The Lazy R Ranch is nestled in the channeled scablands ponderosa forest and rich sub irrigated meadows of the West Plains, just west of Spokane, WA. The ranch is part of the ancestral homeland of the Spokane Tribe. In the early 19th century, white fur trappers began to settle the area. Following an influx of prospectors to the area following the California Gold Rush, conflict began to break out between settlers and indigenous people. Smallpox and other disease further weakened the Spokane people and in 1877 they were relocated by the United States Government to the Spokane Reservation north of Spokane. Learn more about the tribe and their remarkable language immersion school here.
Grandpa Earl moved to our ranch and began to rent it in the fall of 1937 along 20 milk cows, his wife, Louella, and their three children. The family weathered the depression by selling milk in Spokane, while Louella worked as a full time cook at Lakeland Village, a nearby institution for developmentally disabled people. Their son Gene was later able to buy the ranch as an adult. Gene, having grown up milking all those cows by hand, happily converted from milk cows to beef in 1950, the year before his son Maurice was born. Gene took a brief hiatus from cattle to go back to school and finish his degree, and went on to work for the United States Department of Agriculture. After Maurice moved back home to the ranch in 1981, he and his wife, Ellen, put their savings into 20 heifers (with a little help from Gene) with the idea that he would pasture them over the summer and sell them in the fall. The bottom dropped out of the market that fall, so he bought a bull instead. We’ve been chasing cows ever since.
Maurice as a baby with the previous 3 generations of Robinettes: Great-grandpa Tom, Grandpa Earl, and Maurice's dad Gene.
In 1996, we adopted the principles of Holistic Management, which is both a framework for truly sustainable (triple bottom line) decision making and a method of pasture management that allows us to mimic the natural symbiotic relationship between grazing animals and grasslands. In that time, we have seen a dramatic shift both in the health of the land, and in the health of our business. We now direct market 100% of our beef. Every animal born here on the ranch ends up on the table of someone in our community. Today, Maurice and his oldest daughter, Beth, operate the ranch together. None of this would have been possible without the support of the many strong women who have helped work the ranch, including Earl’s wife Louella, a professional chef; Gene’s wife, Lorene, a school teacher; and Maurice’s wife, Ellen, a force of nature.