Thursday, May 30, 2013

Guy and Rachel Living in the Sagebrush Sea

Today we bring you from the Sagebrush Sea. Rachel and her family care for a herd of cows out in Southwestern Idaho.

You can find me at The Sagebrush Sea and Facebook.

I was raised on the Quarter Circle U Ranch on the Tongue River in South Eastern Montana, where my father’s family has been raising commercial cattle since the 1880s. My brother and I, split our time between Montana and Northeastern Wyoming, where our mother ran a herd of Registered Red Angus with her family.

When I reached high school I was fed up with cold weather and uncooperative animals, so I turned my attention to academics and polo ponies. When I left home to attend college, I thought I was escaping ranching for good. I graduated four years later; I couldn’t get back to the ranch quickly enough.

A few months later, I met my husband Guy, who was starting colts and cowboying in Wyoming. We’ve spent the last eleven years working for ranches in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Additionally, my brothers’ and I have a herd of our own cattle.

Currently, we are employed in Southwestern Idaho. My husband is the lead-off cowboy on the JS and TM ranches, owned by Simplot Land and Livestock. He is responsible for a cowboy crew of three, 1,800 head of mother cows, and a broodmare band. Our cattle travel nearly 60-miles from the winter range to the summer range and back again. So Guy spends most of the year at various cow camps along the way, while the kids and I visit over school breaks.

A commercial cow-calf operation is unique, because your responsibilities change from season-to-season. In the spring, we are calving heifers, feeding, and fencing, until the grass catches up with us. As the grass greens and the weather warms in the Summer, we finish up branding calves, watch our water closely, and ride often to prevent the cattle from damaging sensitive, riparian areas. As fall rolls in, the cattle reverse course and we begin weaning and shipping the calves. This is my favorite time of year. Not only is there a lot of horseback work to be done, I swear you can see those momma cows kick up their heels and celebrate as their calves are loaded on the truck. Winter is typically a slow time of year, with fewer responsibilities. If the weather isn't bad, we feed some hay and keep the water free of ice. Then the cycle begins again.

I am pleased that my children are a part of this lifestyle. I enjoy the interaction with animals; achieving a moment of perfect feel with your horse or witnessing the arrival of a new life into the world during calving. We ranchers measure time by the change of seasons and make a habit of watching the sky. Whether my kids continue to ranch is not important to me, but I want them to develop an appreciation for the lifestyle and its’ unique connection to the natural world.

Thank you Rachel for the feature!!! You can follow this cowboy family at The Sagebrush Sea and on Facebook!

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