Ranch Life Articles

Proper Cowboy Language

July 26, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

When I worked on the New Mexico outfit way back when, one of the most remarkable experiences of moving to the southwest was the respect shown toward women. Gentlemen simply did not swear around a woman or use “coarse” talk. The cowboss wouldn’t even use the words manure or breed around me when talking about […]


Shorty the Golden Steer Wrestling Horse

July 16, 2022
Ruth Nicolaus

A pretty special horse is about to retire. Shorty, a red roan gelding owned by Dane Pokorny and his parents, Brad and Paula, will make his final steer wrestling runs at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyo. July 17-24.   Then it’s green grass and pastures for the mount. Shorty is no […]


Horses are Good Ice Breakers

July 14, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

I was a newly married 21 year old when we moved to Nebraska. The ranch we went to work for was in mostly ranch country, with some farming. We were responsible for yearling breeding heifers, a stud and mare band, some center pivots and putting up the hay. Naturally, we arrived with some saddle horses […]


Hard Times Make Tough People

June 26, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

In the late 1920s and into the 1930s, my grandparents were struggling to hang onto a ranch on the eastern Colorado plains. The recession and Dirty 30s were hard times for most and folks had to dig in to survive. There was just hardly a dime to be found and folks bartered for most things. […]


Tubing Horses Was Not for the Faint of Heart

June 23, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

Old Tony was a fine gentleman I worked with on a ranch in New Mexico in the early 1980s. I don’t know how old he was, but the ranch owner said he hadn’t changed since he was a boy and Al was a Korean veteran. Tony was a man of pure Spanish blood. His family […]


First Paying Job as a Kid

June 19, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

Most people’s first jobs are when they are in high school, perhaps to save money for a car or college. My first job was when I was 12 years old. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was at a 4-H rodeo when a good friend of my Dad’s, Darrell, approached me and […]


Colt Antics

June 15, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

Back when we were raising horses, we had two proven saddle horse mares who had both foaled stud colts one year, and they were as opposite as can be, but became best buddies out in the pasture. The Thoroughbred colt, LeRoy, was all legs, big, gangly and full of mischief. Spider was a Quarter Horse […]


De”cap”itated by a Hawk

June 12, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

It was an early summer and I had been hired to ride on the cattle on a big summer range next to my folks ranch. I did the riding on both places as I was in high school. The pasture I was checking steers in was rolling prairie with some deep draws and hills with […]


A Very Senior Cow Horse

May 25, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

It had been a nice wet spring and calving was on full blast. I needed to go get a cow in who was taking too long to calve, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and ride the old kid horse. Kid horses need to have an adult ride them occasionally and […]


Soggy Sheep Saga

May 23, 2022
Jan Swan Wood

One chore on the ranch that I didn’t enjoy much came in the last weeks before lambing started. Since we range lambed, we didn’t shear until on the brink of it starting on about May 15, as those ewes could get mighty chilly once sheared. So, when it rained, their fleeces got really heavy, and […]