Guild relishes family on the ranchWritten by Natasha Wheeler
Evanston – “I have a hard time staying in the house when my family is all out working, so I’ve always chosen to go out and be with them,” says Dixie Guild of the Guild Ranch near Evanston.
Guild arrived on the ranch 34 years ago when she married her husband, Kelly, and her children are sixth generation on the place.
“I have eight children and 19 grandchildren that all live close by, so that takes up a big part of my life,” she comments.
Two more grandchildren are also on the way.
“I love to take the kids out and take them for four-wheeler rides. We call them our adventures, and I take them out and let them enjoy the ranch,” she explains.
One of her sons will soon be returning as a permanent resident of the ranch, another one of her sons is a schoolteacher who comes back each summer, and all of the kids and grandkids visit and help whenever they can.
“I love riding and being out with my husband and children,” she notes.
In fact, the Guilds are putting up a lodge and recreation building with rooms built into the top floor to accommodate everyone.
“When all the family comes out, we will have a big area so that we can enjoy each other and they can all stay. We have several children and son-in-laws that come back and help during the summer, so it’s really a family thing,” she says.
Family has always been important to the operation, and all of the children grew up working on the ranch.
“At spring break or holidays when other families were going different places, my kids always knew that we went out together and worked on the ranch. They were always so good about it,” she states.
Caring for everyone
Guild also notes that whenever family, help or other visitors are out on the ranch, she prepares meals and feeds the crew.
“At branding, I take down meals for the branding crew and help out there,” she says, adding, “I help out wherever I am needed.”
Whether she’s gathering firewood, vaccinating calves, taking care of grandchildren or feeding hay to the cows in the winter, Guild is an active and important member of the ranch’s operation.
“We also plant alfalfa here. We have a big center pivot that’s getting plowed up,” she comments.
The field will soon be re-planted with alfalfa for the next season’s crop.
“We have a big army truck, and we use it to feed three-by-four square bales to cattle all winter, which is something I’ve always enjoyed,” she adds.
Guild also likes to maintain the books, tracking the numbers for the ranch.
“I really enjoy keeping the records on the farm and the cattle and looking back through them when we are trying to sort for replacement heifers,” she notes.
Guild also has a garden and a greenhouse. She uses the greenhouse for peppers and tomatoes, and in the garden, she grows squash, pumpkins, lettuce, spinach and rhubarb.
“I want to have a lot of stuff that will come back yearly, like raspberries and strawberries. I have a variety of stuff that I’ve been growing,” she explains.
Guild continues, “I also have chickens. I love working with the chickens.”
Last year, raccoons killed 30 chickens. This year, Guild got a coon dog to help keep the birds safe.
“We haven’t had dogs before,” she comments. “Now I have this new dog, and we are trying to get him to work cattle really well. I want to learn more about training a good cowdog. That’s something I’m really interested in.”
The ranch runs a herd of mostly Lim-Flex cattle, an Angus and Limousin cross.
“This year, we put some of our baldy cattle back with Hereford bulls to get a little bit of white back into them,” she adds.
Although they are not currently part of the operation, sheep were also ran on the ranch at one time, and sheep trails are not the only historical paths across the ranch.
“The Pioneer Trail and the Pony Express went through here. We run pioneer handcarts on our place,” Guild says.
Her sister-in-law manages that particular part of the operation, but everyone helps out wherever they are needed. Six thousand youth have come through the area with handcarts.
“We also have historical charcoal kilns that are on the place, so we have a lot of people who come and look at those,” she continues. “We have a lot of history here, including the ghost town of Piedmont, which our ancestors started.”
The railroad went through the area as well, adding more history to the ranch.
“I love to be out here, and I love to help out with the ranch,” she says. “I enjoy being with my family, and I really enjoy the ranch lifestyle.”