We own a ranch in Gillette, Wyoming where we raise beef cattle, pigs, horses and vegetables. In 2017, we started a YouTube channel, Our Wyoming Life, and we have over 120,000 subscribers, in addition to audiences on Facebook and Instagram.
We met when we were working in corporate radio. Mike was a radio DJ at the time, and Erin sold advertising. We got together and continued down that road for quite a while. Not long after we got married, Erin’s stepdad, Gilbert who owned the ranch here in Wyoming, was getting sick. He had diabetes and could not do everything himself anymore.
They had a hired hand that was moving on. Erin’s mom called us and asked if we would be interested in coming and helping out for the winter until they could find somebody else. So, we both took sabbaticals from our jobs in the corporate world to help family.
It was an adjustment. Gilbert turned all of his animals and livelihood over to two city slickers that had no idea what we were doing. These animal’s lives were in our hands and we thought, ‘Okay, I guess we’ll figure this out.’
Both of us grew up in the city, and did not have ranching experience. We did not know what to expect, it was a matter of finding as many books that we could read, looking at as many websites, and studying everything that we could find. In fact, we found a book Raising Beef Cattle for Dummies and we still promote that book on our YouTube channel.
" These animal’s lives were in our hands and we thought, ‘Okay, I guess we’ll figure this out.’ "– Mike & Erin Galloway
We decided to try ranching for a year, and then make a decision on whether to stay or go back to radio. It was very much a learning experience. We figured it out as we went along. It was really hard at times, and sometimes filled with comedy.
It was a cultural adjustment for us. Ranching and the corporate world are different. When spring came we had calves and that was exciting and fun. Then we started haying. Then it was the beginning of October, and the one-year mark. We realized there was something here that we are drawn to and like.
Job offers from corporate radio stations were still coming in. We talked to Gilbert, and he really wanted us to stay here on the ranch. He died a couple years later, in 2012. We had Mackenzie, our oldest daughter, at that point, and were committed to raising our kids in the ranch lifestyle, so making that decision to start a family solidified that we were going to stay on the ranch.
Erin started going to the farmers’ market with produce from the large family garden when she was pregnant with Mackenzie, and found her place on the ranch and a way to create a business and diversify our income. We tilled up 8,000-square feet of garden space the next spring and Erin was a full-time market farmer in the summer.
Diversification on the ranch was important because we needed it to support our family that now has three children, and Erin’s mom. In the winter of 2016, Erin got Mike a Go-Pro camera for Christmas, and we decided to make a promotional video for the farmers’ markets, and show people what went into getting our produce, beef, and pork to the market. We were focusing locally, and made a four-minute video about feeding the cows.
Even though we are only 10 miles from town, where we sold at the farmers’ market people were very disconnected from what went into the beef in their freezer. We wanted to walk everybody through what happened to get their beef to the farmers’ market. We put the video on our YouTube channel.
It had 25,000 views and 15,000 subscribers overnight, but not from the local audience. We had not posted in on our Facebook business page yet. We learned that there is a global audience that wants to know where their food comes from and what goes into it. That has become our motivation in making the Our Wyoming Life videos – to show people where their food comes from and invite them to come be part of the ranch.
We want our viewers to be invested in what goes on at the ranch so the next time they go to the grocery store and look at the steak they see it differently, and know there is a story, a family, and a business behind that steak. Agriculture needs a voice, and people need to be educating consumers about agriculture. We want to fill that void.
Balancing our lives and ranching is a juggling act. Communication is a big thing because we have so much going on. Sometimes there is stuff we let slide by. We have an internal priority list of what has to get done. Our family and the ranch are of course the most important. The market garden has to be taken care of in the summer, and there is extra work that happens so we can get through the winter with the cows. Sometimes you have to keep track of the big picture and make decisions based on the big picture. We can all get lost in the details. Focusing on the big picture makes it a little easier.
Our audience understands if we are late releasing a video, or miss a podcast. They know our lives are busy. Our subscribers keep us accountable too, they want content from us, and are invested in the ranch. Their words of encouragement keep us going.
We have a farm store now that is open four days a week instead of going to the farmers’ market. People stop in and make a connection with us. It is a nice evolution of our story that we are happy to offer people. We love the freedom of ranching and making our own schedule, as well as being able to turn this into a successful local business, and share the experience with other people.
Mike & Eric Galloway
Our Wyoming Life