Just home from another trip to Wyoming with my husband and son, or as I call them my prospecting buddies. We had a fabulous time and I almost hate to tell you about Wyoming because it is so incredible, I almost want to keep that knowledge to myself.

When I was a kid, I had the opportunity to move from Ottawa, Canada’s capital and my hometown, to Vancouver, BC where we lived for a few years. I can still remember the moment I saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time, driving through them with my mom as the sole driver, chain smoking her way through hairpin turns. We moved back a few years later and regardless of steps in between, I was going West as soon as I could.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to live and work in Wyoming, Colorado or Texas and somewhere along the way I turned right instead of left and ended up spending many years in Canada’s North.

A beloved family llama joining our business meeting in Wyoming.

But my desire to live and work in these magical places never went away. Fortunately, I married a US citizen and we both work in the mining industry in all of these fabulous places plus some others across the United States (proud US citizen as of this year….did I mention that???), and they are all they are cracked up to be. Colorado has an incredible mining history that has built infrastructure which allows  tourism and ski towns to thrive, and the beauty is stunning. I wish they had more mining, but it is a great place. As for Texas, well what can you say about Texas and Texans; they’re incredibly strong and confident people, but then again, it was its own country, so I get the pride.

Uranium exploration and mining took me to Wyoming and while it may have taken me 60 years to get there, it was worth the wait. The people are amazing and I consider myself so incredibly fortunate to have spent our time not only looking at rocks and maps but meeting so many of the ranch families. On my last day of a previous trip, after being on the road and living in hotels for about 3 weeks, we met our last ranchers which gave me a bittersweet feeling. I was tired and going home but I really didn’t want to leave.

The dogs never miss a prospecting trip either!

These ranch families are truly amazing. I know, like mining, there is often a belief that ranching is a male-dominated world. Wrong.

These are family-run businesses with very smart people operating together as a unit. The families work hard on the ranch and often home-school their kids at the same time. You see, schools are often hours away from the ranch and home schooling might just be better than sitting on a bus for hours. And if you bring a business proposition to them you better be prepared to have the woman in the family to be the lead on all the technical questions. I loved it.

The family, husband, wife and kids, plan their work and school day around what is needed on the ranch. And if you show up to talk about mining claims, well you better understand there are more important business matters in their day than your business.  Some basics… call first, not too late, and don’t plan on coming over on a Sunday.  But if you can establish a working relationship, their word is golden.

Ranching (or farming as they say in the east) is an incredible life, tough and brutally real in its challenges. Between predators (I mean coyotes, eagles etc.) and the weather, it takes tough, smart and hard-working people. Sometimes, as I have experienced living in a rural mining town, people from larger cities and centers don’t always understand this life.

Shared common values work on a ranch, it might be something we want to remember in our home and work lives.


About the Author

Janet Sheriff

An innovative entrepreneur, Janet brings her extensive experience in all aspects of strategic planning, management, indigenous affairs and communications to start ups, new ventures and the mining & exploration sectors. Janet focuses her entrepreneurial spirit, leadership skills and vision to create new opportunities, award-winning innovative programs and new ways of conducting business. Her strong commitment to community engagement, sustainability and inclusion provides her the proven ability to work effectively and respectfully in cross-cultural environments.