Sportsman’s Corner: An Interview with Greg and Shannon Fay
As the majority owner and founder of Fay Ranches, Greg Fay, along with his partners, has been an owner and manager of a productive farm/ranch in Madison County, Montana since 1995. Along with his wife Shannon, the Fays have been active in the outdoors their entire lives. As parents, they understand the importance of spending time with their two young sons outside and the values that their boys receive from pursuing the outdoors as a family. Recently, we sat down with Greg and Shannon to discuss how owning a ranch and spending time outdoors as a family has positively affected their lives.
Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourselves and Where You Both Grew Up:
Greg: I moved to Wyoming in 1982 because of my love for the outdoors and my passion for hunting and fishing. After college at the University of Colorado, I moved up to Montana. Shannon: I was so appreciative to have moved to Montana when I was 11 years old. My parents wanted to have a little bit of land, some horses, and dogs and explore an outdoor lifestyle. Being somewhat of a tomboy, I was all about it. The first house I lived in was on 20 acres with a pond and a tree house and a river flowing through the backyard. It was so different from what I had grown up with previously, and I knew I had found my home.
What Sort of Outdoor Pursuits Did you Seek Out When You Were Growing Up?
Shannon: My father and my uncles all hunted and fished. I was always the first one out there jumping in the truck, seeing the deer, checking out the elk, and helping them clean the birds. It bonded me with my dad because whatever he was into, I was into. I think having those experiences convinced me to stay and raise my family in Montana. Greg: My parents were not at all outdoorsy, but my siblings and I spent a lot of time outdoors together. I have three older brothers and three older sisters and we used to run around in the woods all the time, fishing and getting into mischief; which are still some of my fondest memories.
While You Were Dating and Eventually Married But Not Yet Parents, How Did Being Outdoors Strengthen Your Relationship?
Shannon: I had fly-fished before meeting Greg, but learned the most after we began dating. I first bird hunted with Greg, and it wasn’t always about shooting a bird or catching a fish, but just being together and exploring Montana. We’d walk all day long in these open prairies and coulees, and it was so different from what I had experienced previously. To be able to do those things together was so wonderful for our marriage. Greg and I went down to the ranch every weekend before we had a family. We walked the river and swam in the pond, and we couldn’t believe our good fortune. When we decided to have a family, the ranch played a huge part because we wanted to share the experiences that we had together with our children.
How Have You Integrated Maintaining an Outdoor Lifestyle with Your Own Family and What Benefits Have You Seen?
Greg: We have two boys, who are nine and six, and we have a ranch down on the Ruby River. We go down there almost every weekend in the summer, and nobody asks if they can watch TV or play on their Kindle. We’re all wet and muddy and tired when it’s time to go to bed. We ride four-wheelers, shoot BB guns, float the river, roast marshmallows; it is wonderful. A day of fishing and being outdoors with your family is different than a day of being outdoors with your buddies. It’s just as enjoyable, but it’s enjoyable for different reasons. Our boys will spend hours turning rocks over, and asking us what the different flies and bugs are, and I’ll help them identifythe different species and the different stages of growth. It’s something they’ve learned about in school. Then we go down to the ranch and actually see and touch the bugs they’ve read about in books. For us, the biggest benefit is that it’s undistracted family time where we’re interacting with each other. Pure, old-school fun.
When You Spend Time Together, What Does a Typical Day with Your Family Look Like?
Greg: Our kids love the ranch. We put them to bed at night and they ask us when we get to go back. On a typical day, they’re jumping in the river, swimming around, fishing, and just building memories. We have so much fun down there and this will always be a special place for them. Shannon: Both of our kids are really easy-going and I th ink having unscheduled downtime at the ranch has led to them being able to relax and not feel so frantic in life. Our oldest son, Sam, goes down to “Sam’s Island” on the river and he’ll make mud mounds and castles for hours. I like that they have that downtime.
What Kinds of Impact Does Being on the Ranch Together Have on Your Boys?
Greg: The biggest impact spending time together as a family has had on our kids, more than anything, is confidence. There’s something about being six years old and shooting a .22 that teaches our kids to be confident, strong individuals. Our kids have learned to drive ATVs and catch fish and use a paddle board. We bought them kayaks and we shuttle them to the top of the river, let them kayak the two-mile stretch to the take-out on their own, then shuttle them back up the river to do it again. It also teaches them how much fun the outdoors is. They’re excited to be out there and they don’t even think about being in front of a screen.
What Do Want Your Legacy to Be for Your Ranch?
Greg: I hope our kids will want to use it all th eir lives and bring their kids to it. If they keep thinking of it as one of their happy places, I’ll be happy. If the financial world came to an end, the ranch would be the last thing that we’d sell. Shannon: Our kids think of the ranch as something that will always be in their lives and I’m so happy about that.
This article is included in the inaugural edition of Land Investor Magazine. Sign up for your free subscription to Land Investor.
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