Ranch Life Articles

Temptation with a Hammer

January 17, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

The saga of working for Dick continued after the preliminary day. The cows had to be gathered after a few weeks to sort the bull calves off so he could haul them home. Those nice cows walked right into the corrals and they sorted fine. The bull calves, who were big boys, loaded into his […]

Fat Cow Training

January 7, 2023
Jan Swan Wood

Day working is sort of a feast or famine way of making a living. I must have been in a time of famine, probably had something like medical bills to pay, when I agreed to go to work for a guy that called. His reputation as a womanizer was well known, but at almost 40, […]

Meeting Quigley

December 26, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

We’d bought a place back in my home country that was right along the county road. Just across that road was a pasture that my Uncle Paul owned. He wasn’t really blood kin, but, he’d always been Uncle Paul. He was a stock contractor. During the summer he ran his bucking horses in that pasture […]

Buckskin Joe and His Magic

December 21, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

I’ve had many horses over the years, mostly good, some awful, but this one has lasted the longest. His name is Buckskin Joe, Joe for short. I received him for Christmas when I was a tiny girl, though I don’t remember for sure how old I was. My brothers and sisters got him for me. […]

Skijoring Ranch Style

December 19, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

My brother Dave was home for Christmas from Texas. He loved the outdoors, especially in the winter when he could hunt fox and coyotes on the ranch. He had gotten a set of cross country skis and was learning how to use them. I had been out gathering the sheep into the winter corral in […]

Blind Runaway

December 14, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

My high school years were spent going to school and doing the riding on the ranch, since I was the last kid at home. In the winter, my Dad was gone about every week day buying cattle, so it was my job to do chores and any riding necessary when I got home from school. […]

Cold Perspective

December 6, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

When I moved to northeastern New Mexico to a ranch job, I thought I was in a veritable winter paradise. It might get down to the upper 30s at night, but the days were sunny and usually up around 50 degrees. I’d never wintered anywhere but northwestern South Dakota, and left there to head south […]

Queen of the Road

November 27, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

Dad used to tell me stories about my Great Grandmother Swan. By all accounts, including his, she was a tough lady who had survived some hard circumstances and made a good life in eastern Colorado, having emigrated there from Scotland, via England and Canada, in the very early 1900s. She adapted to ranch life as […]

Street Gang Saddle Horses

November 21, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

Nearly everything that was done on one ranch I worked on was somewhat slaunchwise and sometimes ridiculous. That actually described the owner to a T. We’ll call him Frank. I lived about 30 miles from the ranch as there was no housing there for me, so I slept in a little house in town and […]

The Clever Kelly

November 17, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

I get a kick out of a horse with a humorous personality. They keep life interesting and keeps one on their toes. I had one named Kelly that had the most creative mind and cleverness I ever knew. I got him as a long three year old and put him down at almost 29 years. […]