Let’s Go For A Jeep Ride And Check Cows

School started on Monday which meant a change in everyone’s schedule at my house. My husband and I had our kids do the daily cow, salt, and stock tank checking over the summer so when they had to exchange their work duds for school duds, I took over their job.

We run our cows on a summer lease with another ranch on the Forest Service that’s split into two units with lots of interconnecting rocky roads. Every June we switch the unit we run our cows on first. Turning them out on forested summer range does not have straight, smooth, graveled roads in wide open spaces for checking. We cover a lot of ground that requires driving some of the roughest roads in South Dakota. The smaller the four-wheel drive the better. ATVs work well but there’s some highway and gravel travel we have to take first so our small ranch pickups and my jeep work the best.

I love having my own ranch rig to check cows. My jeep suits me better than my guys’ Toyota pickups and my husband and I don’t get aggravated with each other over having to move our seats back to our preferred positions.

I like to bring along my cow-checking buddy Pepper (she didn’t want her picture taken today).

She enjoys the ride and likes getting to go places.

My jeep was made for driving on Forest Service trails and I love taking them. My pictures don’t really give you the true feeling of just how steep this is but it requires putting it in low gear.


Our route begins by meandering through a prescribed burn area that was done last fall. Basically the burn finished off what the drought started to do to some of these trees.


We check our summer range regularly because we like to monitor where our cows are grazing. Especially when it’s been hot out, our cows go through a lot of salt. The first place we check salt is at this big flat rock.

Looks good. I prefer checking first thing in the morning because its cooler and it’s a good idea to take care of checking everything before it gets hot out if there are any problems that need taken care of.

This trail takes us to the next salt, which is on Forest Service but the road parallels some of our property we call the Moore Place.  We agreed to open up the Moore Place since it’s in the middle of our leased area and refer to this salt spot as the Moore Place salt for clarification when talking about which places need salt.


Since we we’re checking cows, it’s always nice to find them, and it’s even better when we know the bulls are around too. This is one of our new Hereford bulls. Yeah, he’s a young pup.

We haven’t run Hereford bulls since about 2003…I think. The Boss could tell you for sure. It was my suggestion we get Hereferods this time since we like black baldies and our baldy crop has dwindled. We keep all the black baldy heifer calves as replacement heifers. Back on the trail, you can start to see a clearing past the trees.

Isn’t that better? I cleaned the windshield so you can see now. Why didn’t you say somethin’?

That’s the Moore Place and we’ll be skirting around it to get to our next salt and Hand Spring’s tanks.


Last winter’s snowfall finished off the ole’ Moore Place barn. Just past the Moore Place gate here, is where I put ‘er back in low gear.

This is the steepest part of the trail.

It’s steeper than it looks but my Jeep and I really dig it.

There’s another salt spot up on top that we’ve gotta check before we drop down into more timber and get to Hand Spring. This is a badly rutted up spot but you can’t tell by the picture.


Hey! There’s some Kirk Cattle cows! (Our have black eartags). Beauties arent’ they? 

Hand Spring salt—will need to get another salt before long.


This is my favorite view of the whole route because I can see over the tops of the trees way off into the distance. Something you don’t see much in the Black Hills unless you climb up on top of a hill.


Look! Another cow!

Making our descent; it gets pretty rough.

Last year I picked up a decent spare tire just off this trail fit on our Toyotas.

This spot takes a little maneuvering around some big rocks and deeply washed out ruts.

(Passenger’s side)

Hand Spring is just ahead.

Since this is the only water source on the Hand Spring unit,

making sure the float is working and tanks are full is vital.


Cows coming in to water

About 2 miles to go to get back to blacktop from here.

It takes roughly two hours to tend to everything. From here I head to the heifer pasture and pump their water tank full since it takes a while to fill; especially  if I skip a day. Pepper usually takes a dip in the tank and I usually have my thermos of coffee and a book to read or notebook to jot column ideas down.

Thanks for comin’ along! Next time, don’t be so shy. Speak up and don’t let me do all the talking!



4 responses to “Let’s Go For A Jeep Ride And Check Cows”

  1. Pete Bakken Avatar
    Pete Bakken

    I dont understand…you get lost in MN where there are paved roads and street signs and yet you know exactly where you are going in the middle of the forest. Great pictures. Where’s the corn? 🙂

  2. Amy Avatar

    Very good point; I just never tell anyone when I get lost out here because they all know me! Working for the FS for 3 years helped but I am good at learning the hard way finding my way back. Plus I’ve established all sorts of landmarks to help me out. Don’t grow much corn out here; just sweet corn-fed rednecks?? LOL

  3. Nancy Avatar

    Love your blog. My hubby and I live on a ranch between Wall and Philip. We raise Hereford cows and bulls, so it was great to see you have some pretty red and white bulls in your herd. My husband says there is nothing better than a black baldy cow. Glad you took us on a trip into your neck of the woods.

  4. Amy Avatar

    Thanks for reading my blog and your compliment! I love hearing where readers are from. My husband and I always find it enjoyable to see the scenery of other outfits and took a wild guess that there are readers who feel the same, so decided to share. Made for an enjoyable morning doing the mundane job of checking cows anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *