Loving their living and life
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.
Ranch is an action verb at Keith and Kendra Scott’s place.
Keith and Kendra are the fourth generation on the 8 Bar Ranch. That makes their kids, Kurtis and Kensie, the fifth and certainly not the last.
Keith’s family homesteaded the ranch when one of the patriarchs got tired of being a potato farmer in the San Luis Valley. He headed into the mountains to be a cowboy, landed on Derby Mesa and never left.
The Scott’ 8 Bar Ranch is part of the Eagle Valley Land Trust’s ranch tour.
“This is the way this community used to look, and it’s gorgeous,” said Jim Daus, executive director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust. “It’s an opportunity to kick the tires of these ranches, which not many people get to do.”
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Occupational and educational hazards
When we visited, Kendra was six weeks removed from a broken neck she suffered when she was thrown from a horse. The horse put both its front legs in a badger hole, and Kendra went flying. She wears a neck brace, but that’s about the only evidence.
Such are the occupational hazards of ranch life.
Kensie is taking some time away from teaching agriculture and shop at Sorocco High School to ranch, which as we said, is an action verb. She might stay away from teaching this year or she might not. She’s being recruited to teach at some other high schools around the region.
Speaking of education, along with everything else, the Scotts occasionally have to deal with complainers who’ve never spent a second on the land, but insist they know better about how it should be done.
They don’t, of course, and that part of the reason for this ranch tour.
“We want to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. Education is what is lacking,” Kendra said. “We’re more than willing to share what we have.”
Making a life and a living
“It’s hard to imagine doing anything else for a living. It’s hard to stay anywhere else,” Kensie said. “Teaching is fun, but there are things you miss, like being around your parents all the time. There aren’t many professions any more that the kids can come with you to work.”
She remembers riding along as a 2-year-old, taking naps in the saddle.
“You got pretty comfortable on a horse,” Kensie said.
Kensie rattles off the way the ranch is set up, with private land and Forest Service and BLM permits. It’s a big place.
“You can’t ride it all in one day,” Kensie said.
The real rewards
They host school groups. Kensie went to college to learn to teach agriculture, hoping to give people a better idea what they do.
“The public doesn’t understand most of the time that these are families producing this, and working hard to produce it,” Kensie said.
Then there’s the attrition.
“Ranch kids go to college and find out it’s easier to make a living doing anything else,” Kensie said.
They ride eight hours a day, and that’s an easy day. That doesn’t include feeding livestock, catching horses and driving an hour to get to their starting point, then climbing into the saddle to start their day.
“Your typical day is before the sun comes up until after it goes down,” Kensie said. “It is easier to do something else where you have an eight hour day, 40 hours a week.”
It’s rewarding, too.
“Everything has a purpose and a point. It’s very hands on and hard work, but it’s the kind of work that pays off in the end,” Kensie said. “You learn to dig in and make something work. They learn how different the world is, and how rewarding it can be. It’s a wonderful way to make a living.”
They had what they call “a bit of a setback” a year or so ago.
One winter evening, they fed their cattle some hay they had bought. When they went out to feed again the next morning, they found eight cows down, and 40 more died that day.
They lost 163 head of cattle over four days.
The hay is being examined by labs, but no answers yet.
About the tour
The Eagle Valley Land Trust is the conservation organization for our community, Daus said.
“There are people working really hard in a classic way of life that we all celebrate that we don’t often get to see,” Daus said. “Ranching and ranch life is one of the things we seek to conserve, Daus said.
The tour is Saturday, Aug. 22, beginning at 8:45 a.m. in Eagle. You’ll head up to the Gerard ranch south of Gypsum, then to the Parker’s 8 Bar ranch on Derby Loop Mesa for a barbecue lunch.
After lunch, you’ll head up to Cass and Old Dog Calloway’s alpaca ranch.
“It’s a fascinating place,” Daus said.
During the tour you’ll get some history, and an idea of what it used to take to make a living ranching and what it takes now.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.