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Hobble Diamond Ranch - South Unit

$20,000,000 Big Timber, MT 14,050± Deeded Acres

Executive Summary

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General Description

The Hobble Diamond Ranch is a wonderful working/recreational ranch ideally improved and located in a terrific setting.  Easy access too many of Montana’s finest communities, but tucked into in its own world north of the river, this ranch enjoys spectacular views, a viable cattle operation and great recreation. The property is comprised of a pleasing mix of open and tree-covered river-bottom, foothill country and productive irrigated hay fields in the bottom to provide sufficient feed for the livestock with the ability to sell excess forage on the open market.  The views, as mentioned earlier, are spectacular and ever-changing throughout the course of the day.  From morning’s first light all the way through sundown, the mountains and cliffs surrounding the property change with the light and the angle of the sun during the seasons, providing a different view and feel each time one looks.  Approximately half of the river frontage is open and dramatic while the other half is more intimate as it is timbered with the large cottonwoods that are so typical along the world-renowned Yellowstone River. 

Broker's Comments

The Hobble Diamond Ranch is a unique offering that is both complete and attractively priced.  While the offering price is for the real estate only, some personal property may be available by private treaty.  Hall and Hall is pleased to have the opportunity to bring this investment-quality property to the marketplace, as it represents what so many people seek in a Rocky Mountain ranch - a viable and productive agricultural operation, a strong sporting component, and an exceptional and tasteful owner’s compound. Great working improvements, easy access, privacy, terrific recreational opportunities, possible alternative-energy income, and tremendous views complete the package for this large working cattle ranch.  

Learn about the locale

Location

Hobble Diamond Ranch is located 12 miles east of Big Timber and is accessed off Interstate 90 by exiting at Greycliff.  Access to the property is superb.  From the interstate exit, one travels approximately three miles on the Lower Sweet Grass Road, a paved county road that crosses the Yellowstone River.  One takes the second right after the bridge and enters the ranch under the Hobble Diamond overhead gate, traveling on Shanks Basin West Road (a private gravel road) for approximately five miles to the headquarters of the ranch.  Continuing on the same road, one travels another two miles to the owner’s compound on the east end of the ranch.  The main home is strategically sited between the foothills and river bottom. The seven-mile drive to the owner’s compound is along the edge of the foothills and above the irrigated fields.  The road overlooks the Yellowstone River bottom to the south, where it is common to see hundreds of mule and whitetail deer, elk and other wildlife, as well as waterfowl.  

Big Timber is the county seat for Sweet Grass County and provides most of the services for the area including a paved and lighted jet strip.  Daily commercial air service is available in Bozeman and in Billings. These two cities offer the most extensive air service in Montana.  Greycliff is equidistance from Bozeman and Billings, both about 73 miles.  

Locale

One of the most appealing aspects of the ranch is the location which affords easy access in all directions…however, with total privacy.  The locale itself is also a very desirable part of the Big Sky Country.  Big Timber is a unique community situated on the Yellowstone River. Its character has been formed in part by Easterners who were early guests of dude ranches in the area and then came back to live and ranch there. In more recent years the popularity of fly-fishing and people looking for a place to which to escape, in or near the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, has brought a new wave of non-resident land owners who swell the population during the summer and fall months and have certainly contributed in many ways to forming the character of the community. Naturally, its early history as a center for cattle and sheep ranching is an important part of its heritage. The tradition of ranching and making good use of the land is deeply ingrained in the local community and carries over to newcomers as well.  By Montana standards, Big Timber is a relatively sophisticated community with good schools, a hospital, churches, bars, excellent cafes and restaurants, galleries, specialty shops, banks, lawyers, car dealers - basically everything one would want in a small, comfortable package. Billings and Bozeman provide a broader range of social, cultural and service options. 

Climate

Big Timber and Sweet Grass County enjoy the diversity of each season with a variety of weather phenomenon. The average annual precipitation is approximately 15 inches and comes in any form, from winter snowstorms to spring cloudbursts, and summer and fall rain showers.  The April through September precipitation amounts average 10.5 inches and the maximum temperature average is 75.   Average minimum temperature for April through September is 44 degrees.  July and August are the warmest months with temperatures averaging in the high 80s and 90s. The yearly average maximum temperature is 61 degrees and the average minimum temperature is 34. The coldest recorded temperature was -47 in February 1936, and the hottest recorded temperature was 107 in July 2002. Big Timber boasts an average of 286 days of sunshine each year.

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Acreage (Deeded & Leased)

The Hobble Diamond Ranch is comprised of 28,273± deeded acres that stretch along approximately six miles of the north bank of the famed Yellowstone River.  The ranch includes 1,262± acres of irrigated fields. These fields include six pivots irrigating 777± acres, 175± acres under wheel lines, and 310± acres of flood irrigation utilizing canvas dams and gated pipe to spread the water.  The balance is partially timbered foothill range plus open and timbered river bottom lands.  There are also 1,600± acres of grazing land leased from the BLM and 1,335± acres leased for grazing from the State of Montana.

Deeded Acres: 14,050±

State Leased Acres: 55±

BLM Leased Acres: 559±

Total Leased Acres: 614±

Total Acres: 14,664±

* All acreages are approximations.

Additional Information

Additional Purchase Options

  • South Unit (14,050± deeded, 559± BLM and 55± State acres) - $20,000,000
  • North Unit (14,133± deeded, 1,051± BLM and 1,263± State acres) - $12,000,000

Improvements

The owner’s compound is very tastefully improved with a main house, guest quarters above a detached garage, bunkhouse, three rustic cabins built from recycled logs and one clapboard guest cabin.  The main house, guest quarters and bunkhouse were designed by regionally recognized architect, Kirk Michels, who is based in Livingston, Montana and the interiors were done by London-based designers Phillip Hooper of Colefax and Fowler and Sally Metcalf of George Spencer Design.  Kirk’s architectural work is prominently displayed on a number of Montana and Wyoming ranches and retreats.  Pictures of the home and surrounding buildings are proudly featured on his website. http://www.kirkmichelsarchitects.com.

At just over 10,000 square feet on three levels, the main home consists of six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two half baths.  Harkening back to the early days of the finest of Western lodges, the main level is replete with a grand entrance opening into a magnificent great room with the “classic” lodge fireplaces on either end of the room. In the entry, an ornate log staircase climbs upstairs to four bedrooms with private baths including the master bedroom suite.  The main guest bedroom suite is on the first floor at the opposite end from the kitchen, breakfast nook and screened-in porch.

A beautiful spiral staircase flows down to the lower floor where a wine cellar/tasting room, sauna, massage room and billiards/game room offer a variety of fun and relaxation.  The attention to detail, elegant design and construction of the home are exceptional and completely appropriate for the setting, evoking a Western lodge flavor.  The use of stone and wood inside and out creates a rugged warmth that one expects in a Western ranch home.  The private setting is ideal and the views are spectacular looking out across the verdant meadows to the Yellowstone River.  The compound is tucked in a protected treed setting providing a sense of “place” although allowing incredible views of the magnificent Absaroka Mountains to the south and the rugged foothills to the north.  Finally, within walking distance from the lodge and surrounding buildings, nestled in a meadow amongst cottonwoods and overlooking the Yellowstone River, are the four cabins perfectly situated to take in similar views of the river, mountains and foothills.  The owner’s compound is extremely well maintained, ready for a new owner to move in and begin enjoying the ranch immediately.  It should be noted the personal household furnishings in the owner’s home and guest cabins are not available for purchase and shall be retained by seller.

The working improvements are truly too numerous to mention individually and all best-in-class.  Three hired men’s homes and a bunkhouse provide plenty of housing for employees necessary to run the cattle and farming operations.  The ranch manager’s house is separate from the main ranch compound and is beautifully situated on a bluff overlooking the Yellowstone River.  It is extremely well appointed and once served as the owner’s home. The machine sheds, shops, horse barn, open-sided sheds for machinery storage, corrals, scale and a 520-foot feedlot would be the envy of any producer.  These improvements are, as well, carefully maintained and clearly indicate that this ranch is a “showplace” of working cattle ranches.

Mineral Rights

All mineral rights currently owned by the seller will transfer to a buyer.  The extent of the mineral ownership of the current owner is not known.  Therefore, Hall and Hall suggests that a buyer prospect might wish to conduct a mineral search.

The ranch has a 25-year land lease for a 25-megawatt wind farm located on a remote section of the northern part of the property. The wind farm, consisting of 14 turbines, will begin generating power in early 2018 with expected revenue to the ranch of $175,000 to $225,000 per year.  Additional information is available upon request from the offices of Hall and Hall. 

Learn about the recreational amenities

Recreational Considerations

Whether it is fishing the pond, complete with a gazebo for barbequing and entertaining, or the Yellowstone River, any angler will be delighted with the variety of fishing opportunities.  The fly fishing on the Yellowstone River is, in a word, excellent!  It is no accident that the Yellowstone is internationally known as one of the finest trout fisheries in the United States.  Brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout are all found in abundant numbers and the wide variety of habitat provided offers great dry-fly fishing as well as sub-surface fishing with streamers and nymphs.  As a testament to the health of the ecosystem small, medium, large and enormous fish can all be caught here.  The stretch from Big Timber to Billings is known as the quiet section of the Yellowstone, as many of the guide services focus on the Paradise Valley stretch or the Livingston to Big Timber stretch.  

Therefore, it is not uncommon to have long periods with almost no boat traffic.  For the wildlife enthusiast the property and the region surrounding it are home to the broad diversity of wildlife that southcentral Montana is famous for.  Whitetail and mule deer, antelope, black bear, mountain lion and many other smaller mammals reside on the ranch, with a resident herd of elk roaming in the foothills.  A variety of waterfowl, upland birds, raptors, cranes, songbirds and herons also call the ranch home.  A portion of the ranch along the river is currently licensed as a State of Montana Shooting Preserve for one to enhance and enjoy the upland bird hunting characteristics of the property. Hunting, hiking, safari rides, horseback riding, bird watching and mountain biking can all be enjoyed on the property.

Learn about the general operations

General Operations

Currently the ranch is running approximately 650 running-age cows, 150 bred heifers and 150 replacement heifers.  The attendant bulls (one per 20 cows) and ranch horses make up the balance of the livestock on the premises.  Therefore, conservatively one could make a strong case that the ranch’s stocking capacity is well over 1,000 animal units with the opportunity to sell and/or graze excess forage produced on the irrigated lands.  The operation is completely self-contained with enough spring/summer/fall grazing and winter feed to support the existing livestock.

Current management is in the process of re-farming many of the irrigated and dryland fields in the bottom to get them producing at maximum levels.  This clearly is to the benefit of the next owner who will be able to reap the rewards of the farming for years to come.

With the diversity of the lands and operation, there are a variety of scenarios that one may implement to run the ranch in a manner that is consistent with an owner’s goals and objectives.  The current owners have stressed a balance between the cattle, farming and wildlife.  As an example, one could run fewer cows and keep weaned calves in the feedlot through the fall, turning out in the winter on the frozen irrigated fields feeding long hay and run ranch-raised yearlings on grass the following summer.  Or, as mentioned earlier, sell excess forage produced from the irrigated cropland.  Or, graze some of the pivots for first-calf heifers or yearlings. The point is, clearly the Hobble Diamond Ranch offers some management options that are not available on many Northern Rockies ranches.  We would enjoy the opportunity to further share our thoughts regarding the operating scenarios that might be available depending on your goals. 

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