10 Things I Love About October

ShippingPlease go to my self-hosted site TheMontanaCowgirl.com


It’s fall, or “pre-winter” if you live in Montana. It’s the season between broiling hot August/September and cold, snowy (and gray) months of winter. Fall is Montana is usually very short, so it’s important to sit back and appreciate it while it’s here. So, inspired by The Pioneer Woman’s list, here is my top 10 list:

1. Cooler days, cold nights.

Time to break out the long johns, Muck Boots and Carhartts. And sweaters. And scarves. And wool socks. And wool caps.

2. Changing leaves.

Montana is always beautiful but a Montana fall is really special as the leaves turn from lush green to golden yellow, orange and red. It’s a photographer’s dream and it makes those frosty mornings riding through the trees after a missing cow so much more enjoyable.

3. Shipping calves

We spend weeks moving and gathering cows and their calves, which are fat and shiny from a long summer of tall green grass. Time to bring them in, wean them from their mothers and send them onto the next phase in feeding the world. It can be a little sad saying goodbye to the animals you’ve worked so hard to keep happy and growing for the last 8 months. Sad, until you receive your…

4. Calf checks

For most ranchers, it’s their only paycheck of the year. While both nerve-racking and a huge relief, shipping your calves and getting paid by the pound for those babies is always a good thing, especially when you have been putting off paying some bills for a while now.

5. Pumpkins

It’s seems that everyone is pumpkin crazy this time of year. Pumpkinaholics everywhere. I like to have the actual pumpkin, whole and as a decoration on my front step. No pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pancakes with pumpkin spiced syrup, no pumpkin soup with pumpkins seed garnish. I like a regular ol’ pumpkin on my porch to greet everyone that come to our house and confirms that, yes, it is October. (Note: I have yet to get said pumpkin.)

6. Apples

This has been a great year for apples trees and our many apples tree have been packed with big juicy apples for weeks now. Unlike my pumpkin, I am absolutely okay with apples in everything I eat. Bring on the pie, cider, breads, muffins, cobblers, weird sweet savory soups, anything.

7. Football

Cowboy is addicted to football. There, I said it. He likes college football, NFL football. He likes football on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and any other day they happen to have football highlights on SportsCenter (which is everyday, in case you were wondering). The roof on our house was replaced and with it, the satellite dish for the TV. After learning that we would be without TV for two weeks before the new one was installed, I think he seriously contemplated moving back to town. In summary, he survived and has been on a football bender ever since.

8. Shopping

The best part about fall for me? Shopping for winter clothes, of course. A full day of nothing to do but shop and spend money and no Cowboy to lecture me. It was glorious. For those of you who can shop with your husband, good for you. I think shopping with mine would be a lot like hunting with a game warden. You’ll probably get something but it’s not nearly as much fun.

9. The Return to the Kitchen

I probably turned on my oven twice this summer. My motivation to cook anything more technical than a salad decreases as the temperature outdoors increases. This is likely another time Cowboy contemplates moving back to town. Soups, casseroles, roasts, oh my.

10. Goodbye Daylight Savings

C’mon November 3rd. I’m ready.

Thinking of you South Dakota

The original post can be found on TheMontanaCowgirl.com


Thinking of you South Dakota

Posted by in Blog, calves, love, Montana

For those in ranching, there are several things that can keep you awake at night with worry. What if cattle prices drop or corn prices continue to skyrocket? How are we going to pay our taxes this year or the fuel bill this month? Can we hold off on paying the vet bill so that we can pay the kids’ doctor bills? The single most devastating thing to happen to a rancher, other that the loss of a family member, is the death of his stock. This life presents an interesting perspective on death and loss. Ranchers face death and loss on an almost daily basis. Not that we lose an animal everyday, but the risk is always there. Ranch kids learn the hard lesson early on – barn kittens they played with and loved get killed by raccoons, Dad ran over the dog with the tractor, the chickens were wiped out by a bear (or the same damn raccoons), and so on. Most of these losses are met with some tears but slowly, ranch kids learn that animal loss is just part of this life. Fortunately, ranch life goes on in a hurry. Calves are born in the spring, most make a spectacularly uneventful entrance into the world and grow to feed the world. Some, despite every effort made by the rancher, just aren’t meant to make it. These calf losses weigh on the rancher both from a checkbook standpoint (income per calf lost) and from a responsibility standpoint (what could I have done to prevent that from happening), but life continues. (It’s worth noting that while we expect loss during calving, the higher the loss count, the higher the stress level, and in ranching is a lot of pride wrapped up in keeping your stock healthy so often ranchers don’t discuss how many calves they have lost.)

It’s with a heavy heart that I read about the devastating loss of livestock in South Dakota, Wyoming and surrounding areas. Thousands of animals succumbed to hypothermia after freezing rain followed by 2-3 feet of snow and unforgiving wind, some suffocated in the snow as they pressed together to escape the weather. Our own cattle are still on summer pasture and tolerate the elements well with the grass still in the pastures, and because of this we will not starting supplementing their feed for a few months still. Their coats are still relatively thin compared to the thick winter coats they develop as the temperatures slowly drop heading into winter. Unfortunately for those affected by the blizzards, their animals were in the same condition. Caught of guard by a freak early fall storm, there is nothing more those ranchers could have done to protect those animals. It could have just as easily been Montana. It could have just as easily been our animals, our place.

Estimates as high as 60,000 cattle have been lost due to the deadly blizzard last week. To put into perspective, let’s assume each cow lost was worth $1000 (very low ball number), that’s $60,000,000 that ranchers lost. This time of year, we are preparing our calves to be sold (by weight) and shipped to their next owner, many of the calves in the blizzard effected areas were lost or will lose significant weight, another devastating blow to the rancher. For most ranchers, this is their one and only paycheck per year. What about insurance? Honestly, most ranchers are happy to be able to afford health insurance for their children and auto insurance on their vehicles, not to mention all the other insurances required for a self-employed property owner.  What about government assistance? The United States government, along with the major news networks, have not even acknowledged the losses, and that is disgraceful. These people that have lost their livelihoods are victims of mother nature, the same as anyone who loses their property to Mother Nature. They did not ask for this, they do not deserve, and they did not choose it. To assume or suggest otherwise is cruel and cowardly.

While these animals are bred to eventually be consumed, a rancher’s responsibility is to make their relatively short lives as healthy and productive as possible. It is in the rancher’s best interest to make sure each animal has optimal feed, water and supplements everyday to ensure growth, maintenance, and protection from disease. Making sure a cow has enough feed in front of her in the winter to sustain her in the frigid temperatures and support the growth of her unborn calf is literally a daily investment, both financially and in sweat equity from the rancher (you don’t even want to run the numbers to see what most ranchers make per day or per cow, trust me). This investment can span generations and always includes sacrifices, but a rancher loves his “job” in few people in American culture can grasp. This is not a 9-5 that keeps disenchanted employees dangling along because of the benefits, like a sparkly 401K or PTO. Most ranchers can’t fathom getting paid for being on vacation (I, on the other hand, remember PTO and miss it dearly). Ranching is a lifestyle, a tradition, a honor and a risk, and one of the most unappreciated careers in society. God bless the victims of this sad event. God bless the American Rancher.

Please check out The South Dakota Cowgirl for ways you can help.

Two Solid Months!!

I am ashamed to point out that it has been two months since my last post. I guess that’s what a busy summer will do for you. I have been writing posts in my mind if that counts. Here’s what’s been going on:

  1. Launched my photography business — Please feel free to check out my website SophiDavis.com or on Facebook.
  2. Got through the rest of branding. Started and finished farming despite a glorious June full of rain!
  3. Moving cows a couple of times per week. Waking up at 4 to saddle horses. Not enough coffee in Montana for that but I love it.
  4. Got my garden in and growing. It’s amazing what happens when you actually water what you plant!
  5. Acquired a new flock of chickens. They are colorful and so sweet. No eggs yet but any day now!!
  6. Made homemade yogurt in mason jars – probably one of my greatest domestic achievements of all time. And its delicious.
  7. Working on a re-design/relaunch of TheMontanaCowgirl.com website but this will probably not happens for another month or so.
  8. Currently haying. Haven’t seen Cowboy in a few days.


Ok, I’m sure there are many more things but I gotta go salt and mineral cows. And clean my kitchen. Here is a parting pic from my new website. It’s from about a month ago but I think it will give you a pretty good idea of how fabulous our summer has been so far.

xo MC

Cramer Branding-066

The Montana Cowgirl — Studs and Turquoise

The Montana Cowgirl -- Studs and Turquoise
The Montana Cowgirl — Studs and Turquoise by themontanacowgirl featuring Montana Silversmiths, Old Gringo
Maybe it’s the howling wind or the couple inches of blessed wet snow gracing the ground on our little island under the Big Sky, but I am definitely getting spring fever. And apparently, stud fever! Studs with turquoise and feminine touches is on my mind (and body) for spring. While a turquoise skinny jean is not completely necessary, some type of turquoise jewelry is. These pieces from Montana Silversmiths are speaking to me right now, with the perfect mix of tough and girly. Studded boots from Old Gringo and fun studded pieces like shorts or tank, paired with a soft blouse or skirt,  are perfect for date night with the Cowboy, shopping with the girls or a bachelorette party. Aren’t this studded Big Buddha bag and clutch fantastic? I have the bag and it is by far my favorite bag ever, especially since it has a paisley satin lining.
I would go with minimal hair and makeup with this much studded stuff going on — clean and fresh!

Getting ready for Branding!

Getting ready for Branding!

Rush getting mentally prepared for branding tomorrow…

This week is an exciting one  on the ranch. In between showers of rain and snow (finally!) we have been busy sorting pairs of cow and calves, cleaning up and cooking for the first big branding of the year here on the island. After a long winter and an even longer calving season, branding gives ranch folks a chance to see relatives and catch-up with friends you haven’t seen in several months, all while getting some work done. Truth is, we couldn’t do brandings without our friends and neighbors. Most of them have their own laundry lists of chores this time of year so we are especially grateful when they show up.

Rose Red Baby Calves


Last December, Cowboy and I bought our own cows. Our little herd consists of ten black Angus cross cows from a rancher in Wilsall plus two Gelbvieh-Red Angus cross cows courtesy of Cowboy’s parents. At the advice of our accountant we set-up an LLC for the livestock, which, after much discussion and a few cocktails, we named “Windy Country Livestock LLC” — pretty appropriate considering that we moved from what we previously considered the windiest place on Earth (Livingston, Montana) to the actual windiest place on Earth (Springdale, Montana). The months leading up to buying our cows was exciting and stressful as we applied for financing, researched interest rates, and watched the bred cow market. Finally, with a tip from Cowboy’s grandpa and a blank check from the bank, we found our cows. After stroking a big check and loading a couple of trailers, our girls were on their way home. All that was left to do was wait… and feed them.

On Feburary 23rd, our first little lady was born to our #701 cow. By now, she is much bigger and wilder, and the rest of our cows have successfully calved but I found these pictures and had to share in her cuteness. Enjoy!


701 is a sweetheart but even the best cow can get grumpy right after she calves. Hormones! Thank goodness she decided not to take out the photographer here.


Getting checked out. How cute is her pink nose?!



Just a man and his cow… and calf.

Of Buffalo and Longhorns

Ah, buffalo. They really are one of my very favorite animals. My aunt and uncle ranch in Colorado and raise buffalo, and during my visits there, the buffalo cows and calves could be heard outside the windows at night, the cows making a soft woft sound to their babies. To be sure, there is nothing cuter than a copper colored buffalo calf in the spring. They are even cuter than our little black baby calves, which is saying something. In fact, since I was in my pre-teens, I have dreamed about raising buffalo.  I am just as likely to buy something with a buffalo on it as I am if its turquoise… or has a Chief head on it. Or a bucking horse. But this isn’t really a post about fashion.
When I met Cowboy, I was working for a local rancher would had traded in their black Angus herd for a small herd of corriante-longhorn cross cows. Small, fast and wild in every color in the rainbow, I loved looking at those cows in the pastures. Their calves looked like Easter eggs in the Spring, speckled and colorful. During one of our first dates (luckily, not our first date as there may not have been a second), as Cowboy and I drove in his truck and I listened adoringly as he talked about ranching and cows. I loved the way he spoke with respect and affection about his Dad’s cows. Yep, this guy was special. And he liked what I liked but he actually knew something about cows whereas I knew the very basics. He would get my love for buffalo and longhorns and we would get both. We would sit on the front porch together, listening to the wofts of the buffalo and admiring the speckled hides of the longhorns. I passionately told my new love interest of my intentions of raising buffalo and longhorns, expecting him to squeeze my hand excitedly and declare his undying love for me on the spot. Instead, my hunk in boots listened to me politely, his expression one of amusement. “Have you ever worked buffalo or longhorns?” he asked after my breathless description of how excruciatingly adorable my calves would be. “Oh, no I haven’t worked buffalo but I moved a pair of longhorns across the road the other day.” With my car. Cowboy chuckled in a way that I would come to love and said, “Well, you should try that before you get too excited. And I don’t know about the buffalo industry, but I wouldn’t plan on making too much money on your longhorns either.” What! I felt deflated as he regaled me with the reasons I should not own buffalo and longhorns. Six foot fences with 1 million volts. Special chutes and corrals. Federal regulations. Low market demand. No Cowboy to help me out because he wouldn’t be caught dead raising either. Wait, what? It may have been the Wranglers that distracted me or the margaritas (or both) but by the end of dinner and a dance or two, I suddenly didn’t mind that he had 86’d my livestock business plan. I would raise black cows, red cows, or a hundred of his babies, I didn’t care. As long as I was with him.
Happy Spring!!!
Pick Me Up!

Gust Blog (lol, get it): Marmalade Boots, A Letter to the Wind


I thought I would post this letter from my good friend on this rare still morning under the Crazies! Plus, I almost choked on my coffee from laughing when I read this. Because it’s SO TRUE. — MC

A Letter to the Wind

This past year has been a tough one out on the ranch. We had almost no measurable precipitation to speak of all last spring and summer. And unfortunately this winter has been much of the same. No moisture means no grass; no grass means no cows. We were able to skirt by last summer and make do, but things are starting to look bleak. We need moisture. Instead, we get wind. No rain. No snow. Only wind. Everyday wind. And I absolutely, with every fiber of my being HATE wind. I know hate is a strong word, but I HATE IT! Aww, it feels good to say it. I hate you wind! Sometimes the wind is so infuriating that I just want to spit in its face. But then I remember that it has no face, and it would just blow the spit back in my face. Touché wind. Way to add insult to injury. Because this drought is out of my control, and the wind is out of my control. I am just going to vent. This is my…


Dear Wind,

When I am trying to bring an ornery cow to the shed and all my horse wants to do is stop and turn her back to you…you frustrate me. When I come inside and my hair is so knotted that I look like I just walked straight out of the 80’s…you annoy me. When I’m standing out on the flat, trying to feed our yearlings and you are blowing dust and hay into my eyes and up my nose…you antagonize me. When you make it impossible for me to be outside and enjoy myself on an otherwise perfectly warm, sunny day…you disappoint me. When you shake my house all night long, keeping me awake…you piss me off. However, when you blow all the topsoil off our newly farmed fields…I start to hate you. When you suck the moisture out of the earth around us…I hate you. When you continually blow every storm, every drop of rain or snow away from our ranch. When you blow away every hope we have for moisture …I definitely hate you.

I hate you wind! Seriously, you blow.

Marmalade Boots


The Montana Cowgirl — Shopping with the family

The Montana Cowgirl -- Shopping with the family
As calving season drags on and my wardrobe consists of yoga pants or bagged out jeans covered in calf slime, I like to reflect on what I could have worn today… Enjoy!!
Calf count: 152
Days since I last wore mascara: 97