B9 Ranch conserves ‘a beautiful place with an alright ranch in the middle’

In 2024, Faith Ingwersen conserved her family’s ranch along Soldier Creek. She describes it as “a beautiful place with an alright ranch in the middle.” The ranch has been under continuous agriculture production for about a century, and is home to many mule deer, pronghorn, and elk.

The B9 Ranch conserves ‘a beautiful place with an alright ranch in the middle’

“I think it’s a beautiful place with an alright ranch in the middle,” Faith Ingwersen playfully opined as she talked about the B9 Ranch, which she permanently conserved in partnership with the Sheridan Community Land Trust.

Faith recalled a childhood on the Boswell family ranch along the banks of Soldier Creek, just over the hill from Beckton. There were no modern amenities. But there was her sister, Betty, and her mother, Anna. Together the sisters ran sheep on its hills and meadows until it was time for the girls to go to high school.

“In the summers, we were herding; in the winters, we were learning,” Faith reminisced. “The learning finally won out because we leased out the ranch at the end of the Second World War to move to Sheridan for school.”

Leaving the ranch was tough. She said they didn’t know anyone in Sheridan because they’d only travel to town twice a year for school supplies. She’d ride her horse to Soldier Creek School for classes.

That didn’t mean it was lonely on the ranch, “We had many kinds of animals,” she said; “they were our friends as well as our babies. We had to care for them and do the right thing by them, so they meant the world to us.”

When it finally came time to leave the ranch, Faith admits, “I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into town.”

Throughout Faith’s life, learning would win out. From Sheridan, she matriculated to Laramie, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in literature and political science. She next traveled to Norway to start her studies in Scandinavian Literature at the University of Oslo. There, she met a Dane named Niels. They then enrolled at the University of Copenhagen and were married. After he completed military service, the Ingwersens settled stateside. Niels taught at the University of Wisconsin, was bestowed the honor of knighthood by the Queen of Denmark, and became an American citizen. Faith taught, wrote, translated, received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and edited an academic journal for some years.

A homing pigeon’s epiphany

Through all the years and all her travels, Faith never forgot her Bighorns’ home. About 25 years ago, Faith and Niels were driving through Montana. As they gazed at the gorgeous scenery of our northern neighbors, they dreamed of trading in the open fields of Wisconsin for a home with majestic mountain views.

“I used to think, ‘If only we could live and work in such a place, but how could we do it?’” The thoughts they had pondered for so long became, with retirement, an epiphany, “And suddenly,” she had said to herself, “you do have a place to live here! Your home!”

Soon after, Faith and Niels set about restoring the old home and bunkhouse out by Beckton as their own. Together, the pair brought back electricity and plumbing to the buildings – amenities Faith had not enjoyed as a child. She felt lucky that Niels loved the land as had she, her sister, Betty, and her mother, Anna. She described Niels beaming as bright as the lights in the old house when they could finally live there. When he passed away, she created a memorial garden in his memory.

When nearing ninety, Faith focused on the future of her foothills home. She chose to work with the Sheridan Community Land Trust to protect her family ranch permanently through the B9 Ranch Conservation Easement.

“I guess we’re all homing pigeons, in reality,” she laughed and explained, “I felt my mother would have loved to have kept the land as our family heritage, and I should do so if I could.”

An eye-opening landscape

SCLT Conservation Director Meghan said the B9 Ranch has been in continual agricultural production for over a century. It is also home to deer, elk, and antelope. The conservation easement, she explained, “ensures they have a place to roam as Sheridan County grows.”

That’s something Faith appreciates. “Seven deer were walking by the house this morning,” she noted.

“It represents a valuable and intact landscape threatened by development,” Meghan elaborated. “It is in the foothills area where many properties are being subdivided, and the long-term agricultural use it at risk of being lost.”

SCLT utilized its new Conservation Revolving Fund to assist Faith with the upfront costs incurred conserving the ranch. A Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust grant aided the effort.

The B9 is not open to the public, but is near other conserved lands, which Meghan said, “adds to a corridor of protected land for wildlife movement and open space far into the future.”

Faith is fond of the many trees growing on the ranch. She chose to conserve them so they, like the ranch, could stand the test of time. “I’ve always been told they were just junk trees. But they can live long if you care for them.”

Words of wisdom that apply to more than trees.

“When I was very young, I didn’t fully appreciate the landscape. I mean, it was just home,” Faith mused, concluding, “It is almost as if you have to have your eyes opened by being somewhere else and doing something else.”

And that’s pretty good for an alright ranch in the middle of a beautiful place.

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Meghan Kent

Meghan Kent

Conservation Director