Wood V Bar X Ranch History


The Beginnings

The V-X brand, (read V bar X), located on the left hip on cattle, left thigh on horses, was registered with the state of Idaho Brand Department in 1940 by Riley A Wood. The ranch still operates under the same brand.

Riley, with his wife and four children moved to North Idaho in February of 1940, from Colorado. He had put a down payment on 160 acres in the Gold Creek Valley in 1939 with a hand shake after answering an ad from Humbird Lumber Co for logged off open stump ranch land. The native grasses had proliferated in the valley after the virgin old-growth timber was logged off and slash was burnt. They were intrigued by the abundance of grass and water after struggling for years to grow crops and raise stock in the high arid country of Carbondale, Colorado.

They started out with a small herd of milk cows, consisting mostly of milking shorthorns, and sold the cream to the local Co-op Creamery. The money made from the cream paid for their groceries and living expenses. The calves were kept until they were yearlings and their sale at auction made the land and machinery payments.

The oldest son, Robert, went into the army in 1943 and returned home in 1945 to purchase his own piece of land further up the valley in Gold Creek. He and his family still ranch in the Sandpoint area today. His son, Bert, and his family raise Angus x Shorthorn cattle and are very active in the local cattle association and county 4-H program.

In 1957 the second son, James R., and his wife, Virginia, bought the VbarX Ranch, by then 960 acres, from Jim´s parents, Riley and Gladys. By now the cow herd, mostly Hereford, had increased to where it was necessary to rent hay ground in the valley to supply the feed needed to winter the cows. With four sons and help from local boys they continued to expand the ranch operation.

Jim purchased his first Angus bull in 1965 making him one of the first cattlemen in the area to cross breed. Performance data was utilized at this time and with it began the strict selection criteria for replacements still utilized today.

As the operation grew so did the family and man power needed. Their daughter was born in 1963 and all 5 children were kept busy year round with haying and chores.

The oldest son, Steve, after graduating from the University of Idaho in 1973 took an interest to meat cutting. He and his wife, Louise, returned to the ranch and built a small custom meat processing plant the next year. The business soon outgrew the small shop and in 1977 they began construction on a new plant built to the specifications of USDA. Wood´s Meat Processing began doing business in 1978 under full Federal Inspection allowing the ranch to harvest their own beef and sell product interstate. The operation continues today utilizing strictly VbarX feedlot cattle for their Natural Beef Program. They also do custom processing for other local producers

The two middle sons pursued other business endeavors while the youngest son, Leonard, remained on the ranch and continued to help expand the operation with Jim and Steve.

Ranch Expanation and new Family Ties

In 1974 what is now the home place was purchased and headquarters were moved there in 1977.

Simmental bulls were utilized on the Herford-Angus cross cows by now and performance testing was a crucial part of the operation. The steers were separated from the heifers after weaning and the larger steers, generally 675# and up were put right on feed. These heavier steers would be the first of the new crop to be harvested and usually ready by 13 months of age. The lighter steers were back grounded and placed on full feed later in the spring. The heifer calves were also back grounded in the feedlot through winter, sorted for replacements at branding and the heifers not selected for replacements were put on grass until late summer – early fall when more feedlot placements were needed. The replacements, now bred heifers, were retained in the herd. Any opens went in the feedlot.

As the production gradually increased on the calves it became necessary to sell a load of steers in early spring or late winter as there were too many of the same weight to spread out for a 9 month period for the feedlot.

Steve and Louise raised two daughters Jody and Tina while operating the Meat Plant. While building the meat business they kept very involved with the ranch as well. Their girls have stayed involved with the ranch and now have family´s of their own making Steve and Louise grandparents to 6 children. Their oldest daughter, Jody, and her husband, Todd, also joined the operation. As their family grew so did the cow herd and seeing the need to diversify the calving season somewhat, they decided to set the calving season back on their cows and begin their own management program. Todd now works with Steve full time, helping manage their summer and fall calving cows and the feedlot operation.

Leonard and Naomi were married in 1978 and continued to manage and operate the Gold Creek ranch while raising four children. The replacement heifers were run predominately on Gold Creek and left to their care to calve along with 100 red hided mother cows. They gathered invaluable experience–not all good–while tending to the heifers.

As the operation grew, the Gold Creek winter operation was phased out and all the cows and heifers were calved together. After completing their new house in 1989, Leonard and Naomi also moved to the home place, leaving Gold Creek vacant and used strictly for summer pasture.

Their children, Stacy, Melissa, Angie, and Ben have stayed involved with the ranch since their childhood. All married with families of their own, they add to the legacy with 12 grand children for Leonard and Naomi.

Jim and Virginia´s daughter, Janice, and her husband, Roley Schoonover, now own and operate Western Pleasure Guest Ranch year around on the Gold Creek place in conjunction with the summer pasture management. Today the ranch operation is open year round and offers family reunions, weddings, corporate retreats, church retreats, cabin rentals, bed and breakfast stays, all-inclusive guest ranch packages, horseback riding tours, horse drawn sleigh rides, cross country skiing and snow shoeing.

The Move to Red Angus

By 1990, after being frustrated with unpredictable and unreliable data and selection information for selecting bulls, the decision was made to try another breed. The first Red Angus bull was purchased in 1990 and Leonard and Naomi became interested in the breed, which was new to the area. They traveled around the Northwest seeking information and met many breeders of Red Angus, which have become very good friends.

The first purebred cows were purchased in 1992 and the Wood V-X Red Angus herd was started. With a strong knowledge and background in commercial cow-calf management, the selection criteria for the future Red Angus cow herd was in place. The adopted standard of “Every cow must produce an income, even if she has to sacrifice her own life to do so” is still in place today.

Today the cowherd is divided into three different calving groups to provide a more consistent age and weight for feedlot placements. Thereby keeping the feedlot inventory more current. The registered cows are all calved in early spring to allow the bull calves enough time to mature and be sound, fertile breeders by the following spring. The ranch now maintains 500 mother cows, 300 spring calvers and 200 early summer and fall calving commercial cows.

Upon graduation in 2005 from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, Ben returned home to the ranch and immediately went to work full time, giving Grandpa Jim a much needed break. He and Dana were married the next summer and the fifth generation, Levi Wood, was born on September 30, 2007.

Although Jim is still active with the ranch activities, his work load has decreased considerably as Ben takes on new responsibilities co-managing the operation with Leonard.

Leonard and Naomi have remained active in the Red Angus circle with their involvement with the area Northwest Red Angus Association.

Leonard was elected to the Board of Directors representing Area 1 West for the Red Angus Association of America in September of 2009. They continue to promote the objective selection and production of Red Angus Cattle and Genetics.

Western Pleasure Guest Ranch

In the early 1990´s the ranch branched into an area that I am sure Grandpa Riley would of never imagined. With the tourism industry expanding in the Sandpoint area the idea of using the ranch land for recreation was explored. Jim and Virginian´s daughter, Janice and her husband Roley quickly jumped at the chance to diversify the ranch into a tourism venture. The first guests visited the ranch in the early 90´s, being guided by Janice, on scenic trail rides. Nest came winter guests enjoying horse drawn sleigh rides. Between 1992 & 1994 three log cabin with the capacity to sleep six each were built, then in 1996 the Grand Lodge was completed. The lodge has six guest rooms with private baths, a large great room, recreation room, and commercial kitchen, expanding the overnight ranch capacity to 34 people. The Western Pleasure Guest Ranch was born. Today the ranch operation is open year round and offers family reunions, weddings corporate retreats, church retreats, cabin rentals, bed and breakfast stays, all-inclusive guest ranch packages, horseback riding tours, horse drawn sleigh rides, cross country skiing and snow shoeing.