The Women Chance Land and Livestock

Chance Land and Livestock was founded in 2000 by Robin and Chris Niederhauser in Clements, California. For the last 14 years, the couple and their 2 children, Brooke and Seth, have lived on and worked the land. Ranching is a family way of life, after all.

“We always had our kids with us. They came along as often as they could when we worked cattle or doing the daily chores. We are blessed that they have always enjoyed it. They learned early on the responsibility it takes to have cattle and horses. A lot of school vacations and holidays are spent caring for the cattle. Flexibility is very important when it comes to taking care of livestock.” -Robin Niederhauser

Brooke recently graduated from Cal Poly and is now a first year veterinary student at Colorado State to become a large animal veterinarian. Due to her upbringing, Brooke has been able to spend countless hours dedicated to her passions: the ranching industry, caring for animals, western heritage, and health. Becoming a vet is a perfect combinations of those interests.

“Growing up on a ranch definitely gave me a unique perspective on life, and taught me hard work and commitment. It also taught me to appreciate the beauty in everything, as it was a great place to live and grow up.” -Brooke Niederhauser (pictured below)

Niederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttNiederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttBoth Robin and Brooke have been riding horses for as long as they can remember. Robin learned from her father, and she and Chris passed the same knowledge down to their children. Brooke now competes regularly in rodeos, and has been since age five.

“I barrel race, breakaway rope, and team rope and competed in both high school and college rodeo. I was a part of the Cal Poly Rodeo Team and helped put together Poly Royal Rodeo. This past year, I also won the West Hills College Rodeo in barrel racing, and got to ride an amazing horse. I love the team and the memories I made there, and the sense of team work that always persisted. I train my own horses, and love when all the pieces come together for a successful run.” -Brooke Niederhauser

“I wish people knew that ranching is not just a job but a way of life for all of us. We love the land and we love our livestock. We do the best we can to care for it all.” -Robin Niederhauser (pictured below)

Niederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttNiederhauser Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

Niederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttNiederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttNiederhauser Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

In the spirit of the holiday season, when we’re all feeling a little extra thankful, it’s fitting to look to our parents and mentors remind them what they mean to us.

“I am extremely thankful for my mom. She taught me about hard work and the importance of family. Most importantly, she taught me how to always be there when someone needs me. She is such a hard worker, as she takes care of the majority of the office work regarding the ranch, and still finds time to exercise horses and keep everyone fed and happy. Even if she’s been working all day and is exhausted, she still makes sure that she finishes everything she expected to do that day when she woke up. I hope that I’m as good at balancing out my life as she is someday, and that I can always be counted on as well. She is a constant source of support, and I’m grateful that I can call her at any time for advice or encouragement.” -Brooke Niederhauser

Niederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttNiederhauser Ranch / Crafted in CarharttNiederhauser Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

Who taught you the value of a good work ethic? Perhaps this is the perfect time to say thank you.

Barbie Thompson Lee of Lucky Dog Ranch

Barbie Thompson Lee left the advertising world to become a farmer in Valley Center, just outside of San Diego. She invested many years developing her own company, but felt it was time for something new. So she went out in search of the perfect plot of land to begin her new adventure—where she’d have to start from scratch, and self-teach her way to success.

“I think some people have a picture of a small farm as an idyllic place that’s kind of laid back and simple. The reality here is that there are always so many things that need to be done and sometimes it feels more like warfare than a laid back place. It’s a constant battle to keep on top of the various bugs that are out to eat your plants, the birds, squirrels and gophers who are found of eating them too, the broken or chewed through irrigation lines. You can’t ever let your guard down.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Lucky Dog Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

Tomatoes are Barbie’s favorite crop.

“I start the seeds in the greenhouse in February then plant when we think it’s safe from frost. Most of the plants go through September or October if we’re lucky so it’s a long time you spend with them. There are so many different varieties that it’s really fun planning out what you are going to grow and adding new varieties to your favorite producers.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Although Lucky Dog Ranch is named for Barbie’s pack of happy dogs, she also has quite a few other four-legged friends. There’s Tigger and Tom, a set of barn cat brothers, and horses Buddy and Joanie.

“There really isn’t one Lucky Dog. We really liked seeing how happy our dogs were when we moved out here. They had so much room to play and just be themselves that the name just came about.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Lucky Dog Ranch / Crafted in CarharttLucky Dog Ranch / Crafted in Carhartt

I asked Barbie what skills from her previous career translated into her new lifestyle. It turns out having a sense of humor has been crucial in her journey.

“Farming can be really humbling and your plants don’t care how important you think you are or what promises you’ve made on their behalf. They are just going to do what they are going do. You can’t take yourself to seriously. They are really the ones in charge. You just need to do what you can to support them…Never give up! It’s a very rewarding lifestyle. You’ll learn a lot about yourself as well as how to bring a crop to market.” -Farmer Barbie Thompson Lee

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse

Today, we make our way back to Fort Jones, California to spend time with the crew at Five Marys Farms. Crafted in Carhartt visited a year ago, and we thought we’d check back in to see how they’re doing. Turns out, the team’s been busy!

Last New Year’s Eve, Five Marys Burgerhouse opened its doors just 5 minutes from the family farm. The menu is filled with all sorts of comfort food and local meats raised by the Heffernans.

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt

The Heffernan family raises the beef, pork, and lamb served in the restaurant just a few miles down the road at Five Marys Farms. 

Five Marys Farms and Five Marys Burger House / Crafted in Carhartt
Meet Amanda Turner. She’s an outdoor adventurer and nature lover. Amanda works at 5 Marys Burgerhouse. Her favorite item on the menu is the Rancher Burger.

“Honestly what I love most about Five Marys is working for such an amazing family! I love being around the Heffernan’s can do attitudes, and watching and interacting with their incredibly talented and helpful girls. They truly embody the definition of a family business. I love that the girls are so involved whether it be feeding the animals, writing thank you notes for the shipments, or brightening the nights of guests at the restaurant taking orders.” -Amanda Turner

Meanwhile, back on the farm…

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt

Mary Heffernan, mother to 4 daughters also named Mary, is constantly hard at work. If she’s not feeding the livestock, she’s at their new restaurant, 5 Marys Burgerhouse, or keeping her instagram followers up to date with the daily happenings of life with her family on the ranch.

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in CarharttFive Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in CarharttFive Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in CarharttFive Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt

Mary recently released an ebook “They Can Do It. What I Learned About Raising Kids by Moving to the Country.” In it, she highlights the ways her extraordinary daughters have grown and developed in their new lifestyle. The book is filled with insights, much like the Heffernan family motto, “Be Kind. Don’t Whine. Be Tough.”

Find out how you can get a copy for yourself here.

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt
“I’m no expert at raising kids, but when our life changed pretty drastically by moving to the ranch almost four years ago, I started noticing changes in our girls and in our parenting. By necessity things work different on a ranch and kids have to be more independent and resourceful and more is expected of them.” -Mary Heffernan

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in CarharttFive Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in CarharttFive Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt

There’s nothing quite like a quiet night with the family on the highest peak of the ranch–filling bellies with s’mores and the night air with mischievous giggles from the most adventurous of girls.

Five Marys Farms & Five Marys Burgerhouse / Crafted in Carhartt

Vision Farms

The Alpern family established Vision Farms in 1999 in El Paso, Texas. They expanded the original 12 acres to 160, and made the entire property organic. The Alperns produce  alfalfa, cotton, or wheat according to their rotation. Diversity of daily chores is a major plus for everyone involved. With an extensive plot of land and assortment of animals, responsibilities ebb and flow at different times.

The venture is a family affair. Laura Alpern, the matriach of the bunch, makes sure everything is in order at all times–from their Quarter Horse breeding program, to crop yields, to management. Her advice for new farmers :

“Keep really good records and cultivate your suppliers and friends. There will be an abundance of time when you will be leaning on them and vice versa. Do your homework before you start, and ask advice from every person that you can.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt“I grew up in New York City, and from the moment I spent a summer on a working cattle ranch at age 12, I knew it was the life I wanted. The work is hard, and goes on in the cold of winter and the blistering heat of El Paso summers, but the rewards are there. We have been so fortunate to have met the farmers around us. Everything thing is done with a hand shake and we have never been disappointed.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt
Farmer Laura Alpern

“I love the seasons. Each is beautiful in its own way from planting in the spring to weeding to harvest. Additionally foaling season is the best of all. Watching that foal take her first breathe and struggle to her first step is magical. I am so happy that my children could experience farm life style. Our daughter is now an equine veterinarian and is caring on her mother’s torch for horses.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt
-Veterinarian Alana Alpern, and Laura’s daughter

“There has never been a time in my life without an animal in it that needed to be cared for and tended to. I have my parents to thank for instilling this level of responsibility in my upbringing. I remember going out to the farm in my prom dress with my mother to make sure the mare who was about to foal was prepped for her new arrival. I want my own boys feel responsible to the environment beyond themselves, and having a relationship with the family farm is a great way to do that. ” -Veterinarian Alana Alpern

“My husband and I want our boys to respect animals, understand their language beyond the friendly, family dog and recognize dangerous situations.  Having fun with animals is important, but understanding a deeper layer of animal language will keep them safer.” -Veterinarian Alana Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

“El Paso is our chosen home. We toured the country to decide where we would like to live and El Paso won, hands down. We are a bi-lingual city so our children speak both English and Spanish. Much to many peoples surprise we are the safest city of our size in the US. I love the desert climate, and let’s not forget the most amazing Mexican food ever.” -Farmer Laura Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

Alana Alpern runs her practice, Blue Heron Equine, Inc., out of her truck that’s a moving hospital. She treats horses for western and eastern medicine and dogs and cats for exclusively eastern medicine.

“Know the true costs of becoming a veterinarian both financially and emotionally. Do this by spending time in more difficult moments under a mentor and doing your homework on the cost of education.” -Veterinarian Alana Alpern

Vision Farms / Crafted in CarharttVision Farms / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch

Just outside the charming west Texan town, Marfa, the Aufdengarten family has run the Fletcher Ranch for many, many years. It’s been supported for generations by this tight-knit crew. Austin Aufdengarten joined the family officially almost exactly a year ago today. Now she shares in this rich legacy of hard work and tradition.

“Mitchell’s ancestors were some of the first to come to Texas when Texas was still part of Mexico, and they started ranching around Marfa in the late 1800’s. I love digging into his family history, and I’m proud that I am now a part of their story. They are some of the hardest working people I know, and they do everything they can for the wellbeing of the land and animals with which they have been entrusted. His family has ranched at the Fletcher for several generations, and I can’t imagine too much has changed. That amazing old house has to have SUCH an amazing story, but I’m still piecing it together. I love exploring while trying to imagine what life would have been like there 100 years ago.” -Austin Aufdengarten

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

“I have an unfathomable love for far west Texas that overcomes any gaps in my knowledge about what is now my livelihood. My roots run deep out here; my ancestors from both sides lived, farmed, worked, and loved west Texas. Being out in the crisp, west Texas air, surrounded by desert cacti, and watching the mountain landscape revolve around me is absolutely heavenly. There’s something to be said about looking at a landscape and knowing that 100-plus years ago, folks were surrounded by the exact same scenery. Knowing that our children will have the same view is, in a sense, a promise for our future. I’ve always been one for adventure and new experiences, and there was a stark moment of realization before we were married that by marrying this man, I would never leave west Texas; it only made me love him more.” -Austin Aufdengarten

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

The Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in CarharttThe Fletcher Ranch in Marfa, TX / Crafted in Carhartt

Ranchers Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz: best friends, fellow fiddlers, and Montana natives lead beautiful ranching lives. Lilly is 5th generation from Gallatin County and Morgan is 4th generation from Beayerhead County. Both are rooted deep in family ties and find their peace behind the reigns. Lilly and Morgan have been riding for as long as they’ve been able (on the ranch, that translates to around 4 years old). They are independent, strong, and skilled.

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in CarharttLilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

“I have been through a large chunk of the West and do love a lot of other places, but Montana is definitely special. I cuss it every winter when it’s 30 below and I want to ride, but between the people, sense of community, beautiful country, and my family’s connection here, I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I hadn’t grown up here.” -Lilly Brogger

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in CarharttLilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in CarharttLilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

“It isn’t unusual for me to be the only woman at brandings, gathering cows, etc., and because my mom is so capable and that was just the norm, it wasn’t until I was 20 or so that I stepped back and realized how amazing the example she set for me is. I have never seen my gender as a limiting factor, which is common in ranching families, because women are expected to work too. However, there are plenty of men in agriculture as well who will try to do your job for you because they are so traditionally minded that they can’t see how a woman could do a man’s job. Nothing feels better than having a better horse, roping better, or being more helpful than that man that looked down on you. My attitude about this no doubt comes from my mom. She has never been a self-proclaimed ‘feminist’ but I now realize that she embodies everything that a capable woman should. She can fix fence and then cook an amazing meal at the end of the day, which is what ranch women are about. And the coolest part about it is that she has never pointed to gender as a factor, she simply does things. It’s really hard to respect yourself when you are actively having to remind yourself to do so, which is what a lot of women do because they didn’t have an example like my mom. My mom engrained it in me so I don’t have to think about it. Even though I am not doing daily ranch work right now, this has served me in so many ways in my life. I have a significant other that treats me like an equal, my peers respect me, I treat myself with respect, I’m not afraid to ask for what I want…the list goes on and on. My dad married my mom because she is so capable, which makes me feel very lucky” -Lilly Brogger

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

“One of the biggest misconceptions I deal with is people come to Montana and they think this is a state full of “big rich farmers and ranchers” when really that couldn’t be further from the truth. Production agriculture is a tough career to jump into and most of us that are in it don’t do it for the money I can tell you that. We do it because our families did it and we love the lifestyle. There is a lot of risk in production agriculture. The weather, politics, and society drive the price for our product and it is totally out of our control. Agriculturalist have a thankless job. We work our fingers to the bone and hardly ever turn a profit- in fact it is often lots of us operate at a loss but we pick ourselves up- stretch last year’s income a little further, and pray that next year’s crop prices are better. We do all of this while continually being criticized by today’s society and the kicker is- most of the people who criticize us wouldn’t even last a day working along side us. Producers owe their everything to the land and the animals they raise. We would never take that blessing for granted. That food in the grocery store came from average people like me and the Brogger family and a lot of that stuff may have even come from Montana. We are the number 1 producer of lentils in the nation and we are in the top 10 for beef production.” -Morgan Kuntz

Lilly Brogger and Morgan Kuntz in Montana / Crafted in Carhartt

Rancher Trina Cramer

Trina’s heritage is deeply rooted in the tightly knit Californian farming community she calls home. Raising cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, cows, and horses on a farm that’s been in her husband’s family for 100 years. Ask her what makes her most proud, and Trina’s quick to tell you all about her organic pork and farm fresh eggs. But what truly makes this mama bear beam from ear-to- ear, is the joy she takes in watching just how naturally her son Jaden’s taken to farm life. Still only 12, Jaden’s already begun raising his own herd of cattle. And nothing could make this hardworking Carhartt mom feel any prouder than seeing that.

Trina Cramer / Fort Jones Rancher / Crafted in CarharttTrina Cramer / Fort Jones Rancher / Crafted in CarharttTrina Cramer / Fort Jones Rancher / Crafted in Carhartt

Trina Cramer / Fort Jones Rancher / Crafted in Carhartt