Slush Creek snow.

Slush Creek Ranch is an 1800 acre horse/cattle ranch, located in Bainville, Montana, only 75 miles from the Canadian border and 6 miles from the North Dakota border. We are just north of the confluence where the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers meet. The Missouri Breaks are just 5 to 7 miles south of the house. The elevation is around 2000 feet. Most of the area north of the Missouri River was covered by the continental glaciers, creating land that is smoother and flatter than much of Montana. For the most part, the land is flat or rolling hills. This is one of the more difficult places to farm and ranch because of the long, harsh winters.

Eastern Montana has a harsh environment, with short, hot summers and long, bitter cold winters. Winters start in November and last through March. It is a climate of extremes that brings only 12-14 inches of precipitation a year. Most of the moisture falls from May to July. In the winters it gets -30° to -40° below Fahrenheit without the wind, and in the summers you can see 100°-110° degrees Fahrenheit. Cattle and horses are fed six months of the year. We also see severe thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes, and blizzards. It is nearly always windy.

The grasses found throughout eastern Montana are short prairie grasses that are very high in nutrients and include western wheatgrass, needle-and-thread, blue grama, green needlegrass, fringed sage, side oats grama. little blue stem, smooth brome, sweet clover, Russian Wild Rye and silver sage. These are the grasses that the horses and cattle at Slush creek Walkers graze on during the spring and summers. The soil is shallow and poor and there are few trees. The trees most commonly encountered are Cottonwood, Chinese Elm, Green Ash, Russian Olive, and Cedar. Chokecherry and Snowberry, also called Buck Brush, and purple lilac are shrubs that are quite common in Eastern Montana.

Wildlife find protection in woody draws also known as "coulees" and the badlands or “breaks”. Wildlife in the NE corner of Montana include deer, both White-tailed and Mule, rabbits, birds (both upland game and the big birds of prey), gophers, badgers, skunks, raccoon, porcupines, coyotes, few mountain lions and an occasional wolf.

There is little surface water other than the river so we are extremely fortunate to have some dams (all man-made though one is spring-fed), free flowing springs that we have improved and they empty into tanks. There is a creek that flows in the spring from run-off or during times of heavy rains. Mostly there are wells or pipelines for water. Our main crops are spring wheat, oats, barley and alfalfa. Our pastures are cross-fenced into 100 to 150 acres and we practice range management.

Slush Creek Walking Horses are born in our box stalls - at least we try to - occasionally one will sneak past. We have two box stalls that are 10' X 16' and one other pen in the barn that measures 14' X 32'. They are furnished with radiant infra-red heaters in case of inclement weather. These stalls or pen can also serve as isolation pens if needed. Cows with calves share these pens with them. The other corrals and pens are many and varied. There are up to eight other pens. Our corrals and some of the pastures are only 100 feet from a main highway so the foals have seen traffic, cars, busses, motorcycles from the time they are born. We drive out to the pastures with visitors in pick-ups, and when alone, sometimes on the 4-wheeler.

Shortly after their birth the foals are imprint trained and then they will go to pasture with the mares. Later, the stallions will go out with them for breeding season. Our foals are exposed to the herd dynamics from the time they are just days old. The pastures all have different fences so they have been exposed to electric fencing, barbed wire, woven wire, wooden corrals and corral panels - all before they are weaned. The mares and stallions school them all summer long. They are taught about being a horse by a horse. On a daily basis they see some type of wildlife. They have little concern for much of the wildlife, such as the birds, badgers, skunks, rabbits, raccoons, and gophers, but they also know which they need to keep an eye on. They learn that high ground is preferable in these wide-open spaces, and they like the hill tops where they can see danger coming. They learn that thunder, lightning, wind, rain and snow are just part of life and not something to be feared.

They have also been exposed to the barn, sliding doors, 4 foot walk gates, the lawn mower, the John Deere 4-wheel drive tractor and other farm machinery. We use fly spray or spot-on for fly control in the summers. We also have a 60' round pen; bathing pad with cross ties; vet stock; snubbing posts; a working tub and an alleyway; a 7 X 20 trailer with aluminum floor; a 6 X 16 foot trailer with a wood floor and we use all of these things to practice with.

Our horses have to be hardy and tough to live here. They get all the exercise they need or want, along with all that goes with being range-raised on the wide open plains of Montana. They get to learn herd dynamics as a foal, yet they have been isolated at some point for training. We feel they have better, sharper minds, and stronger, healthier bodies. These are tough, gaited, using horses and they are barefoot!

If you come to visit, we would love to show you our ranch, the cattle, the horses, Willards dam, Shellie's coulee, the teepee rings, and the wide open spaces. You could also take in Fort Buford and Snowden Bridge, (both are within 15 miles of the ranch) while enjoying a drive through the Missouri River Breaks.

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Mark and Shellie Pacovsky
Bainville, MT
PH. 406-769-2971
Cell 406-769-7971
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Last Updated: December 27, 2016