Josh Bruce knows ranching. His ranching ties reach back five generations, to around 1870.
“I’ve been ranching since I was old enough to walk,” the 40-year-old said.
Utilizing his University of Idaho economics degree, Bruce has put his mark on Bruce Ranch in the Owyhee Mountains.
“You look at what each cow took in and what she produced, and how that ties to the environment. You understand the long run and the short run of your business with the economics major and rely on Mother Nature to make it work.”
With his wife, Alicia, and three sons at his side, Bruce balances keeping his family business going and the next generation’s future.
“You’re thinking of your kids and the way they’re growing up,” he said. “No one hands you over a business that is functioning with no hiccups. You’re basically buying another generation out. So, you take it over and keep it going. It takes a lot of hard work.”
Bruce and Alicia took over Bruce Ranch in 2010 from his parents.
“The biggest reason we went full steam into the cow business and ranching was growing up as a kid and feeling lucky to live out in the middle of nowhere,” Bruce said. “It’s the opportunity to do this with your kids and family around you.”
Daily challenges keep the Bruce boys, twins Houston and Pace (10) and Jaxon (6), busy.
“They irrigate, fix fences, and ride horses a lot, moving a lot of cows,” Bruce said. “We run about 450 mother cows on 2,800 private acres. Between Bureau of Land Management and state lands, there’s probably around another 30,000 acres of just grazing land and range ground. We move cattle a lot. (The kids are) the main buckaroo crew, with my wife. They have a lot of dates in the summer when they’re on a horse for most of the day.”
Bruce Ranch offers beef directly to consumers via its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program (available through bruceranchbeef.com).
“A few years ago, I had a steer I had finished, and I sold it to my sister (Andrea Niederer) and two of her friends,” Bruce said. “They really liked the quality, flavor, and convenience of having a freezer full of beef. Part of why we started this beef business was my sister and I wanted to try to connect people that may be several generations removed from farming and ranching with what’s going on with food production.”
You can connect with the Bruce Ranch cattle on their social media channels (Facebook: Bruce Ranch Beef CSA and Instagram: @bruceranchbeef_csa). Posts detail everything from grazing and calving to Chip the ranch cat’s exploits.
“(People) can see firsthand how cattle are raised for and cared for,” Bruce said. “Ranching, raising cattle, farming: it’s the environment and we’ve got to try to take care of it. We really care about the environment and our industry and leaving this on to our sons.”
As for Bruce, you can find him on the ranch: feeding cows, fixing fences, and making improvements.
“It’s such a diverse lifestyle,” he said. “Every day is different. We never know exactly how the year is going to be. What makes it interesting to me is everything. It’s the challenge.”