Please note that we will not be posting some of the interns updates for the sake of their privacy. We ask that you stay tuned with Real Ranchers as we follow our other interns through their summer internship on Wyoming ranches.

Contributed by:
Melinda Sims, a real Wyoming rancher from Sims Cattle Company.

We are Sims Cattle Company, located in Southeast Wyoming. We operate a multi-generational ranch, with four of the five generations that have been here presently living on the ranch.

Three generations of Sims’ – Kagan, Shanon, and Scott

Three generations of Sims’ – Kagan, Shanon, and Scott

We feel a great importance on including all of our generations in all aspects of the ranch, from business decisions to everyday work. Nobody is excluded, from the youngest (age 8) to the oldest (age 84). Our ultimate goal is to create a business that is appealing to us, our kids, our

Jentry helping her great grandpa bring cattle up the alley.

Jentry helping her great grandpa bring cattle up the alley.

grandkids, and many more generations to come, just as our forefathers did for us. That’s not saying that we expect all generations to return to the ranch, but we hope that they desire to be here.

One of the ways that we try to make it appealing is to make ranch work fun! We are serious about getting the job done, but we also like to make it enjoyable in the process. If we’ve had a wreck moving cows (like we all do!), and it has been a rough day on the kids (ages 11 and 8), then we try

Jentry helping move pairs

Jentry helping move pairs

to take them on an easy move the next day, just so they have a good experience to outweigh the rough one. We don’t want them growing up feeling like it’s all hard, miserable work, even though there are days… We’d like for them to remember the fun times so that enjoyable work is an enticement for them to ranch in the future.

Another way is to make the ranch as profitable as possible. If the kids see Dad and Mom barely scraping by and not able to enjoy life, what is the draw to come back to that lifestyle? If the kids see a life that is comfortable with time for a vacation now and then, and fun family times in between, then that’s a more enticing lifestyle to want to be a part of.

The kids learning how to rope, wrestle, vaccinate and brand the milk cow’s calves

The kids learning how to rope, wrestle, vaccinate and brand the milk cow’s calves

We also operate the ranch as holistically as possible, conserving our land for future generations. We try to show our younger generation the importance of leaving the land better than we found it – what kids would want to come back to a run-down, wreck of a place that has a poor carrying capacity? “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Kagan (age 11) learning how to wrestle calves

Kagan (age 11) learning how to wrestle calves

Without our children having the desire and love of the land that we do, we face a future of fewer kids coming back to manage family ranches. We definitely don’t want to see our multi-generational ranch removed from production because we didn’t do our job to show our children that ranching is an amazingly rewarding career!

Melinda Sims

For more photos and other updates from Sims Cattle Company, visit them on Facebook or at

Here is an update from Jackalyn on the past 2 weeks of her rangeland internship


This past week I continued to participate in AI-ing the cows. This happens early in the morning until about 10am and from the evening from 4pm-9pm in order to let the hot cows calm down before insemination. We had about 40 cows left by Friday who are going to be put into a pasture with some bulls. During down time, I fixed fence and was able to see the Ladder Ranch on Thursday to celebrate 2014 Environmental Stewardship Tour in Savery, Wyoming. I was happy to be invited for this event and met people from UW, WSGA, NRCS, and the O’ Tool family of the Ranch. Everyone was welcoming and I met a few of the other girls who are interning like myself. Each person had good things to say about their experiences over this summer so far and the Ranch was beautiful. I was glad to hear all the good things this family is doing and celebrate with them.


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This past week I pulled out our boards in front of our water gates x3. This was a lot of work but I was able to manage it. It was kind of rainy earlier in the week, so we did some maintenance on our tractors, ranger, and vehicles. My boss, Ralph and I both had a flat tire on our vehicle to fix along with the tractor. On Wednesday, we finished our last branding of the season and only had about 35 calves. I was able to brand some of these! It was a new experience for me and a lot harder than it looks. It definitely takes some practice… Later I fixed some fences and I pushed about 70 pair from an area across a stream, around a hill, through some snow fences, and along a fence line into another pasture. I also was able to go to a family BBQ and meet some more of my boss’s family and make s’mores around the fire place.

Here is the latest update from Jackalyn:

06301419300702141924 This past week I learned about Artificial Insemination or AI-ing. I watched the process and my boss keeps the bulls sperm in liquid nitrogen container where it can stay frozen. When the cows are ready to go, the specified sperm gets put into 98 degree water to melt for 30 seconds. The longer the sperm is exposed to the air the quicker it dies, so it is put in a plastic protector on a syringe and then into a napkin. Once the cows are in heat, or have received a shot to put them into heat, they get the sperm in equal amounts to their uterus. In addition to this I helped look for “hot” cows who usually have a partner and are able to be moved into the corral. This process was done in the morning and at night so they had roughly 8 hours to relax before AI-ing could occur. If the cows run around right before or after, it decreases the success rate of pregnancy. I also checked water gates and did some work around the house.

Here is an update from Jackalyn!

Monday the 16th, I built a barbwire fence by pounding in green steel posts and stringing the bob wire 3 rows while stapling and clipping after it was pulled tight. I also helped move cows and fix a hot wire fence that we had previously built.

On Tuesday the 17th, I checked some water gates and added metal boards to help increase the flow to other places. I cleaned my boss’s house, did yard work, and cleaned out a spare bed room in the house I am staying in. Wednesday the 18th, I took down and electric fence and fixed fences in the AI patch.

Thursday the 19th, I fixed fence in another swampy area and checked on the bulls.
This concludes my week.

Here is an update for Brittany’s 4th week!

Week 4

Hello All,

Its been another very busy week here at the Ladder ranch with finishing up docking and starting to AI cows and heifers.

Sunday and Monday we docked again. We had enough people to run both Dinkum Dockers again which made the day go by a lot faster. One of the lambs had a broken leg and unlike cattle and horses, lambs can be splinted. Pepe used sage brush sticks as splints and wrapped the leg with duck tape while I held the lamb still. After it was splinted and taped, the lamb was set loose to go back with its mother.

Tuesday we gathered all the cows to be AI’ed off of the Lower Big Gulch pasture. We brought the cows to the corrals where separated cows from calves and ran the in the chute. The chute was elongated by a mobile chute with a head-catch that we borrowed from a relative of the O’Toole’s earlier in the week. This extra length allowed for ten cows to be in the chute at a time. CIDRs were put in the cows which would be pulled out a week later. The CIDRs have hormones which make the cows’s bodies think they are pregnant so when the CIDRs are pulled out in a week, all the cows should come into heat at the same time, allowing for the cattle to be AIed and hopefully conceive. We also branded about seventy head of unbranded calves.
Wednesday, I helped move pairs from the St. Louis pasture down the road to the Bull pasture. Multiple calves ran back on steep hills and refused to be turned. Once we reached the Bull pasture with the tail end of the cows, we held herd for a while allowing the cows and calves to mother up. We left the gate open so the cows who hadn’t mothered up could go back and get their calves who ran back and be trailed down another day. After this, one of the other hands and I went and fixed fence on the forest. The fence we were fixing was a let-down fence which needed to be put up but many trees had been toppled across the fence and had to be cut to allow the fence to be put up. After fixing the fence, Antonio and I stopped to check on the guard dog puppies up with the black faced sheep. We made sure the mother had food but the puppies were extremely hungry as if they hadn’t eaten for a day or so. We waited and called for the mother but she didn’t come so we moved the four pups closer to the food and gave them water. The mother eventually showed up the next day.

Thursday we gathered the heifers from across the river. We found a good spot to cross the river with the heifers but they still had to swim half the way across. They went fairly easily. We put the CIDRs in all of them and then branded the 6 calves that were there. After lunch, I went to the three day pasture with the tractor to brush beat for the rest of the afternoon.
Friday and Saturday were our final dockings. On Saturday I saw my first inverted eye lid on a lamb where the bottom eyelashes turn and grow against eye. It is very heritable and to fix it, a flap of skin is cut away from the bottom of the eyelid and when the scab forms it pulls the eyelashes out and heals that way.

Well, this week finishes up my first month at the Ladder Ranch!

The best to you all,

Here is an update from Brittany on her 3rd week!

Week 3

Hi Everyone,

My third week has flown by in a very busy blur. Sunday, I went looking for escaped bucks again and trailed them back to the ranch headquarters. Monday, I wrangled horses in the morning and then helped to gather some cows in an upper pasture and push them to the nearest corrals. We then sorted pairs out that the mothers were to be AI’ed later on. It was kind of a gloomy day and eventually, it started raining which turned into a down pour by the time we got back to the ranch.

b2Tuesday, one of the hands and I went back up to the corrals to finish sorting the pairs and then gather all the cows out of the pasture that we had sorted the AI pairs out of the day before and move them all to another pasture. The cows went well for there only being two of us. As we were b3gathering the pasture, we found the bull who had jumped many fences and thwarted many attempts to be put back with all the other bulls over the last couple days. We were finally successful in cutting him out from the cows after he brushed up on us and were forced to use dogs to chase him into the open where we could chase him back to the corrals at headquarters.

Wednesday, I went with Eamon to the forest to take a guard dog and her puppies up to the black-faced sheep. On the way, we had to put back sheep who had gotten out through an open gate and found that we would need to come back another day with horses to get them all back and had a flat tire on the truck. After that we took salt and mineral up to the AI pairs.

Thursday and Friday we started docking lambs. Docking lambs is what branding is to calves; docking is not the only thing that takes place. All the ewes and lambs are run into a mobile corral that is more elongated with three small pens up front. As the ewes and lambs are brought to the front, the lambs are sorted off from the ewes and put into the furthest forward pen. The ewes are then paint branded and let out of the pen to graze and wait for their lambs. Once the lambs are in the pen, they are then picked up by a ‘lamb carrier’. The lamb carrier takes the front legs and pulls them down in between the back legs and wraps the front leg around the same side’s back leg so the lamb cannot kick. The lamb carrier holds the lamb like that while the male lambs are being castrated and all are being earmarked. The lambs are then placed on their backs in a ‘Dinkum Docker’ which is much like a conveyor belt. As they go down the line, they are vaccinated, have their tails docked, have a mixture of pine tar and creosote put on their wounds and finally paint branded and set loose back with their mothers.

Saturday, we gathered and pushed all the cows that were trucked from the desert at Powder Wash to the forest. They went fairly easily with no major wrecks but it saved us riders a lot of work by having three very good cow-dogs because of run-back calves. It started to rain just after we made it to the forest. Later that day I helped put mineral and salt out to the cows on Road Gulch.
This concluded my third week at the Ladder Ranch.

Best regards,


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