BOISE — The Sherman Glenn Ranch, a southwestern Idaho ranch that was established in 1906 and spans six generations, is the latest ranch to be designated as an Idaho Century Ranch.
Joyce and Leslie “Butch” Biggers and their family were honored March 17 with a Century Ranch award, which honors and recognizes families that have continuously owned and actively ranched the same land their ancestors did 100 years ago or more.
The Biggers family received a Century Ranch sign and certificate signed by Gov. Brad Little, Janet L. Gallimore, executive director of the Idaho State Historical Society, and Celia Gould, director of the Idaho Department of Agriculture.
“It means a great deal,” Joyce Biggers said. “I love ranching. I’ve been in ranching all my life, and so have my family, kids, grandkids and my husband.”
Joyce Biggers said her cousins were especially excited about the Century Ranch designation. “I was just overwhelmed at how my cousins reacted to this award,” she said. “They don’t live on the ranch but they’ve been connected with it, and they were very enthused about this award. I don’t consider this my award; I consider this a family award.”
Joyce Biggers’ great-grandfather John Thomas Glenn established the family ranch in the Ola Calley, located to the north of Boise. The ranch is made up of wild meadow hay, dryland alfalfa and dryland pasture. Squaw Creek meanders along the west side of the meadow, and on the east side is the Baird-Hoffman ditch, which supplies water used for flood-irrigation. A hand-dug well with a windmill sat atop a hill and served as a landmark for neighbors until a strong wind took it down.
John Thomas and his son Sherman were well-known in the area for their herd of horses and large herd of cattle. John Thomas knew that in order to have a prosperous community, a church was needed for the people, and a school was necessary for the children. Land from the ranch was donated by the Glenn family to build the Ola Community Church, as well as land for the current Ola Elementary School and a cemetery.
Joyce Biggers’ grandfather, Sherman Glenn, was not only a sheep and cattle rancher, but a politician, store proprietor and father to a large brood, which included her father, Asa. He and Joyce’s mother, Margaret, raised Hereford cattle, hay and a little grain. Joyce Biggers recalled that her father was particular about caring for his animals and taking care of the land.
When Joyce and her husband Butch took over the ranch’s operations, they continued to grow hay and raise Hereford cattle. They rebuilt a number of the ranch buildings, including a new corral, barn and hay shed, and restored some of the older buildings.
Today, their son Levi and his family live on the property with them, and they lease out the pasturelands and still raise a few Herefords. Joyce and Butch enjoy the view from their deck, and often see deer, coyotes, quail, elk, turkeys and geese on their property.
Joyce Biggers said they consider their Century Ranch award a special thing, considering how many family farms and ranches have been sold over the years.
“The family ranch is disappearing,” she said. “You see all these ranches that the old-timers put together years ago and they’re slowly disappearing. To me, that is heartbreaking.”
Since the Century Farm/Ranch program began in 1990, over 400 farms and ranches statewide have been designated Idaho Century Farms or Ranches by the Idaho Department of Agriculture and the Idaho State Historical Society.