This month we introduce a new feature column on the blog - Modern Ranch Woman, highlighting women in the ranching side of agriculture. Our first story is of Dori Troutman, small cattle rancher in Tennesse and the daughter of second-generation cattle ranchers in southwest New Mexico.
Dori grew up involved in cattle ranching in New Mexico; her grandparents were ranchers, and though her family lived off the ranch, Dori spent a lot of time helping her grandparents with tasks like round-up and branding.
"In the southwest, you have to have a lot of land for very few cows," she said. "We spend a lot of time branding and on horseback."
Dori explained that in New Mexico, there are limited resources like water and grass, and so a large amount of land is required for the cows to get enough of those resources.
After marrying her husband Eldon, an engineer with dreams of having a ranch, Dori looked to the south for a more feasible opportunity for the both of them, and ended up falling in love with Tennessee.
"I discovered that you could have a 100 acre farm and 50 cows, as opposed to 50 acres and 1 cow in New Mexico," she said.
Taking an early retirement, Dori and Eldon began their journey togehter in raising cattle, and purchased a 100 acre farm in Fayetteville, TN, with 60 acres of pasture and the rest in woods. They now have 35 cows, and also grow their own hay.
"It's a completely different way of raising cattle," she explained. "We don't brand our cows because they aren't ranging, and there's no 'rounding-up' necessary. When you don't have to travel to see your cows, you have more of a relationship with them."
Dori and her husband have 35-40 head of calves, bulls and steers, and typically 16 momma cows, All of the mom cows have names, and they also have one horse, Promise, and an Australian Shepherd, Belle.
On top of raising cattle, Dori has a number of hobbies that she blogs about on her personal website called The Red Feedsack, including cooking, quilting, crafting, decorating, and gardening. In fact, Dori, her daughter, and granddaughters operate a small, 1 acre flower farm, which they sell flowers from in a handmade flower cart.
"We keep the cart at the bottom of the farm, and allow people to buy flowers using the honor system. It has been hugely successful, and we have never been taken advantage of. As a matter of fact, it is usually the other way around," she described.
Dori noticed a lack of freshly grown flowers in her area, and decided to change that by investing in her own homegrown flower business. Her unique approach to selling them from her home at the bottom of the road has also led her to become closer and more inspired by her community and neighbors.