The Ranch’s Instagram community is now 17 times our Montana county’s population. Every December, it’s fun to look back at the pictures that originated in the wilderness of Granite County but resonated worldwide. Read the stories behind our top 9 of 2019.
Click on the photo to see the full-sized photo or watch the video.
1. “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile”
by Eric Bunting @elbunt
It’s no surprise that our number one photo is equine. Our 75-horse herd inspires us daily and shows up regularly on our feed. Though it’s hard to choose a season we love most, autumn holds a special place in our hearts. The pace of life slows down, the harvest begins and we celebrate the “last, loveliest smile” with Labor Day, Whiskey & Water, Autumn Harvest and Thanksgiving weekends. Former Rancher Eric Bunting captured this beautiful scene when he worked at The Ranch as a photography and activities guide.
2. Dashing into Christmas
by Caleb Jordan Lee @calebjordanlee
The Friday before Christmas many of our guests were setting off for The Ranch from places around the country and the world. No one was immune to the feeling of holiday excitement. Our running of the horses is always breathtaking, but in the snow it is truly awe-inspiring. A few years ago, Filmmaker Caleb Jordan Lee visited The Ranch on a shoot for Relais & Châteaux and his video of the herd heading in from pasture was poetry in motion. The running of the horses happens year-round and being close to an entire herd running free has been known to inspire racing hearts and tears of joy.
3. June Bug
by Mindy Avila @mindyavila
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“Meet Little June Bug. I went out early one morning to feed and to check on the cows during calving season. It had snowed the night before so I was looking to see if any of the mamas had calved overnight. I was getting ready to head back when I saw her little ears sticking out of the snow right in front of the tractor. She was too weak to stand on her own and could barely keep her little head up. I brought her back to the barn so she could warm up. After getting wrapped in a heated blanket with a heater next to her and some antibiotics and milk, she got some life back in her and was back with the herd in no time. Now, every time I go check on the herd she always makes it a point to come up and say, “Hi.” | Ranch Life Takeover with Rancher Mindy Avila 📷@mindyavila #ranchlife
Mindy Avila took over our account for a Ranch Life Takeover and shared the story of a calf named June Bug. Ranchers from around the area will confess that although you rarely name each and every calf born, it’s not unusual to form a special attachment. Stay tuned for our first Thursday Ranch Life Takeover of the year with Barn Manager Hailey Laird, where she’ll talk about one of her favorite cows, Sweet Pea.
4. February Storm
by Jose Villa @josevilla
World-renowned wedding Photographer Jose Villa arrived at The Ranch for a winter wedding shoot. While he captured the beauty of the couple and all the details, he also found our hard-working wranglers to be very photogenic. No matter the weather, our wranglers take care of our guests and our herds. We shared this photo as we readied for a storm that brought two feet of snow in February. We always use caution but welcome the storms so we can spend more powder-filled days at Discovery Ski Area.
5. Moose Drinking at Welcome Pond
by Activities Director Kelsey Bruns @kmadelynbruns
Moose migrations on Rock Creek seemed to pick up pace this year. We love making dreams come true, and a number guests fulfilled bucket list wishes to see a moose in the wild. Moose dine on aquatic plants so they are often found around our ponds and on Rock Creek. They are born without front teeth so that they can slurp the plants into their mouth. You may remember Activities Manager Kelsey Bruns, who helped rescue a golden eagle on a nearby roadway. She is also a photography guide and master naturalist who annotates our Rock Creek Field Guide. Her diverse talents are evident in this beautiful capture.
6. Philipsburg Skies
by Lindsay Roberts @lindsayrobs
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We can’t send our beautiful Philipsburg sunsets directly to the skies of our 40K Instagram community, but we will be sending a hand-tooled leather belt as a memento to our giveaway winner @whereschrismichael. Congrats and thanks to everyone who entered! We wish we could plan every one of your dream trips. Look for another giveaway from the Mercantile when we reach 45K followers. | 📷 @lindsayrobs
They call Montana “Big Sky Country” for good reason. Granite County is home to wide open spaces topped with vast clear skies, so it’s hardly surprising that sunsets accounted for three of our top nine this year. This sunset was captured by a former rancher with a talent for capturing light. We’re lucky to stay in touch with so many of our former employees – many of whom stay in the area. We’ll start hiring for 2020 in earnest in January, so be sure to check our career listings if you or someone you know is interested in working under a sky like this.
7. Golden Eagle Rescue
by Activities Director Patrick Little @plittle406
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As if this weekend wasn’t incredible enough, our Activities Team also rescued an injured golden eagle! Three cheers for Activities Director Pat Little, Activities Manager Kelsey Bruns and Guide Madi King for calling the raptor rescue and helping to capture the bird for x-rays. | 📷 @plittle406 🦅 @wild_skies_raptor_center
The golden moment of the year was our golden eagle rescue. Our Master Naturalists have contributed their knowledge to The Ranch’s programs since 2017, but this year they saved an animal’s life. When Activities Manager/Master Naturalist Kelsey Bruns rescued a young female golden eagle and it lived to be released on The Ranch, it was a poignant moment for us and our community – as you can tell by the 338 comments the post received. Read the full story of Kelsey’s rescue and Wild Skies Raptor Center’s healing care.
8. Buckle Barn Sunset
by Housekeeper Narin Durzheva @ndurzheva
Our housekeeping department is often referred to as “housekeeping ninjas” for good reason. They keep Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star standards while rarely being seen. We don’t often share the personal touches that push a stay at The Ranch to the next level, because we want our guests to enjoy these thoughtful surprises. However, Ranch Life Takeovers by our housekeeping staff were some of our most popular of the year. Narin Durzheva, Alexandra Pettrova, Adelina Petrowa and Petya Panova each did amazing work behind-the-scenes at The Ranch, as well as when they shared their stories on our feed. We hope to welcome some of them back next year for the busy summer season.
9. 360-Degree Summer Sunset
by Ranch Ambassador Supervisor Lexie Doth @lexdoth
In case the other sunsets weren’t convincing enough, Lexie Doth’s twirl to view 360 degrees of sunset was a highlight. It proved there’s no bad view when you’re a mile high into the mountains. We loved that our community stopped for a moment to look deeper into what makes this wild wonderland so special. In this spirit, we’ll continue to share the raw, every day moments straight from our Ranchers alongside some impressive professional photography.
We hope you’ll join us on Instagram in 2020, if you haven’t already. We give away curated goods from the Mercantile every time we welcome 5,000 more followers. We hope you have a Happy New Year, from our homestead to yours!