A Day on the Ranch

I love the winter when the cows and horses are on pasture and daily feeding isn’t a thing, unless the snow gets too deep. We’ve had very little snow this year, although February may have something up its sleeve–it did the last time we had a snowless January. But despite being snowless, it’s been cold at night–this is what a stock waterer looks like when it breaks and no one notices until it’s too late.

Anyway, today we moved the cattle off the big winter pasture onto the smaller pasture. It started off cold, 2 degrees F, so I dressed appropriately. Without the mask, the cheeks burn. When its really cold we wear snowmobile goggles, too. 

Of course the cattle were scattered over a large area on the far side of the acreage. Really scattered. So instead of taking the side by side and attempting to herd them, we decided to try the old Pied Piper routine. We loaded a bale of hay in the bucket of the tractor and headed off across the field to see if we could lure them in. My stepfather has no luck doing this, but we decided to give it a go, even though it meant crossing a big field at approximately 5 miles per hour.  The tractor has a heater and the side by side does not.

The cows recalled that the tractor means food, and came to see what was on the menu. It was grass hay, not their preferred rich alfalfa, but they decided it was worth trying to get a bite. We let them have one little taste, then headed for home. Thankfully, they followed.








This is 5X, our lead cow. Where she goes, so goes the herd, and thankfully, she wanted the hay–even if it was substandard. She walked beside my window the entire way back to the ranch.

After we got the animals in, we had to give shots to the heifers, then turn everyone out onto the new pasture.

And here are my parents, taking their daily walk across the field with the horses, now the lone occupants of  160 acres, drifting behind them.

It was a good day on the ranch.


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Jeannie Watt raises cattle in Montana and loves all things western. When she's not writing, Jeannie enjoys sewing, making mosaic mirrors, riding her horses and buying hay. Lots and lots of hay.

34 thoughts on “A Day on the Ranch”

  1. You made me cold just reading this. People just do not understand the hard work & elements ranchers have to work in all year. Thanks for all you do to keep The AMERICAN Ranch life going.

  2. I try to keep heifer bottle babies to always be the lead cow – Star is out in the pasture now and thankfully still comes when you call her! So helpful when moving them around or getting them in for vetting!

  3. 40 Years ago I spent a day on a cattle ranch. My ex-husbands cousins still own it today, The day we spent there they were picking up the calves that had died due to the extreme cold. This was in Northern Minnesota. Its was fascinating and sad at the same time.

    • I imagine that ranching in northern Minnesota is a challenge. Cold weather plays havoc with new calves. We have a heifer named Nubbings because her ears froze at birth and the ends fell off. She looks like a teddy bear.

  4. Jeannie, I just loved reading your post today. It brought back memories of traveling through Montana in early September a couple years ago. It was the first snowfall at Glacier National Park and the cattle were covered in snow. Horses were fat and happy to receive a love pat across the fence. The beauty was unbelievable. Thank you for drawing my mind to great adventures in Montana. Love the freedom of that state.

  5. Thanks for sharing! I can’t relate to the temperature, as I live in Florida, and we don’t get that cold, and definitely no snow!! I’d love to see snow!!

    • yes, our humidity is bad! Except now! During winter, we have our dry season, and even my hair isn’t as frizzy as it will be this summer! We do have a very diverse range of things to do, for sure!

  6. Wow, you sure do stay busy, I love animals and they sure do depend on us for everything and they don’t ask for anything in return . God Bless you for taking such a very good care of your cows. My daughter loves cows. Have a great rest of the week and stay safe. God Bless you and your family.

  7. Thank you for sharing. Ranching is more than many think and each season has its own chores and problems. Nice to have the wide open spaces to walk in. Around here it is just country roads and not safe, thanks to careless or crazy drivers. I hope it warms up enough to get the waterer fixed.

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