John Griswold (by Jeannie)
The first time I “really” met John Griswold is one I will never forget. He pulled up to REI (Reproductive Enterprise Incorporated) in Stillwater, Oklahoma in a beat up old tan Buick. He had on a Hawaiian shirt, an old baseball cap and a few days stubble on his face. John had just driven all night from South Dakota and hadn’t been home to shower or sleep. After we looked through the bulls at REI, John took us to his car to go look at cattle. John had to bang hard on the passenger door to get it to open and let my dad in and then get inside and reach over across the back seat to open the back door from the inside for me. He spent all day showing us cattle. One thing that hit me is how John wasn’t in to keeping up appearances (He still drives that car). Dad and I were headed to Kirk Duff’s and John asked me to text him if I saw anything that I thought he needed to own. That was John’s way of getting my phone number. From there it started a friendship that turned into more.
In November, John laid over in Utah after a trip to Montana to look at Dad’s sale cattle. John called me from the airport to see if someone could please come and get him, because his drivers license was expired and that he couldn’t rent a car. Beaver and Salt Lake are 250 miles apart. I showed up to pick him up with my boyfriend. John has said that whatever chance he thought he had, at that point certainly was gone. I had no intentions of romance with John Griswold but God saw it differently. Before John left he asked if he could buy me a steak in Denver in 5 weeks at the Denver Stock Show. There was still no intentions of romance, I just really enjoyed talking to him. John flew home before our sale but called after to see how it had gone.
I grew up hearing the name John Griswold. My dad thought the world of him. John had gone to Denver with Kal Herring to help him with his feeder steers and Dad (Gib Yardley) and Kal had pens next to one another. That was before dad was married and I was yet to be a twinkle in his eye. Dad and John stayed good friends through the years and Denver was always a place to rekindle old friendships. Dad got married when he was 47 and started having a family. He once told John the best thing he had done was having kids and that he needed to settle down and find a wife. Little did Dad know what would transpire from those seeds he planted. John has told me several times that Denver was when he would sit down and reflect on his life. Each year he came to the conclusion, “I’m still doing okay, I’m not as old as Gib was when he got married.” John ended up taking me for a for a steak dinner in Denver, I felt like I had known him my whole life. It was in Denver that Dad’s words came full circle. A year later John and I took our honeymoon to Denver.
John grew up in Livingston, Wisconsin. He was the oldest of six. His dad, Joe Griswold, set the example and standard for John that would take him through his life. From the time they were young, he and his brother Greg had to do chores every morning before school. He tells our kids the story often of going out and having the tractor tires being frozen. About the thud they made going around, the sound of the snow crunching as he walked out, the burn in his lungs because of the cold. His dad never referred to them as boys, but rather he called them “men.” John is still an early riser and he loves to work.
John wrote in our sale letter the following, “Our parents, Joe and Elaine, brought our family to Oklahoma in the early eighties. At first they questioned if they had made the right choice. I could kiss them everyday for that decision. It was a move that forever shaped our lives and our story.” Those next few years brought a lot of change for the Griswold family. They dropped John off at college the same time as the move from Wisconsin to Oklahoma. John attended Joe’s Alma Mater, Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. John said, “Dad always told us, ‘When you go to college, it’s who you meet that’s important.’ And that has played out in our lives and operation just like he said it would.” The people he met while in college are still some of his closest friends and business associates.
When his dad dropped him off at school he gave him $300. He said it was more money than he had ever dreamed of. He kept it in his glove compartment and it lasted him all semester. He would load his clothes in a suitcase and take them down to the laundry mat. He will be the first to tell you he was green. It was while in college that he started to trade on steers and where he found his start in the industry.
This is a philosophy that has carried John throughout his life; he surrounds himself with good people. Mike Willham was supposed to clip Denver feeder steers for Kal Herring. Mike had taken a full time job and couldn’t do it. He called Kal and suggested John. Kal said, “I don’t know.” Kal wondered if he would be good enough and almost hired Bobby Smith. When Bobby couldn’t go out, Kal got John. With that, a 20-year-old boy from Wisconsin headed to Wyoming and became lifelong friends with Kal Herring. John remembered Kal heading to town every afternoon with two head and washing those because there was no heat out at the ranch. The next day, John would clip the two that had been washed the day before outside. This was in Encampment, Wyoming in January. “I helped the Loomis family with their steer selection and clipping and they had a real successful run. Then I worked for Kal Herring in Denver, the year they had the champion and reserve champion pen of feeder steers. Those two associations really stand out to me, as I look back on how things evolved,” recalls John. John would go on to buy steers from Kal and trade on them back in Stillwater. One year Joe rode out to pick up a goose neck load of steers and John told his dad, “If I can make $5,000 I would be tickled pink.” He made it. To this day John will attribute his start to Kal Herring. From Kal’s he went on to clip for Hilbert’s. John says that if you clipped for Hilbert’s, you could clip. “Stierwalt, Bobby May, everybody that ever clipped back in the day clipped for Hilbert,” he says. John will be the first to tell you he was scared to death to take on that job.
Time marched on and the hard work and cow savvy of Joe Griswold started to pay off in John’s life. “Dad had a dispersal sale in the early eighties and Todd Thrasher went and bought the 25 best cows that Dad had in the sale. We sat next to him and told him which cows were the producers and which cows to buy,” John said. Another deal came up for Thrasher that allowed John to buy back 17 head. Those females would stand as a foundation for our Griswold cow base. 066 was one of those cows. She proved invaluable to putting the new generation of Griswold Brothers on the map. She is the grandam of Chill Factor and there are over 50 direct granddaughters of this history making matriarch. Her influence is still heavily seen in many top sellers at Griswold Cattle. “If they have 066 in the pedigree, they’re good,” says Greg Griswold. Over a span of 17 years, Chill Factor is still a go-to maternal sire.
Through the 90’s, John and his brothers scoured the Nation and Canada for good cattle. One of John’s best friends is Merle Morris from Montana. He recalls buying 10 head of heifers for $475 a heifer from him; that will tell you how much times have changed. About that time, John traded on a lot of cows and steers, covered a lot of country and made a lot of lifelong friends. One year he brought seven loads out of Canada. Some of those cows went to Fred DeRouchey. They had the Tykia prefix we all became so familiar with. He also spent a lot of time clipping for Stray Creek Brangus with Jeff Boddiker, Mike Dethridge, and Danny May. Some of John’s favorite people and favorite stories come from those days.
In 2001, John and his brothers began marketing cattle through Christy Collins Exposure Sale. A move that really elevated their program.
2001 was also the year that Griswold Brothers acquired the Birkeland cowherd. When we had our dispersal sale, John wrote the following in his letter to our customers. “I want to start this letter by thanking Ken Birkeland. Ken has been in charge of this herd of cows since we bought them in 2001. This cow base has been intact since Ken’s father Cliff traded some Hereford’s for a set of Angus cows from Clayton Jennings, of Highmore, SD back in the 50’s. They started AI’ing in the early 70’s and held several bull sales. I went there for a lot of years, and of all the places I went, I thought the Birkland herd was the best herd of cows I knew about. In the spring of ‘01 I called Gary and asked him how cheap those cows were in Faith (South Dakota), because we were buying and trading on cows. About three or four weeks later, Gary called and said ‘I might sell our cow herd.’ I told my dad and he said you better leave right now. I hurried and took a shower, grabbed a change of clothes, and left for South Dakota. I called Ed Burke and told him about the deal and Ed stayed there for four days with me. He stayed there and helped get them bought. Ed told me there are two are three deals that come along in a person’s lifetime that defines your life; and we both knew that this one was mine. In 2001, we bought 1309 pairs and 365 yearling heifers. All of those cattle originated from those original 70 head - they had never bought a heifer calf.
It was unbearable dry the first year and we sold off and culled a lot of those. When we branded there was 4 to 5 inches of dust in the pens. We farmer flopped all of those calves, my brother David and Tyson Vantrese were there and threw most of those calves. The only thing that was white on them was their eyes and their teeth, everything else was completely black.”
It was right around this same time in 2002 that a major game changer came into play. The Exposure sale would market one of the most influential bulls to ever hit the industry. They sold half-interest in a three-quarter Maine bull that Todd Thrasher and Dale Newman raised named Irish Whiskey.
“Irish Whiskey gave a new look to Maine cattle. He didn’t just make them good, he made them great. The first year we bred Whiskey to the Birkeland cows we used him on the ‘absolute s#?!’ and the following fall all the best calves were Whiskey’s. His first calf crop started the Whiskey craze nationwide. The next year we bred everything to him,” said John.
One of my favorite stories John tells took place around 2002. It characterizes John’s personality of seeing talent greater than his own. John and Greg had bred a couple cows to Double Vision and Greg got one of his college buddies Bruce West to come down and clip those heifers. John said, “I walked into that clipping room after he’d been clipping and couldn’t believe anyone could clip liked that. She looked unbelievable. He just knew what he was doing. From that day forward Bruce was the main clipper. I knew I didn’t know near as much about clipping as he did. I’d always been in there clipping but after I saw him I knew I couldn’t clip like that.” It was while Bruce was clipping at the barn that a young talent named Nick Riemann came to OSU for college and worked out at the barn. They all created friendships that will last the test of time. John was like a proud parent over the success that Nick found after college. Losing Nick was and is one of the hardest things I have ever seen John deal with. Nick was a dreamer, a doer, a believer.
In 2005, Griswold Cattle reached another milestone when they purchased 500 cows from Tim Ohlde. John recalls, “I stopped to buy semen from Tim on my way to Dupree. I ended up spending the whole day helping him haul pairs and looking at some great Angus cattle. During the day, he told me the cows were for sale. My brothers and I saw this as a real opportunity. It didn’t take long for us to arrange to buy the OCC females.” John’s brother Greg’s true love is good Angus cattle. He knows them like the back of his hand, and can tell you how a cow is bred generations back without ever seeing an ear tag or a freeze brand. From that day on, Greg handled all the registered Angus cattle and a pretty intensive ET program. Those females would prove pivotal to the success of making percentage cattle with a good solid Angus base.
One thing always leads to another and the acquisition of the OCC cow base led to the Grass to Grid bull sale held with Jeff Bourquin in Follett, Texas. When John’s phone rings and he says “Hello Jeffery” and you hear Jeff’s deep belly laugh you can’t help but smile. If you know Jeff, you know what I mean. John and him talk often about everything from the market to the happenings of the cow world. Jeff buys thousands of feeder cattle and calves every year. When a sale first got talked about, Jeff needed quality bulls for his customers and he liked the type of cattle that we were raising. After a lot of talking, John and him struck a deal to hold the sale in Follett. We will market 200 head of bulls this spring.
In 2008 John went with Greg Burden to go see a Simmental bull, SVF Steel Force. They bought that bull with Ratcliff Farms of Vinita, Oklahoma. This would be the beginning of one of the most dominant sires the Simmental breed had seen. Steel Force progeny have won every major show across the nation and demanded top dollar in both progeny and semen sales. He is still a major force to be reckoned with and a major part of the Griswold story. He’s buried up under a tree at the show barn. He deserved to stay at the place, he more than earned it.
Another opportunity arose in 2010 when Griswold Cattle had the chance to form a partnership with Kim Klotz of Seward, Nebraska. Klotz has tremendous knowledge of pricing, hedging and corn prices as well as oversees the financial end of the company. More than that, he’s a good friend and huge support to our program. John rolls most of his business decisions through two people, his dad and Kim Klotz.
In 2013, we made the decision to sell the South Dakota cows. I still to this day don’t know if I have ever seen a prettier set of cows. John took a lot of pride in them; he and his brothers along with Ken Birkeland and a great crew had spent years developing them. South Dakota and Ken held more memories and heart strings for John than any one place or person. He sent me a text once that read, “I was born Wisconsin, we live in Oklahoma, you’ll bury me in Utah, but my heart will always be in South Dakota.” He wrote in our sale catalog that year, “Ken has been the best friend and is almost a idol to me and most of the people that have gone to South Dakota to help. He knows more about cattle than any man I have ever known. Ken, I want you to know that leaving you in South Dakota this fall was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
John loves cows, more than any person I have ever known. He has irons in more fires than most people ever dream of. His mind works a million miles an hour, twenty-four hours a day and he’s always looking for the “next great one” in both cattle and opportunity. We ranch in Stillwater and this past year had a great opportunity to lease a ranch in Poteau, Oklahoma from our partner Kim Klotz. I drug my feet pretty hard on the Poteau deal. We had just sold all the South Dakota cows to tone down our program; the last thing I wanted was more cows. John has vision and I trust him, so we took the plunge. We love Poteau. We spend a lot of time on the road back and forth. It’s just a lot shorter drive for us to make from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Poteau than it is to Dupree, South Dakota. It’s a new challenge, and John loves that part of it.
John doesn’t know I wrote this. I’m sure I’ve left out plenty of people that have shaped and influenced him. John believes in people. He believes in their ability to achieve and make decisions and he puts a lot of faith in them. Our crew we have now is second to none. They do a great job. We were in the hospital in Boston with our little boy for about two months this summer. John never left his side except to sleep at night. His ability to do that is because of the people we have in place at home and with the cattle. He told me he never had to worry that things weren’t being taken care of. We run a decent sized outfit, so that is a huge statement. When we finally got to come home he went and scoped things out. That night he told me, “You ought to see it. Everything is just like it should be.” Fence had been built, the cattle had been worked, and the hay had been taken care of. They are our employees, but more than that they are part of our success, they are our friends, our family.
More than anything that John has accomplished, he’s most proud of his Maggie and Garrett. He takes them everywhere. Garrett wakes up in the morning and the first thing he says is “Dadda” and “moo.” John takes being a dad as his most important job; he’s dang good at it. We’ve seen a lot of miles together and even more cattle. He’s packed our kids to producer meetings, stock shows, and cattle sales across the Nation. He waited a long time to start a family and he truly values them.
John has said, “There are several things that I can attribute to our success. I would say the number one thing is persistence and hard work. I’ve seen a lot of people with way more talent than I have that went by the wayside, because they didn’t have the persistence to see their vision through. My favorite saying is, ‘It’s not what happens to you in life, It’s what you do with it when it does.’ This means that no matter if it’s good or bad, keep your feet on the ground and keep going. A certain amount of luck was involved as we were in the right place at the right time to find great cattle. Ed Burke told me, ‘There will be two or three big deals in your life that will determine where your life ends up. Whether you do them or you don’t.’ Those few events have been pivotal to our success. Our parents instilled in us responsibility and work ethic. People are the key to success—just like dad told us. The folks we have met, who we have done business with and the many, many friends and customers we have are responsible for our achievements. Our employees and those that are associated with our program have been and will continue to be vital to our accomplishments.”
I love you Johnny. I hope this reads all right for you. There are two men I think hung the moon: one is my dad and the other is you. I couldn’t think of anyone I would rather go through this crazy adventure with. Thanks for finding me love; it’s been a heck of ride!
Jeannie (by John Griswold)
Jeannie does all the advertising for Yardley Cattle and Griswold Cattle. She does a lot on the catalogs for both outfits also, which is a huge job. Her knowledge of cattle is amazing. She knows about pulling calves, breeding cows, etc. But her opinion on the type of cattle she likes is what I really love about her. She knows what she likes and she won’t waver as fads and different EPDs and numbers come and go. She wants good looking, easy doing cattle that will grow. She thinks you can tell way more about cattle by just looking and studying them instead of making all your selection on numbers.
I’m not sure how she does the balancing act of mom, wife and cattle, but I can tell you she’s awesome at all of it. Our kids love her so much it’s amazing. Garrett was really sick this summer and they way he looked at Jeannie when they laid in that hospital bed and said “maama” was endearing. Maggie won’t let her out of her sight and mom is the light of her life. I can tell you she’s an amazing wife! She puts her family before herself and she wants her family to be happy and healthy.
Jeannie is a very strong person of faith and she keeps me and the kids on the straight and narrow! I love her more than I could ever say in words. She changed my life and I’m very proud to call her my wife! Jeannie and the kids go with me all the time and I’m pretty sure our kids won’t know about anything other than cattle, because in this house we live and breath cattle.
Jeannie (by her Family)
I didn’t marry until later in life. Jeannie was my first born child and was born on my birthday. She was the greatest birthday present that I ever had or will ever have. I didn’t think I could ever love anyone as much as I loved Jeannie and my children.
As soon as she was old enough I took her with me everyplace. She grew up loving the same things that I liked, our horses, our cattle, our ranches and land, the mountains where we summer and the desert winter range, where we winter our cows without feeding hay. This is at 5,000 ft. elevation. We live on the Western side of the majestic Rocky Mountains, and our cattle summer near the top at 9 to 10,000 ft. high in some of the most beautiful country on earth. We truck our cattle from our winter range to our summer ranch we own and irrigate, 75 miles southeast of Beaver. Then we have to trail these cows horseback 25 miles in 2 days. We were shorthanded several years ago and Jeannie and 3 of her younger sisters trailed these 200 pair by themselves and never lost a calf.
Jeannie was very active in FFA in high school and was always an officer. She always went and enjoyed the National FFA convention. She started showing Market steers in 4-H when she was 9. I felt very bad that she never had a Grand Champion because no one worked harder with their show steers than she did. I told my kids that they had to learn to lose as well as win. Jeannie always won the fitting and showing contest at every show she ever went to. We always fed our own steers and I would let her have 1st choice but, inevitably her siblings would beat hers. She did very well in judging contests in high school.
After high school graduation she went to Brigham Young University of Idaho in Rexburg where she majored in Animal Science and AG Business. She came back and worked with us on the ranch until she married John. She and her sisters are the best first calf heifer nurse maids in the country. All her life and the lives of my other children I have taught them what I liked about cattle and horses and they learned their lessons well. Jeannie was asked to judge some of the biggest State Fairs and National Stock Shows. I showed cattle for 35 years in Denver and I went there for 66 years. I always took Jeannie and her siblings with me.
For many, many years I showed pens of 5 feeder calves, at the major shows of America. I took the first pen of 5 heifers ever shown in Denver and it has grown into a big part of the show. I always penned next to my good friend Kal Herring of Encampment, WY in Denver. About 25 years ago he brought a young college student from Oklahoma State University to help him fit his calves. That was where I met John Griswold from Wisconsin and we have been lasting friends ever since. I’d seen his family’s cattle in Denver before because they always showed Angus and had the Grand Champion Angus bull, Gold Spur 8,000,000. John came out to our place to look at some Simmental heifers and met Jeannie. They started going together, fell in love and soon got married. They have had a wonderful marriage and happy life together. Those 2 really complement each other. They now have 2 adorable children, Maggie 3, and Garrett 2. Garrett had a very rare health condition and was in the hospital for 40 days, 30 days of which was in the top children’s hospital in the country., He has now recovered and is doing fine. It was really scary and touch and go for a while.
Jeannie is very talented in so many ways. For years she has designed our Bull and Cow Sale catalogs. This something that takes hundreds of hours. Jeannie puts her heart and soul into doing this to make it as beautiful as possible. We get compliments and letters from all over the U.S. that it is the nicest catalog they have ever seen. I am as close to Jeannie and my other kids as a father could ever be. With cell phones we talk to each other every day and we always tell each other that “We love them”
I love you Jeannie. Love, Dad
When Jeannie was just a few weeks old, her dad said “I didn’t know I could ever love anything this much.” With that began a special relationship between Jeannie and Gib. They have been really close from the start and shared a love and intense interest in cattle. Her Grandpa, Wallace Yardley, was at an age where he’d slowed down a lot and nearly every day he’d come to rock her. As she got a little older he’d bring “Star Burst” candies for the kids and she would hold his hand and go with him and Gib to check the desert range. She has special memories of him.
When she was 9 years old Gib was sure she could show a steer at the County Stock Show. It looked so big next to her, but she was fearless and determined. From that time on she showed every year and loved it. She and all of our children, made some choice friends at the stock shows. It was a friendly rivalry . One boy she competed with beat her at showmanship for several years, When she finally beat him she was so excited she cheered right in the show ring. He was such a good sport and congratulated her. From then on it was a fierce and friendly competition between them. It helped her work hard to be successful and to be happy for others successes. At one stock show her steer stepped on her big toe and tore the toenail off, another time when she was clipping she got kicked in the mouth and had to have her lip stitched up. She still stayed with it, took pride in clipping her steers just right and helping and learning from others.
When Jeannie was 14 years old, Gib had an accident that left him in the hospital for a couple of months. Jeannie and her younger brother Steven took over on their own the responsibility of calving out the heifers. It was a labor of love for their dad and a huge effort.
Working together was a special blessing for our family. It taught them responsibility, compassion and skills as well as getting along with each other (most of the time!) Many times they would leave home being quite upset at each other, but after riding all day for cattle, or having to depend on each other for help, they’d come home being good friends again and realizing that their efforts made a huge difference in accomplishing all that had to be done on the ranch. They became a team.
Most of all I’m proud of Jeannie for what a sweet mother and wife she is, and that her family comes first. The love and care she’s had for animals has helped her to be patient and enjoy her children, and put her family’s needs before her own. She is a choice daughter and has brought me much joy.
My Jeannie Bean!
What an honor to write about my sister. I’m sure you are all aware of the love and passion Jeannie has for the cattle industry, but I want to tell you about Jeannie my sister & how very special she is!
I know I must have done something really good in the pre-existence to have been blessed to grow up in the family I did. Seven Sisters & our little brother Steven were quite the crew. God knew that we loved each other TOO much to just be friends, so he made us Sisters! My sisters are my very best friends. Every day I look forward to our phone conversations, (usually more than one!) texts, and inside jokes! As soon as we start to talk, another sister usually calls in and sometimes 5 of us end up on a merged phone call, sometimes we even let Steven in! Sisterhood is something I hold sacred to my heart.
Jeannie has a heart bigger than most. She is fiercely loyal, supportive and so very giving. Jeannie takes care of everyone around her before she takes care of herself. I’ve watched Jeannie so tenderly care for her animals with all her heart. I’ve watched time and again as she has done everything she can to save a baby calf, a kitten, or new puppy. I’ve watched as her heart broke when her beloved dog had to be put to sleep after getting ran over. She never left his side and talked and cradled him until he drifted away. She wrapped him up and carried him home to bury him. Animals have always responded to Jeannie and sensed her love. Jeannie has spent many nights sleeping in the barn with a sick calf or a colt.
As caring as she is with animals, she is more than that with our family. She is a worker and tears in and helps anyway she can. I have been lucky to get to visit Oklahoma often. It is so fun to go but we always cry when we have to say goodbye. We get to see each other every couple of months but we would all love to live next to each other. Many times on my plane ride home I’ve reached into my bag to find a letter from Jeannie telling me how much it meant that I came to see her. I then always start to cry all over again!
My favorite thing to watch, besides her and John getting married is watching Jeannie being a Mom. My heart is full to see her so happy and to see her take her role as a Mother and a Wife as a very sacred and special calling. This summer her little Garrett was so sick and after spending 10 days in the ICU at OU Children’s Hospital, Garrett was flown to Boston Children’s Hospital where he was for the next 30 days. Jeannie & John never ever left Garrett’s side. I flew to Boston with Maggie and I will never forget when John picked us up at the airport and saw little Maggie, & then when Jeannie first saw her at the hospital. I think that is what heaven will be like when we see our loved ones again. Pure LOVE. My love for John grew a million times to know that as busy as he was, he stayed right with Jeannie and Garrett the whole time. To watch him pray for Garrett and his family each night was also something I will never forget. Both he and Jeannie were so humble and not only prayed for Garrett but all of the children in the hospital and for the doctors, nurses and surgeons. Leaving to come home while they were still in the hospital was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, the only way I was able to, was because I knew John would stay with Jeannie every step of the way. I love the way they love each other.
A huge part of who Jeannie is, is her strong faith and firm testimony of God and her Savior, Jesus Christ. She has always been an example to me . Jeannie, you are remarkable in every way!
I love you Jeannie Bean and I couldn’t have asked for a better, sweeter, kinder sister. All my love, Michelle
I don’t know a person more deserving for this award than Jeannie. Jeannie has always had an obvious passion, dedication, and love for the cattle industry. Growing up Jeannie was always by Dad’s side grasping to learn more. When it came time for breeding, calving, our annual Cow and Bull Sales, or moving cows on the mountains, you could find Jeannie in the corrals or on a horse. She spent numerous nights going through our Yardley Cattle Co. records studying blood lines and cow families. Anyone that went through our herd could see and hear the love in her voice and eyes for our cattle.
Jeannie has always been someone I have looked up to and admired since I was a little girl. In my eyes she was my guardian angel. On more occasions than once she saved Tawnya and me from having to go by ourselves with Lori and Steven, they teased us ruthlessly! Even when Jeannie threatened that she wouldn’t clip our steers for us, she would always cave in and help us and then haul us to the shows.
We have always teased that she was our mini mom. From babying Birdy, to giving us advice on boys, which was often, (oh could she be a hypocrite in this area!) Jeannie was always there. Because of this we asked her for permission a lot of times instead of Mom and Dad.
No matter what she has always believed in me and pushed me to be better. We were roommates for a couple years before she married John. They were some of the best times. We fought now and then, mainly because we were so sleep deprived from calving heifers, but we always usually made up within the day. Except for the time she had me take her 2:00 am shift to check heifers. She failed to mention until I got back in that there was a strange vehicle parked outside that left as soon as our lights came on and that everyone was home at Mom and Dad’s so it couldn’t have been them. On that night she did care more about her sleep than me!
As happy as I was for her and John to get married; I was just as sad that she was going to leave me, we had a pact to be old maids and live together forever! She has made up for it though with Maggie and Garrett! I may be biased but I think above anything else, Maggie and Garrett are her biggest success. She doesn’t let them slow her down and they go wherever she goes, whether it be on the horse, in the corral, Stock shows, or a cattle sale. She and John are instilling in them the same love for the industry they have. I don’t know many three year olds who know what a good bag on a cow is!
I love you Jeannie and I’m so proud of you!
I read somewhere “Because I have a sister I will always have a friend.” Jeannie is more than just a sister to me she is one of my very best friends in the world. We live thousands of miles away from each other and we still talk on the phone every day, usually more than once. Oh, the adventures we have had! From climbing trees, to making mud pies, and catching wild kittens. She is in almost all of my childhood memories. Growing up in a big family was an adventure in and of itself! If we hadn’t lived on a ranch we would have probably killed each other. Luckily for my mom we went with my dad a lot. It was on those long hard days that some of our best memories were made. We had to learn to not only work with each other but also rely on each other. We talked, we laughed, we goofed off, we learned to work, and we became best friends. As soon as Jeannie was old enough to “legally” drive she drove us to stock shows all over Utah. Since she was usually the oldest one there she was the one in charge. Somewhere along the way I dubbed her “Mini Mom” a nickname that was/is very fitting! After graduating from college she came home to work on the ranch, my little sisters would often times call Jeannie to ask permission if they could do things. Although the nickname is in fun, Jeannie has been there through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Jeannie is fearless; she knows she can do anything and she does. It is with this bravery that we took it upon ourselves to remodel our family cabin the year I graduated from high school. It is honestly a blessing that neither of us came down with hanta virus. The attic was unfinished and was home to many creatures over the year and we played Rock, Paper, and Scissors many times to decide who would get to lay to rest the corpses of many mice and other rodents. Although it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever done it is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. We spent many days and all-nighters talking and painting and thinking we were interior decorators. It is most likely because of this that Jeannie’s house is decorated so cute.
Jeannie has a special way of making sure everyone shines. She’s not afraid to share the spotlight even if she is the one that earned it. She is hands down one of the hardest workers I know and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
Of all Jeannie’s achievements the one I’m the most proud of her for is being a mom. She and John are amazing parents to Maggie and Garrett.
I love you Jeannie and I’m so proud to call you mine!
Love, Lori Ann
Ever since we began showing Jeannie has been passionate about cattle. Our dad, Gib would take us down to Bakersfield to the California Select Feeder Show and Sale, to Denver to The National Western Stock Show and to various other shows and sales every year, and as we got older we would go around to all of the stock shows around Utah. My dad began training us in what to look for and how to judge good cattle from day one. No matter where we would go Jeannie would leave an impression on those she met as an attractive, competent young woman with a love of cattle and a strong-willed determination to do her best. Her love of livestock and good cattle has carried her far, early on she would place high or win many of the 4H and FFA judging contests. Her senior year our FFA Judging team had the highest score for the state of Utah.
Since high school her competence in judging good cattle has taken her from the prestigious Junior National Angus Show to the competitive Iowa and Nebraska State Fairs among several other shows along the way. Her uncompromised integrity for quality over politics has helped her gain the appreciation of astute cattlemen and showmen across the Nation. Jeannie still attributes her success at judging to our dad, Gib, and the lessons he taught us early in life.
She has also excelled in making beautiful and creative catalogs and ads for Yardley Cattle Company and Griswold Cattle Company that are read and appreciated by top cattlemen and women in every facet of the industry. She continually has a forward thinking approach to the cattle industry and the problems it faces. Jeannie also has a great love for horses and Corgi dogs.
Jeannie and John Griswold’s marriage and relationship was a match made in heaven with their love of each other and their two children, Maggie and Garrett, being about the only thing that surpasses their love and appreciation for good cattle.
John’s good natured and friendly approach to the newest showman or the most seasoned veteran is appreciated by all. His relentless pursuit for developing excellent cattle has led to one of the most successful, prestigious, and talked about sales in the nation, The Classic. His ability to market semen stands nearly unparalleled with anyone in the world. John’s success on the show circuit is equally impressive as he has had many Grand and Reserve Champions at about every major show across the nation including the NAILE, the American Royal, and the National Western, just to name a few. This award couldn’t go to two more deserving individuals, congratulations Jeannie and John Griswold.
There was a lot of us growing up, and we did not always get along. In fact, being the youngest I realized quickly that I was not safe with any of my siblings, unless Jeannie was there. She rescued me many of times from the threats of older siblings putting me in the cellar. No matter where we went Jeannie somehow kept us from killing each other. If we went to stock shows, Jeannie would take us. If we rode on the mountain, all of us younger siblings would hope we would get sent with Jeannie. She may have got us all lost more than a few times, but to our relief we always knew Jeannie would make sure we were safe. I remember being sick and having everyone else in the family not want to get by you, but Jeannie would risk herself getting sick to help us. Jeannie puts others before herself, no matter the consequences. Jeannie’s big heart was not just for people. Many nights Jeannie would walk outside in her pajamas and muck boots to check the cows and heifers only to find that one had been born in a snow drift or mud puddle and was freezing to death. So at two in the morning Jeannie would come in, covered in head to toe in mud pulling the calf across her kitchen floor into the bathroom, then somehow get the calf inside the tub turn on the hot water and climb in to make sure the calf’s head stayed above water.
Whether sick, having boy problems or frustrated with school Jeannie always knew what to do and say. Did she always listen to her own advice, no, but she said it with enough confidence that you always believed what she said. Some of the advice she gave may have been in vain but one bit of her advice she did listen was, ‘never let fear prevent you from being you or becoming your best, you come from a strong line of confident, smart women, and don't let anyone or anything keep you from thinking otherwise.’ Jeannie lived by this. She always pushed herself to try a little harder to be a little better. She does not let others determine her path but she creates, making it better than the other one.
Thank you Jeannie for reminding me of my strength and for showing me that we do not have to put others down in order to improve ourselves. You are an amazing example.
I love you Jeannie,
Your little Birdy
Jeannie has one of the biggest hearts I know. Ever since she was little she has loved animals. When she was about 4 she would catch our cats and hug them tight. I think the cats were always glad when the hug was over, and they were released. Growing up she would mix milk for little calves, and enjoyed feeding them out of a bottle. When Jeannie was 13, we had a motherless colt named Chico. Every couple of hours it needed to be fed, and she would wake up in the night to feed it. It didn't take long until Chico thought us kids were his mom and would follow us up and down porch stairs, lay down by us, and walked anywhere we walked. Jeannie got a little Pomeranian puppy when she was about 15. She loved it so much, and it was her pride and joy. It got Parvo, and Jeannie would feed it food and medicine thru a shot needle syringe, trying to help it to get better. Jeannie was devastated as the puppy died in her arms.
Many times before we had to leave for a stock show, us kids would stay up till the early morning hours. We told mom & dad we were just making sure we had everything ready, but in reality we were talking and telling each other all that was happening in our lives. Somehow the later we stayed up, everything we said became funnier. We would soon be laughing at the way each other laughed. Those were great times.
During calving season, Jeannie would get up at midnight or 3:00 a.m. to check on the heifers. If one was calving, Jeannie would stay by it until it had its calf. She made sure everything was ok, before she went back to bed. One of the nights we were to get up and check on heifers, Jeannie and I slept at the end of the house. Instead of sleeping, we kept talking. Our window was open, and about the time we were to go check on the cows, we heard male voices outside. We were scared. We slithered out of our bed and army crawled all the way to our parent’s room. Dad told us some guys had wanted to try to catch some raccoons out by the river. He thought we would be asleep, and felt bad that we had got scared. On the way back to the room, Jeannie and I laughed at each other and at how bad our army crawl was.
As we grew up, Jeannie always spoke her mind and gave each of us advice. For the most part her advice was really good. However, we sometimes wondered why she didn't always follow her advice like she wanted us to. One time at a restaurant, Jeannie took a little coffee creamer and tasted it. She then ordered a hot chocolate, and put five little creamers in it. After that, she was hooked on cream, and to this day prefers cream in her cereal over milk.
Jeannie's love for animals has continued. She has an amazing selfless spirit. She has honored her parents with the life she lives, and holds a spot in her heart for each of her siblings. She has a wonderful husband and two darling children, whom she cherishes, and would do anything for any of her family.
We love you Jeannie, Love Julie.
Jeannie is smart and hardworking. Whatever it is she sets her mind to doing she succeeds – from cooking to cows and from decorating to sewing. She is especially good at public speaking. She can connect with others remarkably and convey messages flawlessly. However, what I appreciate most about Jeannie is how she looked out for me so well as an older sister. When Jeannie lived at home, she’s who I went to in times of distress whether it was advice on how to break up with a boy or to get help from on big school projects – she’d have an answer to help. I always knew I could count on her and here are a couple examples why:
Emily, Angela, and I were known as the three little girls growing up. My siblings Steven and Lori picked on us relentlessly and Jeannie was our protector. Jeannie is compassionate, from helping sick calves to sick siblings. When I was about 7 years old I got pink eye at the ranch cabin. There weren’t enough beds for everyone, so the kids had to share. All my other siblings loudly protested that they didn’t want me in their bed, except for Jeannie. She was gentle and kind enough to sleep with me when I was so contagious. In another incident, Steven and Lori got the bright and fun idea to float down the river in a hollowed out log and talked me into going with them, Jeannie was the one who came and rescued us downstream before the log sank. Although I was having fun, Jeannie was sensible enough to know it wasn’t such a bright idea after all.
In conclusion, I look up to Jeannie for all of her skills and talents, but most of all because she is an awesome big sister! Growing up she was always there in times of need – whether it was to share a bed when I had pink eye or rescue me from older siblings, Jeannie knew just what to do. Thanks Jeannie! Your kids are as lucky to have you as a mom as I am to have you as an older sister.