The Highline Blog
November 28th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 47
We have an awful lot to be thankful for here at the ranch! It’s been a wild year, as I’m sure it’s been for everyone, but through all of that we have many blessings to count. Sadly this year we didn’t have our lovely guests at Thanksgiving but I think we were all happy to have each other. We are lucky that Shayne and Des have taken many precautions when it comes to COVID to keep us all safe and allow us to live normally on the ranch. We were all able to sit down and eat together which many families were not able to do this year, so we were very thankful for that.
Emily and I cooked all day, and pumped out a pretty good meal! Although most of the credit should go to Emily, as she did pretty much all the actual cooking. We had smoked turkey, oven roasted turkey, honey ham, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, rolls, the works!
It was Levi’s last night with us and so naturally he played his guitar, and even Kevin jumped in on lodge guitar for a few songs! Since Levi got here in late August he’s been slowly teaching Kevin how to play guitar. It was fun to sing together and Des even jumped in on her homemade drum set of knives, cups and whatever was on the table. She had a pretty good beat!
The boys, Shayne and Randy included have been having fun exploring Shayne’s new piece called Pier. They always come back with pictures of the beautiful views, and on a clear day you can see the cabinet mountains from the top! We’re excited to explore it even further next year.
Well that’s all for this week!
November 21st, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 46
We’ve had a bit of a blip in our winter weather as it’s been oddly warm for this time of year the past week. The temperature has been in the upper 30’s and low 40’s and we’ve had quite a bit of rain and it’s turned our driveways into slush! Hopefully it will get back to winter soon, I think we’re all tired of the back and forth weather.
Kevin, Scott and Levi have taken the shoes off of most of the herd in the last week or so. Now they’ve just been trimming to keep the horses feet healthy and happy over the winter. When they haven’t been trimming they’ve been riding with us in the arena, which has been a nice change of pace! It’s always fun when everyone gets to ride in the arena together.
Chris has been continuing maintenance of all of our ranch vehicles and helping me feed the herd most nights. Feeding is one of my favorite things to do on the ranch, especially when it snows. Watching the horses trot behind the feed truck always makes me smile. Chris has been starting to learn the horses names, so far King, Chief and Amigo have caught his eye.
We’ve been continuing to ride through the guest string working on our backing, progressions and reaching. Each horse has something different to offer, and I’ve been working on trying to tune into the horses needs more, especially with my hands. Shayne has been talking a lot about giving back to the horse when riding, and how it’s so crucial to the horse. It helps for the horse to know what you’re looking for when you ask for a certain movement. It’s as much a study in yourself as it is in the horse.
Friday, we spent most of the morning grooming the herd. The horses so enjoy getting groomed especially some of the horses who don’t get ridden much. Brenda has been on vacation this week so Janice and Emily have been working hard to keep up with doctoring. It’s a lot work keeping the herd in such great shape, but it’s well worth it!
Well that’s all for this week!
November 14th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 45
Winter has blanketed the meadow, and looks like it’s here to stay this past week. We’ve gotten so much snow it feels like we live in a snow globe! It sits so beautifully on the mountains and trees it truly is a winter wonderland. Almost good enough to ski!
As Shayne and Des will be staying at the ranch until February this winter we’ve been continuing our riding in the indoor and working through the guest string. I’ve come to really appreciate the warmth of the indoor with the current weather! This week we primarily focused on backing and getting the horses weightless in their backing. It’s something I think many of us often overlook but it is an oh so important thing to get good at for you and the horse. Shayne’s particular method of backing really helps you connect your reins to the feet, which helps tremendously with all your movement. It’s changed a lot of our guest horses for the better!
Brooke who has been our token guest over the past couple of weeks will be leaving us this Saturday. We’re all a bit sad to see her go, as we’ve all thoroughly enjoyed her company. She really does feel like one of us! Brooke has been helping us get the guest horses to good places before we kick them out for the winter, and she’s such a joy to be around. However, I’m sure we’ll see her again so it’s not goodbye forever.
Emily has been cooking up great meals every night for the ever-hungry crew, especially the boys Levi, Scott and Kevin. This week we’ve had everything from burrito night to steak night! Emily has also been prepping for Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner. Decorations, table settings, and most importantly food, I’m sure it will be a feast to remember!
Chris, Kevin, Scott and Levi have been doing various projects around the ranch. We’re expanding a few of the Bungalows for staff and the boys have been taking a swing at demo’ing. Under Chris’s supervision of course! Chris said laughingly “I don’t know if they were helpful or just made more of a mess” haha! All in good fun 😉
Never a dull moment here at the ranch! Catch you next week!
November 7th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 44
The snow left us a couple of weeks ago, but has been replaced by quite a bit of rain! Feels like fall again here at the ranch, although winter will be back before we know it. At the start of this week the trucks came and picked up our cattle.
Shayne, Maddie, Kevin and Scott moved all 216 steers from the Shop Pasture up into the holding pens on Tuesday morning. We weighed them all in groups of 10, they were checked out by the brand inspector and then off they went –four truck loads worth! Sadly, one steer had to stay behind though because he had a bum foot, we decided to name him Zip. Brenda has been diligently taking care of him all week, but he will be going to a new home with Will and Willy Vincent a couple of our ranch hands. We’re all a little sad to see him go as we’ve all grown a bit attached, but we can look forward to a new group of steers in the spring.
Ranch projects in preparation for winter continue; the boys have pretty much finished chopping wood for our wood stoves in the shop, which will help keep all our ranch vehicles that are parked there, warm over the winter. Speaking of which, Kevin, Scott and Chris took several of our ranch vehicles into town to get snow tires put on so we can drive them on the ranch in the winter.
Meanwhile in the office Janice and I have been booking people for our 2021 season! It’s exciting to talk about our change in program; we are looking forward to the new adventure. The month long program we did this season really ended up being a big hit, and we’re excited to add it to the schedule next season, as well as the 10 days.
In the arena this week we’ve really been working on our soft feels and getting connected with our horses. Shayne has also been working Hemi, Emily’s horse either horseback with the flag or via groundwork. It has been fascinating to watch, and Shayne has really showed us all the importance of the connection between horse and human. I am constantly impressed by the amount of knowledge Shayne has, there is always something to learn from him.
That’s all for this week!
October 31st, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 43
When we woke up this morning the sky was lit up with a big bright full moon, a far cry from our mornings lately, which seems to be growing steadily darker. Spooky! This week we’ve been catching up on quite a few projects around the ranch in preparation for winter.
The boys have been chopping firewood for the wood stoves in the shop, Davis house and Belgard, as well as winterizing all of our ranch vehicles. The foot of snow and icy temps from last week didn’t stay long, but I’m sure will be back soon. The herd has been growing their winter coats over the past couple of weeks and now looks ready for when winter hits for real!
We moved all 216 head of cattle to the Shop Pasture this week from the Belgard and the ride pretty out in the fresh snow. The cattle leave this coming Tuesday, and I think we’ll be a bit sad to see them go. Chris our newest hire has been feeding them everyday along with one of us wranglers. It’s been fun watching all the steers follow the army truck around mooing and playing with each other while we drop hay. Chris seems to fit right in with the ranch crew and we’re all enjoying get to know him.
In the arena this week it’s been back to basics, which has been good for all us. Shayne has us working on the basics on a big circle helping us work on our foundations. In between riding he’s also been regaling us with many stories, about the ranch to before the ranch—before and now, etc. Shayne’s stories are always fun and interesting to listen too, and there’s always something to learn from each and every one of them.
Well that’s all for this week! Tune in for next weeks adventures!
October 24th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 42
The snow is finally here! The ranch looks like a winter wonderland, as we got over a foot of snow last night. The horses had white eyelashes and everyone pulled out their winter gear.
Chris our new handy man is from Texas and still getting used to this white stuff, along with our intern Levi who is from South Carolina. The rest of us here are seasoned veterans when it comes to snow, and are enjoying it. Sadly my little chevy cruz lacks the clearance to get around in too much fluffy stuff, but oddly enough I get up the hills better than everyone else’s trucks! So at least there’s that. Although my cruz might live at the Belgard for a few days while the snow clears up, ha!
Inside the arena, we’ve been lucky enough to have Tommy Kilgore out for a week to do a farrier clinic. Scott, Kevin and Levi have been spending everyday with Tommy going through the herd and learning how to shoe. It’s been really cool to hear all the stories Tommy has to tell and to hear about how they shoed each horse. The boys and Tommy have been showing us pictures of all the horse’s feet at dinner, and it’s been amazing to see all the changes in their feet, as well as the way they stand. On Friday, Emily, Maddie, Janice, Brenda, and I got to participate in a shoeing demo. It was incredibly interesting to see what Tommy looks for in a horse before he even begins the shoeing process, let alone the shoeing process itself! During the shoeing demo all I could think is how lucky we are that we get to learn from someone as great as Tommy. The same goes for Shayne and Des, we really have the best of the best to learn from and I’m forever thankful for that!
That’s all for this week,
October 17th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 41
Our real fall weather has rolled in the last week here at the ranch. It’s been in the 40’s-50’s and raining practically all week. Most of the horses are starting to get fuzzy just in time for winter, which feels like it’s just around
the corner now. Hard to believe Halloween is in a couple of weeks! The staff has all been chatting around the dinner table about the best horror/Halloween movies. Sounds like a movie night is in our future.
Brenda, Levi and I moved the last 48 steers from Elk Creek this week to weigh them and gather them all together. Our counts have come out correct and sadly we’re missing just one! Scott, Kevin, Levi and Brenda have been hunting for him all week. Rain or shine! They’ve been real cowboys this week, and cowgirl.
When we haven’t been out on the mountain, the staff has been rotating nights cooking while Emily has been on vacation. Maddie and I made stroganoff meatballs one night, Charity made curry, Levi and Kevin made burgers and shakes which were a big hit! Shayne even said those were the best burgers and shakes he’s had for a good long while. Janice made us some delicious chili, and a full Italian pasta dinner, which was perfect for our current weather. Scott’s parents came to visit and even made ribs and his favorite cheesy potatoes!
As always our projects continue. Charity our housekeeper has been deep cleaning the cabins getting them ready for
winter. She and I also deep cleaned the lodge this week, which was a very satisfying project! I’ve never the seen the lodge look this good. While we’ve been doing that Scott, Kevin, Chris and Randy have started shutting down our graze piece now that we have all the cattle off the mountain, we think? There still might be a lone ranger out there….
That’s all for this week!
October 9th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 40
The season is changing! We have had an unusual spell of warm weather for this time of year, which has made hunting for cattle on the mountain very pleasant. We do need rain though for the pastures and it looks like there will be some in the forecast for the coming week.
Speaking of cattle, we have ONE lone steer remaining of Davis Mountain. He missed the last train of 8 of his buddies who were moved to Elk Creek yesterday. We will be searching for him and will hopefully reunite him in the next couple of days!
The weighing will begin in earnest as preparations are made for the boys to leave the ranch in late October.
It feels great to be contributing to the Highline again. I just returned from an extended trip home to visit family, and it was a wonderful opportunity to be able to do this. Arriving back at the ranch though, I have quickly been reminded of a few things…
-The fall colors here in NW Montana are unique and breathtaking. The Larch and Aspen are in full color down in the meadows while the mountains are just starting to show their glory. We may not have the reds of the maples and oaks here in the west, but the range of green and yellow is spectacular in their own right.
-We have a fabulous crew here at the ranch this season. They way they blend together while still maintaining their individuality makes for a some very fun, and funny times! Our newest intern Levi, we came to find out, is quite talented on guitar and singing. We were treated to a concert at family dinner this week and look forward to hearing more from him. He is also teaching Kevin guitar so maybe a dueling guitar duet is in our future! And Chris, our new ranch hand (a fellow Texan, like Levi) fit right in, in just a matter of hours.
-The horses, oh the horses! Did you ever look into a horse’s eyes—I mean really look? When you pet on them, do you notice the change in their expression? Even if they are already with you and content, there is a distinctive calmness, or appreciation, if horses feel that emotion, that you can see in their eyes. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to have 100+ horses here to observe things like this. Each one of them is special and teaches us all a gazillion things every day if we will take the time to listen.
It feels good to be back. Take time each day to look around and see all that your life has to offer. I try to remind myself of this often.
Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous.
Until next time,
October 2nd, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 39
The trees are finally starting to change colors here in the meadow. It’s been frosty in the mornings lately but still getting up to 70 degrees during the day, perfect riding weather if you ask me!
Wranglers and guests have been continuing to gather cattle and push them to the Belgard pasture, where we’re holding them. As of this week we’re down to less than 50 head on the mountain! The guests have been very gun ho about going out and looking for them, and have been doing a great job.
This group of steers has been a bit wiley from the beginning, but have been fairly easy to move as of late, except for on Wednesday this week. Guests Verena and Jack and Sharon came back that night regaling us tales of their pesky steers at dinner. Apparently their 9 head kept squirting off in all sorts of directions and then they would have to go re-gather them, but everyone cowboyed up and got them back on track. Never a dull day out on the mountain!
The last couple of Saturdays we’ve had Dr. G out here to do the horses teeth, and to checkout any horses that are injured. I personally love when the vet comes because it’s always so interesting to see what he does to help our injured horses, or what they look for in a horse’s mouth in terms of good teeth as of late. We’re so lucky to have such a good vet available and that we get to learn so much about horses, from the riding, to the shoeing, to the vet work etc. There are so many opportunities here!
Well here’s to hoping as our season comes to end the weather stays nice as long as possible!
See you next week,
September 26th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 38
Our cattle have been eating away gaining weight in Davis Mountain for about a month now, and they’re all looking really nice and FAT. Just the way we like em!
To see how much weight they’ve gained we took a sample from Randy’s pasture and weighed them on Wednesday with Shayne. It was interesting to learn how much refinement and subtleness there is to weighing cattle. All your horsemanship skills are put to the test when you’re in the scale house, but that’s good because then it becomes clear what you need to work on in the arena. Shayne also taught us the importance of keeping the cattle calm when cutting one out to push it onto the scale. We weighed 20 head and they all gained an average of 50 pounds, which Shayne said was a good amount.
While we were weighing, wranglers and guests began pushing steers back to the Belgard from Davis Mountain. It’s a long day of cowboyin, but everyone was happy to be out and really enjoyed our fall weather. The sunshine was short lived though as we’ve gotten some much-needed rain the last 2 days. We had the quintessential dry Montana summer this year, and experienced quite a bit of smoke, but a couple of good rains later and the smoke has left us. Thank god!
In the arena Des has had us working on figuring out how to move our horses feet in order to get them soft. This has
really helped Yellowhair and I, especially on his harder side. Des reminded us that softness comes from the feet, not from the head. We’re always learning here at McGinnis Meadows, I’m lucky that Yellowhair, Des and Shayne are all such great teachers.
Happy Trails until next week!