Women of the West – Lori White
This Oklahoma native recently realized that her dream of having her own cattle operation and producing high-quality seed-stock genetics has finally come true.
Interview and photograph by JENNIFER DENISON
LORI WHITE AND HER HUSBAND, Benji, specialize in producing commercial and registered Red Angus cattle outside of Putnam, Oklahoma. Ever since Lori was a teenager growing up on her family’s ranch in Oklahoma, she aspired to raise a bull that would go to a collection facility. With hard work and the help of her husband, the 37-year-old achieved her goal in October 2014 at the 40th annual R.A. Brown Ranch Bull Sale. “Legend,” a bull the couple calved and raised, topped the sale at $82,000 and will stand at Genex Cooperative, Inc., in Shawano, Wisconsin. As members of a bull cooperative with the R.A. Brown Ranch, the Whites will host the first R.A. Brown spring bull sale at their facility in 2017.
LORI WAS RAISED working cattle horseback with her parents, and horses continue to play an important role on the ranch. Whether she’s gathering a herd horseback, driving a tractor in a wheat pasture or feeding cattle, Lori has a sidekick: the couple’s 7-year-old son, Blane.
WHEN I WAS 14 my grandparents gave my brother and me each some money. He put his toward going to a national Boy Scouts event, and I bought a registered Black Angus heifer with mine. That was the start of my herd, and I’ve had cattle ever since.
BENJI ASKED ME OUT several times and I wouldn’t go [on a date] with him. I was 24, independent and didn’t need anyone. I finally gave in April of 2005, and in August [of that year] we got married.
I ALWAYS WANTED to run enough cattle to justify having a cattle pot [livestock trailer] with our name on it. Benji used to drive a cattle truck, so he had a pot with our name. Maybe that’s why I married him!
WE’RE SO BUSY here that we never thought about having kids. When my mom called about a baby being put up for adoption and to see if we’d be interested. We decided to do it. Blane looks so much like Benji and is so into what we do it feels like he is our [biological] son.
I’M NOT THE TYPE of person who worries about things or sticks to a schedule. Benji does, and that’s why he drives this operation. He’s the reason things get done.
WHEN WE TOOK OVER the lease on this place, the cattle hadn’t been worked horseback and they would either run over you or run away from you. Today, Blane and I can gather a pasture ourselves because the cattle are so gentle.
WE DON’T HAVE LONG DAYS horseback, but we need horses that can gather cattle and work them in pens. We ride horses from Carlos Riviera in Nebraska. He buys cutting horses that don’t make it to the futurity, uses them in the feed yard and then sells them. They’re really laid back and cowier than all get-out.
SOMEONE TOLD ME the other day he could gather his cattle faster in a feed pickup than I could horseback. It’s not about [speed]; it’s about how you handle the cattle and what’s most gentle on them. Being horseback is still the most practical way for us to work cattle.
WHEN I WAS 24, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It definitely limits what I can do. For example, roping is one thing I’ve written off.
I HAVE TO REMEMBER Blane is only 7 years old. But he is a pretty good hand already—better than some adults.
THERE ARE GIRLY CLOTHES I like, but I don’t have a reason to wear them often. I guess I could start feeding in dresses.
I WENT FOR A WALK in an 80-acre pasture and had four dogs and 25 heifers following me. That’s as peaceful and as relaxing as it gets.
IF I HAD TIME for a hobby I would take a landscaping class and have a beautiful yard and flowers. I love flowers; they just brighten my day.
THIS IS THE BEST TIME of my life. We’re doing things I never dreamed. I’m proud of the direction we’ve gone with our cattle and the quality of our registered herd. We’re seeing our hard work pay off.
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