The cowboy way of life for Ed (Eddie) and Peggy Shaffer started at a very young age. Born in 1940 to Glenn and Helen, Ed grew up in the Lucerne area of Hot Springs County and Peggy was born in 1946 to Victor and Matilda Schaff in ND. Ed’s family owned a small place on Sunnyside and his Grandfather, Charles Shaffer, was also in the area. Influenced by these men in his life, Ed was drawn to the ranch life early on.
His father and grandfather owned several horses, and Ed was a natural. He tells of going off to work at different ranches at a young age, working in 1952 for Buchanan Land & Livestock when he was only twelve and up in Montana as a young teenager. As he made his way, he also picked up the “Rodeo Life”. He can be heard telling many stories of traveling with several young men to rodeos throughout the Big Horn Basin and into Montana. All he wanted to do was be outdoors and around cattle and horses. Even though he held several different types of jobs, including filling stations, working on Anchor Dam and at South Pass in the steel mill, his heart always brought him back to ranching.
Ed married his sweetheart, Peggy Schaff, in 1964 and together they started their journey as Ranchers. Moving to Owl Creek of Hot Springs County in 1967, he went to work for Clarke Jackman on the Mill Iron Ranch. Later in 1968 he moved his growing family up to the HD Ranch, also on Owl Creek. In 1970 Don & Jo Brunk took over the Curtis & Basin ranches calling them the HD Ranch after HD Curtis. It was there that he grew into the best cowhand and horseman that anyone could ever know. He looked after 800 cows and 600 yearlings until 1977 when he became the ranch manager because Bill Linn retired. In 1979 the ranch sold to Langford and Linda Keith of Silver City, NM and Ed and Peggy stayed on to manage for them.
In 1989 the Keiths bought the Red Creek-Mill Iron Ranches, which made the ranch over 80,000 acres. The cow operation increased to 2000 cows and 1800 yearlings. The operation of the ranch depended heavily on neighbors being neighborly in helping with brandings, weanings and preg testing. These duties were also reciprocated in helping them in their operations. Ed was very talented and knowledgeable about all aspects of the ranching industry and could even perform a caesarean section on a cow. We even remember him doing it with one arm, the other was in a sling due to a recent shoulder injury. To utilize all parts of the mountain range land, Ed built roads, fences, reservoirs and a pipeline watering system. Peggy was also a strong worker in many areas of ranching. She could ride, work cows and still have the best meal ever cooked on the mountain. It didn’t matter if it was just her family or many neighbors, she fed them well.
Whatever Ed and Peggy were doing, such as breaking horses, calving, feeding, working cows or going to the mountain, their four children were learning right alongside of them. The greatest life lessons were learned while working together as a family. They would not trade that lifestyle for any amount of money. Because of the experiences, all four children have lived and worked on the ranch with their families.
The ranch sold again in 2000 to Frank Robbins. Ed and Peggy managed it for another year and then retired and moved to Thermopolis after 33 years on the ranch. Ranching never did leave his blood. Still to this day he owns cows with his brothers and goes out every day to feed and look after the herd.
Peggy passed away in May of 2012. All four children and their families still live in Thermopolis.