Ranch Life Articles

The Primal Scream

June 8, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

When my middle grandboy, Taygen, was just past yearling size, he discovered his “loud voice”. He would be doing something like walking around the furniture, crawling around on the floor, or riding in his carseat, when suddenly, without warning or provocation, would emit a scream that woke the dogs four miles away. Just one. Never […]

Jersey Bull Adjustment

June 6, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

My dad was born in 1925, and the oldest of two boys. His brother Keith was several years younger than him. They were raised hard, in that there was a great deal expected of them by a stern father. My dad, especially, had a lot of responsibility as a very small boy, since he was […]

Unc and the Horse Theives

June 2, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

This is a story my Dad shared with me over a decade ago, so I’ll do my best to remember it accurately. My Grandad Swan had an uncle who settled on the eastern Colorado plains in around 1868. He came to that area from Texas with some mares and a good stud and lived in […]

Rise and Shine

May 24, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

One of the first “off the home ranch” jobs I had after I got out of school was on a very remote ranch, working for an elderly couple. I boarded with them as part of my wages. There was another guy who worked for them and ate his lunch there on the days he was […]

Heel Flies Were a Menace

May 22, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

Most of the time I’m pretty fond of the memories I have of the “good old days” growing up on the ranch and learning the industry from the ground up. There are some things that don’t charm me to this day, though, and one of those is the scourge of the heel flies. If I […]

Earning What You Value Most

May 10, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

My son was a senior in high school that spring. It was a practice high school rodeo and we were there early to get a good spot to park with room for his horses. We had unloaded and had the horses tied to the trailer, hay nets hanging by them so they could pick at […]

Pairing Out the Hard Way

May 8, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

An area ranch had hired me to come and help them get their cows and calves to summer grass. They asked me if I could swing by and pick up another guy and his horse on the way and I said I would. When I got there, this guy, Cody as I recall, had his […]

A Wild Bucking Horse Gather

April 24, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

In mid April we were preparing to receive our summer cattle on several big grazing leases. A great deal of fence fixing was involved, but one of the biggest problems we had was that there were around 75 head or more of bucking horses running on that 25,000 plus acres of country with the gates […]

Better to be Lucky than Smart

April 20, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

We had taken on a cattle contract to care for about 4000 steers and 800 cow/calf pairs for the grazing season. It was my husband, three year old son and I who were going to be doing it. We had to get around the fences as soon as the snow and mud went off and […]

Emergency Brakes

April 10, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

When I was in high school I always had summer herd cattle to ride on, besides doing the riding on my folks’ place, so I had miles to put on horses and could work the kinks out of horses that just needed time and wet saddle blankets. A guy had sent a horse to me […]

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