The following blog post was featured 1st in Ranch & Reserve Magazine's Vol 3 Issue 1
In the midst of bleak wintry months, when darkness falls early and daylight hours too short, it’s hard to imagine the eternal hope and promise of spring. We tend to forget the sheer essence and joy of a spring season; the whiffs of crisp fresh air blowing down the street; fleecy white clouds scudding across iridescent pale blue skies; buds beginning to burst; tender green shoots poking above ground and early daffodils wafting gently in the breeze.
Spring heralds the perennial rebirth of earth and renewal of all life forms; a primeval force that is rooted deep in the human psyche which is celebrated in various ways by various peoples, such as Stonehenge, an English prehistoric Druid monument, where followers gather to observe the precise angle at which the sun rises over the ring of massive standing stones during the vernal equinox on March 20th when day and night across the globe is of equal length.
The coming of Spring, was so integral to its culture, that the ancient Mayans bequeathed to the world the UNESCO archaeological site of Chichén Itzá in Mexico, which hosts countless visitors to its Kulkulkan Temple at the dawn equinox, all hoping to glimpse a mythical serpent slithering along the steps of the pyramid owing to the effect of light and shadow created by the early Mayan architects and astronomers.
The First New Moon of Spring honoured by the Cherokee tribes, involved much traditional feasting, music and dancing as decreed by the seven “principals” or elders, who determined the appropriate dates in March to proclaim the arrival of spring.
And not least….the sensational avant-garde ballet and orchestral work Rite of Spring by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky which premièred in Paris, May 1913 and portrayed earthy pagan Russian rites. Despite its somewhat rowdy reception by the audience, the musical score has become an acclaimed concert staple.
These and many other spring festivals, events and ceremonies welcome the advent of spring, which usually falls between March 20th and ends June 20th within the Northern hemisphere. Springtime is what pulls us out of ourselves, to shake off the winter doldrums and embrace the earth awakening out of its deep winter sleep. And…. what better place is there to experience this annual resurgence of life firsthand than at an authentic working ranch, which offers the opportunity to see gangly new calves, cattle being driven out to pasture, wildflowers in bloom and spectacular landscapes.
Horses N Courage a unique Montana dude ranch, is one such place to experience that primordial call of nature and get back to the basic, simpler things of life. Situated in Sawmill Canyon, in beautiful Big Sky country and surrounded by amazing mountain scenery, this rustic working ranch is owned and operated by the Hereim family and can accommodate up to 8 guests at any one time between June 1st and September 1st. With such a small number of guests, the warm and caring hosts soon have guests feeling right at home!
Accommodation at the ranch campsite compound consists of comfortably equipped Wall-Tents for up to four adults or Cowboy-Teepees suitable for one adult or two children. An immaculate clean old-fashioned outhouse is a short walk away. A self-standing, large wood-sided outdoor shower with propane heated water sits behind the cook tent, facing the trees for absolute privacy.
Hearty ranch-cooked meals are prepared and eaten outdoors on a friendly communal dining table and include such mains as ranch-raised natural beef with western style fixings. Big mountain breakfasts and generous lunches will satisfy even the hungriest appetite. Guests are also encouraged to bring their own smores for the nightly campfire, favourite snacks, soft drinks and alcohol if desired. If you do have any dietary concerns, please advise the ranch at time of booking.
This down-home kind of ranch is the perfect place for experienced horse-riders to spend many hours in the saddle honing their skills and for intermediate riders to gain valuable practice time in the saddle. Depending on ability and comfort level, guests can ride up to 6 hours a day, exploring the 2,000 acres of private ranch territory while observing abundant wildlife. Special thrills include herding and moving cattle or trail riding among alpine meadows festooned with wildflowers and breathtaking vistas of Big Sky country.
The ranch offers packages of 7 days/6 nights or 4 days/3 nights with wall-tent or cowboy-teepee accommodation and three western meals per day. Non-riding activities include mountain hiking, photography, rope lessons or soaking in the natural hot springs at nearby White Sulphur Springs. In addition, the ranch hosts a Women’s Healing retreat and other Well-Being events during the summer months. Please see ranch site for details. Horses N Courage is a WiFi free ranch, which allows guests to totally disconnect from the constant clamour of cell-phones, to live truly in the moment and recharge their own inner life source.
Our other featured ranch, The New Haven Ranch in Hulett, Northeastern Wyoming, lies on the edge of the Black Hills and is a fulltime 4-generation family-run and operated genuine working ranch. The ranch is flanked by timbered canyons, high plateaus and sage brush prairie land. Its central focus is all about raising cattle, riding horses and caring for a menagerie of ranch animals. New Haven is not your average cattle ranch and sits on the grounds of an old ghost town with a long and colourful history. The ranch property was originally founded by homesteaders over 150 years ago before being driven out by, “dirty cattle barons.”
Open to guests since 2003, the minimum one-week stays, available from May 19 to October 13, offer experienced and intermediate riders age 16 and up, an invaluable, up close opportunity to participate in all the many adventurous aspects of a working cattle ranch, such as moving cattle, checking fences and reservoirs, rounding up strays, roping practice and cutting as well as loading and shipping cattle. The ranch is an advocate of the “Parelli Way” style of natural horsemanship. As a fully functional, busy ranch, it assigns each guest rider two horses for the week and advises that riders should have previously ridden in all three gaits and be able to sit in the saddle for up to 3 hours.
Other activities to be enjoyed for riding and non-riding guests are hiking, wildlife spotting, swimming, boating and fishing for trout at the ranch lake. The Devil’s Tower, an ancient volcanic vent and the first ever National Monument, is 30 minutes away. Mount Rushmore and the gold digging town of Deadwood are less than 2 hours.
Accommodation consists of 5 comfortable bedrooms with private baths at the Guest Lodge which can house up to 10 guests. The attached kitchen and dining room provide three good, satisfying ranch-cooked meals a day or lunch out on the trail and all-day snacks. The ranch produces an astonishing variety of home-grown beef, lamb, goat, geese, ducks, game birds, trout, eggs and vegetables. The lodge has furnace and woodstove for heating or A/C during the warmer months.
For leisurely evenings after an active fun-filled day, what could be more relaxing than kicking back on the guest lodge balcony with new-found, like-minded guests admiring the Missouri Buttes; maybe a friendly game of pool in the recreation room or sharing a soak in the hot tub under a pristine star-studded night where cares are forgotten, and the world is suddenly fresh and new again.
Spring is such an awesome, magical season…. it’s a sign of things to come with life spilling over in joyous abandon, a time to reassess and discover what truly is important in this life and nothing could be better than a spring ranch vacation to kick start an exciting year ahead!
Let RanchSeeker help you find that perfect ranch to reacquaint you with that glorious feeling of being alive!