Oregon militia spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum told OPB that the four foster children who had been living with him and his wife on their Chino Valley, Arizona, ranch have been taken away. “I hope people are seeing the sacrifices we’re making here,” he said.

The rancher estimated that more than 50 boys, often coming from group homes, drug rehabs, and psychiatric institutions, have lived with them in the past decade. “My ranch has been a great tool for these boys,” Finicum said. “It has done a lot of good.”

(Last week, Finicum traveled between the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, in southeastern Oregon, and Utah, as part of a press tour. “We went fast, and came back fast,” he told OPB. “I doubt [law enforcement] even knew we were gone. Probably they did. But they were nice enough to let us go and come back.” Actually, police have said the occupiers are free to come and go as they please, which raises the question: Why do they need people to send them supplies, then?)

According to Finicum, his wife Jeanette was caring for the children while he was busy in Oregon. He said a social worker removed the first of them on January 4th, just a few days after the occupation began, and the last was removed on January 9th. He blamed “pressure from the feds,” who “must have gotten to the governor, who told the state to get them out of there.”

From OPB:

That represents an enormous loss of income for the Finicums. According to a 2010 tax filing, Catholic Charities paid the family $115,343 to foster children in 2009. That year, foster parents were compensated between $22.31 and $37.49 per child, per day, meaning if the Finicums were paid at the maximum rate, they cared for, on average, eight children per day in 2009.

“That was my main source of income,” Finicum said. “My ranch, well, the cows just cover the costs of the ranch. If this means rice and beans for the next few years, so be it. We’re going to stay the course.”

Since then, Catholic Charities has increased payments for foster care significantly, but it does not itemize the dollar amount the Finicums were paid in subsequent years.

Gawker could reach neither Catholic Charities nor the Department of Child Safety in Arizona for comment.

“I want to show what my government is doing. You need to understand the cost being paid by many people,” Finicum said.

Photo via AP Images. Contact the author of this post: brendan.oconnor@gawker.com.