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Where did it all start...
In 1998, my father started looking for land to buy in Northern Colorado. My family had lived on the same small farm in the town of Fort Collins, for my entire life, and 30 years before I was born. However, the creep of urban sprawl came closer, and closer, until the landscape was no longer recognizable. Our two lane dirt road was paved and turned into a highway. A subdivision grew from
the ground where corn once did, across the street. People poured in by the thousands, and soon we were surrounded on all sides by new construction. The irrigation ditch where we swam was soon alongside a highway, and a road was built right up to the outside edge of our arena, close enough for people to throw their trash in as they drove by.
Now, don't misunderstand me, I understand that cities grow, and populations fluctuate! I understand the way the economy can be improved, and the good that can come with a population boom. Yet, it was still sad to see.
So, my dad started his search. He found some land south of our farm, and bought it. The first thing he built was a small loafing shed, where we stored equipment. For a few years, that's all that was on that lonely piece of land. We would haul our horses down to ride, while dad worked around the place. I remember being a kid no more than 8, riding across the land, pretending it was our own little homestead, watching my dad build his dream around us.
Next, dad put up the barn. At our original farm, dad had constructed the barn himself, and it was a sturdy old thing. Each classic wooden stall, and posthole dug and tamped was done with love. Now, he had the chance to build something bigger. He constructed our barn, filled it with stalls, and tack rooms, and the fire was started to get everything else finished.
Every day, after working tirelessly at his business, dad would drive out to the ranch to put up a strand of barbed wire, or dig a posthole, or measure out a new project. He drew blueprints on napkins in every restaurant we went to, and his mind never stopped running numbers, trying to make it all work. At 50 years old, he was doing it all over again, the building, the dreaming and the working. He had built his original farm by himself, and by God, he would do the same at the ranch.
For three years, we spent every free moment at the ranch. While we rode or did small projects to help out, my sister and brother and I watched our 50 year old father sweat, and bleed in the sun, and freeze in the snow. He never complained, and it started to come together, piece by piece.
Finally, it was time to design the house. Dad drew his dreams out on paper, and passed them off to the builder. In the meantime, he constructed three more loafing and hay sheds, finished a 125x225 arena, built the corrals for cows and horses, and fenced the entire property. Then the house went up.
We packed up the little house where I spent my young years, and said goodbye to the farm. Dad stood and looked across the little haven he had built, the arena where us kids learned to ride, the barn where great horses had stood, the fields that blessed us with beautiful alfalfa hay every year, and he whispered a prayer of thanks.
Fast forward over 20 years, and our little ranch has blossomed into our oasis. My husband and I own a house up the road, but I spend the majority of my time at the ranch, working, riding, and escaping reality.
My dad is 71 now, but time hasn't slowed him down. You can still find him every day, pitching hay, fixing fences, cleaning corrals, and if I know him at all...he is still ruminating and crunching numbers for plans for the ranch that I don't even know about.
Until next time, friends.