Every farm and ranch tells a story. Let’s enjoy the story of Tina Howarth Stephensen story - our June Women of a Wool feature!
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have enjoyed the Lamb Day tradition in Fountain Green with my family. I love lamb sandwiches. So, I guess I could say I’ve always had a little bit of “sheep” in my life. But who knew then that I would become a sheep rancher’s wife?
I was born and raised a city girl in the rural town of Nephi, Utah. I come from a sports enthusiast family. I learned the value of hard work at a young age. This was a perk when I met Kory more than 20 years ago. When I met him I knew there was something unique about him. He lived such a different life than what I knew. When we dated we spent a lot of time at his family’s farm. He knew then I wasn’t afraid to dig in and get my hands dirty to help.
I married this fine 5th generation sheep rancher. We are a great team and I am grateful to call him my husband. I’ve learned with challenges and struggles to trust our decisions and count on Kory's reassurance. The last 20 years have been full of learning, raising two kids, working a full time job, and my side job SHEEP. In addition to my ranching responsibilities I do the bookkeeping for our company. I can definitely say I've taken to the ranching lifestyle.
As the seasons change and our kids grow up, I’ve realized there is no better place to raise a family than on the farm. Our children, Kysen (15) and Ellie (12) know all about the sheep as well as the ins and outs of the operation. They work so hard and I'm very proud of them. They make me smile every day! We also dedicate a lot of time to roping and riding in the practice arena. We travel the white lines taking them and their 4 legged friends to the next rodeo. There's never a dull moment. The best part about it we're always together!
Through the years I’ve been asked, what does Kory do for a living? I say we run sheep! (I get a blank stare) “What does it mean to run sheep? Then I explain. Or I've said we’re going to the desert this weekend to shear sheep, huh- what – you’re going to shear 'your' sheep? Then I explain – no we hire a crew to shear them and then I show a video of the shearers. After being around the industry for a while the words we say are natural. We don’t realize we talk sheep lingo until someone asks. “What is shipping lambs?” “What is docking?” “What is a sheep camp?” “What is a bummer?” just to name a few. I've worked with a friend for years. She’s heard me say several times “Kory is going to the desert today to haul water”. Her impression was that he drove the water truck from home every time he went to and from the desert. I just assumed she knew the truck stayed on the desert. One day I was at the beauty salon in Nephi and a purple trailer went down the road. One of the girls asked “what the heck is that?” I said oh, that’s a shearing plant. She said “only someone from Fountain Green would know that!”
These are some favorite things I love:
Being involved in the sheep industry and making lasting friendships! Decorating my home in anything sheep. I take pride in keeping a clean house, but I’ve finally given into the mud and dust. I’m happy to see the coats, hoodies, muck and cowboy boots piled high by the back door. The herders’ food (what are lentils anyway?)… Taking a lot of pictures. Going with Kory in the semi any chance I get. Shearing- the smell of the shearing plant and sheep paint. . A lambing shed full of new lambs. Hot summer days in the valley with sprinklers in the hay fields. Going to the mountain to tend camps. My favorite time of the year is fall. I enjoy the crisp clean air and changing leaves. Going to the desert to check on our beautiful herd and listen to the wind howl as it rocks us to sleep. Or listening to the sound of rain hitting the roof of the camp. The coziness of the warm fire and the cool breeze that blows through the sheep camp windows.
For my family, life on our sheep ranch not only provides a lifestyle we love, it is also the realization of a dream we’ve worked hard to accomplish and continue our ranching legacy. I am truly the lucky one!” Tina H. Stephensen
THANK YOU Tina for your commitment and service to the industry.