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How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch - Bull? No bull?

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6/24/2023, By Julie Van Hise


Here a Moo, there a Moo, everywhere a Moo Moo! Yup, that's right, we figured why not? Why not face our cattle fears and add cattle to the ranch?


Hi! I'm Julie Van Hise. My husband, Chris, and I are 1st generation ranchers and owners of 4 Bear Ranch - a ranch that not only provides for our family but provides for the local community as well. In 2017, we bought our home unknowing of what it would transform into in 5 short years. From mountain wilderness to mountain ranch wilderness - we have lovingly worked hard in building our dream! How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch? It's actually kind of strange really...At this point we had our chickens, ponies, horses, pigs, sheep, and …after lots and lots of research on breeds and cattle breeders, we decided to get a Dexter!


Not just any Dexter, we got a bull!!! Now if you know us from our non-ranching life while stationed at Malmstrom AFB, you might remember our hunting stories that had various impacts because of the seemingly giant herd of cattle and giant cows coming to attack us as well hiked up the side of BLM hunting land in search of our mule deer. They would make these seemingly overly loud moos and grumbles and growles....needless to say, we ran from them...every...single...time...So now, fast forward 20+ years and we are buying a bull!



Our research led us to the Dexter Cattle breed. A smaller, not mini, sized cattle that is happy eating foraged greenery as much as grasses, while leaving little to no compaction impact to soil, and having the agility to browse over rocky mountainous terrain. A breed of cattle that the meat is known for leaner, healthier, juicy, tender beef that is often sought by restaurants. This sounded just like the breed for us...so next we had to search for our breeder. We found that we live close to quite a large Dexter Herd in Montana at Blarney Ranch in Trego, Montana! Another veteran owned ranch that has quite the story themselves. The owners have amazing cattle and have provided us a plethora of knowledge over the years. When we reached out about obtaining a couple of cows and a bull, they only had the bull available. A bull that they thought would be perfect for us a first-time cattle owners. And, he was spot on. He picked the perfect bull for us and our growing ranch - we named him Mr. Charlie Brown!


So, up to Trego, Montana Braeden and I drove with the stock trailer - thank goodness for this stock trailer! We have definitely used its money's worth and will continue to use it for many years...So, up to Trego we went, about a 3 1/2-hour drive from our home, nestled among the mountains and lakes of up north. We spoke with the ranch owner for quite a bit, got Charlie loaded into the trailer, and then drove home. That is when we realized - we just picked up a bull and he is in our trailer!! We were hoping the round pen would be good and that the unloading of the bull would be seamless. It was. Thankfully!


And just like that, we had a bull, 2 horses, 2 mini ponies, 3 sheep, a bunch of pigs, and a whole lot of chickens! We knew we weren't done...we had to get Charlie a lady! However, at this point, the idea of a ranch wasn't so far out of reach...the idea of maybe turning this into a business so that we can feed ourselves, but also offer food to our local community, was starting to come to light. But first, we had to find Charlie a lady...



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