Focus Updates – 2012 In Review & 2013 Rolling!
The 2012 cattle and guest season has ended. We now pause and look back to see where we have been as well as look ahead to see where we are going. Here are some thoughts about 2012 and projections for 2013.
We started 2012 with a snow pack well below average. Some of you might recall that in June of 2011, the snow pack was a staggering 318% of average, a 500th year in runoff. To the contrary, June, 2012 was a dismal 11%. The abundance of water in the last several years reduced the severity of the drought. Nonetheless, it posed challenges for the irrigators, beaver, stock growers, hay producers, fish, wildlife, recreationists and the list goes on. The conversations in 2011 had to do with flooding, postponing fishing trips because of high water, controlling runoff etc. In 2012 we conversed about running out of water early, dry ponds, fire danger, slow regrowth of pastures, hot, dry and windy conditions. We are fortunate to live in an area that has good water supplies and somewhat resilient to drought but consecutive dry years will have a negative impact. Currently, 2013 is starting off better and our snowpack is decent at 77 percent.
Cattle News 2012:
The cattle from California arrived in May, approximately 1320 head. Everything was early in 2012 – spring, the runoff, pasture rotations, water shortages and the selling/shipping of cattle. The most noticeable and positive result of a dry summer was less hoof infections, a common condition in cattle. This saved on medicine expenses and benefited the cattle by improving weight gains. The cattle weights were good at shipping time but we would have kept some longer if the grass and water situation had been better. As it was, we shipped 2 different times, end of July and in September. We were pleased with the outcomes considering the drought impact.
2013: We have 1500 head of cattle on pasture in California and plan to receive most of them in May. Typically, we go on our forest pastures the last week in May ….a great time for those who want to ride and move cattle.
Our 36 cows delivered a healthy calf crop in 2012. We kept the 18 heifer calves born in 2011 and they were bred last summer. This fall, we culled our old cows and shipped those along with anything not bred. The result is 50 bred Angus cattle to calve in 2013. We will begin calving in mid-April.
Guest Season 2012: The highlights of a guest business can be summarized as re-connecting with familiar friends and making new. In 2012, we not only welcomed back many of our regulars but also had our second photography workshop with Karen Schulman. This
occurred at the end of August and was one of the highlights of the season. It was a busy week as the participants were quite inspired and creative. At the end of the workshop there was a group presentation of their favorite photos. This was very impressive!
In fact, this workshop was so successful that we are offering it again in 2013. Check the website for details.
Fly fishing was very good both early and late in the season. It was interesting to see how the fish would do in lower stream flows and above normal temperatures this summer after having made the improvements on the river in 2009. It appears there were enough deep holes for them to retreat to in the heat of the day. At the end of June, we did curtail the hours of fishing so as not to stress the fish. In late September we had a group of fly fishers who have been coming for the last several years…they thought this was the best fishing yet!
2013: Cliff Watts will be offering his fly fishing clinic the week of June 23rd….beginners and well seasoned fishermen should check this out. Cliff generates a lot of enthusiasm and is quite knowledgeable about our stretch of river as well as other local options available for all levels of skill.
Projects 2012: We all can identify with “to do lists” and the satisfaction that comes with a completed job. This past year we undertook several projects that ranged from top priority to routine maintenance. Fencing occurs every year and this year, a new stretch of fence started in 2011 along County Rd.129 was completed. The Wrangling Pasture in front of the ranch house also had another side completed, leaving mostly the side against the river unfinished. Some new pedestrian gates were added in this same area. A stretch of fence in the Horse Pasture started in 2011 was also completed.
We made great progress on cleaning the top of the barn and hauled a flatbed load of stuff to the dump. We are left with several small piles to sort through and then to decide how best to use the top of the barn.
Many of our frequent guests are familiar with the old equipment in the Wrangling Pasture as well as the piles of material stored around the old shop, saved “just in case” there would be a need in the future . Cleaning the top of the barn motivated us to clean up the Wrangling Pasture and old shop area of unwanted/unused items. When all was said and done, two large industrial containers of metal were hauled off for recycling. This was an accomplishment that gave us a lot of satisfaction.
On The Horizon….2013:
* April-trail cows and horses home from their winter pasture;
* May- receive & work the cattle from California; begin the guest season; trail yearling cattle to forest pasture;
* June- work cows and new calves; weekly roundups and pasture rotation of cattle;Cliff Watts’ Fly Fishing Clinic; continue cattle roundups and pasture rotations;
* July- anticipate roundup, sorting and first cattle shipments; Photography and Personal Vision Workshop with Karen Schulman;
* August-roundup and shipping of cattle; guests enjoying the colorful fall changes while fishing, hiking, horseback riding;
* September/October-Pregnancy testing the cows, selling/shipping the calves, finishing projects before the first snow….buttoning down the hatches
* November/ December- trail cattle and horses to their winter pasture; Thanksgiving then Christmas!
Our guests are the driving force behind the plans we make and the pleasures to be experienced throughout the year. In 2012, we earned membership in the Dude Ranch Association. Some of you might remember we had been members of the Colorado Dude Ranch Association for over sixty years. We feel the Dude Ranch Association has a broader base and will provide more opportunities to promote the working cattle ranch.
In the past, we fretted over the uncertainty in the economy as recovery seemed slower than expected. It appears now that we are regaining some lost ground and there is a presence of cautious optimism. There are many variables to consider when making projections for the 2013 guest season but we are more optimistic this year than last. Our international bookings are up for this point in time and we hope the trend will continue. Those inquiring about a ranch visit indicate that they plan to travel and are looking for adventure travel within the 50 states….we are certain we fit the bill!
We send all of you our best wishes for a fulfilling and prosperous 2013. As always, we enjoy hearing from you and would enjoy even more, seeing you when the snow melts and the ground opens up.
Maureen and Terry Reidy