The Highline Blog
January 9, 2021, Volume 16, Issue 1
Psst….Hey! Down here! It’s me, Trouble the ranch cat!
Emily left the lodge door cracked and I managed to slip in, undetected, to have a look around. I’m so crafty. purr*
The Lodge is so cozy and warm this time of year and always smells of fresh bacon, though I can never manage to get my paws on some. Note to self…maybe if I act even cuter than normal Emily will sneak me a piece.
Life as a Ranch Cat continues on as normal around here and I of course take my supervisor job very seriously. The wranglers have all been working so diligently on winter projects that sometimes I don’t see them until supper time so I have taken it upon myself to help out and have started taking notes while I walk around the lodge and cabins for things that need addressing. So far, what I have found is that the cabins are buttoned up tight, much to my dismay, and that there aren’t nearly enough snacks left out for me to quality check. I definitely need to remember to bring this up with management.
Life for a Ranch Cat here is quite relaxing but sometimes I like to spice it up a little and cause a little mischief to keep everyone on their toes. What’s life without a little adventure, am I right? For example, the other night as I saw Emily leaving the lodge for the night I waited up high in a tree while she checked the red sheds, I never know what she’s looking for, maybe mice for a late evening snack? That’s what I would do but I digress. As she started to walk away that’s when I put on my best acting skills and I started meowing from up high in the tree until she noticed. You should have seen the look on her face when she realized where I was! Hahaha, I’m so crafty. Anyways, the human went off to get a ladder and then promptly returned to “save me”. With the aid of Brenda, another human wrangler here, Emily climbed up high to “rescue” me. Did I mention it was starting to snow, and it was pitch black, and it was cold? Little do they know that I am an expert climber and could have gotten down all on my own but where’s the fun in that, and I just like the attention. Purr*
The humans “rescued” me from the tree without incident, even if it did require Emily to climb a few limbs to reach me and I got loads of love and affection after we were back on the ground. Mission accomplished.
This Highline thing is sort of fun. I can finally reach out to all my adoring fans! But, I think I hear Emily coming so I gotta run! Stay safe out there humans and send treats!!
Until the lodge door is left open again,
Much Love from your FAVORITE Ranch Cat,
P.S.- If you are missing being around my bubbly personality, I heard through the grapevine that there is still some space left to book in 2021. Give the gals a call and make sure you tell them that I should get extra treats for being so lovable 🙂
January 2, 2021, Volume 15, Issue 52
Happy New Year everyone!
As we ride into 2021, the sentiment out and about is, let’s kick 2020 out the door on its butt, and move on to better things. At the ranch, we are truly blessed to have had a sense of normalcy throughout the pandemic as we chug along through our day-to-day adventures.
The horses know nothing of the chaos in the outside world, and we as their partners, need to do our best to convey leadership and guidance despite any internal feelings we have happening. While this can be an extreme exercise in self-awareness and discipline, we owe it to them- every minute of every day. I am grateful to be among folks who have this goal in mind and who are all in it for the horse. Below you can read more about our staff’s individual gratitude. We will also be conveying a personal goal that each of us have- you can check these out on our FB page in the coming weeks… 🙂
“I’m grateful for where we live and even though COVID affected our guest season, it did not drastically affect our way of life. Things were pretty normal in our little solitary utopia—and I feel that we are beyond blessed for that.” ~Des
“As this trying year has come to an end I find myself looking back on everything we have endured. It would be easy and convenient to claim that 2020 was one the worst years but truthfully all I am able to recall are the amazing opportunities I have been able to partake in and more important how much I’ve grown. This year has forced me into some uncomfortable territory both mentally and physically and I am extremely grateful for each and every uncomfortable moment. It’s those uncomfortable moments that have really helped me grow beyond what I had originally thought possible. I have grown as an individual and feel more confident in every aspect of my life and who I am. I’ve rediscovered things I had forgotten about myself and pushed to learn new and foreign concepts that have allowed me to focus in on what I feel it means to truly live a rewarding life. “ ~Emily
“The thing I’m most grateful for in 2020 was how we were able to continue to ride and work, pretty much as normal. Then, being able to bring guests of the ranch into this environment by utilizing the quarantine made it even more meaningful. Because of that, the ranch never felt dramatically different for us, or the guests who were able to come.” ~Kevin
“This year I’m the most grateful for my ranch family. We have all gotten so close over this last year and it’s made the ranch experience even more special. I have never been around such a strong, supportive and gritty group of people. No matter what I know they’ve always got my back. I’m looking forward to sharing another year of adventures with this amazing crew.” ~Maddie
“I am grateful for my country that still, at least for now, stands for freedom and bravery.” ~Brenda
“It’s the little things…I’ve always been one to focus on the bigger picture /goal, but this year I am grateful for finally discovering the “little things”. I am realizing that while the bigger picture is important, it is the awareness of all the details and little pleasures along the way, that makes the journey memorable. Being able to spend more time with my ranch family this season, really getting to know them, and doing the same with the ponies, has been so uplifting. Even though we all have this study of horsemanship as our commonality, every person and every horse brings to the table their individuality- and this is something that I will treasure.” ~Janice
May Peace and Happiness be with you.
Your friends at MMR
We hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday! Here at the ranch, we were treated to a full Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and then a delicious Brunch on Christmas Day. Emily out did herself, and the crew all pitched in to make it a team effort. The new snowfall made for even more scenic views overlooking the meadows and mountains from the dining room.
The conversation at dinner was that of gratefulness, and how much we appreciate all that we have here. Recognizing that it is very challenging times for many folks, we are even more focused on seeing the good in all that we do have. For me, this Christmas was one of my best at the ranch- the team here this winter is small, but mighty. It is such a great cohesive group and the friendships have continued to grow. We even got brave enough to put out some of our “artistic talent”. Kevin, Brenda and I played and sang our rendition of the Little Drummer Boy. Maddie played guitar and sang Bubbly by Cobie Caillet. And for a final song, Brenda sang an amazing version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.It was truly a special day!
The horses are all doing great as well, thanks to Brenda’s continued care and overseeing of the herd. She cares deeply for each one of them and it shows – they have never looked better. We woke up to about 4″ of new powder today, so I am sure as I write this, the ponies are looking very fuzzy in their picture-perfect postcard setting.
Trouble gave us a good scare this week. We didn’t see him for a few days which is very unlike him. Emily and I searched high and low but to no avail. Then out of the blue, on Wednesday, as I was out calling for him, guess who came bounding across the driveway? He was fat and fluffy so no doubt had found a good hiding spot. It was the perfect Christmas present to see him! He has been sticking around now, probably because he realized how much petting and attention he is getting again 🙂
As we head into the New Year, we wish everyone the best in 2021- May the troubles in the world subside and we find peace and happiness in all we do.
The holidays are here and it is a much-celebrated time of year at McGinnis Meadows! We have our usual small crew here for the winter season and last night after dinner, they put the finishing touches on our Christmas tree. Even Kevin’s dog Kate was in the holiday spirit wanting to help!
Just because we have a small crew, doesn’t mean we skimp on meals here- Emily continues her awesome cooking for staff and the oven braised ribs were a testament to her flair for making sure we are all well fed :-).
We are continuing to ride guest string horses each day and learning a ton, practicing our roping skills and seat position to help our horses be able to move in balance. Even if one never plans on roping a live steer, these skills really teach you how to use your body instead of relying on the reins, to operate your horse. Doing a job with a horse, whether it is flagging a young colt, opening gates, roping or checking cattle, really brings your horsemanship to another level. It has been so fun riding with everyone this winter!
Speaking of colts, the babies got their first encounter with having their teeth floated. They all did great! Des does an amazing job at getting these youngsters to feel good about new experiences and this will carry over to anything they do under saddle.
Chris has been making trips up the mountain to bring Willy fuel for the excavator while he cleans up Shayne’s new piece of land. It is always an adventure when there is snow and/or ice on the ground. While the East is getting pounded with snow, we are chugging along with just enough to make it white outside. It is a wet mix of rain and snow as I write this, but the forecast is optimistically predicting more snow for next week. Bring it on for Christmas!
We wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday and look forward to seeing many of you here soon.
Until next time,
December 12th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 49
Hey everyone! It’s Maddog reporting live from the ranch! I will be writing the Highline for Janice while she is home for the holidays. I’m excited to have the opportunity to share the latest happenings of the ranch with all of you.
Last weekend we said goodbye to Scott and Alyssa who went home to their families for the winter. It’s been very quiet without the both of them. I keep expecting Scotty (I affectionately refer to him as my big brother) to walk through the lodge door and start cracking jokes. I also miss having hilarious conversations with Alyssa over breakfast, it was the best way to start the day. Scott and Alyssa will be back soon though and the crew and I are looking forward to having them back!
Meanwhile, over at the arena it’s been another busy week of riding. Des has been riding through some of her younger horses and I’ve had the opportunity to help her along the way. Riding beside her, I’ve learned how to support her horse with proper positioning and presence. Doing this has helped me learn to read the horse better so I can be in the right place at the right time, giving the colt support. Des does such an amazing job preparing her horses on the ground to where the first rides are a breeze for both horse and rider. It’s been really fun to help Des along the way and she has taught me so much on how to properly give a horse the right start.
Along with watching the younger horses progress, we have been working on backing and roping. This week,
Shayne taught us how to canter small circles with our ropes around a barrel. The goal was to stack our ropes perfectly while coiling or uncoiling with each rotation around the barrel without our ropes touching the ground. I had never done anything like it before and was a bit nervous to try it. But I entered up, and lets just say I had Shayne laughing pretty good with my lack of coordination. After a few minutes, I found my rhythm and was stacking my coils around the barrel. My goal is to do that exercise everyday until branding season. Kevin’s mom, Bronwyn, has also been riding with us this week. She has improved leaps and bounds in just one week. Her seat position has completely changed and she’s had a great feel with the horses. All week long Bronwyn has done a great job performing leg yields, haunches in and backing arcs. Not to mention she is a pleasure to have around and the crew enjoys hearing all the Kevin stories.
In other ranch news, it finally starting snowing again- maybe we will have a white Christmas after all J. Many of the ranch ponies are enjoying some time off this month and are full on in their winter coats! Chris has been busy keeping all the ranch vehicles up and running, and the rest of the staff is busy with a variety of projects
We are all looking forward to decorating our tree in the lodge this weekend. Stay tuned for more pictures…
Until next time!
December 5th, 2020, Volume 15, Issue 48
It’s hard to believe it’s already December. Just last week we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner! Levi, our most recent intern who came at the end of August left the day after Thanksgiving. He had befriended all of us during is time here, and will be sorely missed until his return next season, especially by Kevin. Our crew is shrinking a bit for our winter season, but don’t worry many of us will return next year!
This week has been filled with some riding but mostly catching up on ranch projects. The boys have been working over at the shop, while Emily and Maddie have been busy decorating the lodge with Christmas cheer. Meanwhile Janice and I have been busy running the office, and booking guests for next year. It feels good to catch up on some projects, especially as the days have been getting colder and shorter.
Willy, one of our ranch hands has been busy logging Shayne’s new piece Pier and Shayne has asked him to get us a tree! Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the snow, Christmas music and the general giving spirit of the season. It’s a time for family and friends, which is everyone here at the ranch to me. I go home for a couple of months at the end of this week, and I will sure miss my ranch family while I’m gone, as nice is it will be to see my family back home in Michigan. We have a really great crew here this year and it’s made working here even more fun! Chris who’s the newest hire has already become a big part of the ranch family these past few months. He’s been very knowledgeable and helpful with everything from ranch vehicles; to plumbing and all things ranch work, Chris is your guy. Kevin and Scott have really enjoyed having Chris’s help and knowledge.
It’s been a really great year here at McGinnis in spite of all the craziness going on in the world. We’ve been fortunate to be able to stay on the ranch and avoid a lot of the issues COVID has created. We have missed our lovely guests though! We’re hoping we’ll get to see everybody next season.
Until next time, Happy Holidays!
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!