Ranching Blog: Fall Frenzy

Life sure isn’t dull around here.

Life sure isn’t dull around here.

Life is only as dull as one makes it, and I’d like to think that ours is pretty exciting. No day ever looks like the one before it, except for maybe in the winter when it’s one snow-filled day after another and you can’t do much, save for plow yourself a path with the tractor so that you can do chores. Luckily, it’s not yet winter!

We’re in my favorite time of year – FALL! And in ranch country that means you’re busier than a one-legged-man in a kicking contest! There’s preg testing to be done, calves to ship to sale, herds to be gathered and moved closer to home in preparation for winter and of course, the annual yard clean up.

The yard clean up, for us anyway, mostly involves rolling up the hot wire fence we used for temporary traps either for yearling cattle, the mares we are riding, or studs – once they were done breeding mares. And of course, the traps have portable water tanks, which means they need to get gathered up and stacked somewhere that they hopefully won’t catch too much snow, water hoses need to be drained and put away for the season, and we start introducing the studs back into the herd of saddle horses (geldings in our case).  Almost all our studs live together with the saddle horses through the winter and spring. We figure if they can’t get along like that, we probably don’t want them as studs. There are a couple exceptions to the rule, but those have been earned through progeny.

When we’re not doing yard clean up, we’re in full-fledged help-the-neighbors-mode.  The week I starting writing this, for example, was fairly busy:

Monday PM: help a neighbor gather his herd.
Tuesday AM: help same neighbor ship his herd.
Wednesday AM: we preg tested our first-calf heifers in the morning.
Wednesday PM: head over to a different neighbor to gather cattle closer to home.
Thursday AM: ship cattle we moved Wednesday.
Thursday PM: Attend son’s first playoff football game.
Friday PM: Help Monday’s neighbor preg test his cow herd.
Saturday AM: Go preg test at an Uncle’s place.

The mornings start early – gathering horses as the sun peeks over the horizon on fog-filled days is the norm. It’s also the most beautiful thing to wake up to. This is the last hurrah of real work for the horses. It won’t be long and shoes will be pulled (on the one that wears them), and they’ll get a little time off, other than when we desire their help to work a colt or simply because it’s too pretty outside not to ride! 

In between all that, we’re starting colts, riding green horses, doing chores, checking our cow herd, preparing for a youth roping workshop, and prepping for Big Loop Ranch Roping the following weekend.

There’s never a dull moment on this outfit. When someone asks me, “what’s a typical day on the ranch,” I just smile and say, “there’s no such thing”.

Until next time, happy trails!

Jenn Zeller is an aspiring horseman, photographer,freelance writer, barrel racer and collector of horses and chickens.  She resides in South Dakota on The DX Ranch, a third generation cattle ranch where the family raises Angus and Brangus cows as well as Quarter Horses. Contact her at jennifer@thesouthdakotacowgirl.com

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