City Slickers: Co-Op Boosts Montana Ranches That Offer Working Vacations

By Healy, Donna | Rural Cooperatives, July-August 2009 | Go to article overview

City Slickers: Co-Op Boosts Montana Ranches That Offer Working Vacations


Healy, Donna, Rural Cooperatives


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Trailed by lone riders, the black Angus cattle came together along the grassy bench in slow moving dribs and drabs.

In the valley below, a creek, muddy with runoff, cuts through a band of brush and trees. A panorama of snowcapped mountains ringed the horizon, the craggy Crazy Mountains to the northwest and the Beartooth and Absaroka ranges curling around from the south and west.

The Metcalf Ranch, along Lower Deer Creek, sits a few miles south of Interstate-90 off the Greycliff exit, east of Big Timber. But the top-of-the-world view from the bench above the ranch house seems like a holdover from another century.

As the cattle came together, the pace quickened. Riders veered off to chase errant cows, loping away from the herd. More riders turned the herd of about 200 mother cows back in the right direction when they overshot the gate and moved them slowly down the road.

Among those riders was a lithe 32-year-old wearing a crisp white polo shirt and tight jeans. For Christine Ortjohann, from Cologne, Germany, the chance to herd the ranch's cattle at a late May branding fulfilled a life-long dream.

"I have a lot of good pictures in my mind," she said, her words nearly drowned out by calves bawling for their mothers.

In Germany, Ortjohann sells newspaper printing ink for a living. She also spends the equivalent of about $570 to board a horse in Germany, an expense she equates with the cost of a rental apartment.

At the rope-and-drag and into-the-fire branding in the Metcalf's corrals, the ranch's other paying guest, an ag student from a farm in Tennessee, wrestled several calves to the ground while Ortjohann watched from the sidelines.

"I don't really know how to do it," she said. "I will keep on watching and stay in the background a little bit."

But, a short time later, ranch owner Remi Metcalf, who usually prefers to let his wife, Susan, and 20-year-old son, Bret, take care of the ranch guests, steadied Ortjohann's hand as she burned the Metcalf's brand on three calves.

After many years of taking in ranch guests on their own, last year the Metcalfs joined Montana Bunkhouses Working Ranch Vacations, a cooperative of more than 20 cattle ranches.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A handful of those ranches are clustered around Big Timber, although three of those ranches have temporarily stopped taking guests, in the aftermath of the Derby fire. Some of the ranches are in decidedly less touristy spots, including Harlowton and Musselshell.

The first 10 ranches banded together in 2002 to offer guests a realistic view of ranch life.

Karen Searle, the galvanizing force behind the cooperative, describes herself as a matchmaker, pairing ranch families and travelers. Searle, a former hospital administrator in Livingston, earns a commission for handling the marketing booking and some accounting chores.

The former director of a national center for cooperative business development credited Searle as having put together the first agri-tourism cooperative of cattle ranches in the United States.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The co-op, which is actually a limited liability company, was formed after Searle returned in 2002 from a World Congress on Rural Women and Rural Issues in Spain. It's modeled along the lines of European farm holiday programs.

The basics were hashed out around a kitchen table by 10 Sweet Grass County ranchers, none of whom had ever hosted guests.

One common thread was the authenticity of the ranches, Searle said.

"We started with ranches that had been in families for generations," she said.

To keep it real, they didn't want anyone to hire wranglers to care for guests or to build a lodge to house them.

The co-op's members saw agritourism as a way to help preserve family ranches and to narrow the divide between ranch and city dwellers on land use and wildlife issues. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

City Slickers: Co-Op Boosts Montana Ranches That Offer Working Vacations
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.