When the family ancestors came from Austria, Hungry and crossed the ocean generations ago, they were looking for a good area for farming and ranching, soil types, somewhere near good water sources, close to transportation such as the railroad and education for their sons. Months of travel, three times across the ocean, in search of the best place they felt to make a living and to raise a family. They landed on the Western side of Douglas County in 1887.
As you venture to the Western side of Douglas County along Hwy 40, which parallels the Oregon Trail, you will find the North side of our ranch. The people that traveled on the Oregon Trail were mostly families that wanted to settle down. To the West of the ranch is a small town called Big Springs. Big Springs was named for the many natural watering springs in the area. This area at the time of the Oregon Trail was known for a stop off point for watering teams and pioneers as they traveled. On the North side of our ranch, we have several of those same active running springs that we use year-round to water our cattle. A hand dug well 22’ deep by 8’ wide, with limestone rock layering and stacked on the interior, was also a community well in the Dirty 30’s during the Dust Bowl that never went dry, the community would fill up with water in the drought here, bringing teams and wagons to drink and take water back to their homesteads. The limestone that lines the well also built many fences in the past and was quarried because of its ability to not be affected by the weather as much. These rock fences can still be seen on the ranch and along the Trails.
The ranch is home to mostly Native grass, or Prairie. The resilience, longevity and adaptability of the native grasses makes them an important grazing resource for ranches. Native pasture can provide an excellent forage resource for cattle.
As we journey to the South side of the Ranch we are close to the Santa Fe Trail going through Overbrook. The people that traveled on this trail were mostly individual male traders that continued to travel back and forth between Santa Fe and America to buy and sell American factory goods. As the family story goes, an access trail through prairie pasture, and past another spring for watering, crosses the South side of our ranch.
Mostly farming, along with a few cattle, began the first generations here. More interest and passion for the cattle business came as generations changed hands over the years. The farming ceased and those acres were planted back to native grass, as well the cattle heard size increased. Each generation has added to and has left the ranch bigger and better for the next generation. Ralph Leonhard, my Dad the patriarch of the family, runs a commercial cow calf operation on the ranch, as well as feeding cattle for our butcher beef business. Ralph graduated from Lawrence High School in 1959, with a passion for agriculture. Ralph’s parents, Lawrence and Bessie, farmed on the North side of the Kaw River, known for it’s rich, black, fertile soil where Ralph grew up in the family farm house. Through high school Ralph was very active in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) program. Ralph held leadership offices in both 4-H and FFA as well as receiving the highly coveted “Good Manners Award” in 4-H and the “American Farmer Award” through FFA. Ralph went on to marry Gloria Kennedy, daughter of Harry and Laura, in 1964. Gloria also attended Lawrence High School, graduating in 1960, and went on to further her education in Business at Baker University. Gloria came from a farming background in the Stull/Clinton area. In fact, it was her family that came across the ocean seeking that great place to live and lay down the roots, of what now is a generational ranch.
****The American Farmer Award represents, the highest degree achievable in the National FFA Organization. It shows dedication, outstanding leadership abilities, promise for the future of those that have gone above and beyond to achieve excellence. Less than half of 1% of all FFA members receive this award, making this one of the highest honors.
As I Gina, the 5th generation was then born, grew up and fell in love with the ranching operation and working with my family. It was important to my parents that I was active in 4-H with cattle, horses and foods; I served many leadership roles through my years in 4-H and school, and received the “Good Manners” award. I went to Perry Lecompton and then to Kansas State University, where I studied Animal Science. My passion of the cattle and land has been strong from the first time I helped drive the feed truck with my Dad, where steering was the only option as I could not reach the pedals. Dad stood on the back of the truck throwing hay to the cattle and said, “keep it between the trees”.
As years have passed, the ranch has grown in acres owned, acres rented, and cattle numbers. Not only has the ranch grown but the family expanded as well. I married my husband, Bryce Schumann in 1991.
Bryce grew up in Brown County in a farming family also. Annette, his mother a schoolteacher, taught in Powhattan and his father Larry, a farmer in the rich soils of Brown County farmed alongside his own father and farmed family land. An unexpected accident took Larry from the family too soon. Annette later on moved her kids to Lawrence, where she later met Stan Larson. Stan was the ag teacher at Lawrence High for 30 years before retiring. Stan also was the FFA advisor there and taught many kids in the Douglas County community. Bryce was involved in 4-H and FFA both through high school. He also held leadership roles and received the “Good Manners Award” and the “American Farmer Award”. Bryce graduated from Kansas State University in Animal Science and then went on to get his MBA from Kansas University.
As a family, Stan, Annette, and Bryce raised Registered Polled Hereford Cattle on the Western side of Douglas County. Schu-Lar Herefords a purebred herd that started from a 4-H project and has expanded and continues today. Since then, the herd has become well known for its performance cattle with a priority on feed efficiency, a process to find the best gain for the fewest dollars, saving the producer money in the long run.
Bryce and I have expanded the ranch further over the years with our family of six, 3 sons Wyatt, Dylan, Jessye and our daughter Kassidy, the 6th generation. Our commercial cow calf operation keeps growing, and we continue adding cattle on feed for our growing butcher beef program. Bryce is involved in agriculture on and off the ranch as he works for Vytelle, a company promoting Feed Efficiency and Breeding Technologies. I run the day-to-day operation on the ranch with my Dad, now that my feet reach the pedals in my own feed truck, and I can keep it between the trees. Together our family works almost daily together whether it be calving cows in the Spring and Fall, burning the native prairie, putting up hay in the Summer, feeding cattle in the Winter, and so much more.
Over the decades a select group of our home raised cattle get sorted off and finished on the ranch in a feedlot area. This has expanded over time from producing beef just for the family, like generations before us, to now producing and providing beef for the family and many local customers. Our grain finished BEEF makes a flavorful product for a ~Tasty Affair. We currently sell Quarters, Halves, and Whole Beefs.
As the dust settles on the 2 Trails Ranch, a look back at our family history is a reminder of where 6 generations ago started, how sacred family is and a future passed down with promise, with three trips across the ocean, to the beautiful ocean of native grass we now call home. We have been feeding cattle for consumers for over 30 years. The beef we provide and the fruits of our labor, is our commitment and dedication to our local community and consumers.