Tales from the O-NO Ranch: Downsizing
by “Mad” Jack Hanks
When we hear the term “downsizing,” gentle readers, don’t most of us think about corporations reducing the size of their operations? I do.There is another downsizing going on right now and you already know about it but I bet you haven’t given it a second thought. It’s sort of a phase related to our environment and what’s happening to farm and ranch land in heavily developed areas such as the front range of the Colorado Rockies. Actually, it started years ago with exotic animals such as the ostrich, the emu, llamas, pygmy goats, and more recently, miniature horses. Yep, there was big bucks to be made if you got in on the ground floor of such new and interesting projects.
Here’s the way this all came to be (in my opinion). Folks started buying up acreage to escape city life. What they knew about raising cows was limited and what they knew about raising all the above-mentioned was even less but the deciding factor was the size of their place. To call it a ranch you would need more than two cows so you bought 10 ostrich, emu, llamas, goats or miniature ponies and presto, you have a ranch.
Now, here is the new deal: miniature cattle! Yep, you can buy registered herefords and even more recently, registered angus cattle.
“Yep, Yolanda and I bought us a ranch recently right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. We run registered angus cattle on the place and keep several head of registered horses,” says the new rancher tryin’ his best to impress his golf-playin’, sandal-wearin’ pals.
“Man, that’s rockin’,” says a buddy. “How do you like ranching and being a cowboy?”
“It’s a wonderful life! That’s all I can say about it,” quips the new westerner.
What he failed to mention is that his horses and cattle are all miniature and would number less than a dozen and he only has 35 acres on which to ride his ATV to gather them up (with a bale of hay on the back.)
A number of years ago I was helpin’ a friend move his remuda of horses and 300 pair of cows and calves across the Continental Divide when I noticed what I thought were two small kids on big horses gatherin’ cattle off a nearby ranch.
“Them kids are sure purty small to be a ridin’ such big hosses,” I hollered at my amigo.
“Them ain’t kids; they’re grown men and that’s their ranch. They’re purty good hands to beat!” he yelled back.
Now these guys were small compared to the average man, real small. If they had been ridin’ miniature horses and gatherin’ up miniature cows, that whole scene would have looked to be in focus. These guys weren’t as big as some little kids, but they were cowboys and good ones to boot. I ain’t figured out to this day how they got on them big ole mountain horses they were mounted on.
I suppose I digressed there a bit, but somehow I wanted to fit that in. It appears to me that we find ourselves living in a more superficial and make-believe world every day. I can make believe that I’m a columnist; little girls can make believe they are Britney Spears; little boys can make believe they are Michael Jordan; politicians can make believe that they know what is best for us; and Mike Tyson can make believe that he’s too pretty to be a fighter. (I never was real fond of his chicken anyway.)
Folks can continue to pretend to be cowboys and ranchers, and I consider that to be a compliment, but it does drive up the cost of cowboy hats, pickups and chew. I have no idea how you market miniature cows. I suppose you sell them to your golf playin’ buddies at twice what you paid for them so they, too, can become ranchers. Works fer me!
You wouldn’t be able to sell ’em to those little men on the western slope simply because they are REAL cowboys.
Stay tuned, check yer cinch on occasion, and if I’ve offended you drop me a LITTLE note!