Saturday, May 11th, 2013

What’s Happening at the Everson Ranch?

SO much is happening! We are pursuing the evolution of the 150 year old Everson Ranch into an educational and agricultural center for the Orient Land Trust and the San Luis Valley. If you have been to the Ranch, you know the beautiful ancient ranch buildings: Barns, sheep sheds, bunk house, loafing sheds. We are going to build these buildings from within, leaving the beautiful, authentic historical facades wherever we can. We will create indoor and outdoor learning spaces, living spaces, collaborating spaces, cooking spaces, bathing spaces. We will create greenhouses, offices, building shops, barns. We will build permaculture systems around the central building spaces, native grass hay fields beyond that and foster healthy natural grasslands beyond that, up into the foothills. We plan to become a model of best practices for the valley.

There will be places for children of all ages to examine the earth, pet the animals, learn about earthquakes, water, and alternative energy. You might find classes on permaculture, holistic grazing methods, conservation practices, local endangered species of animals, natural herbs, invasive species of plants, primitive living skills, canning, soap making, herbal medicines, slow cooking. You might meet a group of your friends for a dinner in the Ranch house garden, take a bike ride, spend a week weeding the gardens. Who knows, in a year or so you might be able to have a wedding party at the Ranch! With more than ten people!

This summer we have already planned a permaculture workshop, two art workshops, kids science camps like last year, dinners in the garden, and the summer OLT Board meeting. 

We also have a special program we are developing with the help of the Ben and Mary Eiseman Educational Fund. We will be teaching job skills to local youth within the conservation arena. The first program we will develop is an inventory and monitoring system for our plant and animal species. This may include an eradication program for invasive species if that is deemed necessary. We will be working with the Kerber Creek Restoration Project, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Center Conservation District, Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative, our French intern, Margaux Tachet, a local student from Adams State, two interns from France and Breckenridge, and two to four local San Luis Valley youth who will get paid!

We will also be working with the NRCS and a local rancher ( to begin rebuilding our grasslands' health with the Allan Savory method of holistic grazing ( We'll be running Scottish Highland cattle, a small, drought and cold resistant bovine beauty. While you have been able to buy all natural grass-fed Arrowpoint beef in the OLT store for the past year, you soon will be able to buy Arrowpoint beef that was raised on OLT lands! We won't name them, we promise! Unless you want to help us... 

Scottish Highlands are known as a hardy breed due to the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands. Highland cattle have been successfully established in countries where winters are substantially colder than Scotland's. Their hair gives protection during the cold winters and their skill in looking for food allows them to survive in steep mountain areas. They both graze and browse and eat plants which many other cattle avoid. The meat tends to be leaner than most beef because Highlands get most of their insulation from their thick shaggy hair rather than subcutaneous fat. The coat makes them a good breed for cold northern climates and they are able to thrive in outdoor conditions that would defeat most other breeds of domestic beef cattle. Most importantly, the beef produced from Highland cattle is exceptionally tender and delicious!

We have put a concrete floor (all set for in-floor heating) into the barn we call the Dance Hall. We call it that because we are going to have good, old-timey, barn dances! Anyone willing to play music? We are also going to have board meetings, classes, roundtable sessions, yoga sessions, painting workshops, and roller skating. It will be an all-around useful building for community affairs of all kinds.

At the ranch, in addition to our beautiful new Scottish girls, we now have chickens to lay eggs, horses to till the soil and run fence lines, and a llama to boot. Come see us and give the animals a bite to eat. They all love apples! Me too!

We will be putting in a straw-bale, bath-kitchen building for campers, bunkhouse dwellers, and visitors alike. You will be able hike, bike, garden, herd cattle, clean ditches, mow hay, feed horses, mow the laws, gather eggs, and then take a long hot shower! Or a short environmentally sustainable shower! You will be able to cook your dinner that you picked in the garden or out from under a chicken! 

We need help on all these projects – we need donors and volunteers to make this come to fruition. Help us to make this world a more sustainable place for you and your children!

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 05:50

For the education, enjoyment, and well-being of current and future generations, Orient Land Trust: 
promotes a positive clothing-optional experience at all properties including Valley View Hot Springs, Orient Mine and Everson Ranch;
preserves the viewshed, including land acquisition; 
protects natural, wild, agricultural, and historic resources, in the northern San Luis Valley.