Pearl Leifeste of the Reuben Leifeste Ranch, received the 2010 Outstanding Conservation Rancher Award from the Mason County Soil & Water Conservation District. Reuben Geistweidt, Chairman, presented the award to Mrs. Leifeste at the Mason Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Thursday. The ranch has been in the family since 1879, and Pearl has lived at the ranch for 78 years. She celebrated her 97th birthday in October. In 1974 the ranch received the Family Heritage Certificate of Honor. Her grandson, Randy Hinckley, took over stewardship of the land after his grandfather, Reuben, passed away in 1986. For Pearl, conservation has been a way of life on the ranch and in the house. Pearl stated that if the aluminum foil is reusable, it’s washed and put away, same for the Saran wrap!
Conservation practices started many years ago with Pearl’s husband, Reuben. Today there are 150 acres of improved grasses on the 880 acre ranch. Ongoing practices include a five year pasture rotation for treating prickly pear. One major conservation practice the ranch has undergone was a creek stabilization project in the front pasture to grade an eroding creek bed that was washing the land away. Conservation doesn’t just end with the land, steward Randy Hinckley also helps conserve energy costs by decreasing the amount of time he drives around the ranch.
"We never had anything fancy, we lived the simplest life," Pearl said, "we never made a lot of money, but we had food on the table and a roof over our heads… I wouldn’t change anything about it."
Today the Leifeste ranch presents a picturesque view from the road: a sloping hill split by a red dirt road that rises to a well-kept ranch house. A field of Wilman lovegrass rises over the knees, bordering a creek surrounded by live oak trees. The land stands as a testament to time, hard work, and the loving hands that have shaped it. There are still things to be done to improve the ranch, conservation is an on-going process, stated Randy.
We say, keep up the good work!