Sketches from the Ranch


Sketches from the Ranch

A Montana Memoir

Dan Aadland
With a new preface by the author
Introduction by Sue Hart
Illustrations by Nik Carpenter

288 pages
33 drawings


November 2008


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In 1892 a stocky Danish immigrant named Magnus Jensen rode into south-central Montana. He liked what he saw and staked his future on the ranch he would carve out there. Today, Dan Aadland and his wife, Emily, live on the ranch built by Jensen, Emily’s grandfather. More than a century has passed, but the nature of ranching in Montana is little changed. Sensitive to the timelessness of the land, author Aadland approaches his ranching life as Thoreau approached life at Walden Pond.
In Sketches from the Ranch, Aadland brings ranching to life within the framework of one recent year. In simple but moving prose, he evokes the harsh beauty of the West, writing with as much elegance about breaking a colt as he does about the inner lives of cattle, the way his pickup handles in the snow, or how the relationship between a man and his horse often defines a good day on the ranch. Beautifully illustrated and lovingly told, Sketches from the Ranch bears poetic witness to the myth and reality that are the West.

Author Bio

Dan Aadland is a former teacher who ranches and breeds horses near Absarokee, Montana. He is the author of seven books, including The Best of All Seasons: Fifty Years as a Montana Hunter (Nebraska 2007) and The Complete Trail Horse: Selecting, Training, and Enjoying Your Horse in the Backcountry.


“Dan Aadland is a cultivated, witty and intelligent inside observer of ranch life. This is a valuable and entertaining book.”—Thomas McGuane, author of Missouri Breaks

“In many ways, [Dan Aadland's] writing will be most powerful in capturing the uniqueness and importance of this way of life.”—Marc Racicot, former governor of Montana

“Running through this engaging book is Aadland’s love of the Montana landscape and its inhabitants, and his implicit destruction of the politically correct myth that ranchers are ruthless exploiters of nature.”—Robert C. Steensma, Western American Literature

Table of Contents

A Note to the Reader
1. Calving - The stud colt - A new "snipe hunt" - The nature of the cow - A close call - Lion bait
2. "Freedom, heyday," cried Caliban - My breakout - Pronghorns - St. Olaf - Rattlesnakes under the outhouse
3. A decidion about the stud colt - The story of the leg - A premature trip to the funeral home
4. Testosterone machines - A spring ride - Killer baby antelope - Banks and noxious weeds
5. Stallions, mares, and foals - Centaurs and minotaurs
6. Pancho and Lefty - Running W's - The one-hoss shay - A bend in Butcher Creek
7. A big head of water - Reedy River - Hunting fish - Dead end - Sweet Charlotte - Steeplechase
8. Dry times - A shovel for a shield
9. White shorts and tennis shoes
10. Starting a filly
11. Farrier tales
12. First ride - A lady vet - Horse trading - Bicycles for bracelets
13. A big expensive bucket of bolts - Overshot stackers - Sergeant Fleming - "A time to sow, a time to reap"
14. A dusting on the mountains - New neighbor - A nice Lutheran girl - Return of the stud colt
15. Roundup - Elsie's pets
16. "Some people prefer dogs" - On eating your friends: Napoleon and Squealer
17. Moose
18. Weaning time - Discovery in the hills
19. A lone sentinel - Coyotes - Patience
20. Requiem
21. El sol
About the Artist

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