Toothpick Sam

"It's not dying I'm talking about, it's living." – Gus McCrae

Hi readers my name is Sam Newell I come from a little town in Utah named Nephi. I go to school at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. I met my beautiful girlfriend Lauren Wellman in a livestock and carcass evaluation class.  I will be graduating with my Bachelor's in animal science in less than two years. After I graduate, I will be attending vet school and starting my own practice if all goes as planned. First Upload Of Phone 5-10-15 688I will then start my own ranch and get that going so I can retire as an old man, with his dog and his eyes on the skyline. I also plan to have a family, probably should have throw that in there. Who knows where life will take me though! I enjoy anything outdoors. I hunt whatever is in season at the time. I like to fish when ammunition gets too expensive.  I like having bonfires and good times around the campfire. I thoroughly enjoy country music by artists such as Chris Ledoux, Garth Brooks, "The King" George Straight, Brenn Hill, Ian Tyson and the list goes on.  I would choose a night in a bedroll under the stars over a nice hotel any day.                                                                                        

After a thousand mile journey in my little car " White Lightning" I made it to Rock Hills Ranch. I was recieved the nickel tour and then went to check cows with Luke. There are two internships here on the Rock Hills Ranch; the ranch living internship and the ranch and range management internship.  I fulfill the ranch and range management internship and Miranda fulfills the ranch living internship. My duties include checking cows and calves twice a day as well as tagging, checking and fixing fence, range monitoring , bee counting later in the summer and any other jobs Luke or Lyle need accomplished.  I have been here on the ranch for just about three weeks now and have enjoyed every minute. I am learning so many new things and am  soaking up as much information out of Luke and Lyle as I can.What I really enjoy about this internship is that it is not just learning how to milk a cow or catch a calf it is how to think in a management fashion, how to problem solve and think of things through a hollistic management process (the main way of thinking here on the ranch).  They are great teachers and know what they are doing. It is an honor to have this internship.       

Till next post “Watch Your Topknot” Readers, 

Sam Newell 


2014 hunting report

The weather has turned colder but the hunting is as hot as ever around here. 

Pheasant season opened the third weekend in October as always.  The Wisconsin "Poachers" made their annual trip west to hunt here for the first five days of the season.  They had enough to shoot at, but with all the corn yet to be harvested and pleasant weather, there were not large numbers of birds in the food plots.

Tom Quinn, et al came for the first weekend of November and did quite well…as a group anyway.  One member of the group, who shall remain nameless, had a rough go of things.  But with the constant nagging and harassing strong support and encouragement of his peers, he plans to come out with the guys again in December to "face his demons."  That's what friends are for, especially hunting buddies.  They can really remind you of how far you've come.  Or not let you forget how bad you were, but I like to see the glass as half-full.

Rob Sundy met up with three of his old friends for a very successful four-day hunt.  Despite some brutally cold winchills, these men limited every day.  By the time they came, the corn was virtally all out of the fields and with the cold weather, the birds were holed up in the heavy cover and food plots.  It made for some explosive hunting opportunities when they got into the birds.

We've got some Missourians here this Thanksgiving week.  Yesterday they came up a few short, but today they were just one off their limit.  It's their first time here so there's some learning to do on where, when, and how to hunt our property.  They seem to be doing well.

Rifle deer season opened last weekend and goes through next weekend.  There have been some nice bucks taken in the area.  Archery has been open since late September.  We have much of the ranch enrolled in public walk-in area, so we often don't get to see the deer that are taken on our place.

I've uploaded some new photos in the hunting album, so be sure to check it out!

Nothing of any particular importance

I'll be up-front, there is nothing really very important in this blog post.  Just a smattering of thoughts on a Monday night.

Kelly, our intern, finished up here about three weeks ago.  She was a good hand – willing and capable to try something new, self-motivated to get done what needed to be done, and asked questions when she needed to.  She's going places, people.  Especially if the rest of her generation is stuck watching the VMA's and using their student loan funds to buy the iPhone 5S.  I'd wish her good luck, but she makes her own luck.  Thanks for the help, Kelly.

It has been a dry summer.  We had below-normal temps so it sort of muted the effect of the lack of rain.  When it finally heated up in late August, it took about 12 hours for the crops to start showing stress.  We have had about 1.5" of rain the past two days, which was very welcome.  It would have been even more welcome about two weeks ago, but the row crops (corn and soybeans) should still do OK.  The wheat crop was excellent.  I had one field of spring wheat that yielded 75 bushels per acre.  I can take no credit, for it was God and the Hubers that did the work.

I'm on Twitter now.  More into "following" than being "followed" though.  I did it to get more up-to-the-minute information on the commodity markets.  I follow several market analysts, news outlets, and fellow farmers and ranchers.  I actually like it quite a bit better than Facebook…it feels more business-like.  Facebook seems to lean more towards the "social" in social network, demonstrated by the absolute dominance of stay-at-home-moms who participate in it.  I don't want to take anything away from that aspect…the right tool for the right job, that's all.  Twitter appears to be more flexible regarding what sort of information your feed contains.  If you want to see who I follow (I don't really tweet anything, so don't follow me for that) my handle is @rockhillsranch.  Our website is still the best place to stay up-to-date on ranch happenings.

We gave the fall vaccinations to the calves last week.  It went very smoothly.  The calves are doing great – healthy and gaining weight.  I'm more excited about this calf crop than in past years, because I am getting to see the results of some specific breeding choices I made last year.  Some calves were sired by more maternal sires, and others by more terminal sires.  The maternal ones will be sorted and some kept for breeding stock; the terminal cattle will all be destined for the food chain.  We're planning to own some of each all the way to slaughter in order to compare and contrast these breeding decisions.  Genetic progress through selection is excruciatingly slow. It takes years to truly evaluate genetic direction, particularly in the maternal realm.  And that is where I am most interested in making improvements.

The pheasant population is down this year.  I'm not a game biologist but I would guess the late spring didn't help much.  Statewide, I think the counts are down something like 64%.  The past ten years have been excellent, so I guess it was time for a correction (for all you technical market analyst types, I'm hoping this level of support holds.  This market is way oversold.  Looking for a restest of the previous high next year.)  So it will be a little bit tougher to fill limits come October.  I also had my ego crippled by the utter chaos that is the food plots.  I tried something new and the weeds won.  Pheasants like weeds, thankfully.  It just isn't the crop I was hoping to raise.  I have seen a lot of songbirds enjoying the sunflowers that were part of the mix, so that's a good sign I guess.

I'm always trying to think of interesting things to write about here.  If you have any questions about how or what we do on the ranch, I'd be happy to answer them in a post.  Or maybe you'd like our "official company policy" (aka my opinion) on some hot environmental, animal welfare, property rights, land use, or food saftey topic.  Drop me an email at and I'll come up with something.