Buying a Ranch is a not a decision one should make lightly. Ranch Properties are unique and should not be considered as if they were just any residential property.
Those who owned a ranch in the past that you may be considering buying could have had weed programs, fertilizer programs, buried oil, or buried animal. Yes Buried animals is a natural way of life on a ranch, however, I once almost listed a ranch that had over a dozen horses buried on 5 acres. This 5 acres had a large barn, a home, a corral and a double wide with a garage. So the space left for burial was not much. And these horse were race horses that died of unknown drug related reasons, one of them died from antifreeze poising some how. This can affect your water, and may lead to issues for you in the future unique weed pipes.
Ranches, most always have some sort of water, whether it be a navigable stream, a pond, or an irrigation ditch. And the saying goes that whiskey is made for drinking and water is made to fight over. Just a joke of course, but water wars in ranch areas are extremely common and believe me than can ruin your life. It is important to understand the water rights of a property before you buy. This does not just mean, “will I get the rights and how much is the flow”. Make sure there is a real usable way, that is already in place to get the water. You may have to cross a neighbors land, you may have an easement, you may not have any right to cross the land.
To make sure that this easement is in place, you must have a title search done on the neighboring property. It has been my experience that the easement you will need will not show up on the title search for the property that you are buying.
If the water right is from a pond, make sure that the water right is really in place and than make sure that there is an established way to get the water out of the pond. Such as underground irrigation pipes, a generator and / or a pump, possibly a water cannon. Having the owner show you that it works once is not enough. Do your Homework, things are VERY different in different locations. And also note that with a pond, it very well could dry up all the way before you need to actually irrigate. For example, if you bought your ranch in a high water season and need to irrigate in the summer, the pond may have to be dug out to get enough water to even pump into your irrigation system.
When researching possible water feuds, head to the local pub or beauty shop. Do some snooping, at least ask around a bit to see how bad it may be, it REALLY can get bad and you can walk right into it without having a clue.
A Note on Weeds
It is important to research what weeds are on your property. I am an advocate of medicinal weeds and do not believe in chemical sprays, however, if you plan to feed horses on a field heavily under knapweed you may be in trouble. And you certainly will not have bought what you thought you did. Do Your Homework, some knapweed strains are DEADLY to horse.
Just make sure that you do your own research, Sellers and Realtors may not know what is best for you and may not tell you all you need to know. And of course, Sellers and Realtors may simply leave out information that would deter you from buying.