THE LEAVITT RANCH IS BUILT ON FAMILY TRADITION AND UNITY
It’s a crisp, spring morning in Oakley. The sun is rising over the rolling mountains and acres upon acres of land, as dew clings to the blades of grass glistening in the soft, dawn light. There’s a chill in the air, and it’s quiet across the town, until slowly, the horses and cattle start to wake up the Leavitt Ranch family, summoning the start of another jam-packed day.
The multi-generational Leavitt Ranch has been in the family for over 100 years, now also with 100 acres of land, home to seven kids and 29 grandkids. Although owned by Kent and Sheri Kaye Leavitt, the entire family has a role in keeping operations smooth, including branding, gathering and moving cattle, weaning, “preg” checking and moving the cows from their winter ground in Oakley up Weber Canyon to their summer forest range near the Uinta Mountains.
“I think what separates us is the passion and the lifestyle,” said Chelsey Leavitt, marketing coordinator for the ranch. “A lot of ranches that are left are run by an older generation; it’s not very common for younger people to have an interest in ranching and farming. Growing up in it from a young age, we learned to love it and we appreciate it. It’s not something we want to let go of.”
A typical day at the ranch changes with the seasons, bringing a new set of tasks as part of the full life-cycle operation of raising cattle, Clif Leavitt, current Leavitt Ranch brand marketing, explained. Every member of the family has a role on the ranch, no matter how young or old. Many hands are needed to maintain every aspect of the ranch, from feeding horses and cattle to cultivating high quality hay, each person focuses their time spent in different, meaningful ways.
“I have always been drawn to the mountains, and when presented with the option to check on cattle or spend my summer days at the lumber mill or on a tractor, I always chose the mountains,” Clif said. “I recognized early on that if I tended to the cattle, I got to be on a horse all day long to complete a job, living that cowboy lifestyle, and I really enjoy that. Now many years later, and with a young family myself , the same still applies—an appreciation for the opportunity to live the lifestyle passed down for multiple generations.”
When Kent and Sheri Kaye bought the ranch from Sheri Kaye’s parents back in 1993, they established some family traditions that both keep the family close and the “cowboy tradition” alive. The “Cow Camp” and cattle drive takes place June 20, the night before cattle are moved on Weber Canyon to the forest for the summer. The family has a dinner at the river bottom, eating around a campfire, playing games and entertaining each other through stories and music. Early the next day, the cows go up to their summer range, the family eats breakfast and then comes home. Each October 1st, is when the cattle come back down to the ranch, followed by preg checking for the fall.
Branding day, the third week of May, is another tradition in which the family gathers to brand the spring calves. Some of the boys rope the calves, one person flanks them down, another brands. The younger ones love to test their growing muscles, Sheri Kaye said, although the calf usually wins.