Culver area ranchers raised Corriente cattle when they first came to Central Oregon.

SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Sammee and Tommy Green, on left, present the Livestockman of the Year Award to ranchers Marilyn and Tom Kasch.The Livestockman of the Year Award has been given yearly since 1951, with the purpose of selecting an outstanding livestock operator who has demonstrated excellence in livestock production practices, and has been involved in livestock-related organizations.

This year's recipients are a husband and wife duo, Tom and Marilyn Kasch, of Culver.

"Married nearly 55 years, the Kasches have proven to be a great team. Though one was born in Portland and the other in Billings, Montana, thanks to a chance meeting at a girlfriend's house back in high school, the rest is history," said award presenter Sammee Green.

Married on May 2, 1964, the Kasches bought their first place in 1967. They started with about seven head of black angus that soon grew to around 50 head. Since he was a firefighter and worked 24 on and 48 off, it allowed him time to help run the ranch and farm.

Marilyn Kasch did many jobs, including school bus driver, High School Rodeo secretary, dump truck driver, and also sold real estate. Together they kept the ranch functioning and growing.

By the year 2000, they had a large herd of mostly Corriente cattle, and made the move to Culver. In the first few years in Central Oregon, they grew the herd to nearly 400 head.

In 2008, they sold off 100 Correinte mother cows to help a family start their own operation in Washington. To adjust numbers even more, in 2014 they sold 100 more black angus mother cows, to bring their herd numbers to around 200 head. Yearly, they keep about 30 replacement heifers, which are all artificially inseminated.

The home place in Culver consists of about 200 irrigated acres, where they grow hay on most of the acreage, and also pasture cows at home during the winter months.

Summer months find most of the herd on Grey Butte grazing allotments, and the replacement heifers are usually hauled to the ranch in Sandy. About three years ago, the Kasches changed to a fall calving program, which they have found much easier because they do not have to calve in the cold.

They market some of their cattle through the Mid Oregon Beef Co-op and sell many on the Video Market.

Family is very important to the Kasches. They have two sons, Todd and Tim, six grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Todd works with them at the ranch in Culver, and Tim keeps an eye on the place they still have in Sandy. Tom and Marilyn Kasch followed their sons around as they grew up, whether it was sporting events like skiing, or rodeo. To this day, they still do, only now it is the next generation.

Marilyn Kasch is very active and volunteers her time for youths in the community. She is a past 4-H leader and also past JCLA president. Tom Kasch was a Portland firefighter until his retirement in 1995, but then volunteered at Sandy Fire until 1998.

"Both are very hands-on, and as we know that has led to a few bumps and bruises. It is very evident that they are the kind with a can-do attitude we admire. Many days will find Tom on a tractor or Marilyn trailing cattle horseback to fresh pasture. Together they keep T Bone Hay and Cattle a thriving, working family ranch. One would think retirement would be relaxing, but I believe these too will never let that happen," Green said as she presented the award plaques.

(See more Livestock Association awards in the special Farm Fair publication in today's Pioneer).

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