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Place Names on the Ranch

Spend some time around any ranchers on their ranch and you will no doubt hear them talk about places on the ranch using names only they can relate to.

By it's very nature, ranching requires large tracts of land and every ranch family will assign names to various places on the ranch.

Sometimes the name will be pretty obvious, like "the southwest corner", or it will get narrowed down some, like "the southwest corner of unit one". Of course if you don't where "unit one" is, then that particular southwest corner remains a mystery.

Ofttimes a location on the ranch will get a name from something that happened at that location. Maybe a mishap with a horse or a pickup or a 4-wheeler. The names of those places usually are preceded with an epithet, as in "that blankety-blank mud hole", and if there is more than one mud hole it might end up being "that blankety-blank mud hole in the southwest corner of unit one".

We actually have a "blankety-blank mud hole". It's "along the county road fence at the saline seep". In 1998 I buried a pickup right to the frame in that spot.

Ranch animals will sometimes create a name for a place. My favorite cow horse was named Jake, and he loved the big Coulee north of the house. Anytime I wanted to find Jake, chances were he was in "Jake's Coulee". When Jake passed away, he was buried on "Cemetery Ridge", along with numerous horses and dogs that have been part of our life here.

Anything that has to do with water on any ranch is a big deal and names are assigned not only to the sources of water, but also to any associated geography. We have 5 reservoirs. The "Jack", the " Bie", " R-4", " R-5", and "Home". “Big Coulee” transects "Unit One" and "the Jack drainage" crosses "Unit Three". The "Bie Complex" is a series of coulees that cross parts of "Unit Two" and also form the "Big Coulee". "Jake's Coulee" is the runoff source for "Home" reservoir in "Unit Two". By the way, lots of ranches use the term unit to define portions of the ranch that are separated by distance or fences or geographical barriers.

About ½ mile south of the house in Unit One is a little valley that sits next to the “Big Coulee.” It's a pretty little place, only about 1 or 2 acres, that had a single little pine tree growing in it. We named it "Little Tree." That was 20 years ago and “Little Tree” is now a big tree with a whole bunch of little trees growing around it. But it's still "Little Tree".

On the south end of the ranch on our BLM grazing allotment is an area of about 75 acres that has a nice stand of pine trees. Once again, there used to be only handful of trees but now there are many. Before we assumed the grazing lease, the allotment was severely over grazed and most the trees were killed off. We worked with the BLM to get a reservoir put in (R-4) and we call that area "The Enchanted Forest". Not only did we start calling it that, but the BLM now calls it “The Enchanted Forest,” as do the hunters that hunt the area. There are even sub-alpine wild flowers in that area now.

"The Lookout" is at the top of a cliff that overlooks much of the ranch. Our access road runs right by the highest part, so when we are looking for the cows, that's where we start.

"The South Lookout" is on the road that crosses the ranch on the south end. Not as high as "The Lookout", but still the highest ground on the south end of the ranch.

As our access road comes down "The Ridge" from “The Lookout”, it will cross the "Upper Cattle Guard" and drop into "The Big Valley", go up a small hill and then drop into "The Little Valley", just past the "Valley Gate" in the Unit Two fence.

If you cross the “Upper Cattle Guard” and go due west instead of dropping down into “The Big Valley”, you will be on "Grouse Ridge", where the Sage Grouse dance each spring. Continuing on you will end up at the "Cow Corral".

The biggest tree on the place is a grand old Peachleaf Willow located on the dam of the Home reservoir. That would be the "Dam Tree. “

Our BLM grazing allotment has a road that goes all the way from the county road to the extreme SW corner of the allotment. Very popular with the hunters! There are often so many hunter's vehicles parked there that we call it "The Walmart Parking Lot". - Geo

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