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Garden the

s m : E s o FO R I D l o s ERS AN S M ID I N ’s BLOOHER o n UL B IN S n d UT I F I N G L a B E A S PR

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issue

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PROS TO BETTER YOUR GARDEN

TRENDSPOTTING

GOTHIC

GARDENS

RURAL ROYALTY Crowned seniors talk about cooking for the Queen and their Big Horn upbringings


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Contents 11

LANDON’S BLOSSOMS Green-thumb greenhouse and nursery team brings beautiful bloomers for spring in Sheridan.

20 PAPA’S HYDRO

28 COUNTRY ROOTS

Soil-free growing and Highland cattle sprout up at Papa Joe’s Produce and Two-Bit Ranch.

A candid conversation about the history of 4-H culture with local 4-H ag educator Emily Swinyer.

27 GROWING BUSINESS

32 RURAL ROYALTY

Campco’s new Sheridan digs on Sugarland Drive help to grow its mortgage products and services.

Elmcroft’s crowned seniors talk about cooking for the Queen and their Big Horn upbringings.

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Editorial CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Erika C. Christensen MARKETING DIRECTOR Stephanie L. Scarcliff CHIEF OF STAFF Lisa A. Shrefler SALES Jessica L. Pierce Shanna L. Sellers CONTRIBUTORS Jennifer C. Kocher Kevin M. Knapp ART DIRECTOR Richard W. Massman DESIGNER Candice E. Schlautmann PHOTOGRAPHER Adam D. Ritterbush

Inquiries & Customer Service Outliers Creative, LLC P.O. Box 3825 • Gillette, WY 307.461.4319 • 82801@mcllc.net 82801 is a publication of Outliers Creative, LLC © 2019, all rights reserved. Reproduction in any form, in whole or part, without written permission is prohibited. This magazine accepts freelance contributions. 82801 is not responsible for loss, damage, or any other injury to unsolicited manuscript, unsolicited artwork (including but not limited to drawings, photographs, or transparencies) or any other unsolicited materials. Outliers Creative, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The MC Family of Companies, LLC.

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Fall into SPRING T he other day, when I was riding the elevator up to our office on the fourth floor of the Mill Inn, I was with a very perky, friendly lady who also worked in the building. She commented on the weather and what a nice day it was. I blinked in return, gazing out through the glass at a gray, otherwise foggy, overcast day. The forecast had called for snow, and as such, she was reveling in the lack of precipitation and the gift nature had bestowed our way. Spring is her favorite season, she continued, a time for rebirth and renewal. The thaw of the icy crust of winter when people tend to bear down and just get through. The woman’s optimism in the promise of new life and do-overs pretty much encapsulates the theme of our inaugural garden issue, I later realized, which is the dominant undercurrent running through all our stories this month that we hadn’t consciously set out to do. But there it is: rebirth and renewal and the promise of second chances. From two 99-year-old long-time friends and neighbors, once again reuniting in their new home at Elmcroft of Sugarland Ridge – miles from the ranches where they’d raised families and lived very different lives – and being crowned Homecoming

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King and Queen. Their shared history and proximity to their past is comforting for each as they near their 100th birthdays. Other stories centered on reinventing oneself, as in the case of Joe Wesnitzer on page 20, who after a career in Colorado, returned to his hometown of Sheridan to ranch and grow hydroponic vegetables in a new life, that in his words, makes him feel like an 8-year-old kid again. In another, 4-H coordinator Kim Swinyer revisits the roots of agriculture and the way those traditions are being passed down to the youth. There’s also a new twist on an old gardening take where Candice talks gothic gardens. Who knew that black was the new green? And finally, to the story of Landon’s Greenhouse on the next page, a hometown nursey that is turning back the clock to old-fashioned methods of growing everything onsite with a pride in quality and being at the heart of their community. We invite you to sit back and revel, plan your spring projects and dream big about adventures to come as you take in these stories and embrace the promise of spring. By: Jen C. Kocher


Spring

temperatures continue to rise, and the owners and staff at Landon’s Greenhouse & Nursery are busy filling their greenhouses with beautiful bloomers. Outdoors, the nursery staff is potting up bare root trees and shrubs brought in from Minnesota. Their production facility (at a separate location) is packed with so many plants they are begging for more space. They grow almost 70,000 petunias each season, not to mention all of the other floral varieties in their line-up. Landon’s also staffs a full-service landscape department and has two landscape designers working daily. APRIL / MAY 2019

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n w Grho wit

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hen you look at the rows of bright red geraniums, lush green herbs and colorful hanging baskets packed into the sprawling greenhouses at Landon’s Greenhouse & Nursery, it’s easy to forget that those plants didn’t just grow themselves or show up on the back of a semi-truck. Instead, more than 75 percent of their plant inventory is grown four miles down the road in one of their seven off-site greenhouses. For the last several months, a team of workers led by Marlene Aitchison have been busy planting seeds, punching seedlings and watering each plant by hand. This is what co-owners Keith and Jennifer Kershaw think sets Landon’s apart. They take their promise of quality seriously and won’t sell anything they wouldn’t buy themselves.

t r a He

“We’re a dying breed,” Keith said, noting that most commercial greenhouses buy their plants right off a truck. And he would know. Prior to moving back to Sheridan in 2012, Keith and Jennifer had worked for a wholesale grower in McMinnville, Oregon. One of the customers they shipped to each season was Landon’s, which is how they had formed a good working relationship with them and heard about the business opportunity. The Kershaws bought shares of Landon’s in 2014, becoming partners with the current owners Phil Gilmore and Janelle Gray, ultimately bringing their family back to Keith’s hometown. “We like growing our own plants, so we can control the quality and get the size we’re looking for,” Jennifer said. “If something is not up to our

standards, it doesn’t end up on our benches.” What the Kershaws don’t mention is the painstakingly detailed and meticulous work that growing plants and vegetables entails on a commercial level. Enter Production Coordinator Marlene Aitchison and her binders. She keeps the operation on schedule and moving along. There are years and countless hours of experimentation and trial and error dating all the way back to founders, Jack and Kathy Landon. Details about planting dates, weather, temperatures and watering schedules are only the tip of the iceberg. And somehow, Marlene manages to coordinate all of these facets into a working operation that begins in the “Head House,” which looks a lot like a science lab comingled with heavy equipment. APRIL / MAY 2019

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Today, April 1, Alicia Bretzman is counting petunia seeds in a vacuumed seeder. Alicia shakes the screen gently as the seeds fall into their respective holes like marbles into a Mancala board. While most novice gardeners would just plop a handful of seeds in the ground and call it good, not thinking about the price or value, at Landon’s, seeds are a valued commodity that are carefully counted, and in many cases, harvested from year’s past. On the wall beside her, rows and rows of concentrated, frozen juice cylinders are full of colorful ID tags and seeds for hundreds of plants and vegetables. “Jack Landon must have drank a lot of orange juice,” Marlene laughed. Once the seeds are counted, Alicia carefully flips the tray over and the seeds fall into the soil, and from there they move along to the next station. After sprouting, they are punched into tiny squares of soil that go into the plastic flats that will go into another greenhouse to grow.

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At the station, Evelyn Lemley leads a crew of transplanting ladies that take the more fragile sprouts and hand plant them into larger containers to grow. It’s tedious work that requires tiny scalpel-type instruments and blue plastic gloves as they carefully handle each plant. Marlene works from Excel schedule pages that have been put together over the years by Janelle Gray that include dates, quantities, watering practices and fertilization programs. Laminated legends with locations for each plant and flower type hang on the wall of each greenhouse as the staff works through the growing season and heads into the busy months. Right now, they are in the beginning stages of relocating all seven greenhouses to the main site with the nursery and storefront to help improve efficiency and operations. Recently, they offered a workshop at the growing facility – one of many free classes and workshops they offer to their customers – in which a handful of their patrons planted their own hanging flower baskets. The Landon’s staff will care for them until the third week in May, when the customers can pick up their finished products. As Jennifer points out, most folks are amazed at how much work goes on behind the scenes at their off-site greenhouses. “We work backwards,” Marlene said. For example, for Mother’s Day they need hundreds of hanging baskets, so they started planting in February. In the baskets, flowers are grown, groomed and perfected so that they will be ready to sell by the first week of May. All of this is built into the schedule as well as directions for planting the baskets and diagrams of which plant goes where in the various arrangements. APRIL / MAY 2019

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It’s a bit mind-blowing for novice gardeners, many of whom just buy the plants off of the benches in the greenhouse not knowing the journey it took them to get there. And again, it’s this type of quality and ownership that the Kershaws believe makes Landon’s such a unique nursery and garden center. That and the fact that this quality extends to all arms of the business, from the plants to the employees to all the merchandise they carry.

“We send our employees to trainings and our buyers go to trade shows each year,” Jennifer said, “so they can touch and see the merchandise in person to assure quality.” “We’re very proud of it,” Keith said, of all the operations at Landon’s as well as their commitment to quality, which goes a long way with their customers. By: Jen C. Kocher Photos: Adam D. Ritterbush APRIL / MAY 2019

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TRENDSPOTTING

By: Candice E. Schlautmann

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ooking to add a little drama and contrast to your flower beds in 2019? This spring, take some inspiration from the haute trendsetters of the Victorian period (remember, there's no such thing as a "new" trend), and create a unique and stunning outdoor space with beautiful, "black,� dark-red, deep-purple flowers and foliage. In addition to these dark and mysterious beauties, you can extend the dramatic theme with thoughtfully chosen garden decor elements. Stone pathways, wrought iron gates or benches, bird baths and fountains create a solid sense of space, while whimsical garden sculptures in the likeness of fairies, dragons and gargoyles add an air of magic and mystery. Check out our recommendations to add a gothic touch to your existing garden, or create a new, unique outdoor sanctuary to enjoy this summer.

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Black Star

CALLA LILY A deep purple bloom with a spathe that is almost black. Perfect for planting your garden border.

[TRENDSPOTTING]

Stone Bird Bath 26.5 in. H Cast Stone Rose Aged Charcoal Finish Birdbath

Black Velvet

HOME DEPOT $114.18

PETUNIA This dramatic, deep purple, "almost black" darling brings depth + texture to any garden.

Queen of the Night TULIP A stunning heirloom bulb sure to add drama with deep, velvety maroon hue.

Gothic Gate

Specrail Roxbury Garden Perimeter Aluminum Garden Fence Gate HOME DEPOT $49.29

Black Watchman

HOLLYHOCK Another knockout heirloom. 3 to 4 inch hibiscus-like bloooms with satiny petals in a deep dark maroon that shades to pure black.

Black Delight

VIOLA Velvety black flowers with an intense yellow eye, these little beauties are prized for their winter hardiness and pair well with spring bulbs.

Garden Guardian Cast Stone Large Igor Gargoyle Garden Statue, Dark Walnut HOME DEPOT $88.20

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Papa Joe’s

PRODUCE & Two-Bit Ranch

J

oe Wesnitzer hasn’t been this happy in a long time. Puffing on a cigarette at his 50-plus acre ranch nestled in the base of the Big Horns, he watches a newborn Scottish Highland calf sidle up to its mother. Her long hair rustles in the breeze as she licks the baby’s hindquarters. Puffy clouds slide across the light blue sky as the sun burns off the chill of early morning. “I’m on the verge of turning 60, and I feel like an 8-year-old kid again,” he said with a big smile. “I can’t believe I get to wake up and do this every day.”

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Originally from Sheridan, Joe has been waiting to come home for decades after spending the bulk of his career in Colorado, working for a telephone company and helping to raise his grandchildren. Not a fan of Colorado, he was more or less counting days and biding his time. In his ball cap with a short gray pony tail sprouting out back, Joe doesn’t look much like the typical rancher. Ranching was his older brother’s idea – as were the Scottish Highland cattle – which aren’t commonly seen around here though their long hair and bulky frames do well in the mountains,

according to Joe. His first Highland cow Emgie came from Miles City, and supposedly there’s a children’s book written about her, but Joe’s never seen it. In the past couple years, they’ve grown their herd up to 18 cattle, a bull and several newborn calves. A couple days ago, one of their cows prolapsed during birth and Joe and his girlfriend Carol Sims, neither of whom come from a ranching background, have been learning things the hard way. Despite the long hours and the sometimes-laborious learning curve, Joe is out here having fun. The beef gets sold at Landon’s weekly Saturday Market, along with his vegetables, courtesy of his current experimentation with hydroponics, which make up the other arm of his operation. Right now, he has a greenhouse full of leafy vegetables and the bones of another greenhouse lay in wait beside it. Inside the greenhouse, the temperature averages a balmy 86 degrees, prompting Carol and her daughter Kelly to throw on their bikinis and do a little sunbathing mid-winter. In the muggy air, recycled water trickles overhead down through a series of white, plastic PVC pipe cylinders, which sprout the plants. More than 200 towers produce over 1,000 plants.


The sun is his only source of heat, and other than a pump, a couple fans for circulation and a swamp cooler to moderate heat in the summer, it’s pretty much a confined system. He built and designed it all on his own, costing him about a quarter of a pre-built. “I couldn’t afford to buy one,” he said, “so I built it.” This is his fourth design as he continues to tweak his system. In the next greenhouse, he’ll double up production with two rows of plants per tower. He initially got interested in hydroponics after being introduced to it through his grandniece and her boyfriend. From there, Joe took some classes online and attended a few workshops at Bright Agrotech in Laramie, which has since been bought out by Plenty, and like everything else, he simply learned through trial and error. He was drawn to the ingenuity of the system and the ability to have leafy, green vegetables year-round. APRIL / MAY 2019

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“People were pretty surprised when I walked in with a cooler full of lettuce in March."

He started building it two years ago in August, and by spring, had his first crop of lettuce, which he sold at the farmer’s market. “People were pretty surprised when I walked in with a cooler full of lettuce in March,” he said. To his knowledge, there are no other commercial hydroponic growers in town. Although he wished there were, so they could bounce ideas off of one another and save themselves some of the headaches – like his current outbreak of algae in a few of the towers. Right now, he restricts his crops to seven varieties of lettuce, and Swiss chard, kale and basil. Eventually, he’ll move on to root vegetables like tomatoes and onions. For the most part, his system is organic, though he does use a man-made product to help mitigate the algae. The process starts with a seed pod that is inserted into a green, growth medium that looks and feels like the turf on a football field. The medium cushions the seedling on both sides and acts like a soil. It needs to be cleaned about once a week after harvesting, so Joe unscrews the cylinder and takes it outside for a power wash to prevent algae from growing. It’s a laborious job and thus far not terribly lucrative. He laughs when asked about his profit margin. Money-wise, he’s definitely still in the red. To build the greenhouse system cost him just under $25,000. Every seed pod is about 60 cents to plant while his lettuce sells for only $10 a pound, which includes anywhere from two to four plants.

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“I don’t even want to add up the hours of labor,” he said with a laugh. Technically, he’s retired and is more or less just having fun, though he’d like to make a little money. This will entail building a second greenhouse and hiring on some laborers. For now, his granddaughter is going to join him at his farmer’s market booth this summer and plans to grow and sell strawberries. “She’ll make more money than me because she’s a lot cuter,” he said, grinning. And though he still runs into the occasional elderly shopper who refuses to buy any vegetable not grown directly in the ground, Joe says people are open to hydroponics, and the local gardening community has never been exclusive. He’d like to see hydroponics catch on, and right now, he and his friend Donald Legerski are building miniature systems to be used in local schools and with Sheridan 4-H kids. Who would have thought that a retired telephone guy would ever become a hydroponic rancher, Joe wonders daily, but for now he’s going to make a big salad and watch the sun go down. By: Jen C. Kocher

Photos: Adam D. Ritterbush

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before. Because of its success, SCLT will hold another nature scavenger hunt on May 11 from noon to 1 p.m. at Red Grade Trails. This is where the love of nature starts: close to the mountains, or in wide-open spaces and the imaginations of our youth.

A COMMUNITY TRAIL

Conservation

STEPS FORWARD You’re changing lives and building a love of the land

N

ot that long ago it was a lot harder to experience the beauty and magic of nature along the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. For some, it was difficult because of their busy family lives – there wasn’t a lot of time to travel far to hike, or to take a scenic drive amidst the beauty of Sheridan County’s iconic ranches and farmlands. For others, like many of the kids in our elementary schools, it just wasn’t part of their day. It’s not that they didn’t want to go outside – these were the kids who wiggled in their seats at school and gazed longingly out the window, their minds drifting away from their work – it’s just that there wasn’t an easy, timely, or regular way to get them there. But that’s changed. In October 2017, thanks to you and growing community support, we collectively took a giant step forward with the

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opening of a new section of Red Grade Trails. And people love them.

KIDS BECOMING IMMERSED IN NATURE Teachers from Big Horn and Sheridan schools now actively use Red Grade Trails as an outdoor laboratory and classroom, while outdoor clubs run or bike on the trails. Youth camps use Red Grade Trails during the summer as the spot to inspire kids about local history, geology, wildlife, and pollinators. This was true during an Unplug event hosted by Sheridan Community Land Trust and Science Kids when local naturalist Steve Dudley stood on the dirt trails and helped point out a few of the animals and plants that live there. Each child was able to see something new, whether it was a native grass or a bird they’d never noticed

With the opening of the new trail, more and more people on foot can now enjoy the intricacies of the landscape right in front of their eyes. Red Grade Trails is a place that allows anyone to enjoy a Wyoming sunset, or a moment of solitude in nature, just minutes from home. The trail isn’t just for youth or athletes, either. It’s providing a way for elders, or those who aren’t physically able to hike at higher elevations, a chance to get outdoors. People like Bob May, who has lived here in Sheridan for more than 30 years, but no longer can hike up into the mountains or make the drive over to Buffalo. “This is an amazing gift,” Bob says. “For me and my friends, we never thought we’d get back into the mountains like this, given our age.” Scientist Stephen Jay Gould once said that people will only fight for that which they love – and research shows he’s right. That means that if we want Sheridan County to retain these special places, we must make sure that people have a chance to fall in love with them. And that’s what is happening, thanks to you. As Emeritus Sheridan Community Land Trust Board Member Sally Morton said recently, “How does one put value on an experience like watching a fox bound across a meadow, or the opportunity to breathe in fresh mountain air as you walk along the trails?” We know. It’s called the value of community. Photos: Sheridan Community Land Trust


People Helping

PEOPLE

W

Heather Gulley NMLS# 1547756

hen you’re ready to buy, build or refinance your home, you face an array of choices. After all, it’s likely the largest loan you’ll have in your life. And because you’ll have your mortgage payment for 15, 20 or 30 years, it’s important to choose the right mortgage loan and lender. Campco Federal Credit Union offers a full line of mortgage products for all buyers, from traditional and jumbo loans for those seasoned buyers to no or low money down loans for the first-time home buyer. As a local, hometown lender, Campco focuses

on the needs of the communities they serve and the people like you who live there. With lending decisions made right here in Sheridan, Campco is great for those who appreciate the convenience and support of saving time and money. When you want to talk to a relatable loan officer — someone who understands your unique needs and will be available to you throughout the entire process delivering excellent customer service — make Campco Mortgage Partner Heather Gulley your key lender. Campco Federal Credit Union in Sheridan ... people helping people.

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4-H Roots:

An Interview with Emily Swinyer

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mily Swinyer leafs through a large binder of official log entries dating back to the early 1900s. Since taking over the role of Sheridan County 4-H extension educator last year, she’s been brushing up on the work of her predecessors. “I’ve really gone down the rabbit hole,” she said. Among these pages, she’s discovered a legacy of hardworking individuals who carved out an agricultural living in Sheridan County. Although livestock have certainly been an important component of that agriculture, Swinyer pointed out that we shouldn’t overlook the importance of crop production and horticulture.

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We visited with Emily to learn more about how gardening helped shape the character of the local 4-H club. What follows are excerpts from our wide-ranging discussion.

THE FORMATION It was around the dawn of the 20th century, and a lot of changes in Sheridan County were taking place. Many producers were worried that the youth weren’t getting involved and were also concerned about the efficacy of some of their agricultural practices. The land grant universities decided to get involved and do some research to study those practices. In doing so,

they came up with some new strategies that were more effective, particularly relating to corn production. But the farmers and ranchers weren’t very receptive to that. “They felt like, ‘We’ve been doing this for a long time. This is the way we are going to do it,’” she said. So, they opted to talk to the young people to try to get them involved. And the youth bought into it, according to Swinyer. “They said, ‘Alright, sure, we’ll try it,’ under the notion of ‘let’s see if we can beat our parents.’” They wanted to see if they could beat them by doing something new and crazy, like irrigating. And it worked. Some of the historic photographs of children sitting on corn piles the size of their houses show that.


4-Her sitting on prize corn yield (1912). Source Elsie Carper Collection on Extension Service, Home Economics, and 4-H. Special Collections, USDA National Agricultural Library.

At its roots, at its core, she noted, 4-H is agriculture. It’s innovating and trying to find a new way to do something. 4-H is the largest youth program in the nation, by far, and has been for a century. “So obviously we’re doing something right,” she said. “We need to stay humble and remember our roots, and that way we can stay effective and continue to engage the youth.”

GETTING INVOLVED “The ground is kind of a hopeful shade of brown right now,” Swinyer said. For her, it’s an exciting time of year. “We have kids at all levels that participate in the gardening and horticulture through 4H,” she said, “kids who are just beginning, and they are interested and want to learn about parts of the plant, how it grows, photosynthesis and those sorts of things.” As kids’ skillsets become more advanced, they

can start to do their own gardening, planting and maybe see what grows best in the region. “We know what grows best, we know what has the highest yield,” she said, “but how are we going to use our knowledge?” All of their meetings begin with a 4H pledge that says, “I will use my hands for larger service, for my club, my community, my country, and my world,” and Swinyer likes to see this oath put into action. As the spring warms up, she hopes to see their youth getting more involved in the community. Picking up trash on the side of the road, for example, or painting the fairgrounds. “This is amazing,” she said, “but also seeing how we can really plug into our community.” One suggestion is to volunteer with Food Forest in Sheridan. “They are always looking for help with weeding, cleaning up and just making it nice,” she said. “What a great way for our kids to give back there, and not only give back to their community, but learn about it too.”

She’s hoping to get some of the younger kids involved as the weather thaws, by encouraging them to learn about pollinators and bees. “I think it’s really important to talk about that when we talk about gardening,” she said, “because you’re not going to have a whole lot of production if it’s not pollinated.” Bees are here for that, she noted. Let them do their job. “People don’t think about it, but with our hay and alfalfa, certain plant species are only pollinated by certain species of flying insects. So, they’re pretty important if you want your alfalfa to be sustainable.” There are ways to get involved beyond just planting, and one mechanism of 4-H is to help the kids get a little outside of their comfort zones to see how they can use what they know to make a difference. “That’s the end goal we are really looking for,” she said. By: Kevin M. Knapp APRIL / MAY 2019

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Community Calendar Our curated guide to the best local events in April / May.  April 17

Chamber’s Business After Hours The Sheridan Chamber invites the community to Landon’s Greenhouse & Nursery on Wednesday, April 17, for a night of networking, food and fun from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is free to the public and everyone is welcome. For more information, call the Chamber at (307) 672-2485.  April 18

Deborah Chaney Artist Talk The first Theodore Waddell Printmaking Artist-inResidence, Deborah Chaney will be giving a talk on April 18 at 4 p.m. at the Whitney Center for the Arts. Deborah Chaney is a Tamarind Master Printer with over 12 years’ experience collaborating and printing with numerous artists from all over the globe.  April 23

The Banff Mountain Film Festival Celebrate the outdoors and adventure with the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The Wyoming Wilderness

performance begins at 4 p.m. April 24 and is free and open to the public.  April 25

Jazz Day at Sheridan College Sheridan College student jazz ensembles will be performing with guest artist, John Roberts, at the Whitney Center for the Arts. Free and open to the public.  April 28

“Color and Landscape Workshop” at Ucross Former residents Phoebe Adams and Teresa Booth Brown will be leading a “Color and Landscape Workshop” at Ucross Art Gallery from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Raymond Plank Creative Center, followed by a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Ucross Art Gallery. All materials will be supplied, and participants are asked to RSVP at info@ ucross.org or by calling (307) 737-2291.

 April 24

Dance Spring Showcase The Sheridan College dancers will be performing their Spring Showcase, directed by Stephanie Koltiska, at the Whitney Center of the Arts. The

 May 9

SC Bands / Jazz Pop Concert Join the Sheridan College Bands for their annual outdoor Pop concert and ice cream social in the Whitney Mall on Tuesday, May 9, beginning at 7 p.m. This free concert is open to the public, and in the case of inclement weather, will be held in Kinnison Hall at the Whitney Center for the Arts.  May 14

Pint Night Benefiting Friends of the Library Come out to Black Tooth Brewing Tuesday, May

 April 30

Sheridan College Choirs Spring Concert Director Robert Psurny will be leading the Sheridan College Choirs at 7 p.m. at the Whitney Center for the Arts. The performance is free and open to the public.  May 4

Association team up the WYO Theatre to bring the annual fest to Sheridan. The festival runs on Tuesday, April 23, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the WYO Theater at 42 N. Main. Beginning March 6, tickets are available for $20 for adults and $10 for students. For more information, wildwyo.org and or contact edith@wildwyo.org or (307) 672-2751.

to 8:30 p.m. at SAGE Community Arts at 21 W. Brundage St. The cost is $60 for members, $75 for non-members and $40 for students.

Wyoming Baroque at the Whitney Center for the Arts The Wyoming Baroque will be performing Saturday, May 4 at 7 p.m. The group brings together nationally-known artists specializing in historically informed performances of 17th and 18th Century repertoire as well contemporary compositions. Tickets are available at the Whitney Center for the Arts.  May 8

Collage & Painting Workshop Exercise your creative genius by exploring inventive ways to create portraits, abstracts, florals and landscapes with collage and paint. The workshop runs on Wednesday, May 8 from 5:30

14 and drink for a good cause. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. at the brewery with proceeds going to Friends of the Library. There will be a 50/50 raffle and raffle for a YETI cooler. For more information, contact Kathy Shell at (307) 763-4096.  May 18

Can We Talk to Animals? Humans are adept at communicating with written words, symbols, and gestures. However, nonhuman animals have also evolved a myriad of techniques to communicate with each other in order to reduce conflict and increase survival. On Saturday, May 18, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Sheridan College, Dr. Rachel Kristiansen will explore the sensory abilities and communicative strategies of multiple species. For more information, call (307) 675-0505. APRIL / MAY 2019

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Neighbors and Friends

W

yla Loomis can’t remember exactly when she and long-time friend and neighbor Vic Garber first met. The two 99-year-olds have known each other for a long time. “He’s just always been there,” Wyla said with a grin. Vic’s memory is a bit more resolute. “We probably met in the Big Horns, in Wyla’s front yard.”

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They’d met years ago, Vic explained, when Wyla and her husband Wendell were working on the Gallatin Ranch. Vic’s family ranched in the mountains with poor roads and he’d asked if he could park his Army jeep with chains on it during the winter months, so he could switch out his car when he went to town. “They were always very accommodating,” he said. “Very good neighbors.”

And in the Big Horn ranching community they come from, being good neighbors goes a long way. That nearly five decades later they are once again neighbors at Elmcroft of Sugarland Ridge Assisted Living Facility is a comfort to them both. Now, on the verge of turning a century, they also hold the distinction of having been crowned Homecoming King and Queen at the facility’s Valentine’s Day Social.


They’re not a couple, Vic pointed out, but are good friends. Widowed now, both had been married to their respective spouses for 57 years. Wyla knew Vic’s wife Phyllis through the Big Horn Women’s Club, where both were members. Back then, there weren’t many social functions to bring the couples together, but rather they were friendly through the Garber's parking arrangement and helping one another out. “This went on for a lot of winters, and they were always friendly and very nice,” Vic said. Being named Homecoming royalty was a surprise for them both, though they admitted it was kinda fun. “I’m not much of a splurging person,” Wyla said shyly, “so I just sat there and smiled.” “Being on stage was a new experience,” Vic said, “and I enjoyed it very much.” Having lived for most of a century in the Big Horn ranching community, both Wyla and Vic have roots that run deep. The Garber Agribusiness, which is currently run by Vic’s three sons, is still a profitable, thriving operation today, Vic proudly stated. His success was in large part due to his unconventional ranching practices governed by instinct and hard work. “If the government told me to do something, I did just the opposite,” he said. “I also learned that you can’t get rich selling grain or products. You have to feed it to the animals and sell them to make any money.” And don’t ever put that money into the bank or a savings account, he added. “Put it in the stock market,” he said. “Get a good broker and let him do the work.” If he has any advice for young people, that’s what he’d tell him. He’s proud of the mark the Garber family has had on the community, and admits he’s had

a terrific life. When Phyllis was alive, the couple traveled to all 50 states. It’s not even close – he noted: Wyoming is by far the best, though the California coast is very unique and interesting. “One distinction that nobody I’ve ever met has equaled is that I’ve ridden a saddle horse 10,000 miles high in the Big Horns and also in the ocean along the California coast,” he said. Those horses don’t mind going in the water, but you have to clean out their ears and wipe off the salt. Wyla, who is originally from a small farm in Iowa, didn’t do much traveling but she, like Vic, also worked hard on a ranch. Her husband Wendell oversaw operations while she cooked for

the hired men and raised their two sons. “Well, Wendell helped a little,” Wyla said with a smile. She hadn’t set out to be a professional cook, but when the couple arrived at the ranch, Mr. Gallatin asked Wyla if she’d be willing to feed the hired men. “Why not?” she’d said. It ended up, in her words, just falling into shape. “You’d make it through breakfast, and then you’d start looking around for something to make for lunch,” she laughed. One of the highlights of her life was being called to cook for the Queen of England when she visited the Wallop’s ranch. They’d

made “old-fashioned” fried chicken, and Wyla’s homemade potato salad and an angel food cake, made from farm-fresh eggs. The Queen enjoyed the meal, according to Wyla, and was so grateful she came back to the kitchen to congratulate them. It’s a moment that she’ll never forget. There have been many such moments for both of the near centenarians, who are nonplussed by their advanced age and take it all in stride. “It’s just another digit,” Wyla said. As for advice for young people, both concentrate for several minutes before speaking. “Put your money in the stock market,” Vic said again, “work hard and be an inspiration for others, do well and enjoy the good things and forget the bad.” Wyla chimed in with her two cents. “Work hard, go to college and enjoy every moment that you have,” she added. As for the years to come, they are enjoying every day and the many new discoveries it brings. “You don’t go dancing every Saturday night,” Wyla said, “but it sure is interesting.” Having more spare time goes a long way when it comes to storytelling. Vic has a lot to say on that subject and enjoys sharing his stories, and for anyone who is interested, he has many on record in the Wyoming Room at the Sheridan Public Library. His favorite tale is about a sheep named Petunia, which author Craig Johnson, according to Vic, borrowed and rewrote. “His is not nearly as good as the original,” Vic said with a grin. “That one you need to hear for yourself.” By: Jen C. Kocher APRIL / MAY 2019

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