The winter pastures lie to the north and at a much lower elevation. The landscape flows down through many ridges and folds in the craggy outcrops reaching to the Arkansas River—our northern boundary. We call this rugged piece of the ranch our “outlaw” country as Kid Curry, a reputed member of the “Hole in the Wall” gang, spent time living and working on the ranch in the early 1900’s. On the lower range, we rotate through a 10 pasture system which is a mix of federal and private lands. Prickly pear cactus, cholla, mountain mahogany, wild plums, gooseberry bushes, and many other forbs along with grasses blue gamma, sand drop seed, western wheatgrass Indian rice grass and others make up a smorgasbord of nutrition for our cows to eat. Since we calve in the summer, we are able to run our calves with their mommas during the winter months. The mother cows teach the calves what plants to eat, where the water holes are, and where to hide out during a snow storm.
We tell folks that we’re not really in the cow business but in the solar energy business. Our goal is to capture as much solar energy as possible through maximizing optimum plant growth and health. Adequate rest periods between grazings, ground cover to capture any snow/rainfall and plant diversity are just some of the many things we measure yearly at 11 different monitoring sites using the LandEKG system. For much of the year, we run all animals in one herd to maximize animal impact, moving to a fresh pasture at least once daily – a process which gives the animals the freshest, most nutritious plants while allowing the just grazed plant the beginning of its rest and recovery period.
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We are located at the north end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in south central Colorado. Our ranch is divided into two distinct units—summer and winter. The summer range lies below and along two 13,000+ foot peaks, Wulsten Baldy and EaglePeak and extends down to our irrigated and sub-irrigated meadows that lie next to our headquarters. The summer pastures are where most of the action happens on the ranch. Our cows have their calves here.
It’s also where we develop and finish our grassfed animals utilizing the high quality forages that grow on our irrigated and sub-irrigated meadows—sedges, alfalfa, clovers, timothy, orchard grass, meadow brome and other forages. In late summer we use the upper reaches of the ranch where the next year’s cycle begins with the introduction of carefully selected bulls to our cow herd. We use a combination of temporary and permanent electric fencing to control the timing and duration of grazing—dividing the upper unit into as many as 100 pastures.
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Colorado Grass Fed Beef at its Best