Slush Creek Ranch is an 1800 acre horse/cattle ranch, located in Bainville, Montana, only
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
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.