LOCAL RANCHER: MADRAS, OREGON

Oregon high desert ranch landMadras, Oregon
Norton Cattle Company

Like all the ranchers who work with Cattle Company Beef, Tom Norton of Norton Cattle Company in Madras, Oregon, feels the real value he brings is going the extra mile to care about his land and his animals.

All of his cattle are grazed on open land and cared for in the most advantageous way. He knows the final results for consumers are affected by the way his cattle are fed, raised and processed. That means the family goes above and beyond the minimum requirements for operating a cattle ranch.

Tom performs controlled burns annually and invests in reseeding grasses to improve the land his cattle graze upon. To him it’s about healthy land.
“The money spent on reseeding isn’t going back into my business, it’s going into the environment,” Tom says.

He also harvests the timber on his property, clearing away dead and weak trees leaving the healthier, larger trees. Clearing the land of dead trees gives his cattle more room to take care of underbrush, which naturally helps with fire prevention.

His favorite part of ranching? “Being a business owner. I’m free to do what I want, and I can do it outside.”

Tom sees a change in the evolution of ranchers, but still appreciates the traditional ranching methods.

“My kids aren’t as cowboy as when I was a kid, but it makes me appreciate it more when we go to move cows,” he says.”

With zero cellphone service, it’s a time to talk with his kids. “There’s no interruptions,” Tom says, “just natural conversation amidst hard work.” The type of work that allows him to be with his family and keep up a tradition that’s slowly fading away.

Ranching is ultimately about leaving behind a legacy. Not just a business that his children can inherit, but a healthy land that they can continue to love.

“I want my kids to see old growth trees,” Tom says. “I want to leave behind a better place for them. Isn’t that what we all want?”

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