“The cows don’t care if you wear mascara. But I do.”—Jenn Zeller
Kelsey Ducheneaux-Scott, tell us about the DX Ranch.
The DX Ranch is a grass-fed cattle ranch on Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) ancestral lands, now known as the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. My great-grandfather established our headquarters here, and I’m the fourth generation of my family that calls this place home.
DX Ranch is also home to Project H3LP, a nonprofit for our youth, where we help build life skills through the horse–human connection.
What do you do on the ranch?
I run DX Beef, a direct-to-consumer, regenerative beef operation at the ranch. Our goals are to help correct a broken food system locally, while ensuring our animals have a just life, and that our customers know how their beef got from pasture to plate.
You also work beyond the ranch.
I’m the Director of Programs for the Intertribal Agriculture Council, which seeks to build and restore indigenous foodways in Native American communities. I’m a soil nerd, and agriculture in Indian Country is my passion.
Jenn Zeller, what brought you to the ranch?
I came here in 2008 to work with the Ducheneaux Quarter Horses, but stayed for love—although Kelsey’s dad, Zach, would say I stayed for the horses. Zach is my partner and we met through an online horse group back when Yahoo groups were the big “thing.” I’m Oklahoma born and bred, but grew up in Texas and spent a couple years in New Mexico on a college rodeo scholarship.
What work do you do?
I train and work horses, help run/teach/organize our horsemanship clinics and equine internships at the ranch, and manage the DX Ranch’s marketing. When I’m not on the ranch, I’m on the road, competing at rodeos. I’m also a freelance writer (mostly about horsemanship/horse training) and a professional photographer.
DX-ers, this is Dovetail. Tell our people something dirty.
K: Springtime is incredibly dirty around here. I don’t buy decorations for my house based on if I like them. I buy them if they’re the color of gumbo, or if they’ll hide dirt well. Because the soil here has a very heavy clay content. When it gets wet, the chemical bonds within the soils shift a little bit—I’m a soil nerd, remember—and it sticks to everything. It’s just everywhere on you. So if I’m moving pasture, I will just step inside of my house, and right there in the entryway I take my pants and boots off, all in one fell swoop. I don’t even take my boots off first. The nice thing about my Dovetails is I can hang them up to dry, put them on later for afternoon chores, and they still have structure. They still fit and feel good. And the dirt smacks off when I step back outside.
J: I’ll tell you about my dirty eyelashes. We have these big hay-nets that are super handy at saving us wasted hay. But a couple of weeks ago we were filling the hay nets and the wind was blowing 50-mile-an-hour gusts that felt like 900 miles per hour. I was between the skid loader and the hay net, and the wind hit me just right. I had dirt coming out of my eyes for three days, and little pieces of hay stuck between my real eyelashes and my fake eyelashes. My real eyelashes are super-stupid-blonde—almost platinum—and I can’t put enough mascara on them. So, I cheat. When I first got here, Zach would say, “Babe, the cows don’t care if you wear mascara.” But I do.
Jenn and Kelsey, what’s missing from ag and ranch apparel?
J: A functional freaking shirt for big shoulders that doesn't ride up your waist and pull out of your jeans when it’s tucked in. And pockets that actually work. Most shirt pockets are designed to make our boobs look good, which we can all appreciate, right? But I don’t need that when I’m working cows, or riding my horse and I’m by myself and want to have my phone with me. I need a place to put it. Also, I need all-around stretch and functional tailoring. I’m often riding five head of horses a day at the ranch, and I’m also a barrel racer. There’s a lot of upper body movement involved.
K: Many of us end up wearing men’s clothes because they last longer, or they’re more comfortable. But it’s really frustrating having to constantly tighten your belt, or pull your pants up over your hips when you’re trying to move a hot-wire cross fence. And you’re usually working alongside a man who doesn’t have to deal with any of that because their clothes are built to work with them. So when Dovetail reached out and asked us about our workwear needs, I was like, oh boy! Let me tell you. I’ve got some ideas….
Jenn Zeller/The South Dakota Cowgirl
For all things DX Ranch, go here.
For incredible horse photography, follow Jenn @thesdcowgirl.
Dovetail Workwear Disclaimer: We are not the boss of our Women At Work! They say it their way and wear it their way.