Recently I visited Ross at his ranch. He invited me out on a Sunday afternoon, and it was another epic Colorado blue bird day. It was easy for me to hop in the truck and journey over to his ranch.
He said he lived by Elkhead Reservoir, but didn’t understand he lived at the far side of the lake. Elkhead Reservoir is a little bit north of Hayden, Colorado. Taking Walnut Street out of town takes you up a winding country road that ends up on top of a plateau. The views of the east and south of the Yampa Valley are amazing from this viewpoint. I’ve been there several times working on real estate projects, so it was easy for me to want to make this journey again.
The drive into Ross’s ranch is full of views of the reservoir. Beautiful horizon lines that move around to the east to reveal the Bear’s Ears formation in the distance. Today, there were just a few boats on the water. It made me long to be out there because no boat traffic would have been great for some flat water kayaking. But that wasn’t today. Today is about seeing mules, dogs, hogs, and cows.
Yes, Ross’s big, friendly personality can be found in his energetic and playful farm dogs. When I went to visit the bottle calves, they followed me like I was an old friend. Ross was moving water tanks around the farm when I arrived. By the time I had visited the calves and played with the dogs, he was ready to give me a tour of the ranch.
We hopped in, with his dogs, his ‘new’ Ranger. (He just purchased four days prior from a guy he knows nearby.) He drove me around the bend and up to our first of three gates. He got out and opened the first one, and after that it was me. With the electric fence gates, I had to ask if they were live. He replied they were – Gotcha, and I’ll be really careful. (I personally hate being shocked by electric current. Actually, I don’t know anyone who enjoys this.)
We drove about a mile in all and saw hundreds of acres, some with green grass rimmed ponds and streams, some on hilltops covered in sage. There were some really big cows too!
When we got back to the barn, Ross invited me in his house for tea. We talked for a bit and I got to meet his wonderful wife. We shared stories of farmers markets, cows and hogs, and growing up with the rural lifestyle.
When I was leaving, I got to watch the bottle calves be fed. When I arrived earlier, these calves were chill-laxing on some hay. Now they bolted up and were ready to be fed. They each drained a full bottle (about 60 ounces) in less than a minute! No chatting around the dinner table, I guess.
After this, I took a beautiful drive home, but not before being invited to help brand cows the next time around.