Jo and David Allard —Always On the Move
for The Fence Post
Most aging city folks can’t wait to retire. Ranchers, well… they keep right on working. Because it’s nearly impossible to terminate lifelong muscle memory or that “6 a.m. to way late o’clock p.m.” routine.
Jo Geer was born at home 75 years ago on the Walden, Colo., ranch where she and her two siblings spent their early lives. The only reason she left in 1964 was to marry Marc Allard, whose family also ranched nearby.
The newlyweds remained on Marc’s large ranch, raising up to 1,000 head of cows and calves, until they received an offer they couldn’t pass up. Arapaho National Wildlife, a federal government affliliate, was buying up properties all around them to raise ducks. Sold! The ducks moved in and the Allards flew the coop!
They subsequently worked on The 70 Ranch, east of Kersey, Colo., for 12 years. There they raised son David and daughter Diane. During their tenure, the Allards replaced corral water tanks with Iowa-made Hedstrom tanks (now called Blue River Waterers but still made in Iowa by the original family). Those tanks would eventually become part of the Allards’ revenue stream.
When The 70 Ranch was sold in 1979, the Allards purchased a farm and feedlot near Severance, Colo. Not surprisingly, one of the first improvements they made on their new property was booting out its water tanks in favor of the superior Hedstroms.
Besides raising 80 acres of corn to feed/fatten their yearling slaughter-bound calves (up to 1,000 head at a time), Jo and Marc early on added a Hedstrom dealership, Empire, Incorporated, to their many high-energy activities.
Back in 1980, northern Colorado was far more rural than now and Hedstrom tanks were in high demand for cattle, horses and sheep. One customer that replaced their many troughs with the Allards’ Hedstrom tanks is Centennial Livestock Auction in Fort Collins.
Recalled Jo Allard, “Farmers, ranchers and horse people were always coming by, having heard of us mostly by word-of-mouth. We always kept a supply of various sizes for sale on our property.”
ON THE MOVE AGAIN
In 1991, an eager individual offered to buy the feedlot. Once again, “Sold!” found the Allards on the move, first to Wellington and then to a smaller acreage, where they still sell Blue River Waterers and grow trees for sale.
Other trees played a big role in Marc’s next entrepreneurial endeavor. Cleverly dubbing his tree moving business Ace of Spades, he used a large spade to move mature trees.
As the “Ace” of his spades, he carefully dug up sometimes enormous ones and transplanted their massive root balls into their new digs. Just seems logical. Compared to all the moving experience the Allards had (livestock, homes, heavy concrete waterers), shifting a big tree or two from here to there was likely a summer breeze!
In his early 20s and right out of college, David Allard began working with his dad at Ace of Spades. When Marc’s health began declining in about 2010, David took over more and more, Jo said. Sadly, Marc died in 2018. But the two businesses he and Jo founded decades before remain in the family.
CONTINUING THE BUSINESS
David continues the heavy labor side of both Empire and Ace of Spades. Mom Jo maintains majority ownership of both companies and does all the paperwork. The tree moving business is brisk, while demand for waterers has somewhat diminished. That happens when rural becomes urban/suburban: horses, cattle and sheep give way to herds of house pets and in-ground pools.
David drives an International truck with the tree spade mounted on it to service his Ace of Spades commercial customers that have included Walker Mowers in Timnath.
A typical residential customer tends to be the homeowner who desires a mature large tree rather than a sapling (which might require decades before unpredictable nature transforms it into an awesome, shade-giving colossass).
Jo Allard said one homeowner wanted multiple large trees dug up, moved, and transplanted to another property he owned. On the road again… a twist to that old, sage advice to bloom where you’re planted!
Working with the trusty International and its many hydraulics requires patience, said Jo, who noted that David first digs the hole at the new location before unearthing the tree from its old home. Then he hauls and drops the transplant into the prepared new hole immediately to keep as much soil and moisture as possible around the roots, thereby lessening chances of trauma.
As most ranching families know, working with kin can bestow both bountiful blessings and sporadic calamities. So, how’s it going these days for mother and son Allard?
“It’s real good now,” Jo declared. “Sometimes David and Marc disagreed but ultimately David just went on and did whatever needed to be done.”
That pretty much sums up the entire rural/farming/ranching lifestyle: Doing whatever needs to be done to survive and succeed. And the Allards descend from a long line of ranchers whose work ethic reaches far into years that American culture asserts are “golden” ones, a.k.a. inactive and unproductive. The hard-working Allards, however, are always on the move.
Got a tree that needs to go elsewhere? Want a tree that’s been elsewhere? Call the Allards at Ace of Spades. Jo can be reached at (970) 568-3900, David at (970) 217-1819. Likewise for Empire, Incorporated for cattle, horse or sheep Blue River Waterers.
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