SaddleBrooke’s Nature Club hears from local Arizona Rancher

Pam Boedeker

SaddleBrooke Nature Club’s first speaker of the year was Sonia Gasho, owner of the L Lazy E Ranch in Pearce, Arizona. Mother of three and wife of a Homeland Security employee, Sonia was not what we would call a stereotypical rancher!

With no additional employees, this family of five raises Balancer cattle on 13,000 acres on the east side of the Dragoon Mountains. Balancers are a cross between Angus and Gelbevieh cattle. This cross-breed works well in the area because they tolerate heat, are bigger cows and have a nice disposition. The cattle actually come when called and follow the family members who are either on foot or driving a Polaris! Great effort is taken by the family to keep the environment gentle, low stress and low noise for the cattle. The result is cattle which are easier to handle and produce better meat.

With her slides and presentation, Sonia gave the group a greater understanding of the work, the money and the commitment it takes to run a ranch. The family has owned 62 acres since 2005. The rest of the 13,000 acres is land leased from the state and the federal government. Sonia talked about their stewardship of the land and responsibilities of a rancher who leases land from the government.

Sonia and her family are involved with organizations such as 4-H, Farm Bureau and the Cochise Graham Cattle Growers Association. They work in close cooperation with U.S. Forest Service, U.S. and Arizona Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Arizona Land Department. Educating the public and legislators is important to them.

Sonia’s best advice to hikers is, “Please leave gates open if they are open and closed if they are closed!” Like so many presenters SaddleBrooke Nature Club brings to their meetings, Sonia created great interest and many questions from the audience.

Upcoming programs and events include:

February 9: Peter Warren will talk about the basics of the insect world, how to diagnose insect problems and how to manage pests.

February 26: There will be a field trip to the Biosphere where the researchers will talk to the group about the Sea of Cortez and LEO (Landscape, Evolution Observatory).

March 3: Doris Evans, a favorite of SaddleBrooke Nature Club, will talk about Exploring the Desert with ideas and suggestions of places to go and things to do when there are guests looking for activities while visiting.

For new or returning members of SaddleBrooke Nature Club, dues for the year are $15 per individual and $20 per household. A bargain! More information is available at the website

Meetings are held monthly the second Monday at 4:00 p.m. in the Coyote Room downstairs in the HOA1 Clubhouse.