Magazine article Sunset

Ranch Vacation

Magazine article Sunset

Ranch Vacation

Article excerpt

Reconnect with your inner cowboy in Montana

PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUG LONEMAN

The sun, barely up, cast long shadows over the 3,000-plus acres of the Crazy Mountain Cattle Company, just west of Big Timber, Montana. Rancher Rick Jarrett and I had headed out early to irrigate a hay field in much the same way his grandfather did when he settled here in 1908.

As we plunged our shovels deep into the banks of an irrigation ditch, clear, cold water spilled into the field of alfalfa that brushed our rubberbooted legs. Jarrett paused to reflect on the realities of modern ranching: "This is what cattle ranching in this part of Montana is all about ... I'm as much of a hay farmer as a cattle rancher. Hay is money in the bank. It keeps our cattle, and us, going through the winter."

That is, it helps. These days beef alone doesn't pay the bills. Which is whyjarrett, his wife, Karen Searle, and nine neighboring longtime ranchers started Montana Bunkhouses Working Ranch Vacations last year. …

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