What History Taught Me

Jody Dahl, Owner of Top50Ranches.com

Rancho-nomics means if you’re goingto make it in the ranching and dude ranching industry, get a leather punch and just keep punching holes in it. When times get tough, tighten the belt and keep on going.

History has taught me to stop and listen to others. Everyday I try to remember the actions of others—whether it’s those made 100 years ago that helped shape the nation we are today, or those made just yesterday—and I use this gift of hindsight when making my own decisions.

Living like a cowgirl means being someone who can be counted on even when the going gets tough.

The best movie cowgirl is Dana Delany in True Women. It’s the story of a woman who overcomes all obstacles while raising her family on the Texas frontier.

A book worth reading is A Bride Goes West—the true story of Nannie Alderson, one of the first ranch wives to live in Montana.

Running Runamuk in 1886 differs from how it runs today in that I am able to partake in all ranching activities as opposed to being chained to the stove!

A ranch vacation is great for families because children can experience unrestricted living, and Mom and Dad can turn off the cell phones and step away from the computer. A ranch vacation slows everything down long enough for a family to reconnect.

One hobby most folks don’t know I have is learning about reining horses—slowly, but surely, with the limited time that I have. By the time I’m 50, I should have it mastered!

My two favorite athletes were my husband’s border collies, Tucker and Lim. For most of a decade, these two cow dogs worked their hearts out for the love of herding. They could turn back any bunch quitter and handle a 1,000 head of yearlings under my husband’s guidance. Sadly, they are both gone now, but they got to live their lives exactly in the manner for which they were bred—not many dogs get that chance.

A trick to roping that you should always remember is to “look at your watch” when your hand comes around in front of your face. It places your hand in the right position for seeing your target through the loop.

My husband Toby says “The nice thing about a real bad wreck is that you don’t have to worry about it. You won’t even see it coming.”

My favorite Old West trail is the Bozeman. It’s not the oldest or the longest, but it was used at the pinnacle of America’s conflict with the Sioux.

Always pay attention to where a cow is looking: his body always follows his head.

My 95-year-old ranching neighbor told me: “If a man asks for your help and you tell him that you’ll give it, give it your all and do it right, or you’re just wasting both your time.”


Jody Dahl,
top50ranches.com owner

Jody Dahl lives and works on Runamuk Guest Ranch in Roundup, Montana, a ranch that has been passed through five generations of her husband’s family. She is the youngest of seven children. Montana has always been her home because her grandfather, who settled here from Belgium, passed on his love of the land through the generations of her father and then down to her and her six siblings. Besides her work at Runamuk, she owns and operates Top50Ranches.com, which focuses on ranches that offer authentic experiences.

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