Tag: Ranch life

Fall Colors, Cowboy Style

As the leaves begin to turn their beautiful orange and yellow colors, you can begin to feel the chill in the early morning air. Fall approaches us this year with more items added to our “to do list.” Along with our horse and cattle operation and saddle business, my husband Matt, is a rep for Western Video Market. As per the customer’s request, he will travel to the location of where the cattle are, and video calves, yearlings or breeding stock. You can watch the sale on satellite TV or the Internet. When the seller and buyer agree on price and delivery date, the rep will go to location of cattle and help sort and load them. It is the reps responsibility to make sure the trucks are at the location to load, the cattle are the right weight, and all paper work is taken care of.

cattlewoman on horseback

The boys and I have had the opportunity to go with Matt and help. On one of our most recent video sales, we went to a beautiful ranch in Wyoming. It required us to stay the night so we decided to stay at a hotel so the boys could swim. The owner of the cattle asked us to help him gather the critters in a large field above his house. So we loaded our horses, kids and swim suits. It was the later part of the morning as we pulled into the corral, saddled our horses, and put on the extra coat we didn’t think we would need.

Fall gathering on a good horse.

We head out across the field aiming for the pine trees and mountains that lie ahead of us. The cattle are waiting in the mist, slowly milling around. The field turned out to be a rather large one. It took a large part of the day, the sun warming us up enough to take a few layers off. It was a great gather, the calves running and bucking, and cows bawling for their own, and we even got to rope a few stragglers that decided to turn back on us. No complaining here. It was a beautiful day, spent riding with my family, getting our young horses rode, and being reminded how blessed we truly are. We left them in a corral overnight so they would be easy to get to in the early morning to sort and ship. We had a nice evening, and the boys swam until their hearts were content.

The next morning came fast, a rather chilly one in fact! Matt and I sorted the calves from cows, making sure our counts each matched. The truckers were there, waiting patiently for their turn to load. The brand inspector looked the cows and calves over. Matt takes care of the paper work transactions, and we load the trucks. Away they go…

That job is complete, and now we go onto the next one…gathering our own cows. Happy Fall Y’all!

~ Jayme

Jayme lives in Shelley, Idaho, with her husband Matt, and their three sons. She was daddy’s little cowgirl being raised horseback on the family cattle ranch. 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 also a custom saddle maker.

Jayme also blogs at www.cavvysavvy.com where this post first appeared.

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

Cowboy Daddy

cows, Billy B-Day, Katie B-Day 090

Cowboys make great daddies.

Perhaps it’s the bawl of a new calf. Or it could be that overprotective mother cow. (Her calf’s ID is not a tag, but a crisp new rope.) Maybe its the bawl of weaned calves, but there are many times during our ranch life that remind us of memories of impending parenthood. For it was fourteen years ago when my husband and I found out it wasn’t just the cows who were going to experience the miracle of birth.

With the news of our pregnancy coming on the eve of calving season, my cowboy found himself in “baby mode.” He quickly whipped out his cattle gestation calendar and reported to me my due date. (What do you mean there’s a gestation difference?) He flailed his arms and spouted phrases like, just before weaning time, not during haying season, and maybe during a storm or full moon. He quipped that he would know just what to do because he’d helped many animals in my condition. It never occurred to him that I might not like being compared to a cow. I gently reminded him I was not some heifer. That’s when he put away his weight expectancy chart.

It goes without saying that pregnancy changes a woman, but it also changes a man. It certainly changes the size of his wallet. All of the things that are needed for a child add up: the four door pickup, the tractor with the enclosed, air conditioned cab, and the tack.
With tack catalogues strewn across the kitchen table, my hubby could hardly contain his excitement. “What kind of kid’s saddle should I get?”

“Well, the baby’s the size of a bean right now, so I’d go with something small. Let’s not get carried away.”

Yet what first time parents don’t get carried away? At our initial doctor’s appointment my husband came with spurs on and his head cocked like a rooster. An early ultrasound was included, so my cowboy told me what to expect because he’d done ultrasounds for preg checking.

Once my belly began to bulge, so did my man’s ego. Why read baby books when he’d seen a million bovine births? It wouldn’t be that different…would it?

One “difference” came when the baby began kicking. My husband put his hand on my belly expecting to feel a small tap and was blown away when the baby actually moved his hand with a forceful little blow. This was the first time I heard him scream like a little girl.

The second scream occurred in Lamaze class. It was not the videos that made him holler. No, it was another forceful blow—this time by another expectant mother who didn’t tolerate bovine comparisons very well. Needless to say, we didn’t make any lifelong friends there. The calf-pulling conversation didn’t help.

When labor did begin, I was in denial. It was early. My husband convinced me to go to the hospital because I was “walking around like a cow with my tail up.” I promised to go, if he promised not to say that in the delivery room. When we arrived at the hospital and labor was confirmed, my husband obliged, and explained he knew what was happening because he had “seen it in his field.”

When our daughter arrived, cowboy instincts let loose and he nearly fainted. The man can castrate a steer, pull a calf, and inspect afterbirth….but a human umbilical cord made him woozy! All of his jitters passed away though when our beautiful girl was placed in his arms.

Pride has been taken to a whole new level from this time forward. Stories of tagging, penning, and roping will always make a cowboy beam, but a child is like all of these tales and then some. Put some cowboy daddies together and they can talk!

“Why just last week my six-year-old daughter drove the truck while I forked off hay.”

“Oh yah, well my five-year-old won first prize at the mutton busting.”

“That’s nothing. My two-year-old roped a steer on his first try, blindfolded.”

Even with their stories though, cowboys do make great fathers. They help their kids learn about life via the ranch. They teach them to make hay forts. They encourage them to open gates. The only thing that continues to puzzle me is this: How can a cowboy be immune to the stench of manure, stick his hands in the tightest of places, but changing a diaper induces tears or vomiting?


Marci is a city girl gone country. She married her cowboy and never looked back. While life may be different than what she first imagined, it’s also better than expected as well. She and her husband are raising their three kids on the ranch, and she says she’s grown used to all the boots by the door.

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

Honey, I need your help…

Aww, those five little words. I know I’ve used them before, and I’ve certainly heard them too. As a rancher’s wife, I never quite know what will come at the end of that sentence, but that’s kind of a good thing. It’s never dull around here, and I rather enjoy getting called out from behind my desk to head outside and help. Some days it’s blocking the road while they move cows, other days it’s tagging new calves or an even messier job-helping pull a calf. Today, it was help moving a pivot.

On this particular summer day—yes I do realize we’re heading in to fall—but we’re catching up around here. It was a beautiful day. The hubby dropped me off at the box, gave me my instructions and headed off. I have helped with this task before, but never on this particular pivot, so I was pretty enthralled by my view. One thing I’ve always taken note of is the topography of the great state of Idaho. Being a western Kansas girl, I came from the flat country surrounded by row crops (still a beautiful view in itself, but definitely different from here).

I watched as the pickup bumped off toward the other end of the pivot, slowly disappearing. Good thing for cell coverage as soon my phone rang and he walked me through moving it forward and backward to get it going again. We had to get it moving out of the way as they were cutting the hay that day. Normally this isn’t a two person job, but today teamwork was needed and it paid off.


There he goes….


Selfie in a hayfield, why not?


Yes, incredible view from here. An quiet too. I could hear the low hum of the swather motor in the distance, but other than that it was completely still and quiet out there.


As I was waiting for the phone call, I noticed the swather making another slice through the tall teff grass.


Same view, just a few seconds later. And the swather had disappeared too. Lots of hills out here.


Little Miss tagged along with us too. Love being able to share our daily work with the kiddos.

Now, I wonder if the hubby will have as much fun helping me with the dishes tonight….

~ M

Maggie and her husband raise their four children and registered cattle on his family’s southwest Idaho ranch. As a family, they enjoy sports, showing cattle, 4-H, church and other activities when not working on the ranch. She likes to experiment with recipes in the kitchen, shares her love of sweets through baking with her children and has been known to start a DIY project every now and then. Sometimes she actually finishes one.

Categories: Beef, Ranch Life

Summer on the Rafter T

Ask almost any rancher how their summer is going, and all they’ll have time to say is, “Busy.” Moving cows up the mountain, baling hay, packing salt, building fence…the list literally never ends.

Except in the case of my family. I don’t know how we ever got so lucky, but summer is our “slow” season. I say that with some sarcasm, because ranch life is never slow; but it seems to be the time when we have the least to do. Our cows spend their summer out on the desert, and hardly ever have to be moved from one allotment to the next. Although we do raise our own alfalfa and silage corn, we hire local farmers to work, plant and harvest our corn, along with cutting and baling our hay. All we really have to worry about is irrigating everything, and making sure our cows have water, which takes up a good portion of the day.

Since we do have a little bit of free time on our hands, we usually spend time getting a variety of projects done while we can. My father calls this “beautification,” aka, making things look almost-new again. My parents have always taken pride in what they have, and this ranch is no different. We’re constantly spraying weeds, washing buildings, blading the road, raking, or mowing. I know that if ranch life ever fails me, I could easily make it as a landscaper 🙂

Back in June, we gave our ranch a brand new coat of barn red paint. This project is dreaded by all, as it ends up taking 5 full days. But the end result is completely worth it, and we always get compliments on how nice things look.

About a month ago, the guys put in two new water tanks, which we badly needed. One started leaking last winter, but we knew we couldn’t replace it until the weather warmed up, to avoid freezing. Luckily we were able to make a temporary fix that lasted until now!

Everything on the ranch gets re-purposed. These brand new tanks replaced the leaky ones, but the old tanks will end up being turned into horse feeders. Its actually important that they have holes, that way if it rains/snows, the moisture has a place to drain.

Stay tuned in the next week or so, because I’ve got an amazing recipe coming! My Mother-in-Law taught me how to make her famous taco salad—it’s too good not to share!

~ Jessie

Jessie has returned to her roots on her family’s commercial black angus cattle ranch in southern Idaho after time away at 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: Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life

Weaning the calves


Bringing cows off the mountain to wean calves.

September and cooler weather brings changes to our ranch (and many ranches in Idaho). It is the time of the year that we go out to our public Lands grazing range and bring our calves, who were born in February, home to wean from their moms. Our cows and calves spend the summer months out on the range grazing. They are healthy and physically fit as they wander the mountains all summer.

The mornings start early, saddling horses after a warm cup of coffee. We have friends, hired help and range partners that come to ride for the three days it takes to bring our cows and calves to corrals where they can be sorted. Mornings are chilly, but we were fortunate to have days of sunshine.


Building new corrals so that handling, sorting and loading cattle is more efficient.

The riders split up and ride to different areas to bring the cows down off the mountain into our temporary corrals. Riders come back to cow camp for lunch then head out again and ride until late in the day.

On the final day, we gather all the cows and calves in pasture near cow camp, while trucks arrive and the sorting begins.


Riders spend all day on horseback rounding up the cow-calf pairs, and share meals at the cow camp.


Sorting off calves from cows in the corral.


Cows are sent back to the range and calves are sent home to grass or to feedlots.
The calves are sorted by steers (male) and heifers (female). We also have cows/calves from other ranchers, so cattle or sorted out by brand to go to each owner’s ranch.

Our cows get a break from nursing as they are already pregnant with next year’s calf. Our cows will come home and usually find their own way back to the ranch as the day’s are shorter and colder. Once they are home, we will bring them in and do pregnancy checks on them to verify that they are pregnant.

We source verify and are verified natural producers so our calves get EID (electronic identification tags. They are also vaccinated on arrival to the ranch. They are turned out to pasture before they are sold in the fall. We were blessed this year with late summer rain and lots of grass for the cows to eat on the range.

While the cows are at range, there is continued activity at the ranch during summer months. We grow our own feed, alfalfa and oats for the winter months. This year the late summer rains blessed us with lots of grass on the range for the cows to eat, but delayed our cuttiing and baling of hay. It is important to get hay up so that we have regrowth in the fall when the cows and calves do come home.

Weaning time is always excited for Idaho ranchers as we get to see how the calves have grown and how the cows are doing as mommas. We’re always looking at what we can do to change and improve our cattle herds and the beef we produce for our tables and yours.

~ Lyndella

Lyndella and her husband, Stephen, own and operate Challis Creek Cattle. They are first generations ranchers, who began their dream of owning cattle more than 20 years ago after working in other industries. They run their cow-calf operation on both public and private lands, and are committed to improving the land and the animals in their care.

Categories: Beef, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life