Tikaboo Valley, Nevada
About 40 years ago, the Medlins saw the potential for a cattle ranch on a desolate piece of land in southern Nevada.
Nearby the infamous Area 51 in southern Nevada is the D/4 Enterprises cattle ranch, run by Steve and Glenda Medlin for roughly 40 years. When they established their beef operation in this desolate area, it had one watering hole and very little else – no electricity, no telephone, no house and no cattle for years.
After years of hard work, the Medlins have built a successful 500-head cattle operation. Due to the arid nature of the area, it takes a lot of ground to raise cattle. “It's 30 miles long and 30 miles wide, and there's cattle on all of it," says Steve regarding the size of the place. Despite its size, Steve knows where his cattle live, where they water, where they last fed, and which ones have calved.
Navigating an extreme climate
Water is the lifeblood of the operation and the main focus of day-to-day chores. Steve, with the help of his grandson Bubba, spends much of his time traveling his acreage checking on the now 70+ watering spots that dot the property. The area is prone to extreme temperatures, which range from below freezing to above 100, only adding to the water management challenge. In particularly dry years, the land simply cannot provide the necessary feed for the animals, so Steve opts to move his herd, incurring trucking and grazing costs to make sure he doesn't overgraze and ruin his rangeland.
Staying innovative and vigilant
“He's managed his operation incredibly well considering the harsh environment, and remained viable even during times of drought," said Daren Lovell, the Medlin's Western AgCredit loan officer.
With their nearest neighbors 25 miles away, the Medlins have had to be innovative in creating their lifestyle as well. They currently use solar power for the majority of their energy needs, an improvement over the Coleman lamps their three children used to study by, and one that carries an environmental benefit.