OCR Interpretation


Montana farmer-stockman. [volume] (Great Falls, Mont.) 1947-1993, December 15, 1961, Image 6

Image and text provided by Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075096/1961-12-15/ed-1/seq-6/

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Horse Power
on the
i
/
r
Horse Prairie
By R. K. MacDONALD
RUNNING NINE miles up Horse
Prairie creek to end at the Idaho line,
the Donovan Ranch wit of Grant still
horses for most of its operations
He pointed to the next
field where a lonely machine was busily
mowing hay. "We had to buy a new
tire for that the other day. One-hun
dred and fifteen dollars. That's more
*

uses
because owners want it that way.
Little more than a rifle shot from
where Lewis and Clark crossed the
continental divide at Lemhi, the ranch
covers 9,000 acres of deeded land, and
runs 1,400 head of cattle and a hundred
horses. It competes economically with
more mechanized outfits, says Ranch
Foreman Bus Boam, despite having to
hire 20 hay hands instead of perhaps
half that number were it mechanized.
We save money on low maintenance
costs on horse-operated equipment.
Take that tractor
Boam explained,
over there,
44
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maintenance expense than we have on
all of the horse-drawn equipment for
the whole season,
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The buckrake, which with Its load may weigh a ton or more, requires the smartest and biggest horses
One of the men came up to report
a bolt missing in a buckrake. Boam
opened the toolbox on the wagon and
selected a bolt, a couple of crescent
wrenches, a screwdriver, and a pair of
pliers. Five minutes later, the repair
was completed, at a cost of one bolt and
perhaps ten minutes of time.
Obviously, the ranch is not one-hun
dred per cent horse-operated. A "cat
is used to move and operate fee beav
erslide. A tractor does some of fee
' . But horses pull mowers,
rakes, buckrakes and a flatbed wagon.
Boam uses a horse himsëlf to get
around the operations, although a pick
up truck is available if he wants it.
The day starts at about 5 a.m. with
Boam and a helper wrangling 52 horses
into the corral next to the hay camp,
After breakfast, the hands catch their
teams, with perhaps some suggestions
from Boam about which horses work
well together, which are suitable for
mower or rake. Then, holding their
teams, they head for the fields, some
mowing
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The mower, with Its simple gear train and transmission to drive the sickle bar, is probably the most
complicated piece of horse-drawn machinery »n the ranch.
riding the wagon, others the pickup, to
begin work by 7. There are plenty of
horses, so teams can be changed at
noon, or sooner if they are tiring.
The mowers and rakes are relatively
simple, only requiring the horses to
pull with a forward motion. But fee
buckrakes require horses which not
only must be bigger and stronger, but
must be better trained. One horse is
harnessed on each side of the buckrake,
with fee operator sitting between and
behind them. They must be able to
back out from under a load.
The buckrakes were built years ago
by Dempster, in Beatrice, Neb., but
have been rebuilt so completely cm fee
ranch that perhaps only the wheels
are original anymore.
Weighing about a thousand pounds,
a buckrake may carry a load varying
from less, to more than a thousand
pounds, depending upon the condition
of the hay. The team, therefore, must
be husky enough to pull approximately
a ton over relatively soft ground.
Horses on the buckrake are hardest
• ♦
to break, and are usually "promoted
from the mowers and rakes if they are
big enough and smart enough.
Four men stay on the ranch all year.
The rest are hired for the haying,
which takes about 30 days, starting
around the middle of July, at an ele
vation of approximately 6,500 feet.
Asked if he had any trouble finding
hay hands who could handle horses,
Boam said, "No, most of them return
year after year from all over the
country." For the most part, they were
older men who enjoyed working with
horses.
Besides," one of them remarked,
the pay is fairly good
The ranch is owned by an attorney,
John W. Morse, of Carmel, California,
v/ho is president of fee corporation,
and Jack Donovan, of Toledo, Ohio,
vice president. Morse spent a lot of
time mi the ranch as a boy, says Boam,
which undoubtedly had considerable in
fluence on their decision to keep fee
spread like it was in fee "good old
days
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Bus Boam, foreman at the Donovan
Ranch, manages 9,000 acres not in
cluding leased land, 1,400 head of cattle,
and a hundred horses. During haying,
he and a helper wrangle 52 horses be
fore breakfast. He bosses a crew of
20 hay hands quietly and calmly, makes
small repairs to horse-drawn equipment
on the field from a well-stocked tool
chest which he hauls on the end of a
horse-drawn wagon.
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