The last few weeks have been noted with colder temperatures, filling up our 2023 guest dates, shipping our cattle out and winter projects here at the ranch. We are in full swing with winter weather as our mornings have dropped in to the negative temperatures, horses have been moved to the winter pasture, the elk herds are a daily sighting, and the snow is here to stay! Our days have been filled with indoor projects like deep cleaning & conditioning our beautiful Frecker’s guest saddles, winterizing the cabins, tidying up the lodge, and sorting through the collection of things we accumulate through the season.
Originally, we planned to ship our cattle out on November 8th, but due to the snowfall we received a few nights prior and the colder temperatures, the cattle trucks were not able to make it up the mountain until a few days later. The temperature that morning was just above 0 degrees. Normally we do not ship the cattle out so late in the season, but with the icy ground, we chose to sort and load on foot for the safety of our horses. Working on foot put our stockmanship to the test since we had to keep the steers quiet to prevent them from slipping on the ice. Randy, who oversees the cattle operation, had stressed the importance of pushing our cattle through the chute at different points within the season so there was no fuss in getting everyone loaded. Shipping day is always a bittersweet moment as we have put our heart and soul into caring for them over the summer, but seeing such healthy steers loaded in a gentle manner always puts a smile on our faces.
With the snowfall we are now putting hay out for the horses daily and the elk have volunteered to join in on the hay as well. Apparently we have traded feeding cattle for elk! We have a large herd of Elk who have come down the mountain with the dropping temperatures and the snow covered forage. They are a smart crew who await the feed truck’s arrival and join the horses as soon as the hay has been dropped! They manage to casually jump the fence or sometimes crash through it for fun to jump in and eat. Because of our frequent feeding of the horses and wildlife, all of us as staff are learning how to load the feed truck and fix fence so that we are never short handed if someone is off for the day.
We’ve been out checking on the horses every day making sure everyone is doing well in these colder temperatures as well as making sure the automatic waterers don’t freeze up. We’ve only seen a few freezing waterers, but we have see many cute icy whiskers out there. The horses are always up for some good pets and attention. Everyone has been settling into the winter reallywell with plenty of wooly coats as evidence. The guest horses get a nice break for the winter while the guests aren’t here while we book for next year! We are rapidly filling up for 2023 and already have some of our dates full or almost filled. We will be working hard this winter to make sure next season is a great one! It will be quiet here at the ranch without the hussle and bustle of guests, but there is a nice peace too of our smaller winter crew which gives us time to rest as well!