A Ranch to Remember
Drawn by region’s natural beauty, Idaho ranchers move family business to northern Nevada’s Clover Valley
By Dianna Troyer
Photos By Merrily Pearce
A motto clipped from a magazine and taped to his office desk inspires Monty Pearce at Memory Ranches in Clover Valley south of Wells: “It’s better to wear out than to rust out.”
Determined not to rust out, Monty and his wife, Merry, bought the vast ranch two years ago.
“There wasn’t enough room at our ranch in western Idaho for what we planned to do because our kids want to have a future in our family business,” says Monty, 71.
“We’ve always had a goal of working together as a family to run a successful business.”
Over four decades in Idaho, Monty and Merry developed through selective breeding coveted bloodlines of quarter horses and Red and Black Angus bulls.
Three of the Pearces’ seven adult children—Merrily, Clancy and Luke—live on the ranch. Luke lives with his wife, Amber, and their four children.
The family wants to continue to develop profitable cattle and sought-after horses.
Monty says the move from Idaho to northern Nevada happened because they took an impulsive detour.
“We’d been looking for an ideal location to expand our ranch for several years, but couldn’t find the right place,” he says. “We’d driven past this area numerous times but never took the time to look around.”
Merry’s parents live in St. George, Utah. They usually drove past Wells when going back home to New Plymouth, Idaho.
“On one trip, we decided to see what it was like off Highway 93 by driving down Clover Valley,” Monty says. “We’d always heard how beautiful it was. As we went down the road, we saw a jogger and stopped to ask her if she knew of any ranches for sale. She pointed to the ground and told us this one was for sale.”
The majestic, snow- capped 11,000-foot-high East Humboldt Mountains were the backdrop to the ranch and looked like a postcard or a scenic film set.
“We were impressed with how picturesque it was,” Monty says. “We bought 12,000 acres and started to work.”
They built 5 miles of fences and 1.5 miles of steel sucker rod and cable for a feedlot. From April to September of 2018, they accomplished the Herculean task of trucking more than 100 brood mares and 500 cows to their new home 300 miles away.
They cleared 3,500 acres of sagebrush and juniper and planted grass for their herds. They also built an outdoor covered arena for roping cattle and training their horses.
Monty’s and Merry’s Nevada ranch fulfills a dream they shared when they met as students at Brigham Young University. After they married in 1972, they managed ranches until they could afford to buy their own place.
In 1977, they purchased 29 acres near New Plymouth and named it Memory Ranches—a combination of the letters in their first names.
“We had a couple of horses and about a dozen cows,” Monty says. “It all started from there.”
Now they have more than 100 brood mares from the Driftwood, Joe Reed, Leo and Joe Hancock bloodlines, known for sturdy bone structure, instinctive drive to work cattle, endurance and desire to please their riders.
“With the horses, you wouldn’t believe how many miles we’ve driven over the years to get bloodlines and the genetic traits we wanted,” Monty says.
Their horses are known for excelling as ranch, roping and family horses, according to comments posted on the ranch website. Jarad LaMarsh, a customer and roper from Oregon, described the mare he bought as “a big, stout, fast and very smart horse, yet gentle enough to put anyone on. The way she chases down steers, it’s almost personal to her. You can tell she loves her job. She’s a great horse.”
The Pearces host a horse sale every two years in June, drawing customers from throughout the United States. More than half of their horse buyers are repeat customers. They sell their bulls by private treaty to 95% repeat buyers.
Innovation has been the key to raising quality livestock, Monty says. He decided to use artificial insemination to establish certain genetic traits in his herd at a time when it was a novel idea.
“We’ve been artificially inseminating our cows for 46 years,” he says. “When you have a small herd, you’d better get your breeding right because you can’t afford mediocrity if you want to stay in business.”
Besides breeding cattle with desirable genetics, the 150 bulls they raise and sell undergo pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) testing—a factor indicating whether they will be susceptible to respiratory and heart problems.
“In feedlots, the most common causes of death are due to respiratory issues and heart attacks,” Monty says. “With steers at about 1,200 to 1,400 pounds and worth about $2,000 each, you can’t afford those losses. We’re working to raise bulls that don’t have those issues.”
Monty says his family is excited about living in northern Nevada.
“It’s not only gorgeous with the mountains and blue skies and wide open spaces, we love the people here,” he says. “We have great neighbors. For us, it’s a perfect place. We’re here to stay.”