjoy riding, but only mom dabbled in rodeo.

    The farm is protected from the prevailing northwest winds by the high bluffs defining hidden valley to the west and north, creating an ideal location near the convergence of the Big Wind River with Boysen Reservoir.

    Brook hired Katie Winfield to help in the parts store operation and the commute between her farm and her store is only about eight miles, a short distance by Fremont County standards.

    Katie Winfield and Brook Miller at the parts counter at BCM – h/t Randy Tucker

    A strong young woman, with her feet firmly set in the undulating world of modern agriculture, with two daughters that share her interest in life on the farm.

    Callie with a show steer – h/t Brook Miller

    It’s the modern frontier, only with cell phones, and digital access.

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