Sidwell family awarded for remaining loyal to Hereford breed
December 12, 2011
When Harold Sidwell leans back into his chair and reflects upon a life of living on the family ranch, one word makes its way into the conversation as much as any other, if not more so.
Loyalty to family and friends?
But also his unwavering devotion to the breed of cattle that has fed the Sidwell family and paid its bills and mortgages for more than a century.
“I’m a Hereford man,” he says with conviction, while also discussing the trends in the industry that led many farmers to switch to other cattle breeds, such as Angus, over the years. “My grandfather was a Hereford man, my father was a Hereford man, and now I am. Always have been, always will be.”
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And that loyalty was rewarded recently.
Sidwell was inducted into the American Hereford Association’s Hall of Fame last month in Kansas City, Mo., at the organization’s annual meeting. It’s an annual honor given to only six people in the nation each year, recognizing breeders who have “dynamically influenced the direction and advancement of the Hereford breed,” as officials with the organization describe it.
“It’s truly humbling … quite an honor,” Sidwell said. “And very surprising. I don’t go out there every day and do what I do for the recognition. I do it because I love it, and because I love the Hereford breed.
“But I guess a little recognition is kind of nice every now and then,” he adds with a slight ornery smile.
To walk through the Sidwell home – planted atop one of the many rolling hills north of Nunn, Colo., – is to stroll through the history of the family’s ranching operation, one that’s rich with Herefords, helping to explain Sidwell’s devotion to the breed.
Hanging all over the walls are paintings of key members of the family’s herds over the years, including the Sidwell family’s first registered Hereford – purchased by Harold’s grandfather, G.A., in 1908 and coming from England.
At the time, G.A. lived in Queen City, Mo. He brought the family to northern Weld County in 1934.
Harold learned much about the Hereford business from his grandfather during his upbringing, he said, receiving his own first Hereford when he was only about 10-years-old and going on to show it at the Weld County Fair.
The heifer was named the grand champion of the competition, and young Harold was hooked.
Today he oversees an operation that consists of anywhere from 100 to 125 registered Herefords, about 200 commercial cows and 100 yearlings, he said.
And apparently all Sidwell family members have well understood the industry along the way. Harold’s big win at the Weld County Fair a few decades ago and his recent induction into the Hall of Fame aren’t the only honors to come the way of the family for their Hereford-breeding and ranching efforts over the years.
G.A. Sidwell is a member of The National Cowboy Hall of Fame; Harold’s father, F.A. Sidwell, was once named the Colorado Hereford Breeder of the Year; and Harold’s wife, Marlene, was named American Hereford Woman of the Year in 2007. Additionally, Sidwell Herefords – a business now operated by Harold and Marlene and their son and daughter, Bryan and Cheryl – was among the Golden and Century honorees of the American Hereford Association in 2004, and Sidwell Herefords took Overall Reserve Champions prize at National Western Stock Show in Denver in 2000, while the family has also claimed four division championships at that national event over the years.
Harold’s eldest, Warren, and his wife, Jolene, are in the Hereford business in Oklahoma.
“I guess we know what we’re doing,” he says, laughing a little once again.
That doesn’t mean it’s always been easy.
Sidwell admits there have been tough times on the ranch, as the efficient marketing of Certified Angus Beef over the last 20 to 30 years has taken the wind out of the sail of Hereford producers, who had dominated the industry during the middle portion of the 1900s, Sidwell said. Hereford ranchers have had their ups and downs since.
“But I always believed in the breed. Still do,” he said, explaining that he believes Hereford bulls are more docile than Angus, and are productive for nearly twice as long, among other positive characteristics. “They’ve certainly been good to me over the years.
“And I believe the breed is making a comeback, I really do,” said Sidwell, now 72-years-old. “Maybe that’s why I keep putting retirement off.”