Archive: April 2015

Ranch Projects

Every ranch has “projects.” Some are high priority, like fixing the fence where the heifers got out last night. Some are medium priority and seasonal, like fixing all the broken boards in the feedlot before the next feeding season. Some are low priority, like fixing the gate to the stack yard. These low priority projects can become permanently established as “when we get time.” They become annoyances that we live with understanding “it’s been like that since I was a kid.”

The gate to the stack yard was a very heavy, 16 foot metal gate with a wooden panel stretched to the fence line tie. They configured this entrance because of the double wagons of small bales they brought into the yard to be hand stacked. The gate had to be angled so the wagons didn’t take out the fence every time they pulled into the yard. However, there hasn’t been a small bale hand-stacked here in 30 years! The stack yard gate became just another winter aggravation to complain about.


The stories this panel could tell!

Last fall, my husband and the crew were working on their project list and the stack yard gate made it to the top of the list. I was so excited, I headed to the stack yard with my camera to document the historic ranch event.

ranch fencing

Every day this winter, I’ve opened this smooth-swinging, nicely fitting, attractive stack yard gate and thought of this year’s “Ranch Project!”

~ Julie

Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

Spring Blessings


Mattson taking his cousin for a ride.


The first ride on the colt he is breaking.


Three of my favorite people.

The other day I was driving the truck while Matt was feeding the cows. The sun shining on my face, deer running up the mountain beside us, Dawson playing on the seat next to me, and it occurred to me how truly blessed we are to get to live the life we do. The opportunity to see a baby calf just be born and the mother lick him off and have that bond. The horses running across the top of the hill, their beautiful colors and long manes flowing making it a portrait worth painting. The breeze blowing enough to whistle through the trees playing a tune, the sound of the tractor purring, waiting to load the next bale, and the feeder calves thundering to the gate to let us know they are tired of waiting. Each day is a gift and a promise that God loves us and has blessed us with this life.

Our nieces came to visit one evening last week. They live in town, and don’t get to have interaction with the ranch life that often. Mattson has been riding a colt he started, so his good ol’ trusty horse has not been ridden for a while. Not that he needs to, but Mattson just doesn’t want him to think he likes the colts better than him. They have quite the bond those two. Mattson saddled up the good ol’ boy and climbed on. Just as he started to ride away from the barn, the girls, (the nieces) came driving up. They got out of the car, put their coats on and by the look in their eyes and big smiles on their sweet rosey cheeks, they wanted a ride! Mattson rode over to them, no questions asked, with a smile and a nod, loaded up one girl on the saddle with him, and away they went. They rode out in the field, her blond hair blowing in the breeze, and from the sound of the conversation, she had a lot to say! Mattson just nodded and smiled and let her have her moment of riding. Next it was the other girl’s turn. She loaded up and away they went. She didn’t have as much to say, but from her grin from ear to ear, she was so happy! She got to hold the reins and in her mind, that horse was doing whatever she told him to! It was priceless!

Just as they were riding back from the field, I heard Matt and Dawson coming back from checking cows. Dawson loves to check the momma cows to see if they have a new baby on the ground, and to see if it has “yicked” as he calls it, which he means to say “lick.” He says, “Yep, that baby is byack (black) again Dad.” (yes, our calves are black). A smile on his face, red nose, jeans tucked into his little cowboy boots, his rope in his hand, he started telling me all about their half hour long adventure that was as simple as anything, but was big as life to him!

Once again, in that moment, I thought about the little things that mean so much and are such a blessing! Mattson having the desire to start colts, to be kind to his cousins to take them for a ride. For a good broke horse that is so loved and part of our family. An opportunity to see the smiles on the girls’ faces. The time Matt gets to spend with Dawson doing chores and see new life be born, just to name a few.

Life is about change. In the next couple of months, we will have lots of change. Spring is here, changing the weather, the trees, the grass, and the ranching chores. Fences will need fixed, and the calves branded. Our oldest son, Jackson, will graduate high school, and get ready to attend college on a full ride football and track scholarship. Changes are a blessing, family is a blessing, and we all need to take a little more time and cherish the little things that are just simply so big!

Happy Spring Y’all!


Jayme Thompson lives in Shelley, Idaho, with her husband Matt, and their three sons, Jackson, Mattson and Dawson. She was daddy’s little cowgirl being raised horseback on the family cattle ranch in Mackay, Idaho. Matt and Jayme have known each other since their early junior rodeo days. They are both 4th generation ranchers and have a cow-calf and horse operation. Jayme drives school bus, and helps Matt on the ranch in addition to chauffeuring kids. Matt is a custom saddle maker and a video representative for Western Video Market on the side.

Jayme also blogs at Cavvy Savvy, where this post first appeared.

Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch kids, Ranch Life

The Year Thus Far

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sit down and write about all the happenings on the Rafter T. This is by far our busiest time of year, so my free time has been very limited. Since I’ve failed to keep up on my writing, let’s play catch up!

Cattle Sale DaySale Day- A couple weeks into February, we sold our calves; a process that happens through a local sale yard. For those of you who have been to an estate sale, or watch Storage Wars, it’s pretty much the same concept. People (cattle buyers) show up, and bid on the cattle they’re interested in purchasing. Some are buying for themselves, while others are buying for “orders.” Those orders usually come from bigger feeders, such as JBS, Simplot, etc. If quite a few buyers show up and the market is hot, you’re golden. However, if only a couple buyers are bidding, it doesn’t matter what the market is doing—they’ll only bid against one another for so long. I won’t lie, it’s a bit defeating to know that your annual pay day depends on someone else; but that’s just part of the cattle business. Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts-The week after we sold our calves, a Girl Scout troop from Glenns Ferry came to the ranch for an afternoon tour. They got a chance to see a few newborn calves, feed some soon-to-be mamas, and grain our horses. Those girls had more fun doing chores than I could ever dream of having! I love getting a chance to talk to people about where their food comes from, especially the younger generation. At the end of their adventure they received a fun coloring book and brochure, courtesy of the Idaho Beef Council.

Bottle CalvesBottle Calves-The Chinese might consider this to be the Year of the Ram, but around here it’s been the year of the bottle calf. In total I’ve had six little bundles of joy, but am currently down to four. Hallelujah! While we don’t name every cow and calf we own, bottle calves always end up with a moniker of their own. Currently, we have Nola Dakota, Jumbo, Marvin and Peanut. While it’s a bit of a pain to feed them three times a day, their personalities make up for the inconvenience. Branding

Branding-Awwww, branding. The true definition of “March Madness.” We usually have four groups to brand—two groups at home that typically occur around the 15th, and two out on the desert that happen at the end of the month. The last two take a lot of planning since they happen quite a few miles from home. One pickup is dedicated to packing all of the necessary branding supplies: propane, firewood, branding irons, vaccines, ear tags, etc., and another is dedicated specifically for bringing the food. When it’s all said and done, branding is a pretty big ordeal. Thankfully, we’re blessed with some pretty handy friends and neighbors who are always willing to lend a helping hand. Turning out cows on public lands

Turn Out-Our cows go back onto our public lands allotments April 1, which is why it’s imperative that all of our branding and sorting takes place before then. This year was an exciting year for Justin and me, as we turned out our own set of cattle. Personally this is my favorite part of the work season, since it represents the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

IrrigationIrrigation-Usually the first 10 days of April are pretty relaxing around here; all the cows are out and our irrigation water isn’t in the canal yet. We very rarely take time for vacations, but when we do, this is when we go. I honestly look forward to April 1-10 like a kid looks forward to the last day of school. Until now. This winter/spring season has been extremely dry, so the irrigation company chose to let the water in a few days early. While I’m happy to see things start to green up, I’m still a bit bent out of shape about my “down time” being almost nonexistent. For the next six months you’ll find me shoveling mud and dodging snakes in the pasture! Until next time!


Jessie has returned to her roots on her family’s commercial cattle ranch in southern Idaho after college and working on behalf of the state’s cattle producers. She’s passionate about agriculture and the western way of life. When she isn’t doing ranch work or writing, Jessie enjoys baking, golfing and drinking coffee. As a newlywed, she’s also turning a little cabin on the ranch into a home.

Categories: Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Lifestyle, Ranch Life

Rancher Attire

We all have either seen the Hollywood version of a cowboy (or cowgirl) or can imagine in our heads what a cowboy looks like, right? According to these images, a cowboy has to have a cowboy hat, blue jeans, cowboy boots, spurs that jingle jangle, a pearl snap button-up long-sleeve shirt and maybe even a wild rag scarf to blow in the desert wind. Can you hear the yodeling buckaroo music in the background? Although I have learned there is a time and a place for all of the original cowpoke attire, you may be surprised to know that sometimes ranchers wear non-ranch-ish clothing on the job. And the feed truck radio station may get swapped from the local country station to other varieties of music! (gasp)

That little heifer was enjoying some petting while waiting for the other calves to be grouped.

That little heifer was enjoying some petting while waiting for the other calves to be grouped.

rancher in pink pajamas

Maybe she is judging my wardrobe choice?

On our place, February through March is what we call calving season. All the momma cows are due to have their babies, which can mean a big increase in the time spent with the cows. Often ranchers will check on the herd at all hours of the day and night in effort to make sure all is going smooth for the mommas and babies. Cattle are fairly non-judgmental when it comes to fashion. They don’t mind if your wranglers are not starched. During the day usually normal dress code applies, but when it comes to midnight and 3 a.m.—or anytime in between—many versions of suitable clothing can be acceptable for herd checks. If it’s chilly out, bibs (heavy overalls) are pulled on over pajamas (no one ever will know). If it happens to be a real nice temperature out, that might cause one to overheat with insulated bibs, so in this case pajamas can be easily tucked into mud boots and you’re out the door to take care of the new babies! If you haven’t ever seen a rancher in pink p.j.s , here is one.

girl in horse jammies.

Mesa is even sporting her horse jammies.

*Author’s note: For the purposes of this demonstration, it had to be daylight. And for the record, I may wear pajamas to check the cows, but never to go get groceries. :0)

~ Diana

Diana and her husband grew up farming and ranching. Now they own a crop and rangeland spraying business, and their own herd of cattle. Diana is a busy ranch wife and mom to a two-year-old little girl. When not helping with their spraying or cattle, she travels throughout north Idaho discussing feed programs with ranchers as a full-time feed consultant.

Categories: Blogging, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life