It’s that time of year where the snow keeps falling and as the piles get higher, the animals come lower--seeking shelter from the wind, easier access to food and water from the river. Which makes our valley the perfect wintering grounds for herds that number in the hundreds. You could say it’s quite a happening place around here lately! There isn’t a single day we don’t see countless deer roaming our lower pastures and the surrounding hills are loaded with them as well. And it might be the only time of year you will actually see traffic as cars slow to grab a glimpse or perhaps a photo of the large mule deer bucks and elk lining the roads. We love watching them day in and day out and imagining where they might be dropping those big antlers in the upcoming months! This is also the time we take extra trips out to check on the herd to be sure everyone is weathering the temperatures alright. Although just 10 minutes away, it’s still one of the most beautiful drives! That’s a frozen reservoir down there and many days we’ll see cars and trucks parked out in the middle while folks ice fish. Would you drive your vehicle out on the frozen water?? More deer on the journey! Good thing they post those deer crossing signs so the deer know where to cross… When we arrive at the herd, there is always a warm welcome waiting for us. Here they come over the hills! And down the mountain! The combination of outside cold and warm bodies makes for some steamy horses, but a beautiful scene as the sun begins to set while we check them one by one. Or at least we thought it was the setting sun... After we watched this horse struck by a laser beam and lifted towards the light we began to think otherwise! (So if your horse acts up this summer…remember… aliens.) Here are a few more shots from around the ranch. This one’s a test for all you shed hunters out there that like to find antlers. How many big antlers can you see in this shot? Look closely…you might be distracted by the one, but then you’d miss out… Girl fight! We have a special treat for everyone. We’re pleased to announce that our “llamadeer” from last winter is not only still around—it’s a BUCK! Here’s a refresher for those who missed it or may have forgotten. Last February we spotted this little guy within the deer herds around the ranch. He was unlike anything we’d ever seen and you can see why we actually called Division of Wildlife to see if someone had lost a llama or similar! He doesn’t look like your average deer! Although we didn’t see him (we weren’t sure of his gender at the time) again after this original sighting, we hoped his lighter color wouldn’t make him an easier target for predators and that he’d make it through the winter. And a full year later—lo and behold—here he was in the same area and with 2 fork antlers! A boy! And what a unique guy he is! Although he is not an albino, he definitely stands out among his deer brothers. We’re not sure what nature would call him—but he’s certainly a handsome fella and we hope he can make it through a few hunting seasons to spread some genetics and so that we can watch how he grows and develops. Fingers crossed for this guy! (That’s when you wish you could make them understand to STAY ON THE RANCH. Maybe we should post a sign….) Ok—for those who were searching for the deer in my picture above. Did you find the other two? Here’s your help if you didn’t. Start training your eyes to find those antlers now so you can be ready come summer! And just to go out with a bang, here are a few more shots of the phenomenal sightings we witnessed within a half mile from the ranch in the past two weeks: Golden eagle about to try for some lunch! You’d have to enlarge this to appreciate it fully, but these are 14 of 17 bull elk on the hill spread from left to right! And this? Is something we may never see again. EIGHT bald eagles sitting in the trees together. Truthfully. Having a political meeting? Possibly. Once again, if you can’t see them well, blow this up and see for yourself! And another day, this one gave us an incredible close up….. It’s things like this that turn a regular day into something unforgettable. And we realize how truly blessed we are to live where these are parts of our every day. And JUST IN CASE you’re not in a part of the country where they are getting pounded with snow (are there any left?), here are a couple shots of some of our snow. Everything sure looks different under a waist-deep blanket of white. Do you recognize Knob Hill?? So although our intention was to make this blog dull and colorless with picture upon picture of brown and white (Ok. Let’s be honest—it’s all we really have to work with right now), we decided to be spontaneous-ish and leave you with some beautiful colors to ensure you’re longing for the Spring like we are. First, allow us to introduce the two newest members of our ranch family! We posted these two brothers’ pictures on our Facebook page and asked YOU to name them and the response was overwhelming! Not only did we find great names for these boys, we got some other future ideas as well. So THANK YOU to everyone who chimed in! We decided to go with Zeus and Hercules for these two beautiful boys and once you see the size of this dun appaloosa below, you’ll know why we named him Hercules…he’s BIG! Both are double registered Colorado Ranger horses and Appaloosas and we are excited to have them out on trail this summer! This little grey mustang is another newbie who’s joining us—and she’s one handy little girl! Given to us by some local friends who wanted to find her a great home, we’re excited to see how miss Reata likes joining our wide open spaces. Her window view is going to be a bigger one than this! That’s for sure! And if nothing else in this post made you smile, this part is sure to. Horses playing in the snow! It doesn’t get much happier than this. They love showing off and we love their colors against the white backdrop. Another one of those things that brightens any day! Well happy Wednesday everyone! Reservations are rolling in and we can’t believe we’re headed into March shortly. We’ll be posting about our horsey Valentine’s Day shortly!