Shana Mickelsen recognized as Farm Woman of the Year
More than anything, this year’s Teton County Farm Woman of the Year Shana Mickelsen likes to laugh with her husband Ted. They love telling old stories with amusing punchlines.
“That’s just who we are,” she said. “We like to have fun together.”
Shana is a tough, caring woman with a long history of farming. Her husband respects her independent streak, although sometimes when she’s being really bullheaded he’ll call her by her mother’s name, which is just asking for trouble.
Shana grew up on a dairy farm in Pingree west of Blackfoot, and chased her father around the farm, helping him with milking, feeding, and irrigation.
“Her favorite thing was shoveling manure,” Ted said with admiration in his voice.
She attended Utah State University and then raised her own dairy herd. When her first marriage ended, she was left to care for two boys and did just about everything to make ends meet. She worked at a veterinary clinic and a tanning salon, drove potato trucks, and delivered feed for Modern Mills. While delivering to the Mickelsen ranch, she met Ted, a divorcee and a valley native, and he had the audacity to ask if she needed help maneuvering the truck into the corral. They were married at the top of Grand Targhee in 1992 and their wedding was heralded with a full page spread in the Teton Valley News.
Shana has kept all kinds of animals besides cows: pigs, ducks, chickens, geese, and even two lamas that Ted won in a drawing from the Idaho National Laboratory. They’ve raised kids and grandkids to understand and enjoy farm life, although once Shana adopted a runt piglet and shocked her 10-year-old son by roasting it for a barbeque.
“He screamed Runty’s name and wouldn’t go near,” she remembered. “We all ate salad that day.”
One of Shana’s friends started the Joshua Smith Foundation to serve developmentally disabled adults and Shana moved to the valley to work as the director and developmental specialist. Ted grew up in a ranching family but made the long drive to INL every day so Shana was in charge of tending their herd.
In 2006 a tumor was found in her brain. Shana survived the ordeal but had to retire from the foundation and her side job ski instructing at the resort.
The couple describes events in their lives as Before Shana, Before Ted, and Before Brain Tumor.
“That’s how we think of the sections of our lives. Before Shana really was BS, if you know what I mean,” Shana joked.
Now they maintain a small herd of Angus Hereford mixes on 120 acres northwest of Driggs, near the Dunn ranch, which was once Ted’s home. They no longer keep dogs and use four-wheelers instead of horses to visit with and feed the cows. Their neighbor Jim Douglas helps out with branding and haying.
Shana is experienced and knowledgeable with livestock and Ted credits her as an invaluable partner. She loves to sit on her porch, which faces the Tetons, and watch the calves run and jump.
As Teton County Farm Woman of the Year, Shana will be in the Victor 4th of July parade and is planning out her float; she wants it to be splashy and funny. Ted’s nephew just refurbished a classic tractor that Ted, in full farmer regalia, will drive, towing a trailer for Shana, who will wear coveralls and a huge flowery hat. The trailer sides will have near-life-sized pictures of cows on them and Shana wants to give out string cheese instead of candy, to recognize her dairy farm roots.
She’ll also be honored at the annual Teton County Farm Bureau meeting and banquet in November.
Shana and Ted enjoy attending sporting events in the valley, especially the rodeo, and travel to watch their talented granddaughter Mylee in goat tying and reined cow horse events.
They also volunteer at the Teton Valley Museum where Shana enjoys doing research and making lasting connections with visitors. While the valley is changing as she watches, Shana hopes the old values of the agricultural community will stay in place.
“It’s not easy to farm here,” she said. “But we love our little home ranch. There’s no place I’d rather be.”