Solar Powered Greenhouse at the Flying AJ Ranch
This is the solar-controlled greenhouse that Arlin’s father (Ron Fratzke) designed and built, complete with a solar panel that operates the ventilating fan. Over the years, the Flying AJ Ranch has increased its sustainability and today grows a majority of its own meat and vegetables and fruit (we have a small orchard).
Calving Season 2016
Calving season has been hectic but very productive this year at the Flying AJ Ranch! Some of our featured 2016 calving additions include Basin Payweight 1682, A A R Ten X 7008 S A, Connealy Black Granite, and Sitz Sensation 693A.
Helping Hands: Haying with Our New Neighbors
Our wonderful new neighbors, Steve Kauffman, his son, James, and Marcus Hochstetler, drop by the ranch to lend several sets of helping hands with haying. Steve and Marcus’ families are Amish.
Click here to find out more about their culture.
The Flying AJ Ranch’s barn was local news! Find out more about our barn renovation project by reading the article by the Ravalli Republic Newspaper!
Western Montana Angus Association Tour Stop 2005
The Flying AJ Ranch has had the privilege of hosting the WMAA Tour stop in 2005. The Ravalli Republic article below gives more information on the importance of these tours to Angus breeders from across the country.
Angus Tour Stops in Stevi
Cattlemen from around the country see Montana’s best beef
Article by GREG LEMON – Ravalli Republic | Photos by JEREMY LURGIO – Ravalli Republic
Reprinted with permission from the Ravalli Republic
STEVENSVILLE – It might not seem like a regular tour stop, but the Flying AJ Ranch, north of Stevensville, was the perfect place for the Montana Angus Tour to have lunch Friday and a look at some examples of local cattle.
The tour is an annual event for the Montana Angus Association, but it’s been 10 years since the tour has come to Western Montana, said Arlin Fratzke, who owns and operates the Flying AJ with his wife Jenifer.
Attended by people from all over the country, the tour gives them a look at Montana’s prized angus herds, Fratzke said. “They come out and look at Montana’s angus cattle because of the reputation they have,” he said. That reputation is in part due to superior genetics, but also because of the rugged Montana environment, Fratzke said. Cattle are stronger here, he said.
The Fratzke’s, like several local ranchers, are a small operation focusing on seed stock – providing bulls or heifers to other ranchers around the country. Their ranch is about 120 acres and they run about 60 head, he said. Every single head of cattle has distinct bloodlines, Fratzke said.
“We breed seed stock. A lot of our cattle go on to be registered bull or cows,” he said. “We’re very selective about how we breed our stock.”
Two other local ranchers, Loren Brubaker and Floyd Kauffman, also had cattle on display at the lunch stop. Kauffman, like Fratzke, raises seed stock, and the angus tour is a promotional event for them, he said. Ranchers and breeders from places like Missouri, Alabama and Pennsylvania took part in the tour.
“We hope they come back and want to buy something,” Kauffman said.
As the three tour buses unloaded, people milled around in front of Fratzke’s house waiting for lunch to begin. An announcer gathered the group’s attention by giving away a few prizes and then introducing the three ranchers with cattle on display.
Fratzke was the first to speak and welcome the crowd of more than 200 people to his home. He told them a little about his breeding program, but invited them to see for themselves the quality of beef he raises.
“I expect our cows to stand alone on their own merits,” he told the tour participants.
Following the announcements, the hungry cattlemen and women were served a catered meal made by the Old Coffee Mill and Riversong Guide and Gourmet from Stevensville. Everything served, from salad greens, to barbecue beef brisket, to the coffee, was produced in the Bitterroot, said caterer Paige McBride.
After a few trips through the buffet line, folks made their way to the pasture to see the penned angus.
Shannon VanHorn and his wife Tina, were on the tour from Mexico, Mo., where they work on a small cattle ranch. This was their second Montana Angus Tour. They came back for the cattle and the scenery, Shannon said. Montana and other states in the West are unique because the ranches and cattle herds are much bigger than in the East, Shannon said. This gives genetic lines an opportunity to prove themselves in a single herd, he said.
In the East, a big angus herd is maybe 25 cattle, Shannon said.
By coming on the Montana Angus Tour, breeders from around the country are able to meet and exchange information, Tina said.
“It’s a great networking opportunity.”
Modern cattle breeding involves selling bull semen and cow embryos around the country, she said. So it’s good to be able to see the cattle and their genetic traits first-hand. And what better place to come for a tour like this, than Montana, Shannon said.
“This probably one of the most notorious tours in the country,” he said.
Reporter Greg Lemon can be reached at 363-3300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org