The running joke about Montana weather is “if you don’t like it…wait 15 minutes.” As the 2019 range rider season for the Tom Miner Basin starts there have been plenty of windy, snowy and wet days with the occasional ray of sunshine breaking through. Work has varied between community, cattle and horses.
I have met with livestock managers and landowners within Tom Miner Basin which allows them to put a face with the 2019 range rider. The meeting also allows those using a range rider to express their needs, concerns, and past observations of the relationship between livestock depredation and the land. In addition to these meetings, the community has also been engaged during my work this past week. A group of college students came to the Anderson Ranch on May 16 to learn more about range riding and range stewards. These students were able to ask Malou questions about the program and also asked me about my path to range riding. The afternoon of May 16, fladry was taken down and a team of four others assisted me with collecting the fiberglass poles, rolling up fladry, and storing the fladry appropriately. The three volunteers were from a variety of backgrounds including a Masters student from the Netherlands, a couple from Portland, Oregon that have spent many years hiking the Yellowstone backcountry, and a family member that has chosen to spend the summer working for the Anderson Ranch. One of the fladry rolls belonged to the NRDC and I was able to meet involved NRDC representatives when returning the roll to their office in Bozeman. Lastly, we posted “No Smoking” signs along private property boundaries of Tom Miner Road in hopes of discouraging bear-watching tourists from lighting up in areas that are a high fire risk. These signs are especially important because the areas that these tourists park are especially vulnerable to fire in August and September which is also when road tourist visitation is at its highest.
I checked the cow-calf pairs out to pasture multiple times over the past week as the weather provided coverage for predators. In addition to grouping the herd closer together the health status of the cows and calves was checked and the livestock manager contacted when sick animals were observed.
An important portion of checking cow-calf pairs is having good cow horses. Work has been done every day in order to prepare the horses physically and mentally for early mornings and long days. There is nothing like working horses in cold, wet, and windy weather to break them out of their winter vacations.
-Sabrina Bradford, Tom Miner Range Rider