Winter is busy on the ranch for both work and play

Winter on a Rocky Mountain ranch might be considered a slow time for some. With livestock close to home and access to distant pastures difficult due to snow, it might be tempting to kind of hibernate and wait out the season.

But owners of ranch real estate know that the work never really stops on bigger spreads. Certainly, there are some tasks that can’t be performed while snow and ice lock up the landscape. But much can be done, both in preparation for warmer months on the ranch and to enjoy the most underrated season in the West.

It’s also a great time to get out and enjoy your investment. Winter recreation opportunities are plentiful in the West, and, with a little planning, you can take advantage of them. 

Daily tasks remain

Life on a ranch is busy, and it doesn’t stop for winter. If you have livestock, tending to them is a daily task, even if they’re pastured close to home. They’ll require daily feeding, and water sources need to be kept ice-free. 

Fences around close-to-home pastures need to be checked regularly to help keep livestock contained. Other fences on the ranch might actually need to be lowered to help migrating game herds reach their winter range. 

The little things add up. Rarely does a day pass without the need for snow to be plowed, gates to be fixed or snow tires installed on the truck. 

Using winter to prepare

Winter is the ideal time to perform needed maintenance on equipment and outbuildings that help a ranch operate when the snow melts. Mower blades need sharpening. Oil can be changed in everything from ranch trucks to backhoes. And little repairs can be done on any equipment that took a few dings during the previous season. 

Winter is also a good time to perform any needed indoor tasks. Obviously, much of the “business” of operating ranch real estate is performed while sitting at a desk in front of a computer. But there are other tasks that can be done to help things flow better once it’s time to get back outside. 

From remodeling projects to the ranch house to engine rebuilds in the garage, when the snow flies, much of the work just moves indoors. Thoughtful ranch real estate owners will have a list of chores at the ready. They’ll spend their winters checking them off, one by one. 

And, if you’re looking to list your ranch real estate for sale, don’t overlook winter as a great time to put your property on the market. There might be fewer buyers, but there are also likely fewer properties for sale.

Make sure the ranch runs smoothly in the winter. It shows prospective investors that the property is likely well-cared for all year long. 

A season to recreate, too

But winter’s not all about the work on a ranch. Most investors who own ranch real estate, whether they operate a ranch business or not, did so because of the lifestyle the property helps provide. 

Winter is a great time to get outside and enjoy your investment. Perhaps you’re a Nordic skier, or you have a small lake on your land that begs to be fished through the ice.

Running snow machines into the backcountry is a favorite pastime in the West. If you own enough land, you can travel off the beaten path. It’s a great way to experience the peace and quiet of winter.

For others, a quiet snowshoe hike into the hills is a great way to spend a winter day. 

A time harvest nature’s bounty

Still others love to hunt, and late-draw elk tags offer some ranchers the chance to extend hunting season well into coldest months. In addition, waterfowl seasons in some western states extend into the new year. Open water on the ranch often means a chance to drop some late-season ducks or geese.

Small game, like rabbits, hares and squirrels, offer solid winter hunting opportunities, too. Varmint hunting for everything from coyotes to racoons is something many ranch owners enjoy, and the seasons on these animals are very liberal in most states across the West. 

For some ranch real estate owners with enough land, trapping is a passion. Furbearers like foxes, bobcats, mink, ermine, long-tail weasel and coyotes have lush winter coats. Winter is the best time for harvesting these animals on the ranch. 

For most, trapping is just a pastime, but there is money to be made on the fur market. A heavy western coyote pelt, for instance, might sell for $30 or $40 if it’s in good shape. 

If you have significant acreage and your ranch real estate is adjacent to remote public lands, a trapline is a doable proposition. Just make sure you have the appropriate licenses — most trapping permits are purchased through state fish and game agencies. 

Final word

Ranch real estate owners who look at winter as a time to sit back and wait out the cold are missing opportunities. The season offers opportunities to catch up on maintenance and make needed repairs in preparation for warmer weather. 

It’s also a great time to get outside and enjoy your investment. From snow machining to quiet snowshoe hikes into the hills, winter offers some unique recreational opportunities that other seasons don’t. 

If you hunt, fish or trap, you can still do so in the winter. Trout bite all year long — even during the winter months — and furbearer pelts are in their most marketable condition when it’s cold outside. 

Ranch real estate investors should look at winter as a season of opportunity. It’s a good time to make sure everything is ready when spring rolls around. Also, a well-run ranch in the winter shows potential investors that the ranch functions well all year long. 

We have over 30 years of experience throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and New Mexico. We know these states well, including some “undiscovered” places. We are offering best hunting ranches for sale along with other premier properties
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