Don Hrutfiord has lived in Blaine his entire life – on the same property. From his early days as a drag racer to taking over the family farm, Hrutfiord said he has lived an interesting life and never had a reason to leave Blaine. Now, at the age of 91, he continues to raise beef cattle on the 30 acres of land he inherited from his father on Blaine Road.
Growing up, Hrutfiord’s father had a large poultry farm on the property, at one time raising over a thousand chickens. Hrutfiord helped around the farm as a child but grew up with an interest in mechanics. When he graduated Blaine High School, Hrutfiord began working at a Ford repair shop. At the time he was one of few boys not to go into the fishing industry. The owners hired him on the spot and he worked there as an auto mechanic for 20 years, except for a two-year stint in the army during the Korean war.
“I was pretty good at what I did,” Hrutfiord said.
Hrutfiord never had any technical training but taught himself by working on cars, both at work and home, and drag racing in his free time. He eventually graduated to building his own cars, including one of the first rear-engine dragsters on the West Coast. Hrutfiord said this was the first car he built and he only ever lost one race driving it.
“The way I drove in my misspent youth, it’s a wonder that I’m still here,” Hrutfiord said with a chuckle.
In 1957, Hrutfiord met his wife, Mary, who was also interested in cars. The two went drag racing on their first date and have been inseparable ever since. Around 1970, Hrutfiord began a second career teaching auto mechanics at Skagit Valley College, where he worked for over 20 years. Then, after the death of his father, Hrutfiord inherited the family farm and began raising beef cattle while also volunteering as a firefighter.
At one time he had 42 head of cattle but now keeps it to around 15. The animals are raised on grass for two years before slaughter, which is done by an outside company. He said raising cattle is the easiest thing to do on a farm because the cows can take care of themselves and the calves.
Hrutfiord uses a method called “concentrated pasture rotation,” which involves moving the cattle from one pasture to the next every day. He said this method almost eliminates any parasites in the cows and helps the grass continue to grow.
To get around the 30 acres of land on his property, Hrutfiord drives a small golf cart-like vehicle from his house, through the forest and to the pastures. He then calls out to the cows from his vehicle and drives to the next, ushering them into the next pasture.
The forest, which separates his home from his farm, makes his property feel more like a park, Hrutfiord said. Though living on the same property all your life may seem unusual to some, Hrutfiord said he is content.
“I live in a park, why would I want to go anywhere?” Hrutfiord said with a smile.