Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Bondurant, Wyoming, gets one heck of a lot of snow in the winter, but grows lush crops of native hay in creekside meadows in the summer. The Campbell Ranch at Bondurant is an old-time outfit, been there forever it seems, and still uses draft horse teams to cut hay in the summer and feeds the hay on horse-drawn sleighs to their cows in the winter. It makes sense for them, with fluctuating diesel prices, and tractors bogging down in snow, to simply continue on in a long-standing tradition. The Campbell men are good friends, gentlemen, and excellent horsemen. They do have tractors and trucks, but each tool has its place, and for the most part, if it can be done with a horse, that's their preference.
When it's time to start the hay harvest, things take a logical progression. First, the horses are run into the corral.
My friend Walden Campbell, 12, is the next generation starting to work the draft horses on the ranch. He enjoys the process of harnessing these gentle giants.
This is a portion of the Campbell outfit, with the Gros Ventre Mountains in the background.
The horses are lined up to begin the process of hooking onto the cutting equipment.
One of the summer hands cuts hay behind a team on the ranch. That's a beaverslide in the background, used to stack loose hay.
This is what a stack of loose hay looks like - a huge bread loaf. You can see the teams working to cut fresh hay in the meadow behind the stack.
While there aren't many ranches left in this area that use draft teams to harvest their hay crop, there are actually numerous outfits that use draft teams to feed the hay in the winter. Husband Jim has the harnesses for a team hanging in our shed, waiting for the right team to find us as well.