century ranch, arbon valley

Dale Tubbs, left, receives Idaho Century Ranch designation for his Bull Canyon Ranch in Arbon Valley on Saturday from Jim Johnston.

ARBON VALLEY — Dale Tubbs paused to appreciate the splendor of the sun rising over the yellow quaking aspen trees and the contrasting dark-green junipers on a recent morning at his Bull Canyon Ranch.

“Everywhere you look this time of year and in the spring it’s like an artist’s dream come true,” Tubbs said.

On Saturday, Tubbs and his immediate family were presented a certificate designating their picturesque cattle operation as an Idaho Century Ranch.

Tubbs said his grandchildren are part of a generation that has mostly been removed from agriculture, and he saw an opportunity to broaden their knowledge by highlighting and celebrating the history of the family ranch.

“I thought they needed to have some more exposure to agriculture and its significance to the lives of every one of us,” Tubbs said.

His grandkids have also enjoyed experiencing the ranch during annual family reunions there, though this summer’s reunion was spoiled by COVID-19.

Throughout the past 100 years, the ranch has produced timber, a wide variety of crops and assorted livestock. The family ranch has also survived a host of trials, including fire, disease, harsh winters and challenging growing conditions.

Tubbs submitted a history of the ranch along with his application. He explained that his grandfather, Walter Fredrich, was 19 years old when he moved from Washington to Malad in 1913, seeking to homestead. The best land had already been claimed, but Fredrich found 160 acres with access to spring water at the top of Bull Canyon in Arbon Valley.

He spent that first winter in a one-room cabin he built. The winter was so tough he decided to move his homestead farther down the canyon the next spring. Fredrich raised wheat until he was drafted into World War I and sent to California to serve as a veterinarian caring for the U.S. Army’s horses. He came down with the Spanish flu while in California.

After he’d recovered and the war had ended, he returned to his homestead, enlarging his acreage of cropland. Back in Arbon Valley, he married Rachel Fryer, who was a California woman who answered a request for school teachers in Idaho.

According to Tubbs’ account, they overcame challenges on the farm including frost, hail, fire, crickets and rodents and remained in operation. They grew the farm to 2,200 acres, buying out surrounding homesteads as neighbors called it quits.

Fredrich bought a sawmill in a nearby canyon and cut the majority of the lumber used in Arbon Valley, Tubbs wrote.

Fredrich also raised various types of animals including cattle, sheep, pigs and even greyhound dogs, which he trained to kill coyotes, Tubbs wrote. He increased his cattle herd and continued raising crops of wheat, barley and oats on dry land.

At the age of 72, he sold the farm to his daughter Betty and her husband, Earl Tubbs. Earl and Betty lost their home to a fire but rebuilt. They increased their cattle heard, which summered in the canyon.

At 85 years old, Earl sold the ranch to his son and daughter, Kathie and Dale Tubbs, who still run 250 cattle on dry-land pasture. They keep the cropland in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, leaving it in a blend of plant species to benefit wildlife and reduce erosion.