Have to Have Big Tools On a Big Ranch
This image is courtesy Clark Truck Parts Inc. This truck is due on the ranch shortly for some modification for fire duty next dry season. It is a hybrid, custom manufactured and assembled 5 ton M813 truck. It has 6 wheel drive, an 850 cubic inch diesel, and many other custom installed features. To give you an idea of scale, the tires are 52 inches high. I also plan to use the troop hauling characteristics to take large groups out to the dinosaur outcrop.
Motorcycles are a necessary item out here. We actually have 3 dirt bikes. We have a 640 cc Honda 4 cycle, a 400cc Honda 4 cycle and a 220 cc Kawasaki 2 cycle. All are “dirt” bikes of course. They are the fastest way to get all the way across the ranch in the backcountry. They are also very capable of going into gullys to get stubborn cattle out of their hiding places. The only thing better than a bike to push cattle is a horse. Unless of course you are trying to push a Bull away from his cows. Then a motorcycle will usually not be the first choice. I have used one for bull pushing before and wish at the time I had a horse or an ATV. I watched an angry bull hit a fence post and literally blow it up with the impact. I also went head to head with a Bull on an ATV once. I would not try that with a motorcycle.
These vehicles are all serious 4 wheel drive machines. Two of the ATV’s are 4 wheel drive and the middle one is 6 wheel drive. They are very handy when pushing cattle from pasture to pasture. I also do a lot of exploring for dinosaur bones on the ATV’s. They are very agile and can go places that the bigger jeeps will not fit through. The two Jeeps on the right are highly modified from stock machines. The red Grand Cherokee is my “daily driver” and is almost a rally truck. It has a high performance v8 engine and full time four wheel drive with air lockers front and rear. It will go almost anywhere as long as there is enough clearance underneath the vehicle. If clearance is an issue, the green 77 Jeep CJ7 on the right is virtually unstoppable. Rocks, mud, hillslopes, gullys are all passable with this vehicle.
This is a 700 RMK Polaris snowmobile. We keep two of these on the ranch. They haven’t had much use over the last couple of years but the big snows will come sooner or later.
Here is our case 430 skid steer. It has many attachments for its front end. The 6 way dozer blade (shown), a backhoe, a trencher, a forklift and a 4 way bucket round out it versatility. We use it for many chores around the ranch.
Fiat/Allis Front Wheel Loader
You might have seen this kind of tractor on the side of the road doing highway construction before. It is amazing how handy something like this is around your basic cattle ranch. If you can imagine the many miles of trails that need to be maintained, you would begin to understand the importance of this tool. There are many other chores we utilize this machinery for. For instance, a couple of hundred cattle, hanging out in a corral for a while generate a prodigious quantity of manure. This tractor deals with such materials in a rapid efficient manner. Additionally, as you saw on the previous page, the Bliss Family has an addiction to moving 3 ton boulders around for their gardens. This tractor does the job admirably. The farm uses of this tractor are endless. We have clamp on fork lift tines that will attach to the bucket that do a wonderful job of loading half ton bales of hay for feeding cattle and horses. This gadget also facilitates the easy unloading of the various ranch trailers that we fill up with such diverse things as cattle panels, building materials and farm equipment. This kind of machinery is invaluable for running a ranch. Neighbors have been known to request it’s services too. I call all such equipment “community property” as all of the ranches out here swap equipment and help each other when they can. More of America should operate on this principle.
These two jeeps are highly modified for use to get me and my guests back and forth to the dinosaur sites. The left 1977 CJ-7 has a Chevy 350 V-8 under the hood, a great drive train and plenty of rock crawling experience under it’s belt. The 1994 Grand Cherokee has a 5.2 litter V-8, nothing stock behind the transmission and is definitely built for family comfort while climbing over boulders.
Here is my son’s 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited. You will notice the first thing we do with a new vehicle is put on a strong rock bumper and a winch. This very capable mostly stock jeep will do things that the more modified jeeps won’t like be stable on a sidehill. It has been a great second vehicle for Chris. Chris drives 45 miles one way to high school almost every day. The first 15 miles of that trip is gravel/mud/snowy/slick dirt roads.
My supercharged 99 Superduty (background). It has a 6 inch lift, triple shocks up front, 35 inch XT tires, and a Paxton Novi 2000 supercharger pushing air into the V-10 under the hood. You will notice that all my vehicles have very serious bumpers on board. This helps eliminate the body damage from hitting deer. This happens enough that it is worth the thousand bucks necessary to build a bumper rather than pay the insurance deductable several times a year. I hit a deer at 70 with the superduty a year back and had zero damage. The deer took two hours to get off the truck with a pressure washer.
Here is Chris’ 98 Ford Ranger that we modified heavily to run the local gravel in all weather situations. It is a remarkable mud truck and has had 50 thousand miles put on it in 3 years driving these roads. The up keep has been considerable to maintain it’s reliability. Most 4X4 vehicles never get off asphalt, this one lives off road.
Here is my current project vehicle. It is a 1966 CJ-5 with a Buick V-6 Odd fire engine on board. It is now a pretty cherry vehicle after having spent several months finishing the restoration. The fellow I bought it from ran out of funds to complete the job he had about 70 percent complete. There are just a few minor details now to finish and it will be a nice around the ranch vehicle that I can drive in a parade as a classic.
Big pickup trucks are very important to our lifestyle. When you only go into town every couple of weeks, the tendancy is to fill up the bed with groceries and supplies. When a full sized pickup is not enough, we pull any number of trailers that we maintain on ranch to facilitate the task. Obviously mud and snow are a big concern and without the extra height and extra traction, we would be stuck.
Of course we keep our own inventory of gasoline and diesel fuel on ranch to feed our equipment. Our vehicle inventory includes: 1 heavily modified Jeep Grand Cherokee, 1 amazing Jeep CJ7, Two 3/4 ton pickups, 1 Ford Ranger pickup, 1-1 ton flatbed F350 dually pickup, A Subaru Outback Legacy 4WD, 1 Front Wheel Loader, 1 Case Skid Steer, 1 Case 1070 Tractor 3 ATV’s, 3 Motorcycles and approximately 20 other tools that use smaller engines like lawn mowers and pump jacks.
When fuel prices go sky high, so do our expenses relating to raising beef and running the ranch. There is a direct connection for all farm commodity prices and fuel prices. We also keep 4 propane tanks totaling 2500 gallons at the ranch headquarters to keep warm in the winter and power the emergency backup generator when the power routinely fails.