Ask any cattleman what it takes to make it in the cattle industry. They’ll tell you to know what you’re doing on the back of a horse, have a good head on your shoulders, and, above all else, learn a variety of skills within the industry. That sentiment is one Jan Storey has taken to heart. Over the course of his life Jan has been a day laborer, worked at a feed store, traveled the country as a rodeo announcer, started a rock quarry, and cultivated one of the finest herds of registered Brahman cattle in the West.
A proud Cherokee – Choctaw cowboy, Jan attributes much of his success in life to the love and support he got from his parents. It was his father that first introduced Jan to the breed of cattle he’d become known for. “He (Jan’s father) bought a Brahman bull in 1947 and turned him out on open range,” said Jan. “Back then hardly anybody had a bull except him, and everyone started to run their cows away until the next year when the calves were born and everyone started running their cows back to where the bull was.”
Jan saw the breed’s value right then and there, but it wasn’t until 1968 when he took a leap of faith and borrowed some money from the bank to buy his own Brahman bull that his herd truly began. Since that time the Storey Ranch has become the 32nd oldest active Brahman breeder in the U.S. and has taken top honors at livestock shows across the country.
The road to success wasn’t always an easy one for the Storey’s. For years Jan worked practically seven days a week, running the cattle and rock business during the week and announcing rodeos on the weekend, but even then times were tough financially. “At one time I was borrowing money to pay my hands and bum cigarettes off of them,” Jan said. “We’ve gone without. Used to we couldn’t go to town to buy a hamburger…but I just kept working at it.” Jan’s hard work and tenacity has paid off for the family in not only cultivating a fantastic herd of cattle, but also making the rock quarry successful, employing more than 20 people and producing 500,000 tons of rock annually.
Through most of the trials of making the ranch a success, Jan’s son, Michael, was right by his side. From sleeping in floor board of the pickup as they went down the road to different rodeos, to now managing most of the ranch’s operations, Michael has learned a lot from his father. “I was very blessed to have a wonderful mom and dad to help us into the family business; I was very lucky to have that,” Michael said.
Family continues making the Storey Ranch so successful, fostering the next generation as they come up. Jordan Storey, Michael’s daughter, has begun to make a name for herself in the industry. Jordan began showing the family’s cattle at livestock shows when she was 10 years old. Since then she’s shown cattle from the McCurtain County Free Fair near their hometown, all the way to the Houston International Livestock Show, and was crowned queen of both the American and Oklahoma Junior Brahman Associations in 2012 – 2013. A bit of a stateswoman in her own right, Jordan said it best when she described youth’s role in agriculture. “We have the opportunity as young individuals to go out and make a name for ourselves and raise those awesome cattle…We have a right, an opportunity, and a duty to do the best we can and do right by every individual we come into contact with,” said Jordan.
Through hard work, dedication, and deep love of family, the Storey’s have made their ranch one of the most successful in Oklahoma. And, by nurturing the next generation, they’ve ensured that success for years to come.
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