The sign to a cowboy ranch should say a little something about its owner's personality and about the type of ranch being run. If you own a small ranch and like things rustic and handmade, opt for a simple wooden sign that represents your down-to-earth values. If you run a large commercial ranch, choose a grander and larger sign in a metal that takes the craftsmanship of a blacksmith to create. Design and make a sign on your own or brief a professional sign-maker with your idea.
If you ranch's values are all about good, honest hard work and living close to nature, choose a simple wooden sign. First decide whether the sign is going to be attached to a freestanding post in the ground or to the side of a fence next to your entrance gates. Find a length of wood you don't need anymore that is the right size for your requirements--this might be a slab of wood that was part of a previous outbuilding or fence, or it might be from a tree trunk that you have sanded down on one side. Paint your ranch's name onto the piece of wood. Practice on some scrap pieces of wood before you work on the final version. Draw the letters onto the wood in marker before you paint them, to help you space the words. If you are using dark wood, paint the name in white; if you are using very light wood, paint it in black to ensure they can be read easily.
Wooden and Decorative
If you like the idea of having a wooden, rustic sign for your ranch, but also want to add a bit of extra decoration to it, carve in a symbol onto one end. Choose a symbol that relates to ranch life, such as a cowboy hat or a horse's face. If you are not artistic enough to carve, simply nail an old cowboy hat or an old pair of cowboy boots right onto the sign.
Metal letters that also function as the ranch's brand used to identify livestock, arching high above the entrance gates to the ranch, are a classic option. For a modern twist, incorporate shapes made to look like trees, cowboys, horses or other farmyard animals. This type of sign is really effective because the silhouette pops against the wide open sky. For an unexpected location, nail it into two adjacent trees, hang it off a railing over your driveway's entrance, or spell out the name of the ranch in a broad arch. Make it personal to your farm--if you have a lot of cattle but are also a dog lover, put up several silhouettes of both animals.
A plaque is one of the grandest, most serious ways to announce a name. A plaque can attach directly to a fence or wall, or it can stand free as its own monument. This type of sign is most often professionally made. Plaques are usually made of thick metal etched with a bespoke cast, or cut by a laser. Freestanding monuments are usually mounted on a small brick or stone wall for support. Collaborate with a local sign provider about your requirements and the personality of the ranch so that you can come up with a suitable design and structure together. If your ranch's name incorporates an animal name or any object that could be rendered, definitely portray an image of that object. If the ranch has been in the family for generations, include your family name and the date the ranch was established.
- "Ranches of the American West"; Linda Leigh Paul; 2009
- "Dude Ranches of the American West"; David R. Stoeklein; 2004
- Twists and Curls: Ranch Entrance Signs
- Art Sign Works: Application Gallery 23 -- Farm and Ranch Signs
- Photo Credit Ralf Nau/Lifesize/Getty Images
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