This is the first of occasional articles on some of Kane County’s ranchers and farmers.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.“ It is the most common practice that unites all of us, most people being able to recite fond memories from their grandparent’s farm. Though many modern technologies have moved most of the population away from the struggles of growing their own food, it is still of vital importance to our culture.

The Kane County Farm Bureau would like to highlight those families in our communities who are still working in the farming and ranching culture. The Esplin Livestock LLC is one of those families. Owned by the Kline and Eric Esplin families, these brothers have taken a 200-cow ranch and grown it to over 700 cows.

The brothers bought it with their dad, Cleve, from their family in the 90s and have been working to make improvements to the land to make such growth possible. Like all ranches in the West, Esplin Livestock owns Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permits for their cattle. This has caused many challenges, but has also been the source of many changes in their ranch.

Kline said, “The greatest change since they started has been a change in the attitude in working with government officials.” 

When Esplin Livestock started, there was a big theme being recited in the West: “Cattle Free by 93.” The working environment and public perception had been openly hostile to cattle grazing during that time. Luckily, things have changed. While this may be aesthetically pleasing to some, people are learning that, with proper management, you can make the land productive while maintaining it’s beauty. This is a founding principle for the Esplin family. Eric says, “We live off the land, try to improve it. I think we should be considered the true environmentalists.”

And improve their lands they have. Water and feed are vital in our desert landscape and without it, much of the land is unusable. In working with the BLM and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS,) they have laid miles and miles of pipeline to get water in more useable areas, benefiting cattle and wildlife together. They also have performed restoration projects, removing pinion/juniper trees to allow the grass to return. Such restoration projects take usable forage from 30 lbs/acre to 2000 lbs/acre. Not only has the family been able to run more cattle, but these projects have greatly benefited deer, elk and other wildlife species.

Another exciting improvement this year will be the completion of a new pivot sprinkler irrigation systems. Pivots can be run from an app on a phone and are much more efficient in watering a field, and the best part, they move themselves. Eric hopes the pivots will save time that can be used to spend with family and continue to improve their farm.

Kline and Cami have three boys – Riley, Brock and Cooper. Eric and his wife, Lucy, have four children – Collin, Lyndy, Dallin and Levi. Kline says, “The part I love most about this job is the family, the land, and the animals, good and bad. Every day there is something new.”

He explains the hardest thing about ranching is trying to work with Mother Nature. This past year was particularly challenging with the drought, but both brothers have faced these challenges before and believe they probably will again. But with good management, a plan, and the support of family, they can overcome any challenge. These are the beliefs that founded our country and county, and if preserved, will build our future.