Pete Guglielmino’s neighborhood doesn’t have the best cell phone reception so it took a few calls to get it right. When we did connect, he was driving down the highway and, to keep the phones working, he pulled over in one of those rare cellular sweet spots. It was during these ‘can you hear me now?’ moments that we spent about 20 minutes talking about his ranch and his work with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.
Guglielmino is a Washington cowboy who can trace his roots all the way back to San Giorgio, a small village in Italy at the turn of the twentieth century when his great grandfather, Peter Ansaldo, decided to travel half way around the world and homestead 160 acres near Kettle Falls, Washington. What Sr. Anselmo started 108 years ago is called Bull Hill and it’s been a cow/calf/stocker/guest ranch in its time. It’s now spread out across 50,000 acres.
Pete said that acreage is a mixture of owned and leased lands and, “I’m in the feeder cattle business now. I buy about 600 calves in the spring and sell them in the fall.”
He got into the feeder cattle business about 4 years ago when the price of grain shot through the barn roof. “We’ve got good grass here in the summer but the cost of buying feed through our 6 months of winter can wipe you out.”
His ranch is located in the extreme Northeast corner of Washington, just south of the Canadian border. Those winters can get cold – a few days with temps of 10 to 20 below and a yard or two of snow can make for some interesting times. It’s gorgeous country, though, and the guest ranch attracts people all year long. Bull Hill provides cattle drives, fly fishing and trail riding in the warmer weather; hearty meals, snowmobiling and cross country skiing in the winter.
Pete’s love of cattle ranching is a family tradition that goes all the way back to 1903. Today, he works the land with his wife Patsy; brother, Don; three children, and a nephew. “The two boys, Hunter and Tucker, are away at college; Hunter is at Eastern Washington and Tucker is at Washington State,” he said. “My daughter Cassie will be a junior in high school and she’s a track star. She’s already won state titles as a freshman and sophomore.”
As proud as he is of the next generation of Guglielminos he just as proud of what he does. One might even say ‘poetic.’ Here’s what he said about what he does for a living: “I might be a little biased; I think beef is one of the most natural foods out there. The way our cattle are raised, it’s an incredibly wholesome, safe product. Calves are born and pairs [mother and baby cows] are put out on the grass, roaming free. Cattle fortunately are still raised out in the open hills and range where it’s a pretty good life for them.”
And it’s a pretty good life for him, too, something he recognized early in life. His Dad kicked him off the farm and told him to go get an education. In 1980, he traveled a few miles down the road to Eastern Washington University and earned a degree in Geology – four long years away from home. His summers and breaks from college were spent helping his dad at home, though.
After he got his degree, he went back home and started running feeder/stocker cattle. Four years later, in 1988, he bought his father's herd and has been running cows and stockers ever since. He’s a ‘lifer’ in the business and he got involved in association work to help advance the industry.
He served as president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association in 2005 and his work there led to his nomination to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board where he represents the Northwest Unit: Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. He was involved in Washington’s international trade missions to South Korea, Taiwan and Mexico City, and also coordinated the Washington Cattlemen's Association's participation in the International Food Show in Taipei in June 2007.
Guglielmino was appointed to the CBB by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last fall. He was one of 29 new members who were seated after taking the oath of office from USDA Marketing Specialist Craig Shackelford during a CBB meeting in Denver on Feb. 3. Talking about his CBB experiences, he acknowledged he was one of the newer members. “My first meeting was this past winter in Denver. I’ve been appointed to the Product Enhancement Committee. It was interesting and I’m looking forward to the summer meeting in Florida. We’ll have a lot to do.”
He’s already preparing for that Orlando meeting in early August. “We’ll get down to business,” he said, “and work hard to make sure we get the most out of our reduced budget.”
Chuck Jolley is a free lance writer, based in Kansas City, who covers a wide range of ag industry topics for Vance Publishing.