Daily work becomes crowd entertainment

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  • Carnell Smith participates in his first breakaway roping competition.

  • 1

    Hallie Sohr, the lone cowgirl in the Ranch Rodeo competition throws a loop around a roping steer.

  • Carnell Smith participates in his first breakaway roping competition.

  • 1

    Hallie Sohr, the lone cowgirl in the Ranch Rodeo competition throws a loop around a roping steer.

Many of the ranchers in the valley still work their cattle the ‘old fashioned’ way — using horses, dogs, and human strength and skill to wrangle the meaty beasts. When a critter out in the field needs to be doctored, for example, it is often separated from the others, roped and put to the ground in order to receive its treatment.

When it comes branding time in the spring, ranching neighbors will come together to help each other out in branding, vaccinating and castrating. Kids as well as adults rope calves by their hind feet, drag them to an open area and then more individuals run in to perform their work tasks. It’s hard work, but it also builds friendships, teamwork, and a myriad of ranch skills.

This past Saturday afternoon was the latest opportunity for cowboys — and a lone cowgirl — to come to the Ronan fairgrounds, form teams, and compete against each other in simulated ranch work. The stock they used were not trained rodeo stock and the fresh-off-the-ranch bovines provided a lot of unpredictable challenges.

As is the case on the ranch, the participants ranged from kids to grandparents and regardless of age, each and every one showed their passion for ranch life—and outdoing their friends and neighbors—in every event. Sometimes their efforts were not ‘pretty’, but pretty doesn’t matter when working cattle—or in a Ranch Rodeo. What mattered was time—getting the work completed faster than the other teams.

This year a team put together through drawing names from a hat—Menno Swartzentreber, Todd Hoover, Paul Guenzler, and Scott McAllister won the overall event and then went on to win the always exciting ‘wild cow milking’ contest. Their wins won them each a belt buckle for the rodeo and some cash for the wild cow milking. Each team went home with a prize and, it would be pretty safe to say that every contestant also woke up the next day with some sore muscles, bruises, and a few tales to tell.

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