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Dairy cows were eventually replaced with Hereford and Black Angus cattle. And by the time Frank retired, about 20 years ago, the family had 300 head of cattle. Frank says growing his business to those proportions didn’t happen overnight. “It took 60 years,” he said. “Just like going up a ladder, little by little.” One year the family’s herd didn’t produce enough calves. To support his family, Frank returned to the Butte mines, working the graveyard shift by night and returning home during the day to work on the ranch. Like her husband, Charlotte worked hard to survive. She washed diapers in a nearby creek and boiled them on a wood stove during the couple’s early days in the cabin under the stars. She also made cheese, yogurt and other food to feed the family. Despite the rough lifestyle, Charlotte and Frank said their time on the ranch was among the best years of their lives. In addition to raising their children on the ranch, they also formed lifelong friendships there with people from all over the U.S.
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