Editor’s note: This is the first part of a four-part series on Shiner Ranch in Idaho’s Lemhi Valley. This installment focuses on the family’s history.
The Shiner family has been ranching in the upper Lemhi Valley of Idaho for several generations — haying and raising cattle on thousands of acres of meadow and rangeland. The cattle spend summers on mountain pastures and rangeland, and winters in the lower meadows along the Lemhi River. The Shiner operation consists of several old, historic ranches that this family put together over the years.
These ranches are currently run by three brothers (Dean, Stephen and Mark) and their families. Mark works as a heavy equipment operator for Lemhi County but enjoys helping on the ranch with the cattle whenever he can. Their sister Robin and her husband Carl Lufkin raise registered Angus (Lufkin Cattle Company) on a nearby ranch.
Their parents Chuck and Beverly Shiner first ran cattle on a small ranch 5 miles west of Leadore, Idaho, and also leased the Donavan ranch in Horse Prairie — just over the Continental Divide in Montana.
Chuck’s father was born in Wyoming and started out with two of his brothers on a big sheep ranch near Green River. “Then he moved to a place in Utah, and that’s where Dad was born, and he grew up haying with horses,” Dean said.
Then the family spent several years on a ranch on Horse Prairie, running that ranch for a doctor who lived in Salt Lake City.
“Grandma was kind of a wheeler-dealer. She hated that place with a passion, so she started a grocery store just over the mountain, at Leadore, Idaho. She eventually traded that store to Bill Hill for a ranch west of Leadore, and the family moved there. That’s where my dad started ranching and where us kids grew up. It was a small ranch—a 200 cow outfit—and we soon outgrew it. We kept leasing more ranches as we continued to build up our cow herd,” Dean said.
They leased the Ox-bow ranch, the Mule Shoe, the Amonson ranch, and two Hawley Creek ranches.
“Anything that came up for lease, we’d lease it and run it so we could have more cows. You can’t pay for a ranch and for cows at the same time, so we got the cows paid for first. We finally got far enough along with the cows that by 1990 we felt we could stick our necks out and buy this place we’re now living on — the old Yearian ranch — from George Ellsworth, and we moved everything here. We moved in lock stock and barrel, made it our home base and went to work continuing to increase our cow herd, and finally got it paid for,” Dean said.
They also purchased and leased other ranches as their family grew. Chuck passed away in 2003 but his wife Beverly is still very much a part of the family business, which has continued to grow. Dean’s son J.D. came back to the ranch after spending 7 years working in the oil fields in Canada. Robin and Carl’s sons also work on the ranch.
Chuck was a great horseman and his love of horses is carried on today by sons Steve (who loves the Quarter Horses and is an accomplished saddle maker) and Dean (who is partial to the draft horses). “All of us love horses; we’d rather catch a horse and go ride to take care of cattle than about any other job, and I’ve always enjoyed feeding cattle with our teams in the winter,” Dean said.
Today the ranch has about 75 head of horses. “We raise a lot of saddle horses and still have 35 broodmares and three stallions. We have our own ranch horse production sale every year and have done that for many years. Our horses seem to have a good reputation,” Dean said.