OwyheeStar grew out of a passion for life and devotion to their critters. The Nielsen farm and the love of this area set the stage for something spectacular. It was something Cliff and Shela could not have dreamed possible. They (over time) became able to share something they call the Weimaraner addiction with a select few. This addiction is more of a viral infection. The common cure for this infection eludes nearly everyone. Who would want one?
The Kennel Name (OwyheeStar) was created by combining Owyhee with Star. The Owyhee name is common to Western Idaho and far Eastern Oregon; you will find it applied to a town, a county, a region, a river, and a mountain range. To many they find this word hard to pronounce and exotic sounding—for good reason.
The Owyhee terminology came from misunderstanding fur trappers who were working this region who spoke of their home in endearing terms. In actuality, these fur-seeking immigrants came from the Hawaiian Islands. Not many people knew anything about these Pacific islands, let alone how to spell (or properly pronounce) their name. They referred to these men as being from Owyhee (Oh – Y – He). They probably meant they are from Y-He, but regardless, the name (Owyhee) stuck. The region and many locations took the Owyhee label to be their own. The Owyhee demographic area ranges from far Eastern Oregon into Western Idaho. It stretches to the Nevada border. The Owyhee Reservoir when full is the longest lake in Oregon–approximately 54 miles. It is the agricultural lifeline of Malheur County Oregon.
The Ore-Ida Region
The local economy (agriculturally and economically) finds itself tied to the Treasure Valley and Boise market. Boise has an International airport and many other amenities. It is a small city compared to Portland, Denver, or Salt Lake City: however, the Bogus Basin Ski Resort sits atop a nearby mountain overlooking commerce.
The Nielsen farm is about a 36-acre parcel–or what is often called a short forty. Cliff’s father purchased the farm in 1951. The farm located on Onion Avenue (south of Ontario, OR) is prime row-crop farm land. The Snake River separates Oregon and Idaho (except in the Big Bend farming area south of here) is within easy walking distance of the home. The southeast corner of the property provides a view of the notorious winding river. Indians once camped on the Nielsen farm and to the river’s edge.
The Nielsen Family
Cliff’s father passed on May 6th, 2014. He was their last living parent, and he lived independently in the farmhouse until he died of old age and complications from a surgery at almost 96. Cliff and Shela married in 1969 and soon after that they moved to the family farm. Both are graduates of Ontario High School. Beyond a high school diploma, the two have a list of achievements. Some might be of interest to you if you wish to know more about them. Cliff has achieved several distinctions along the way including Oregon State Farmer Degree, Foster Parent Certification, as well as being a licensed Real Estate Broker (Oregon and Idaho) for more than fifteen years. Shela completed her business degree at George Fox University. Of course, all the ventures from the time they were married were done in a partnership status–Shela was a licensed foster care provider, a real estate broker, and a business partner.
Cliff and Shela opened their home to troubled (or at-risk) teens from 1980-2000. In the 20 years that they did foster care (which was more of a training center group home) more than 500 young adults came into their lives and home. Most teens arrived with the goal of independence–they were not looking for parents or family life. The relationship was a mentor-assist type of situation. The goal was to help them prepare for the future — to get out of the system.
Shela was busy outside the home helping teens. She pioneered a non-profit program (Help A Teen Succeed — HATS) that helped hundreds of teens (both in the system and outside the system) accomplish the same type of independent living goals. The organization funding came through a Federal Independent Living Grant as well as other grant funds. Volunteers as well as community donations made this monumental task possible. A goodly number of the adult volunteers were also gaining job skills and experience while assisting the teens. this made for a unique environment–sometimes a challenging one too!
Cliff and Shela have been married 46 years (as of August 2015). They met while in high school and were the best of friends long before they became lovers. They have two children–a son (Richard) and daughter (JoAnn); to their joy they have several grandchildren. In 2012, the addition of their first great granddaughter (Evangeline) opened a new chapter to their life story.
Being married almost fifty years means they have some history prior to getting to this point in time. They have worn many different hats; however, Cliff and Shela have always raised a few pups. First it was the most popular American Labrador Retriever. Nonetheless, even before Cliff and Shela married there were puppies born. Shela’s parents had raised the Chihuahua–it was in the 50’s, and times were very different. (If you asked Cliff or Shela), they would say puppies have been a backdrop to most of the life they lived. For twenty plus years, they have raised the Weimaraner exclusively. Once the addition set in there was no turning back. The seed planted in the 1950’s when Cliff was just a boy himself grew into a reality. Please read more about the first Nielsen Weimaraner–Click Here!