Father’s Day is a normal day on the Singleton Ranch
GLIDE — Father’s Day on the Singleton Ranch near Glide is pretty much like any other day — or maybe it’s just that every day is like Father’s Day on the ranch.
They’ll be doing the chores, and going to softball and baseball games before doing more chores. The whole family participates in the ranching and the sporting events.
Eight generations of Singletons have been or are living on the 3,000-acre ranch with its pastures, hayfields and timber, since the mid-1800s — making it truly a family-run operation.
“Take your kids and wife to work day is every day on the ranch,” Doug Singleton said.
Nash Singleton, 14, is the oldest of the four children from Doug and Jennifer Singleton, followed by Gage, 12, and 10-year-old twins Ciera and Terra. All have their chores.
At age 70, Doug’s father, Loris, loves the solitude on the ranch.
“It’s quiet, nobody is bothering you,” Loris said. “You just get up and you can go do something all by yourself, and if you do it wrong, well, you fix it before anybody sees it.”
Great-uncle Charlie Singleton is fifth generation and at 89, still works every day on the ranch. He helped with the shearing and the rounding up of the ewes for market. He’s never known any other life.
“Far as I’m concerned, it’s the only life,” Charlie said.
“He swept all the wool that had been sheared all week, and just had a knee replaced in February,” Jennifer said.
“He wouldn’t let anybody else sweep the fleece, 1,200 head and he swept every fleece,” Doug said.
They all know how to work hard, it’s just a way of life on the ranch. They love being around so much wildlife, like the baby turkeys, the fawns, bird nests, the elk, and of course the coyotes and cougars.
Doug and Jennifer own the sheep on the ranch, which includes about 500 ewes. The sheep have dotted the green hillsides and pastures on the property there for many decades. The two also own about a third of the 250 head of cattle, plus they’ve added about 60 goats that help control the blackberry vines.
Doug’s great-uncle Charlie and father Loris are partners, but they are aging, so more of the responsibility is starting to transfer over to Doug and Jennifer.
“We make all the decisions together, we talk about it and then we do it,” Jennifer said. “We’re the labor force, we’re the young guys.”
She said working as a family is her favorite part. They’re always together, except when the kids are at school.
Farming and ranching has gotten tougher and tougher to make a living, with costs of everything continuing to go up, and there are all the laws and regulations that cost a lot of money to stay in compliance.
“The price we get for the products fluctuates up and down, but the cost of producing it never seems to go down,” Jennifer said. “We put a lot of money into improving the ground, because that’s the important piece to run more cattle and more sheep.”
Plus they have to feed the deer and elk that graze on their land, although they don’t mind that so much, but it does take a toll on the land.
The market for sheep is good, but wool is down this year. The prices for livestock have stayed pretty level for a while, but the predators are tough on the profit line. The Singletons and every other sheep producer in the county have a continuous battle with coyotes that are a constant challenge, preying on the lambs.
“There’s no end to the coyotes,” Doug said. “A cougar will come in and do more damage per night, but a cougar, you can run up a tree. They’re a lot easier to get rid of.”
In the sheep business, it’s just something they have to live with.
Bears have become a growing problem the last few years as well. They come in the fall, and about five years ago, officers from Oregon Fish and Wildlife brought in some live traps and cameras, and they found there were a lot of bears on the property.
The bears look for blacktail deer fawns, but the fall calving is going on at the same time, and they will also go after the calves, and that can be costly.
The Singletons don’t hire a lot of outside labor, and Doug says that’s been a key to making a profit.
“Labor would be ridiculous, because the minimum wage now is so high, it would be hard to make that work,” Doug said.
The kids know they have to get their work done on the ranch, but they have their fun time too.
“There’s a lot to do. I like squirrel hunting, and working with the sheep and cows,” Gage said.
“My favorite part is probably the cows,” Ciera said. “I have my own cow, but I can’t pet it.”
“I like lambing, and when the goats have their kids,” Terra said.
The girls were a big help for Jennifer during the lambing season this year, when Doug got sick and couldn’t even go to the barn to help.
“I had to lamb the sheep out by myself, and these girls were a huge help,” Jennifer said. They watered all the sheep, we had to keep lambs separated, pull lambs, feed baby lambs, they did it all.”
Doug is the head wrestling coach at Joseph Lane Middle School in Roseburg after being an assistant coach at Glide for 16 years. The girls take care of the sheep while he is at practices.
He was a state champion for Glide in 1996 and both of the boys are considered outstanding wrestlers, following in their dad’s footsteps.
Gage has finished second in state in folkstyle and freestyle, and third in Greco. Older brother Nash has won a total of 16 state titles in different categories.
Ciera and Terra are both softball players. Terra is a catcher and Ciera is the shortstop, so between the four kids, it keeps the parents on the go.
There are some tough times, like trying to keep the animals safe from predators. Doug keeps a gun with him all the time when he’s out on the ranch.
“You put all that time in getting lambs on the ground and you dump them out and go out in a couple of days and there are dead ones all over the place,” Doug said.
“Doug always says if he could have one wish it would be to talk to animals, and they could speak back to him,” Jennifer said. “It would be nice if they could tell us what was going on.”
Father’s Day isn’t much different than any other day for Doug. The haying season is late this year, because of the wet weather, so when the sun comes out, he has to get to work.
“I’m usually on the tractor cutting hay, we usually don’t get much done with the kids, but we usually go to breakfast,” he said.
“This year, we’ll also be watching a lot of baseball and softball,” said Jennifer.