A ranching family and their ‘holy cow’ moment
s Clarice Swanson ’89 walks in the barn located on her family’s 400-acre Walla Walla cattle ranch, her mind isn’t on the hundred or so Herefords and Black Angus chewing on new grass just down the road. It’s on the tiny balls of grey striped fluff peeping at her feet. These turkey chicks, or polts, represent one of the few Unimproved Standard Bronze flocks on the West Coast. Even if the chicks or their parents didn’t have the shelter of a barn to escape the snow-tinged wind outside, they’d survive on their own, Swanson notes proudly. All told, about 100 of these chicks will be carefully nurtured through the summer and fall. Then, they will grace holi-
28 PLU SCENE SUMMER 2008 > ALUMNI PROFILES
day tables of Seattle and Bellevue gourmands willing to pay $70 for about 15 pounds of meat. The chicks are among the many animals raised at Thundering Hooves Ranch, www.thunderinghooves.net. Lois
Gordon Huesby ’56, Keith Swanson ’89 and Clarice Swanson ’89.
’59 and Gordon Huesby ’56 and the next generation – Joel and Cynthia Huesby, Clarice ’89 and Keith Swanson ’89, and Brian and Jenny Huesby – have
guided the ranch to produce mainly organic beef, as well as organic chicken, pork, lamb and turkey. Joel Huesby recounted the “holy cow” moment 10 years ago that prompted the family decision to go organic: The ranch had received a cow that was barren. “So we decided to eat her,” Huesby said. The cow had been raised on grass alone, without the supplements and fillers typically found at feedlots. The meat was less greasy and tasted great. The family – which includes Joel’s wife Cynthia Huesby, Clarice’s husband Keith Swanson ’89, and Brian and Jenny Huesby – decided to give organic and sustainable ranching a go. The ranch has been certified organic for the last six years, but even before certification, Joel Huesby and Clarice Swanson stressed the century-old ranch has always been about stewardship of the animals, the soil and the general environment.