| TheFencePost.com

Schwartzenberger family bookends 25 Years of NWSS Freestyle Reining Champions

What a change 25 years can make.

In 1996, the National Western Stock Show and a few Colorado equine professionals organized the first freestyle reining contest at the historic Denver venue.

Although initial attendance was low, and enticing top-flight riders was challenging, organizers saw promise in the entertaining freestyle format.

Striving to improve it through the years by adding sponsors, upping prize money, luring a higher quantity of accomplished riders, and consistently impressing the ever-growing crowds, the current $25,000 RAM Invitational Freestyle Reining competition has become one of the hottest tickets of the entire NWSS.

A driving force behind the creation of the NWSS event is Steve Schwartzenberger (Schwartzenberger Equine in Longmont, Colo.), who also won the original competition in 1996.

“We hoped it would get exciting,” recalled Schwartzenberger after the completion of 2020’s NWSS freestyle, where he competed and placed third with a 220.5 score. “We knew the freestyle reining would be real popular for people to watch. With freestyle, everybody puts their own little twist on it and it has gone ballistic. It used to be, if you wore a little tuxedo coat and a hat, you were really dressed up. And now, like my daughter and her bizarre outfit and Dan James and his free horses in the arena, it is a whole different deal.”

Thirty-two-year-old Sharee Schwartzenberger is the daughter mentioned, and “her bizarre outfit” was a neon-orange Elton John style costume replete with wings, feathers, horns, sequins, sunglasses and glitter. Designed to captivate, it did its job for the crowd while her bridleless riding aboard Game Day Surprise impressed the judges. After finishing as a runner-up on four other occasions, the accomplished younger Schwartzenberger claimed the prestigious freestyle’s title with a score of 226.

“Finally!” she declared as she waited on horseback to officially collect her title. “It has always been a dream of mine (to win here). I try really hard to come up with new ideas, something special that will get me a win and to finally get it is really exciting, especially against this pen (of riders). They are the best out there.”

Discussing her outlandish costume, Schwartzenberger confessed she pivoted from doing a more traditional and dramatic routine to the attention-grabbing Elton John tribute. As it was a late change, there was a scramble to complete the outfit in time.

“I literally came up with this idea last week,” she revealed with a grin. “This morning, we were still constructing wings on our kitchen table. My dad had the power tools out and he was drilling on them, trying to get them so they didn’t fall off.”


Asked about the family distinction of winning the NWSS’ 25th freestyle while her father won the original 1996 event, Schwartzenberger summed up her feelings in one sentence.

“That is pretty special,” she said with a smile.

Even dad thought so.

“It makes me pretty proud,” said Steve about seeing Sharee win the 2020 freestyle. “She loves this and works at it so hard and it all came together. I would rather have her win than me, right now. She and that horse have a bond and it shows.”

“You can’t predict stuff like that,” said NWSS Horse Show Manager Kendra McConnell about the serendipity of having family members win both the very first event and the special 25th edition. “You can’t plan that and it is awesome.”

To earn her first NWSS win, Sharee Schwartzenberger bested a talented pen of 12 other riders, some with multiple NWSS freestyle titles under their belts and all with impressive resume’s. The 2016 NWSS co-champ Dan James is known worldwide for his training and riding skills, and the Aussie horseman wore detailed makeup and a black costume to portray the Night King from the Game of Thrones cable series, as well as using fog and spotlights for dramatic effect. James also incorporated four extra horses into his choreography inside the arena, which added complexity and made the crowd roar with approval. Upping the ante, James rode his horse, Don Magnum, without bit or bridle. The performance earned him 224.5 points, which put him in the lead until Sharee Schwartzneberger topped his total four rides later.

“I was super happy with the way my horse showed,” said James. “We had five horses out there, including Don Magnum. It is a lot when you put all that together and it is a lot of work to get it all done, but it is a fun time and it is a good crowd.”

The capacity crowd rewarded James with the People’s Choice Award, voted on by applause after the conclusion of the event.

“It is a real honor to come here and have the crowd respond the way they do,” said James of the 2020 honor, his second NWSS People’s Choice Award. “I really appreciate them, they are such a wonderful audience.”

“It just gets better every year,” said McConnell about the NWSS’ freestyle reining contest. “I can’t wait for next year to see what these guys bring. Those riders put their all out there and it is amazing.”

“We were hoping it would turn into this big of an event,” summed up Steve Schwartzenberger. “Thanks to Denver for having such a great freestyle. It’s the best in the country.”

What a change 25 years can make. ❖

Rodeo bareback rigging celebrates 95 years, rodeo bucking chute 100 years

The 95th year of rodeo’s one-hand bareback rigging and the 100th year of the modern rodeo bucking chute were celebrated during this year of 2019.

Rodeo pioneer and old time cowboy, Earl W. Bascom, thought up, designed and made rodeo’s one-handed rigging in 1924 and the side-opening bucking chute in 1919.

Bascom’s rigging and his bucking chute have since become standard pieces of equipment at rodeos around the world.

Before Bascom’s inventions, rodeo contestants were riding bareback broncs using two hands holding the horse’s mane or using a two-hand rigging. And the bucking chutes were variations of the “shotgun” chute.

Earl Bascom, who was born in Vernal, Utah, in 1906 but raised in Canada, gained fame as a rodeo champion in Canada and the United States, and received international recognition for his rodeo equipment designs. He cowboyed and rodeoed in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in the 1920s and ’30s.

After his rodeo career, Bascom became internationally acclaimed as an artist and sculptor known as the “Dean of Rodeo Cowboy Sculpture,” being the first professional rodeo cowboy to become a professional cowboy artist and sculptor.

Bascom started rodeoing in 1916, competing in and winning championships in the three roughstock events of saddle bronc, bareback and steer or bull riding, plus the timed events of steer decorating and steer wrestling.

He made his first side-opening bucking chute in 1916 on the Bascom Ranch in Welling Station, Alberta. In 1919, on the family ranch in the Lethbridge area, he redesigned his bucking chute to a reverse-opening side-delivery bucking chute which became the standard of modern rodeo.

For bareback bronc riding, Bascom made and used a variety of riggings before designing and making his one-hand rigging in 1924 on the family ranch in Stirling, Alberta Canada.

Bascom took a section of rubber belting discarded from a threshing machine and cut out the entire rigging in one piece.

The handhold was folded back and riveted to the main body of the rigging with dee rings riveted to each side for the latigos.

This rigging became rodeo’s first one-hand bareback rigging when it was used at the Raymond Stampede in Alberta Canada in 1924.

That same year, Bascom refined his design making another rigging out of leather and rawhide.

With sole leather for the rigging body and strips of leather with rawhide sewn between for the handhold, it had sheepskin glued under the handhold to protect the knuckles.

In the late 1930s when the Cowboy Turtle Association (forerunner of today’s ProRodeo Cowboys Association) was formed, “Bascom’s Rigging” was used for the official sanctioned pattern.

Variations of Bascom’s rigging of 1924 and his bucking chute of 1919 have since become world-wide rodeo standards, used at rodeos in North America, Central America, and South America, from Hawaii to Japan to New Zealand and Australia, as well as in Europe and South Africa.

Offsprings of Bascom’s bareback riggings and bucking chutes were part of the narrative and history of the recent Canadian Finals Rodeo, the Indian National Finals Rodeo, the European Finals Rodeo, the South African Rodeo Finals, the New Zealand Finals Rodeo, and the Australian Finals Rodeo, as well as the on-going National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

The bareback riding event has been part of the National Finals Rodeo since the “Super Bowl of Rodeo” began in 1958.

Earl Bascom passed away in 1995 in California and has since been recognized by rodeo associations as far away as Australia and Europe, and honored by several international halls of fame including the Canadian ProRodeo Hall of Fame and the ProRodeo Cowboys Association. ❖

Horse Creek Sale Company celebrates 30 years

Times they are a changing. This year marks 30 years that the Horse Creek Sale has been in operation and they have seen a multitude of change in the horse industry.

On Nov. 9, Horse Creek Sale Company will have their last sale for 2019 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colo. Check in time is 8 a.m., previews are 10-11 a.m. and the auction begins at noon. Check their website for upcoming sales in 2020.

John Hayes took over the company 10 years ago. Initially he planned to run it for only a couple of years, but Horse Creek Sale Company is still going and getting bigger with over 80 horses at each sale. Consignors come from various states: Texas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, due to Hayes’s networking and numerous contacts in the horse business.

Horse Creek used to have monthly sales with over 100 horses at each sale. Hayes attributed the decline in horse sales to a diminishing number of breeding programs. He also said that breed horse shows have declined in recent years because breed associations have made it more difficult and costly to put on shows for local horse clubs. Sue Israel, assistant sale manager for Horse Creek, said the decline in horse family activities is losing the youth population. She said sports and academic activities take priority to insure scholarships.

“You can still see the influence of good horses in the 1940s and 50s.” Hayes said. “In Akron within 50 miles of my kitchen table there were five sons of Three Bars.”

Times have changed in the horse business. It’s hard to find quality horses. This could be a reason Horse Creek Sale Company has done well in the past. They bring together in one spot well bred, broke, attractive horses.

“They have to be fat, slick, broke, gentle and know a job,” Israel said.

Well broke, gentle geldings are hot sellers, but Horse Creek has a reputation for being able to sell mares well.

“Don’t forget some of the top PRCA horse are mares this year,” Israel said.

“I try to keep it affordable,” Hayes said. “I try to provide what the consignors need and one of those things is to have knowledgeable people on my staff.”

One of those trustworthy staff members is Israel. Hayes and Israel have been friends in the horse business for many years. She takes care of all the paperwork and gets all the documents organized for the buyers including the bill of sale, veterinarian checks and brand inspections. Jared Odens from Pierre, S.D., is also an asset to the team by handling all internet and social media posts.

“I think another reason why we have survived and we’re getting bigger is that I learned a long time ago people like to have a good time.”

If you’d like to see good quality horses in one spot, make plans to attend the next Horse Creek Sale at Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock, Colo., on Nov. 9. If you’d like to consign a horse, go to www.horsecreeksaleco.com or contact John Hayes at (970) 554-0564.

— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at tclarklivenews@gmail.com.

83 years of the National Western Stock Show Catch-a-Calf Contest

FORT MORGAN, Colo. – 2020 will mark the 83rd year of the National Western Stock Show Catch-a-Calf Contest. This long running program is an important part of the National Western. It not only gives youth the opportunity to learn about animal husbandry, but also to compete at the National Western.

Catch-a-Calf participants first must catch a calf during one of the National Western Stock Show Rodeo performances. They then return in May to receive their project, which they are required to feed and care for until the following year’s Stock Show. At that time participants bring their steers to be evaluated based on their rate of gain and appearance. Participants must also submit a record book, participate in an interview, and compete in showmanship. The overall grand and reserve grand champion Catch-a-Calf steers are eligible for the Auction of Junior Livestock Champions. The National Western Stock Show Catch-a-Calf Program would not be possible without generous sponsors, so participants are also required to send monthly correspondence to their sponsors.

This practical beef cattle management educational program is open to 4-H members and residents from Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska that are between 12 and 19 years of age, as of Dec. 31, 2019. To apply youth will go to http://www.nationalwestern.com/livestock-shows/catch-a-calf-contest/ to complete an online application. There is also a form that applicants must print off and sign, along with their parent/guardian and extension agent. The form and online application are both due by Dec. 1.

Gordon Chavis — A happy hustler with stories To tell

Disquietingly diverse yarns and historical accounts agree Jack Slade was infamous for his untamed temper. One of the towns that best knew the colorful Old West character was Virginia Dale, Colo.

Born Joseph Alfred Slade in 1831 in Illinois, he served for the U.S. Army in the Mexican War. He later became a freighting teamster and wagonmaster, subsequently served as a stagecoach division superintendent, helped launch the Pony Express, and … shot and killed Andrew Ferrin, a subordinate who was hindering a freight train’s progress along its route. Temper, temper, Mr. Slade! It will be your downfall.

In March 1860, Slade was ambushed and left for dead by Jules Beni, a stationkeeper at Julesburg, Colo. (named for Beni) who Slade accused of improprieties, including alleged horse theft of Overland Stage animals Slade confiscated upon discovering them at Beni’s ranch.

Emptying a six-gun and both barrels of his shotgun into his adversary, Beni indignantly listened to what he thought was Slade’s dying declaration: “I’ll live long enough to wear your ears on my watch chain!” Beni cruelly laughed.

It’s said that he who laughs last laughs best, but it was Slade who likely had that final, best guffaw. After miraculously recovering, he eventually killed Beni. And, as grotesquely vowed, Slade reportedly then slashed off his enemy’s ears, those rotting, reeking human lobes long-adorning his watch chain and driving off all within olfactory range.

Some tales label Slade as a wild, heavy drinker who robbed stages, rustled cattle/stole horses, and viciously murdered folks. Slade is elsewhere conversely said to have enforced order and assured reliable Pony Express cross-continental mail service between Washington, D.C. and California just prior to the start of the Civil War. People who actually knew him dubbed him a generous gentleman and competent manager for the Overland Stage Line. Such conflicting accounts.

Following a drunken spree that merited a charge of disturbing the peace in Virginia City, Mont., Jack Slade, age 33, was hanged by vigilantes on March 10, 1864. Oddly, he was buried in Salt Lake Ciy, Utah.


Ah, but his legend lives on. Virginia Dale, for example, has celebrated Slade theatrically thanks to multi-talented local man Gordon Chavis, who portrays that alleged rascal Jack in an original one-man play.

In 2008, Chavis and his (now-ex) wife moved from Los Angeles to Virginia Dale to live on the family ranch, left vacant after the deaths of his father and brother.

The Virginia Dale Community Club, an organization that maintains the historic stage coach station on US 287, learned of Chavis’s theatrical background. Would he consider portraying Joseph A. Slade (who built the Virginia Dale Stage Station) for their open house event in June 2009?

Chavis eagerly did, and he’s presented his “Jack Slade” show in several venues across Larimer County, including as part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Virginia Dale Stage Station.

As did Slade, 55-year-old Chavis has resided in a variety of places including California; Utah, Arizona, Arkansas, North Dakota, Guadalajara, Mexico and Wyoming.

When Chavis was 27, his parents had bought their 165-acre ranch in Virginia Dale. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, his folks named the acreage “The Intermittent Stream Ranch” because, though shown as such on a property map, it has never stopped running.

At the time, he was working in Los Angeles where he’d begun a show business career at age 16, initially as a radio announcer. After three years going from one middle-market station to another, he tried his hand as an actor. Chavis carries a 1989 bachelor of fine arts degree in acting from the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.

While still in college, he started his own theater company, “Vox Humana,” staging three original plays. His “L80 BLU” won the Donald Davis Playwrights Award. After graduation, Chavis diligently worked at building a movies/television career.

His writing ability netted him a few screenwriting gigs, and he received critical acclaim portraying a troubled musician-cum-activist (opposite Felton Perry of “Robocop”) in the stage play “Killin’ Time.” Good, solid movie and television roles, however, proved elusive.


In 1992, Chavis became disenchanted with the politics and process of Hollywood and quit acting. Focusing on writing short stories and essays, he simultaneously resumed his childhood passion for drawing. That combination found a market for his illustrations in local “Zines,” (the hard-copy prototype of today’s Blogs.) He also began writing copy for a then-new medium of information and entertainment: The Internet.

Switching hats, Chavis heads from indoor theater out to the barn. He noted that, while living in Montezuma Creek, Utah, his family was “adopted” by a Navajo that raised sheep and herded on horseback. He began riding at age 5 thanks to their instruction and further encouraged by his parents, who raised Clydesdales on their Intermittent Stream Ranch.

In September 2011, Chavis bought Ellie, also a Clyde. Currently recovering from a ligament injury, the now 8-year-old mare has been joined at the ranch by 13-year-old Shire, Herman, who’d suffered the loss of his teammate. Herman is cross-trained under saddle, so Chavis hopes to soon enjoy some of the gelding’s purported trail riding skills. In addition, a 30-something Quarter Horse that served as Ellie’s companion ‘pre-Herman’ enjoys his retirement years on the mountainous property.

Chavis’s admitted reason for initially acquiring Ellie, and now Herman, is a heavily-lacquered wooden carriage he’s long had an eye on. After his divorce, that elegant transport went on the back burner because it’s not a one-person endeavor. But, if he can get his horses teamed up to drive — and street-legal — he hopes to one day be holding that carriage’s lines with Ellie and Herman leading the way up front.


Meanwhile, back in the goat pen …

Yes, Chavis raises milk goats, all registered Alpines. Fiona, the first milking doe at Intermittent Stream, arrived in 2010. She no longer works but instead serves as mascot for an “unofficial” cheesemaking business.

With currently 33 does, and dependent on milk production, Chavis can make 10 soft cheeses per week. He makes a mozzarella that he gives to people who “know that you must eat it melted and as close as possible to the day it’s made.”

Chavis, unlike parents, admits to a personal favorite.

“My magnum opus, as it were, is something I call ‘Black Goat Muenster.’ he said. “After I got divorced, and was the sole person in charge of the cheesemaking, I saw the recipe for Muenster and the ingredients were pretty basic: goat milk, salt and rennet. I gave it a whirl,” he said, “and it proved worth doing again.”

He added that an accidental milk overheating incident yielded a cheese similar in taste to a really good one he’d had in France. He then decided to go that route because he’d never been able to find it in the U.S.

Although unable to exactly duplicate the French type, he now produces one that is “wonderful if you like cheese that packs a punch.” His unique creation has a cult following to the point that he rarely gets to keep a round of the cheese for himself.

Chavis said, “When the goats are going gangbusters, I can produce a few dozen cheeses a month … after the kids are weaned.” The baby goats nurse from their mothers because he doesn’t use any milk replacer.

Pasteurization is legally required in the U.S. but not in Europe. Chavis considers it “counter-intuitive to boil bacteria out of the milk and then turn around and grow bacteria in it — but I wasn’t consulted.” He acknowledged that not cooling the milk for Black Goat Muenster is also a huge violation.

“However, I’m a clean guy, my goats are clean, and the herd is small so there’s no food-poisoning going on. I sample my cheese all the time … and even taste the curds.” Chavis said.

He’s met a couple people who make their own cheese to sell on the sly, but he contends it isn’t very good because they apparently don’t really know what they’re supposed to be trying for.

“I’ve travelled and had food that you can’t get in this country,” he said. “I think it (that experience) has paid off.”

Chavis proudly proclaimed that he’s never worked a “job-job” in his life. He gets some residuals and royalties from writing, illustrating and acting (anywhere from $300 to a humble 45 cents). A trust with a monthly budget to maintain the ranch helps with expenses, and he has side enterprises.

For example, as an ordained minister, he officiates at weddings. As a mobile notary, he serves court papers “from time to time.”

“I’ve been a hustler since I was a teenager, so I can get cash when I need it,” Chavis described his methods of raising capital.

His one-man Jack Slade show is a performance form his old teacher, mentor and friend, John Blankenship, used to decry as “confessional theater,” which lacks sword fights and love scenes.

Unlike confessional theater, Chavis lives a creative narrative of many tales, a life of his own choosing and making that seems to lack nothing. ❖

— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at ponytime47@gmail.com.

Colorado welder has been honing his skills for 40 years

Bill “Three Feathers” Bunting learned to weld in high school ag class and as a necessity on the southeastern Colorado ranch of his youth. Welding corrals eventually turned into teaching himself to make knives, spurs — crafts he has honed for 40 years.

“I farmed and ranched all of my life and the welding was always a part, either as a side income or on the place,” he said.

His grandfather homesteaded the family ranch in 1906 and his father, now 94, is still on the ranch running cattle.

Bunting took agriculture classes in high school at Pritchett and the welding skills learned there have served him well. Poetry and art pulled at Bunting for a number of years. Frustrated that he couldn’t draw the images he wanted to, he found that he could go to the shop and weld a sculpture together.

“When I was a senior in high school, I basically lived in the welding shop at school,” he said. “I was probably pretty rebellious. I didn’t go to class, I just went to the shop.”

This love of the ag program and welding shop came full circle when Bunting was commissioned to make an FFA emblem sculpture for the ag program that taught him his craft.

He was one of the first in the area to have a plasma torch and made farm and ranch signs. The scraps from the signs were used in his first sculptures. Shortly thereafter, the downtown business association in Springfield, Colo., commissioned 11 pieces to place downtown. Bunting was using scraps quickly and began buying sheet metal, which is the material he uses today.

His book of poetry, High Lonesome, is the culmination of years of writing, beginning when he found himself at a low spot. He had divorced and said he lost everything.

“When I finally got down to nothing, and I finally got right with God, the poetry started flowing and it’s come ever since,” he said. “A lot of the sculptures are the result of poetry I had already written. Sometimes the sculpture comes first and then the poetry, but most of the sculptures I do, have a poem to go with them.”

He performs his poetry at various poetry gatherings, dinner theaters, banquets and church services. He said some are classic cowboy poetry and most have a spiritual theme but the rhymes allow him to remember and share the stories. He also writes a regular column for the local newspaper as well as a subscription email newsletter.

Travel is something he and his wife, Cheryl, enjoy so the couple lease the grass on their spread to a young cattleman, allowing them to travel.

“That way I can look at them and go get some cow manure on my boots if I need to and still not have to feed in the wintertime,” he said jokingly.

Bunting is currently working on a commissioned sculpture that will be in downtown Fort Collins, Colo., for one year as part of an art show. The piece, “With Wings Like Eagles,” will be placed in April.

His sculptures are available to view by appointment or by chance and he said he appreciates when people enjoy the sculptures, even if they’re unable to purchase them.

“I just like the idea that people enjoy my work,” he said. “Sometimes, people stop in and they can’t afford it but it’s almost better than if they could. I’ve sold pieces (to those) that had the money and didn’t seem to care about it, but it means more than that to me … but then, I’m hungry like everyone else so I hope it means more to them.” ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.

Historians writes book detailing the history of sheep in Colorado

Andrew Gulliford is a hands-on historian. His book, The Wooly West: Colorado’s Hidden History of Sheepscapes, was selected as the Outstanding Nonfiction Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Museum.

In researching the history of sheep in Colorado, Gulliford said he knew it was unacceptable to ask a rancher the size of his ranch. In interviewing one rancher, he, instead, asked what his annual dog food bill is. When the answer was $30,000, Gulliford said he understood the scope of the operation and the industry.

Gulliford, who is a professor of history at Fort Lewis College, said the book is the first written about the sheep industry in Colorado in 60 years. He said the book spans sheep’s arrival with the Spanish and how they helped settle the West. Gulliford said he covers the violent sheep and cattle wars and how time changed the industry.

“The families that I really enjoyed meeting and learning from are Greek, Hispanic and Basque,” he said. “The Basques are primarily south of I-70 in Colorado, the Greeks are on the I-70 corridor and north, and I think it’s extremely important that these are families whose grandparents and great grandparents didn’t speak English and now, they’re some of the largest ranching families in the West.”

The sheep and cattle wars. Gulliford said, were devastating from the 1890s to the 1934 enaction of the Taylor Grazing Act, which eliminated itinerant grazing.

“Sheep can graze much higher than cattle on public lands so they can be out of the way of the cattle, but not in the winter,” he said. “The competition for the winter grazing of public land was intense.”

As sheep were coming into Colorado from New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, they were killed and herders threatened and murdered. One of the most powerful stories in the book, he said, recalls an incident near Ten Sleep, Wyo., in which three sheep producers were murdered and their camp set on fire.

“Because they were French Basque, it became an international event,” he said. “Going through the Wyoming archives, I actually found letters from the French Embassy and letters from the governor.”

The most gruesome element is the possibility that the men were wounded but not yet dead when the wagon was set on fire. The Ten Sleep Murders, he said, were essentially the end of the cattle and sheep wars in Wyoming, prompting the governor to say the territory wouldn’t be able to become a state until the violence was controlled.

Research for the book was a lengthy process and the stories and accounts Gulliford discovered are interesting parts of the state’s and the industry’s histories.

Commensurability, he said, was a requirement of the Taylor Grazing Act. Prior to the act, owners could bring sheep in by rail, graze them all summer, and sell the lambs without owning any land. Commensurabilty required that producers be able to utilize as much private land, owned or rented, as public land. To meet the requirements and to grow their operations, many sheep owners purchased land in the high country for the grass, uninterested in the abandoned homestead or mine.

Some 60 years later, the descendants of the sheep men were approached by investors hoping to build ski areas. The base of the ski lift at Vail, he said, was surveyed incorrectly, with the base being located on private land. The developers made several attempts to purchase the property, all met with the return of a torn check.

“They eventually showed up with a bottle of Ouzo and a checkbook and that was the first sale of private land in the Vail Valley,” he said. “These families are really interesting.”


Gulliford said cattle came into the state from Texas and the cowboys would cut fences to graze as they moved through, abusing the land and receiving little argument from compliant Hispanic sheepherders.

“These Texas cowboys started running into Basques and Greeks and they shot back,” he said. “That hadn’t happened before so when the Basques and the Greeks in the early 1900s started holding their ground, having Winchester 30/30s and using them, that’s a whole different twist.”

One of the tamer tales is that of arborglyphs, the carvings sheepherders left in trees along grazing trails. Gulliford describes the lands, many now recreational, that were grazed by sheep herds in what was what he calls a working West, as sheepscapes. Sheepscapes, something that remains as proof of herds and herders once in the area. Stone cairns, stone corrals in the bottom of canyons, and arborglyphs all serve as these reminders.

The carving of arborglyphs was primarily a Spanish tradition, he said, and was part of the way herders communicated to fellow herders through the decades.

“I’ve found the same trees carved by the same herder moving his flock through in July over 20 years,” he said. “It was really a place marker for the flocks and the herders. The golden era for arborglyph carving was probably the 1930s to the late 1960s.”

Gulliford said Spanish herders were replaced with Mexican herders and then Peruvian herders, though he said there is one sheep raising family in Wyoming who brings in herders from Nepal, necessitating the family’s ability to speak Nepalese.

In speaking at various churches, libraries, and events Gulliford said he has been told a wealth of poignant stories of Colorado sheep raising families. One such story, told to him in Cortez last month, was a woman who shared that her family was so poor during the Depression, that they gathered wool off fences and sagebrush to purchase a .22 rifle for the father to have to protect his sheep.

In addition to research and interviewing the families that make the history of sheep in Colorado what it is, Gulliford is a hunter and outdoorsman and hikes and on public lands when the sheep come down in the fall.

“It’s a ewe-logy,” he said. “And that’s because high altitude grazing is getting harder and harder, due in part to the H1A Visas, it’s more and more difficult. I have an enormous amount of respect for these families.” ❖

— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at rgabel@thefencepost.com or (970) 392-4410.

Location, location, location: Masonville Orchards in Colorado has great success

Johnny Appleseed would be proud; or maybe just a little bit jealous. You know, he’s the guy who allegedly tromped across our vast country sowing seeds as he went. They purportedly sprouted into lovely trees that produced fruit as American as … apple pie.

Walt Rosenberg, of Masonville, Colo., unintentionally bested Mr. Appleseed by planting pears and plums, as well as apples, in quite a few locations around northern Colorado. That geographic fact also came about somewhat by happenstance.

Similar to that Appleseed fellow’s famed trek through our nation, Rosenberg himself has seen quite a bit of territory from sea to shining sea. He grew up in Kentucky, attended college out West, and lived in Texas, Oregon and Washington before permanently settling in Masonville, where he purchased orchard land in 1998.

For 20 years, Rosenberg has worked his modest acreage in the hills above Loveland/Fort Collins. But, approximately five years in, he decided to expand. Available land near Masonville was becoming quite dear so you could say the orchard owner decided to “branch out.”

Briggsdale captured his imagination when he learned he could purchase 750 acres there for about the same price as for just three acres in Masonville. So, in 2005, that’s just what he did. However, the land was initially lacking one important orchard feature: fruit trees.

After legally becoming owner of that enormous barren tract, but before he began planting, Rosenberg contacted the Weld County Extension office regarding his plans for it, assuming he could obtain pertinent information about soil conditions, etc. He still vividly recalls the flat response from the man on the phone:

“It won’t work.”

Stunned, Rosenberg kind of pictured his dreams withering on the vine. But he sure wasn’t about to write off his new investment without mighty indisputable reasons.

“Why not?” he questioned, awaiting some dreadful horticultural facts.

“Because no one’s doing it,” came the hollow reply.

Rosenberg couldn’t believe his ears. In the several seconds before he could again speak, he realized this man knew absolutely nothing about fruit trees.

So he then asked the guy, “Don’t quite a few Briggsdale area farmers and ranchers have an apple tree or two on their property?” The answer was affirmative.

“Well, then my 750 acres will just be more of the same,” Rosenberg logically pointed out.

But the foolishly firm fellow just kept insisting it wouldn’t work only because no one had ever before planted an orchard there.


But it did work. In fact, it worked so well that in the initial year’s winter ‘kill’, not one tree was lost. That early success prompted yet more expansion, first to Ault (a U-Pick orchard); then came locations at Stove Prairie and Berthoud. All locations do business under the name Masonville Orchards. Apples are its primary focus but, Rosenberg said, not the only one.

“We have over 200 different varieties of apples, pears and plums. We sell our fruit via local farmers’ markets throughout northern Colorado, through our website, at various local restaurants, and at our U-Pick Orchard in Ault, Colo. Each May, we provide a list of expected varieties, along with approximate ripening times, on the website’s Fruit Varieties page. Ninety percent of what we grow, you’ll never find in a store,” he proudly proclaimed.

“We bring diversity. You won’t find our historical varieties in your average grocery store,” Rosenberg added.

Just some of the unique heirloom/historic apple varieties include Chenago Strawberry; Pristine; Wynoochie Early; Pixie Crunch; Cox Cherry Pippin; Ginger Gold; Macoun. Depending on variety, harvest is anywhere between early August to late September; the same for pears.

Another plus for customers is that Masonville Orchards’ fruit comes directly from tree to consumer for fresh eating, juicing or processing. Rosenberg and a hired crew do all the harvesting. Because the fruit isn’t first sent to a packing house for separation, it arrives in various sizes and shapes, just as you’d expect from an orchard.

Fruit deemed not sellable goes into the Rosenberg’s own refrigerator for eating or preserving; his horses, Mr. P and Nemo, share in the bounty of unsold product.

“It’s exceedingly challenging to have multiple locations,” Rosenberg said. “We have to constantly move equipment and people around. But it’s a risk-reduction strategy that minimizes losses from hail, frost and other weather conditions and events.”

Masonville Orchards not only sells fruit, it also shares its wealth of otherwise difficult-to-find stock. Someone wanting to raise their own can choose from a wide selection already proven hardy in our area.

“Selling scion is our big spring thing,” Rosenberg said. “There’s a list of available varieties listed on our website.”

Masonville Orchards is also proud of their excellent, lengthy working relationship with Haykin Family Cidery (hard cider) in Aurora. Be sure to follow the link to their page. Haykin’s has some unique, superb products.

More great information about Masonville Orchards can be found on its website, www.masonvilleorchard.com (note no “s” on the end of orchard for website). ❖

— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at ponytime47@gmail.com.

History Nebraska announces 6 new locations added to National Register of Historic Places

LINCOLN, Neb. — History Nebraska announced six Nebraska locations have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Domme-Haase Farmstead in Madison County, the George E. Dovey House and Velosco V. Leonard House in Cass County, the George A. Marshall House in Washington County, the Stanton Carnegie Library in Stanton County, and the Cozad Downtown Historic District were considered and selected by the National Parks Service for listing.

The prominent feature of the Dommer-Haase Farmstead, located at 2400 W. Eisenhower Avenue near Norfolk, is a rock-faced concrete block farmhouse that was built in the early twentieth century. Concrete block was a common building material for commercial buildings and residential properties from 1905 to 1930. However, over the years many of these resources have disappeared and the Dommer-Haase Farmstead serves as a representative property of a once common, now rare building type. The nomination also includes two agricultural outbuildings that were built when the farmstead was in the ownership of its original homesteader, Wilhelm Dommer, who sold the farm in 1895. Two other outbuildings are part of the National Register listing were built by a subsequent owner, William Haase, who married one of Dommer’s daughters. Haase is also the likely builder of the concrete block farmhouse. Together, the farmhouse and the outbuildings serve as an intact collection of agricultural buildings that are a representation of a turn of the twentieth-century farm complex. The property’s period of significance spans from 1890 to 1920.

The George E. Dovey House, also known as “The Heights,” is located at 423 North 4th Street in Plattsmouth. It was named after a locally prominent businessman who built his home circa 1887 in the Queen Anne style. The home retains its distinctive Queen Anne characteristics such as the steeply-pitched roof with intersecting, asymmetrical cross gables, multiple variations of spindle work throughout both the interior and exterior, a one-story veranda along the front elevation and wraps around to the side, and a rounded tower on a prominent corner of the house that extends past the roofline. It is adorned with original hardwood floors, pocket doors, elaborate woodwork, and period-appropriate wallpaper. George E. Dovey House is listed at the local level of significance as a representation of a Late Victorian home in the Queen Anne subtype.

The Velosco V. Leonard House, located at 323 North 6th Street in Plattsmouth, is the Italianate home of a photographer whose studio is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Plattsmouth Main Street Historic District. Built in 1883, the Italianate home had once served as a duplex and the current owners have restored much of the house to its original configuration and appearance. Italianate homes are identifiable by their oversized, bracketed eaves, slightly-sloped hipped roof, and tall, slim windows with decorative hoods. Alterations that have been made are consistent with the historic character and design of the home and adhere to Historic Preservation standards. The Velosco V. Leonard House is listed at the local level of significance as a fine representation of a Late Victorian home in the Italianate style.

George A. Marshall, located at 301 North 8th Street in Arlington, was a prominent horticulturalist who, along with his brother Chester, established Marshall Nurseries near Arlington in 1889. During his time in the nursery business, Marshall gained a strong reputation in the horticulture industry as the nursery’s products won prizes at the World Fair and the company expanded to include operations in Omaha and in Denver. Perhaps Marshall’s greatest achievement was the creation of a new species of ash tree known as the Marshall Seedless Ash which had widespread use appearing on campuses from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Plantings from the Marshall Nurseries were incorporated into the landscape at numerous prominent buildings, most notably the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln. After two decades of living near the nursery east of Arlington, George and his wife Dora built a new home in town in the Prairie School style. The home still retains its original design, materials and workmanship. The George A. Marshall House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for both its association with a significant person and for its architectural value as a good representation of an early twentieth-century American movement home in the Prairie School style. This nomination was researched, written, and presented before the State Historic Preservation Board by students of the Arlington High School History Honors Class – Julian Camden, Emily Kraemer, Evan Hammang, Alexis Stortz, Trent Borgmann, and Alek Timm – under the direction of Barry Jurgensen.

The Stanton Carnegie Library, located at 1009 Jackpine Street in Stanton, was originally constructed in 1915 and has served as Stanton’s public library ever since. It is one of 69 libraries in Nebraska that were built using a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The Stanton Carnegie Library was designed by James C. Stitt and has been listed in the National Register due to its continued role in the educational development of the community from the time of its construction. The library is also significant for its contribution to the social history of Stanton serving as a gathering place for groups, organizations, and public meetings during its history. The Carnegie library retains its original layout with open reading spaces, hardwood banisters, wainscoting, and interior doors, while an ADA-accessible entrance and parking area have been added to provide access to visitors. The Stanton Carnegie Library is listed at the local level of significance and is the first property in Stanton County to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Cozad Downtown Historic District contains 37 contributing resources and one previously listed property that demonstrate the commercial development of Cozad from roughly 1890 to 1968. The historic district is bounded by 9th Street to 7th Street, H Street to F Street. Since it was established, the district has remained a core of commercial activities in Cozad. Like many Nebraska communities, the downtown development was highly influenced by the railroad and agriculture. In the 1910s and 1920s, the original route of the Lincoln Highway passed through downtown Cozad greatly influencing its development until rerouted south of downtown in 1926. The district contains an intact collection of late-nineteenth- and early-to-mid-twentieth-century commercial buildings that reflect seven decades of commercial development in Cozad. The Cozad Downtown Historic District is locally significant and is the ninth listing in the National Register of Historic Places from Dawson County. ❖

Hereford breeders honored for 50 years in the business

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In celebration of 50 years in the Hereford business, Hereford breeders were recognized for their commitment as Golden Breeders on Oct. 26, during the American Hereford Association Hereford Honorees Reception in Kansas City, Mo.

“It is impressive to see the number of Golden Hereford Breeder award recipients. This award is an immense achievement as a cattle producer,” said Shane Bedwell, AHA chief operating officer and director of breed improvement. “The AHA commends the dedication and longstanding passion of these families within the Hereford breed.”

This year’s Golden Breeders are:

Boettcher’s Brookview Acres — Clarence and Maryellen Boettcher, Fairchild, Wis.

Simpson Polled Herefords — Mike and Becky Simpson, Redfield, Iowa

Bill King, Moriarty, N.M.

Valley Creek Ranch — Scott and Judy McGee, Fairbury, Neb.

Morgan and Morgan Polled Hereford Farm, Alvaton, Ky.

McDonald Polled Hereford, Jane Lew, W.Va.

KLS Farm — Kevin and Kathy Stork, New Richmond, Wis.

Baker Polled Herefords — Paul and Sylvia, Elkhorn, Wis.

Marshall and Linda Walker, Los Molinos, Calif.

Lamar Polled Herefords — Emmett and Margaret Langness, New Richmond, Wis.

• Boettcher’s Brookview Acres – Clarence and Maryellen Boettcher, Fairchild, Wis.

Clarence bought his first polled Hereford in 1967 and joined the Association in 1968. Butch and Maryellen were married in 1972 and raised four children: Tiffany, Brandon, Garritt, and Michael. All participated in 4-H, FFA, junior Hereford associations, graduated college with agriculture degrees, and still own Herefords originating from their junior projects. Their mission is to produce, “performance cattle with eye appeal,” and strive to accomplish their goals by selecting structurally correct, functionally sound, cattle with balanced expected progeny differences (EPD) with the ability to generate profits for all segments of the beef industry.

• Simpson Polled Herefords – Mike and Becky Simpson, Redfield, Iowa

Mike and Becky got their start in the Hereford cattle business at a young age. Both had the great fortune to exhibit and be around several state and national champions. Mike was an employee of the American Polled Hereford Association (APHA). His most notable achievement was developing the National Junior Polled Heifer show and forum. While working at the APHA, he met his wife, Becky, who was a writer for APHA and Polled Hereford World. The Simpson herd has been developed with performance as the top priority. Their major focus is on calving ease, low birth weights and high growth traits. The Simpson herd is recognized as a Gold Whole Herd Total Performance Record (TPR) breeder and have had several Dams of Distinction in their bloodlines.

• Bill King, Moriarty, N.M.

Bill King started his Hereford herd in 1968 as a junior in high school with the purchase of three heifers from Marshall Sellman. Over the years he has grown his herd to more than 400 head of registered Hereford operation, along with an extensive Charolais and Angus seedstock herd. He sells 400 to 500 registered bulls annually, private treaty around the country and internationally.

He is a past president of the AHA board of directors, and currently is a member of the Legacy Foundation board. Bill has served the cattle industry on many other boards, including president of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, President of the NM Livestock Board, Executive board of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association, and NCBA Regional Vice President. In 2016 the US Secretary of Agriculture appointed Bill to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board where he is still currently serving. Today he and his family continue the business and hope to stay in the cattle business for the next 100 years.

• Valley Creek Ranch – Scott and Judy McGee, Fairbury, Neb.

Located south Fairbury, Neb. Scott has been raising Herefords for as long as he can remember. 2018 marks 50 years that Valley Creek Ranch has been in the registered Hereford business. VCR has exhibited on the local, regional and national levels for many years. VCR is a family run operation that now spans five generations. The ranch utilizes AI, embryo transfer and welcomes visitors to stop by and view the breeding operation anytime.

• Morgan and Morgan Polled Hereford Farm, Alvaton, Ky.

Since the purchase of his first polled Hereford cow in 1952, Robert Morgan of Morgan & Morgan Polled Herefords, has continually raised quality purebred polled Herefords in south-central Kentucky. Throughout the years, he and his sons, Shannon and Nathan, competed in local, regional and statewide shows; raised Dams of Distinction recognized by the American Hereford Association, and marketed and sold thousands of head of polled Hereford cattle across Kentucky, Tennessee and several other states. Today’s cow-calf operation– some 66 years later, consists exclusively still of nearly 200-head of purebred polled Herefords.

• McDonald Polled Hereford, Jane Lew, W.Va.

Mike McDonald, McDonald Polled Herefords, Jane Lew, W.Va., has been raising Herefords since he was 9 years old. His father William P. McDonald Jr and his grandfather Paul purchased the local late O.L.Allman Hereford operation in 1967. When they registered their first calf in 1968, the WPM prefix was born. Mike started showing 4-H Hereford steers later that year and has been active in the Hereford business for the last 50 years. The McDonald Family has always loved Hereford cattle and enjoys promoting them as a breed. Bill was active in helping get the WV Polled Hereford Association started in the late 60s. Today, Mike continues to help the association and serves on their Board of Directors. His most active support is assisting many local breeders to market their Hereford influenced calves and supporting the Certified Hereford Influence feeder calf sale in Stanford Ky by getting a pot load of calves each year for the last several years. Mike and his companion Becky’s greatest love is helping the grand kids become involved in the Hereford business. From teaching them the everyday activities and duties of beef cattle farming, to helping them participate in the last five Junior National Hereford shows, they enjoy every moment.

• KLS Farm – Kevin and Kathy Stork, New Richmond, Wis.

Kevin started with his first Polled Hereford steer in 1965. He showed him in 1966 and sold him that fall for 25 cents per pound. Kevin’s dad bought him two registered bred heifers and that was the start of the herd. In 1968 the APHA changed the A.I. rules and breeders could register 5 calves per year by A.I. They were afraid that A.I. would wreck the bull market. In 1973, they showed the grand champion bull at the Wisconsin and Minnesota state fairs. The Bull, Banner Diamond, elevated his show career by being a class winner in Denver with four Beartooth Ranch bulls in the class. That was the highlight of Kevin’s early show career. Today they have 40 registered Polled Hereford cows and 30 Angus cows. They continue to A.I. for progress. Many things have changed, but good, productive, functional cows that are eye appealing are what they strive to achieve.