Eagle Valley Land Trust’s ranch tour to include the Gerard Ranch
Eagle County Ranch Tour
On August 22, up to 100 people will be able to travel to three Eagle County ranches by bus, where ranching families and managers will tell their story and discuss and show members of the public the some of the operations of their ranch.
The tour costs $10. Seating is limited. Contact the Eagle Valley Land Trust, 970-748-7654, or go to http://www.evlt.org.
Eagle Valley Land Trust
The Eagle Valley Land Trust’s goal is to preserve the community’s character community one acre at a time. The local conservation organization has been around for 30 years.
Lloyd Gerard doesn’t care much for golf — pasture pool — which explains why his pastures are filled with cattle, not golf carts.
On one side of the family ranch south of Gypsum is a golf course. On the other side is another golf course.
In the middle is the Gerard clan, smiling and enjoying themselves. On both sides are golfers, saying whatever they say when things aren’t going well, which is most of the time.
Oh sure, golf course developers used to approach them constantly.
These days it’s marijuana growers, Lloyd said smiling.
Gerard explains, as only he can, that on the Gerard Ranch they grow cattle, hay, children and horses — not necessarily in that order.
You gotta love a guy like that.
The good stuff lasts
One of the two houses has been on the ranch since 1902, the other since the 1890s.
Lloyd is a rancher to his very marrow, like his father, grandfather and children. His children, Clayton and Lacey, learned to ranch the same way he did — lots and lots of on-the-job training.
They went to college, and Lacey earned her degree in agriculture business and animal sciences from Colorado State University, and Lloyd said the knowledge has helped already.
Around a century ago, Lloyd’s grandparents grew potatoes on their first 160 acres. They did well that first year and were able to buy another 160-acre homestead. Homesteads were divided into 160-acre sections in those days.
“You could make it on 100 acres back then,” Lloyd said.
Potatoes were a cash crop for years, and Clayton recalls picking potatoes when he was about 6 years old. He also remembers it being brutally back-breaking work.
Lloyd and his dad once hauled seven tons of potatoes over Loveland Pass in a two-and-a-half-ton 1957 truck. They’re out of the potato business, but they still have the truck.
“You never know when you’re going to need a part,” Clayton said smiling.
Profit margins are tighter and costs are higher, but efficiencies make it possible to run the business at a profit, Lacey said.
Agribusiness is like other businesses, and prices are cyclical. In the 1990s and 2000s when local contractors were buying second homes in Hawaii and Mexico, beef prices were through the floor.
These days, beef prices are more than three times what they were then. The reason is not complicated.
“It’s because you good people love beef!” Lloyd said.
And in the world of supply and demand, they’re happy to create the supply. They’re running about four times the number of cattle they used to, again because the operation is more efficient.
That also comes with its own set of issues. They have to feed their cattle about six months a year, Lloyd said.
They’re lucky when it comes to moving cattle. They saddle up the horses and drive them a few miles. They avoid roads. Motorists get impatient and want to drive through the herd. Sometimes some lunatic with a smartphone wants to stand in front of them and take pictures and video — right where the stampede would trample them into a Darwin Award.
When the golf courses first went in next door, a few independent-minded bovines would meander onto the fairways because the grass is always greener.
Speaking of greener grass, family ranches are fading away, Lloyd said.
When he was a kid, the Gypsum Creek Valley was home to seven family ranches. Now there are three.
“What used to be family ranches are now hobby farms,” Clayton said.
They love what they’re doing and where they’re doing it.
“No one is going to work as hard as you do for yourself,” Lloyd said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.