Mike Gaffke was born and raised in the Gallatin Valley. He grew up on the family ranch, Heart 3 Quarter Circle, raising cattle and growing hay and grains. The Montana property sits smack dab in the middle of Belgrade, Four Corners and Bozeman off Love Lane. Today, he manages his family’s property and is the President of Lower Middle Creek Supply Ditch Company. True to his motto that water connects us all, Mike is active in several canal companies, from operating head gates to talking out solutions.
The Association of Gallatin Agricultural Irrigators nominated Mike for the Service to Agriculture Award for his outstanding leadership, particularly in water rights issues, and his innovative work “adapting farm programs to exist with neighboring developments.”
Mike and his wife Shelly have two sons. All four of them are Montana State University graduates. Mike graduated with a chemical engineering degree in 1984. He then moved to Seattle to work on nuclear submarines at a naval shipyard. When his sons were seven and eight years old, Mike and Shelly decided to move back to Bozeman because “neither of [his] sons had ever caught a trout” and they wanted their boys to experience the quality of life the valley offers. Upon returning, they purchased and ran the Bozeman Inn; two years ago they sold the motel, and Mike took up ranching.
While he admits a lot has changed since he worked the land as a younger man, he credits his success and happiness to a supportive family, a helpful resource in MSU, and effective collaboration among neighbors.