Ralph Pederson's folks homesteaded about four miles north of Firesteel in the days of cheap land. But, like a lot of dreams, it didn't work out. Ralph's father died when Ralph was just a year old and he and his mother moved back to Selby, SD to live with Ralph's grandparents.
In 1936 Ralph and his mother moved back near the original homestead and Ralph started ranching with about 20 head of Hereford cattle on shares and three horses. Ralph worked on WPA building road with a 4 horse hitch and a scraper. Later he got a job as a grease monkey on the drag line at the Firesteel Coal Company for 35 cents an hour working 12 hour shifts.
He kept breeding the Hereford cattle trying to build up his herd in those dry years. In 1943 he married Helen Brammer. In 1947 they bought the present ranch which was 12 miles from the homestead. It was a sheep ranch, so they went into the sheep business until 1956. All the while they kept increasing the Hereford herd until they had enough cattle to stock the ranch. Ralph started using Red Angus bulls on his Herefords and liked what he saw. In 1962 they bought their first registered Red Angus female from Sally Forbes. Two years later, they added another cow with a heifer calf and they were in the registered business- That was the best move we ever made, said Ralph. We really like the disposition, the mothering ability, good milking ability, fertility, the lack of sun burning and pinkeye and the red cattle stand the heat better.
Ralph and Helen have two sons, Gary and Ron. Gary stayed on the place and Ron has a welding business in Rapid City. Gary married Sue Stadel and they have four children. Two of the boys have stayed on the ranch with their families, Bret and Cindy and their five children and Chad and Lisa.
In 1999 Ralph and Helen were awarded the Pioneer Breeders award at the National Red Angus Convention. They have won numerous other awards over the years and have always been active in the community.
Pederson Broken Heart Ranch
12523 445th FIRESTEEL, S D 57633
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