Richardton's Assumption Abbey to end century-old cattle practice.
"Richardton's Assumption Abbey to end century-old cattle practice." Bismarck Tribune, 29 July 2011.
RICHARDTON (AP) - A Roman Catholic monastery in western North Dakota is ending a century-old practice of raising cattle because of a lack of monks with cowboy skills.
The Assumption Abbey in Richardton intends to sell its herd of about 260 cows and rent pastures to other ranchers, monastery officials said.
Brother Placid Gross overlooks the pastures of the Assumption Abbey in Richardton, N.D., on Thursday, July 28, 2011. The Roman Catholic monastery in western North Dakota is ending a century-old practice of raising cattle because of a lack of monks with cowboy skills.
Brother Placid Gross, 76, has tended cattle at the monastery for 51 years. He and another monk look after the cows, but Abbot Brian Wangler said the monk helping Gross is a greenhorn and can't operate independently.
"There is a lot to know if you are going to raise cattle," Wangler said. "It is not a simple thing and it takes years and years of learning."
Gross said he won't miss the hard work but will miss the cows.
"It is sad to see it happening," he said. "It was nice to look out the window and see our own cattle grazing."
Gross said the abbey once had one of the biggest ranching operations in the region and he remembers the days of raking hay with a team of horses. He said it's been difficult for the abbey to keep up with new ranching technology and there isn't enough help.
Wangler said ranching has been part of the monastery since 1893, when it was located in Devils Lake, and raising cattle helped the monastery remain self-sufficient.
"It was a living," Wangler said. "You could milk a cow and drink it, slaughter a cow and eat it."
The monastery also raised pigs and chickens, but those animals were phased out over the years.
Business Manager Odo Muggli said the abbey kept its cattle for 30 years longer than most monasteries.
"In some ways, that is a source of pride," he said.
Reprinted with permission of the Bismarck Tribune.