This morning’s sunrise over Phantom Lake Ranch.
It sounds simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many times I come across residential real estate agents with absolutely no experience in ranch or land brokerage trying to represent landowners or buyers of multi-million ranches.
Given the ridiculously low barrier to entrance into the real estate brokerage business, the market is filled with clowns who generally have no idea what they are doing and bring no value to (or deduct value from) the sales process.
The bottom line is simple - Make sure your ranch broker has verifiable, applicable experience!
Just returned from a 4-day ranch tour that covered Middle Park, North Park, and Routt County. This photo was taken about 15 miles south of Steamboat, just outside Oak Creek. The summer wildflowers are at their peak!
Click over to the Mirr Ranch Group site for information on my newest listings, Centaur Meadows Ranch. Located just 30 miles from downtown Denver, the 456-acre property is one of the largest undivided ranches in Colorado’s Front Range. It has abundant elk and deer, panoramic views of Mt. Evans, conserved open space, and county-approved, developable homesites.
I came across the following passage last week while reading TR’s The Wilderness Hunter. It’s amazing how little spring cattle round-ups and brandings have changed in the 121+/- years since he wrote these words. With the exception of a few small details, he could’ve been describing any of the spring roundups that are currently taking place throughout the American West:
"As soon as the herd was worked it was turned loose, while the cows and calves were driven over to a large corral, where the branding was done. A fire was speedily kindled, and in it were laid the branding irons of the different outfits represented on the round-up. Then two of the best ropers rode into the corral and began to rope the calves, round the hind legs by preference, but sometimes by the head. The other men dismounted to “wrestle” and brand them. Once roped, the calf, bawling and struggling, was swiftly dragged near the fire, where one or two of the calf-wrestlers grappled with and threw the kicking, plunging little beast, and held it while it was branded. If the calf was large the wrestlers, had hard work; and one or two young maverick bulls, which had been passed by in the roundups of the preceding year-fought viciously, bellowing, and charging, and driving some of the men up the sides of the corral, to the boisterous delight of the others." - The Wilderness Hunter by Theodore Roosevelt.
As we enter Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of summer, I wanted to offer up a few book recommendations for your summer reading list. I love reading, particularly non-fiction, and I try to read at least 40 substantial books per year. I’m fortunate that many of the subjects that interest me are also directly related to my work as a ranch broker in the American West… I guess I’d be out of luck if I were an I.P. attorney or a corporate finance cubicle jockey.
Here are five book recommendations that are interesting, entertaining, and will hopefully provide some new insights into and appreciation for life in the American West:
Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands, by Roger Di Silvestro - If there’s been a book written about or by TR, chances are that I’ve read it. TR in the Badlands is one of my favorites. It focuses exclusively on the time he spent ranching, hunting, and living in the Dakota Territories during the mid to late 1880s. On Valentine’s Day 1884, both TR’s mother and wife died within hours of each other, from unrelated causes. This tragic event led the young TR to take a break from political life and devote his time to “the strenuous life” of the American West. There’s no question that TR’s time in the Badlands shaped his views on conservation, hard work, and love of the western landscapes and people. Great book, easy read.
The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan - Anyone who’s spent time in southeast Colorado, western Oklahoma, or northwest Texas needs to read this book. It’s the story of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it describes the settlement of the Great Plains, the boom and bust of the wheat markets, and the eventual drought that destroyed the land and the people who were trying their best to homestead the area. It is truly unbelievable what these people went through, and it’s shocking to learn about the huckster businessmen and government crooks who lured hardworking people into this disaster. It’s definitely a cautionary tale about speculation and disrespect for the land. (I’d also recommend Ken Burns’ documentary The Dust Bowl, but be forewarned that it’s depressing!)
For the Love of Land, by Jim Howell - On the cover, this book bills itself as a compilation of “cases studies of grazing,” but it is a far cry from some dry, boring, academic discussion of cows eating grass. The book starts with an overview of North American natural history, describing the way grazing herbivores and grasses evolved together and formed a symbiotic relationship. These grasses evolved to depend on large grazing animals to remove old growth, stimulate new growth, and plant their seeds. Howell argues that even though the large herds of grazing animals have disappeared, modern day ranches can use their livestock to mimic this pattern of grazing in “nature’s image.” It’s a compelling and necessary read, especially for those who may think that all grazing is bad or unnatural for our western landscapes. (Check out my post regarding this book over on the MRG Blog.)
The Wire Than Fenced the West, by Frances and Henry McCallum - Who would ever think that a book about nothing but the history of barbwire could be interesting? I have to admit, I was skeptical, but since reading it, I’ve found myself thinking about this book on a weekly basis. Yes, the first 25% is about the actual businessmen who patented and manufactured barbwire and can be a little tedious. However, once you push through, there is the fascinating story of the settlement of the west, private property rights, the rise of the cattle industry, and how the west became an economically viable landscape. Information gleaned from this book has given me a deeper understanding of some of the other history books I’ve read, and it gave me a new appreciation for barbwire - one of the most influential, game-changing, and highly underrated inventions of the last 200 years.
Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry - At most, I read one fiction book for every thirty non-fiction books that I read - but this one is mandatory. One of the best books I have ever, or will ever, read. You should know this already, but it’s the story of a massive cattle drive from Texas to Montana during the late 1800s, and it describes the settlement of the American West in a way that no non-fiction book could ever do. There’s no point in my trying to describe the plot, the characters, or anything about it, because I can’t do it justice. Don’t watch the movie. Go buy the book and read it immediately!
Do you have any good recommendations? If so, contact me and let me know!
Today’s view from the office.
This evening’s sunset over the Slate River. Crested Butte, Colorado