About

4 Bear Ranch

Our Ranch

Raising Livestock Responsibly Since 2021

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Annabelle Sox
    American Guinea Hog
Charlie Brown
Dexter Cattle Bull
Boris
    American Blackbelly Sheep

The goal of our ranch is to implement sustainable farming and regenerative grazing principles while responsibly developing our silvopasture for all of our livestock - in a wooded environment with a micro-climate. We are not there yet, but we are working on it. We have started our ranch backwards it seems - animals first, infrastructure second. Though, this approach has enabled us to build to meet the needs of our livestock - and not build the infrastructure and find out the livestock does not fit...The livestock we selected is certainly not random - we do our research. Heritage breeds (or heritage crosses), smaller in nature and suited for small homesteads, with high foraging skills, low feed intake, and small footprint, are what we desire in our livestock. Currently our heritage breeds consist of American Guinea Hogs, Dexter Cattle, American Blackbelly Sheep, Black Slate Turkeys, and a multitude of Chickens. Most of our current heritage stock are able to be registered, and upon breeding being proven, they will be registered. All have amazing personalities, are efficient grazers, have at least 2 purposes, and do not require quick processing due to changes in flavor of meat. The Dexter cattle may be used for milk, meat, and oxen; the sheep for milk, meat, and fire mitigation; the pigs for meat, garden tilling and soil improvement; and, the poultry for meat, eggs, and tilling. We do have a couple of mixed breeds, one pig (American Guinea Hog cross - Miss Patty Piggy) and one cow (Half Dexter, Quarter Low-Line and Quarter Hereford - Miss Betty Rock) - both are as sweet as can be and are beautiful additions to our otherwise pure bred livestock.

Besides the livestock, we have produce from our garden, a newly planted orchard with berries, and honey bees. We make homemade food items and when the opportunity arises will try our hand at making dairy products, hopefully in the near future.

The Ranch is also home to Julie's Cottage Creations, where numerous crafts, homestead items, and baked goods are available for purchase. 

So why 2 separate businesses? Why not close Julie's Cottage Creations and operate solely under 4 Bear Ranch? It all comes down to the food items produced and Montana's food laws. For 2 years, Julie spent countless hours with the County health department to receive her Cottage Food License under Julie's Cottage Creations. A Cottage Food License allows for sales of homemade approved baked goods for public consumption. The homemade food made from 4 Bear Ranch is for private consumption only and is regulated by the Montana Local Food Choice Act. To ensure consumers know exactly what product they are buying, the decision was made to keep both business entities in operation.

We might be slow to start, but are excited in providing our knowledge, products, and services to our local community. Our journey in ranching and silvopasture development, homesteading, crafts, and making homemade baked goods is not only a journey that involves us as a family, but one that is supported by our community. We love where we live, we love the community in which we live, and we love what we are doing.

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Our Story

Local Family Ranch

Hello everyone! Here is a little information about us. We are Chris and Julie Van Hise and we are 1st generation ranch owners of 4 Bear Ranch! We began our journey to Ranch Ownership in 2017, upon Julie's retirement from 20 years in the United State Air Force. Both of us are Air Force Veterans that were determined to find our forever home in Montana; so, upon retirement we began our Montana adventure! In August of 2017, my wife,10-year old son, myself and three dogs made the journey from Ramstein Air Base, Germany to Big Sky Country. In October of 2017, we closed on our home on 28 acres in the mountains surrounding the beautiful 9-Mile Valley in Huson, Montana.

 

Slowly but surely we determined what we wanted to do in life - we knew we wanted to be self sufficient and we knew we wanted to provide to our local community when able. We thought about calling our little slice of heaven 3 Bear Ranch - though had not thought about the name in a business context and did not register it with the State. We bought our first chickens in spring of 2018. In March of 2019, Julie built Julie's Cottage Creations LLC with the thought of selling crafts, homesteading items, baked goods, and chicken eggs. Then COVID-19 surfaced, and animals, oddly enough, started making their way to us. We hadn't yet decided that we wanted to do ranch work, or farming, but as fate would have it, the decision was being made for us.

 

Our new adventure started with 2 mini ponies...and then 2 quarter horses...and then 3 pigs...and 3 sheep. We thought the expansion was over, until we processed our first pigs and knew - happy and healthy animals taste oh so much better than in the store! And we got 3 more pigs...and then the 4 pure bred American Guinea Hogs came along. As we grew, we knew we loved being a ranch and 4 Bear Ranch, LLC was born! That's when our 1st cattle came into the picture! Why 4 Bear Ranch and not 3 Bear Ranch? Well, in January of 2019 we had a surprise discovery - and in September 2019 our little girl was born! Good thing we didn't register the ranch back when we were a small family of three...

Today, Braeden (15) and Makenzie (2) help with all aspects of running the ranch. From feeding the animals to building fences and processing meat for our freezer, the kids learn about the dedication needed to make a ranch run and keeping animals happy and healthy. Braeden doesn't know it yet, but as a freshman in high school, he will soon be learning about ranch finances, business ownership, and taxes! I can't think of any better way of bringing up our children. And while Braeden didn't enter the ranch life until he was 12, one would think this cowboy grew up in the ranch world his whole life.

Read about our adventures as 1st Generation Ranchers in Montana by subscribing to our blog. From entertaining stories of what is our life, to recipes, craft ideas, Ranch house renovation drama, and more!

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