Mimi aus Schweden...
Hi Cowgirls!!!

I was born in Sweden in 1957, started riding at age 3, and never quit. My mother was German, and her grandfather was after the war Burgermeister in Uelzen, between Hamburg and Hannover. He was a horse lover like me and knew horses, and I miss him, and my mom who died of cancer in 1986, so very much.

Here I was 12 years old, on my first horse Ira, dressed out as an Indian with a wooden rifle I made myself.

While growing up I was hooked on cowboy movies such as High Chapparal, Bonanza and Clint Eastwood spagetti movies. I dreamed of being a cowboy, and riding the wide open spaces of the West! I rode my horse every day no matter the weather (I probably wasn't very smart...) often pretending to be a cowboy or an Indian.

This is my second horse Taranto (Swedish warmblood & English Thoroughbred) when he was 3,5 years old. He was quite a horse! I did show jumping and dressage on him.

In 1977 I moved to Switzerland, studied a year and then worked there until 87, exercising polo horses and other horses after work. While living there, I went on several week-long rides in Arizona, several times in Monument Valley which was absolutely wonderful, and Canyon de Chelly south of there.
There was no doubt that that's where I belonged. I was in heaven! Sleeping under the stars, and seeing as far as the eye can see, no fences, no people, no nothing!

That's me at age 13 in Verden a.d. Aller in Germany where I had just passed the exams after a summer of riding and theory at the Verband Hannoverscher Warmblutzuchter.

In 87 my chance came; I was offered a job in Boston. Now I was so close, yet still so far away, from where I wanted to be. I was absolutely miserable there, more so than in Switzerland (no horses to ride), and totally out of place in my Wranglers, boots and hat!
It wasn't long before I packed by bags and saddle, hit the freeway going West, not really knowing where to go or what the future held, let out a yiehaaa! And vowed never to go east again! .

I eventually ended up in New Mexico. A ranching couple who took me under their wings and became my "adopted parents" here, introduced me on a cattle gather elsewhere to this neighbor of theirs. He was looking for a caretaker, (i.e. no pay!) to stay in the bunkhouse and do chores and help with everything and take care of the ranch when the were gone. I didn't have a green card yet, so legally I couldn't work. I did leather work for many years (work chaps, headstalls, saddlebags, belts, binders, spurstraps, etc. etc.) and sold while living there and later for income.
I lived on a beautiful ranch and learned everything from fixing windmills and fences to castrating, doctoring, working cattle and a little roping. I also day-worked on surrounding ranches earning day wages and loving every minute of it! I was determined to get my own ranch at some point, and took in Cattle Growers meetings and seminars, but mostly I learned from doing, all the while in search of a ranch that would fit me.
I stayed there for almost three years, when I moved to a different area of New Mexico (that was south of Santa Fe, a beautiful ranch) to South Central New Mexico. I thought I'd stand a better chance of finding a ranch there by living there and dayworking as a cowboy and get contacts. (Had no idea I'd meet my future husband, since I had pretty much decided I liked living by myself and didn't NEED a husband. He'd have to be pretty special to suit me. And he is!)

In 95 I met my future husband Tom who was managing a large ranch in south central New Mexico, and together we kept looking for a ranch. In the meantime I sold a farm I had in Sweden, and in 96 we found a very nice ranch in south eastern New Mexico. It was 22 sections large (14,080 acres / 5,705 hectars), consisting of Federal and State lease land and private land. We ran 350 head of Brangus (3/8 Brahman & 5/8 Angus) cows and calves, 11 bulls and 4 horses, 2 dogs and 4 cats!

This is me in New Mexico, day-working on a neighbors ranch moving his herd of Longhorn cattle,
riding my buckskin horse Son-of-a-Gun, who I still have.

That first year, my husband was still working on the other ranch 1.5 hours away, so I was left to take care of everything on this ranch myself. It was a tough first year, mostly because of a prolonged and severe drought, and constant water pipeline leaks which I had to repair. If I didn't have a leak a week, I hadn't looked hard enough! Then I had to find it (we had 22 miles of buried pipe line and didn't know exactly where it went through the pastures!), dig it up and fix it, and in the meantime ensure the cattle had water. It was so dry and dusty and hot. I moved the cattle from pasture to pasture, brought in sick or injured cattle, fed 42 50 pound sacks of protein cake every day, by putting the truck in 4 low 1st gear and jump up in the back and start throwing out cake (did the same in the winter with hay), and fixed fences. Tom came out on weekends and we would install new pipelines and water troughs.

Those were challenging times, but fun too, because it was my chance to see if I could handle it, and I guess I did. When it finally started raining there was water everywhere, and dry lake beds filled up, and it was absolutely wonderful. I'll never forget it..

The fall on 1996 we got married on the ranch, horseback (of course!), on top of a hill in the middle of the ranch. It was beautiful! Neighbors, friends and family attended. Then we had brisket, beans, cake and champagne in the barn! After the wedding, Tom went back to his job, and it wasn't until following February that he moved down. From then on things were a little easier. We also had had a new well drilled earlier.

Then, Federal lands issues gradually became a real threat, and besides we wanted something with a little more diversified income. Depending solely on cattle is hard, with so many factors playing a role; droughts, diseases, markets, politics and government regulations. So we started looking for something else, and not finding what we wanted in New Mexico, we started looking out of state.

After making a long circle, we ended up finding this 2,600 acre (1050 ha) ranch in North West Nebraska, close to the Wyoming and South Dakota borders, just south of the Black Hills. It is a beautiful place, and we are very happy here. It is rugged with steep canyons and hills, open rolling grass meadows, Ponderosa Pine trees, creeks and bluffs. A spectacular view of the surrounding area, and on a clear day you can see all the way into South Dakota! We pasture 250 cows and calves here in the summer, and are starting up a Guest ranch operation, mainly to give European dreamers like I once was the opportunity to experience a real working ranch. On Fridays, I load my horse (Pancho) and go to work at the Crawford Livestock Auction, penning back cattle as they come out of the sale ring. Some days we have as many as 4500 head go through. Then you're horseback for 12 hours or so!

This are has so much to offer, both in terms of pioneer and indian history, and rodeos, fur traders days, etc. etc. It is a relatively unknown area, and spectacularly scenic! If you get Western Horseman, their February issue had an article on historic Fort Robinson (page 120) which this ranch overlooks (we're 10 miles south of there).

And here I want to tell you something about our horses:

I've had Son-of-a-Gun (Sonny for short) since he was three, broke him and he's been a steady companion for 11 years now! He is a foxtrotter, and has a pretty cool gate! He's 15 hands. Sonny takes good care of me, and anyone else riding him. He's a gorgeous golden buckskin, and a real "people horse", and I swear he has a sense of humour!!!

Pancho (formerly Buck)I bought last spring from a horse trader and really lucked out. He is a grade quarter horse, also gorgeous buckskin, but kopper color. I could tell as soon as I saw him, and later rode him, he was a good one! He is 12 and came from a large ranch in Wyoming. He was not presented to me as being for sale, but I got him. He is a tall one - 16+ hands. He's a cowboy horse, and I would not have guests ride him. You don't go to sleep on him, or mess around, but he gets the job done, and he is stout! He is a real pleasure to ride and can take you from A to B in a hurry. I'm hoping to get time to try him in team roping.He is MY horse...

Then we have Chappo (means little in Spanish) my husband traded for last spring. He is a sorrel quarter horse, about 14 hand tall. Tom had a young highly bred young mare he didn't have time to ride as much as she needed (and frankly, a mare among geldings is trouble). So he traded for Chappo, who is a little guy, great in these hills, canyons and trees. He's real forward, but gentle. I think most people could ride him. He's been roped on, and came from a mountain outfit, I think.

We will buy a couple more horses, with guests in mind. For now these are what we have!

We hope to see your and your friends here and show them a good ol' time!
Best regards, Mimi Sidwell

CONTACT:        vacation@jxranch.com

That's me on one of the horses I now have, a tall dark buckskin horse Pancho, taken on this ranch.

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