January 2019 - ARA Magazine - Bull Buyer's Edition

Page 38

‘Just’ Good Ranch People Raising ‘Just’ Range Cows – the Right Combination by Laura Nelson for the American Red Angus Magazine

“They’re just plain ol’ range cows.” Bob and Frances Dellit shared a good-hearted laugh at the idea of being featured in a magazine. It’s a modesty as warm and genuine as a hug hello at the end of their Broken Chain Ranch driveway in southeastern Montana. In the silence of the gentle sage and short-grass covered hills, they sift through the herd of soonto-be weaned pairs. A mama can almost rest her chin on the tail head of her nursing calf. The cattle pick their way around the dry, tall winter grass near the water tank, and then two-by-two, they turn and make a line of red across the farflung golden horizon, looking for a little more. “If you graze it off, you lose the root system. The roots are really hard to get back if you damage them,” Bob said. “You’ve got to leave quite a bit of grass behind and still bring a cow home in good enough shape to re-breed.” If you can do that, they said, you can make a living off this plain ol’ rangeland.

‘Next year’ we’ll get a little break from the pounding winter. Next year. Most years, they can count on 9 to 10 inches of rain and hope snow in long winter months will help fill a few small reservoirs. But that runs right through the sand, too; they primarily depend on the 42 miles of pipeline they’ve installed to move well water throughout the ranch. The grass is tough. The ‘soil’ is sand. One animal unit needs 35 to 40 acres to graze. Every year is best off when a person’s gratitude is kept higher than expectations. “It is tough country, there’s no doubt. But there are a lot of rewards out here, you know?” Bob said. “You just have to be willing to work hard for it.”

‘Next year’ will be better.

Bob and Frances have been married for 39 years. Most of those have been filled with wonder at the place they get to live, work and raise cattle; a place most people are likely to fly right by. Bob came to the area in 1976 to help at a local branding. He never left.

‘Next year’ we’ll get a little more rain.

“He liked my bay horse,” Frances said.

The open prairies south of the unincorporated community of Sumatra is what most would call ‘next year’ country.

38 American Red Angus Magazine ■ January 2019

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