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Women of ASA

Women of ASA - ShayLe Stewart

by Emme Demmendaal | Born and raised on a commercial cow-calf operation in Joliet, Montana, ShayLe (Hildebrand) Stewart grew up like many ranch kids,…

Women of ASA - Lynette Thompson & Shanon Erbele

By Lilly Platts      |        

Lynette Thompson has been an integral part of her family’s operation, TNT Simmentals, since its inception. Her years of dedication have now inspired her daughter, Shanon Erbele, to become the next generation to carry on the family business.

Lynette Thompson and her husband, Kevin, built TNT Simmentals, near Almont, North Dakota, from the ground up. Early on, Lynette dedicated her time to helping run the cow herd and has been a vital part of the success of the business. From recordkeeping to running equipment, she is a part of every aspect of the ranch and is a lifelong advocate for the Simmental breed.

The generational transfer of agricultural operations is one of the most pressing issues facing the beef industry today, with many young people not interested in taking over family operations and others wishing they had the capital to become involved. For the Thompson family, thanks to many years of hard work and a good foundation, this transition is happening and in a unique scenario, the ranch is being put into their daughter’s hands. Their daughter, Shanon Erbele, has continually increased her involvement with the ranch over the years and alongside her husband, Gabe, is now in the process of purchasing the cow herd from her parents. The Erbeles will continue to ranch near Lehr, North Dakota and once they have taken over the cow herd and TNT name, Kevin and Lynette will continue to live on the place near Almont. It is every parent’s wish to set their kids up for success, and for the Thompson family, the years of dedication to building a genetically-strong cow herd are helping to do that for the Erbeles.

Lynette didn’t set out to become a seedstock producer, but in the process of building their business, she became extremely passionate about the industry. TNT Simmentals started with two registered cows, and in 2020 they held their 35th annual sale, sending bulls into commercial and registered herds across the country. Thompson has been integral to the success of the operation, and is a dedicated supporter of the breed. She was named the 2011 County Woman of the Year for her four-state area, and through Kevin’s time on the ASA Board of Trustees, was involved in a variety of events.

As Lynette remembers, working in agriculture wasn’t something she initially believed could be viable. “My family all had grown up on a farm and remembered all the hard work and how tough it was to make a living. I was the only one of six kids that became a fulltime rancher.

https://www.simangus.us/mags/lynette_thompson1.jpgFor Shanon, agriculture and the beef industry have been a part of her life since the beginning. “As a kid, I always had a great love for the ranch and for the cattle. I was always in my dad’s back pocket, following him anywhere he went. From around eight years old, my sister Kendra and I did most of the health checks on all the cattle at our various pastures while mom and dad were in the field making hay, which I later learned to run all the equipment as well.”

After Lynette married Kevin, they worked several jobs before settling at their current home. Simmental has been at the core of the cow herd from day one. “We knew starting out on our own, we needed to find a product that we could add value to. That is why we decided to get into the seedstock business. We fell in love with our Simmentals right from the beginning,” Thompson remembers.

The Simmental breed has been a great fit for the Thompson family. Their main focus is on commercial producers, and through the years they have developed a respected cow herd and dedicated base of customers. For the Erbeles, the breed will continue to be a focus. She explains, “In 2014 my parents helped us purchase 60 commercial cows to start raising embryos for them. With the income from these cows, we purchased 40 registered cows from my parents and they allowed us to sell the bull calves from these cows in their annual sale. Over the next six years, we continued to purchase cows from them and grow our herd to where we will be calving around 275 cows this spring.”

Family has also been at the center of the operation and will continue to be. The Thompsons raised four kids on the ranch, and Lynette believes that the lessons they were able to learn from agriculture were some of their greatest. “I liked teaching them that some of those toughest years with hail, drought, scours, and other challenges were some of our biggest blessings. They taught us how to better manage the land and cattle and how to use those good years to stock up for the bad ones. I also remember our loan officer telling me the places where the wife works right next to her husband and knew all the farm records, were his most successful farms and ranches. I thought I should look for a full-time job to help make ends meet and get health insurance, but he discouraged me from that and felt I was a way bigger asset to the ranch.”

 

Shanon is also raising their family of six children on the ranch, and building upon the lessons she learned growing up. Lynette’s ability to balance the responsibilities of raising a family while also holding important roles on the ranch has been important to Shanon. “Taking over for my parents has always been something I have thought and dreamt about, but never thought it would become a reality. My mom has been such a mentor to me with all of the ASA cattle records, and I have been slowly taking over for her as she works her way towards retiring from her job on the ranch and towards becoming a full-time grandma of her 15 grandkids,” she explains. “I recall as a kid that times were really tough for us. We worked alongside our parents, from babies in our car seat bouncing in the tractor until we graduated. This allowed us to learn that though ranching can be a tough, stressful occupation, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way, and I wouldn’t want to raise my six kids any other place than on a ranch,” she explains. “I have a lot of pride in saying I grew up on a ranch and now watching my kids learn the value of a dollar and hard work is priceless. The work ethic and drive I have today came from working with my parents on our ranch, and I hope my kids can say the same when they are older. We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our faith and the support of our family. With your faith leading you and your family behind you, the possibilities ahead of you are unlimited!”

 

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