Women In Agriculture

This month CCALT celebrated women in agriculture and ranching. We asked some of our favorite female role models in the industry about their experiences with agriculture and how it has impacted their lives. We hope you enjoy getting to know them as they share their stories. These strong women represent the best of Colorado every day, and while their stories are all unique, their passion for the land, their families, and this western way of life are a common thread. Enjoy!  

Name: Marj Perry
Ranch: Cold Mountain Ranch
Location: Carbondale, Colorado 

History: I grew up on the Mt. Sopris Hereford Ranch. I was one of seven children. I have always enjoyed ranch life, the seasonal schedule, and the fact that there is always something unexpected happening that has to be dealt with. In the 1960’s and 70’s, we used a Lundahl loader to pick up small hay bales and this required a hay crew. My husband, Bill Fales, came to Colorado in 1973 to put up hay for a summer for my dad. It’s been a long summer! Within a few years we were married and working on the ranch full time. That’s when I first drove machinery. We fed the cows with a team and sled in the winter. We milked twice a day and I separated cream and made butter too. 

Today: These days, Cold Mountain Ranch includes land from the Mount Sopris Hereford Ranch which belonged to my parents and grandfather and a neighboring parcel that was owned by Mike and Pauline Desandre. Once we owned the Desandre property, I became involved in the management of the ranch. Bill and I try to discuss how to do things, what changes to make, many day to day details, and our overall goals. I spent more time raising our two daughters, but continued to help with the cattle, haying, feeding, and weed management. Bill did all of the irrigating, fencing, and machinery repairs. 

Challenges: Ranching is challenging in many ways; on a personal level, working closely with the person you’re married to has its moments, mostly related to communication. Ranching is also a job that is hard to clock out from. “Slavery is the price of independence,” but it’s a choice we’re happy with. Another challenge is keeping up with political issues that arise that impact agriculture, but without ever enough time and resources. We’ve been involved in a lot of issues over the years; they make life interesting. 

How has ranching enhanced your life? Ranching has enhanced my life by allowing me to work at home in a place I love. Ranching allowed our kids to grow up outside, experiencing dirt, independence, and responsibility all at the same time. We can work as a family, and our kids have plenty to do when they come home. We are constantly learning and evaluating as we see our mistakes and successes on the land. 

Name: Sharon Harvat
Ranch: Lucky Penny Ranches  
Location: Southwestern Jackson County, Colorado (otherwise known as North Park) 

History: Lucky Penny Ranches, LLC was formed in 1995 when John and I purchased the ranch with several partners. Prior to that purchase the ranch had been owned by Ellen Trevarton for a short time. In 2007 we put the ranch into a conservation easement with CCALT. 

Neither John nor I had come from ranching backgrounds. When I met John he was a hired hand on a ranch located in Grand County. After marrying John in 1977 we worked for various ranchers for eight years before leasing several small ranches ourselves. We did custom haying on what is now Lucky Penny Ranches and then leased the ranch from Ellen Trevarton for two years before buying into it with our partners. 

Today: My role in the ranch is helping with the daily operations, which include calving, feeding, haying, fencing, irrigating, riding, cooking, branding etc. I also keep the books.  Even though Lucky Penny Ranch is a beautiful and productive ranch, it is an extremely challenging one in the winter and spring. After having ranched in North Park for several years we made a major change in the operation and decided to take our cattle out to corn stalks in Scottsbluff, NE to winter them. We have been doing this for 20 years now and it has worked very well for us. I head out to Nebraska in the middle of November and prepare to receive the replacement heifer calves and then the cows to put on the corn stalks. John stays at the ranch in North Park for several more months working on equipment in the shop and comes out to Nebraska in time to help with calving. Our oldest son, Clint, also ranches with us and we couldn’t do it without him. Around the first of May we send the cattle back to North Park for the summer and fall. 

Challenges: Not having grown up on a ranch I had to learn a lot in a very short time. Working with the cattle, irrigating, and putting up hay is the most enjoyable part of ranching. The book work, new technology, and keeping up with new regulations have been the hardest part for me. 

How has ranching enhanced your life? Ranching has enhanced my life in so many ways.  We were able to raise our children on the ranch and give them a good life growing up. We are so blessed to be part of God’s creation every day! The wildlife we witness is amazing. I wouldn’t want to trade the ranching lifestyle for anything!  

Name: Sandi Turecek and Page Turecek
Ranch: Stacked Lazy Three Ranch
Location: Deer Trail, Colorado

Sandi: Having been born into a ranch family I’ve been ranching ALL my life. My husband Keven and I have been involved in this ranch, or some part of it, for over 30 years. In fact, most of it belonged to one side of our family or another for 50 years before us! 

Page: I came to the ranch in December of 2013. Tyler (Sandi’s son) and I got engaged and he couldn’t wait to start teaching me the ropes! We got married the following June and began our life on the ranch together. There was a huge learning-curve for me not coming from an agricultural background, but when you are around it every day you start to put together the pieces little by little and learn your role.  

Sandi: There isn’t one aspect of ranching that I don’t really love. There is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that go into the everyday work, but it is the most rewarding and fulfilling way of life there is. Everything from early morning stillness and sunrises to 2:00 am heifer checks. Page and I do the everyday chores as well as the meals and we get a lot of what we call the “lumps and bumps” pushed our way. That’s the orphan calves or the cow that might need a little extra something. We love to ride horseback so that’s a job we never shirk. We’re also there to build fences or drive the tractor when we need to. It all sounds like a lot of work but we do laugh A LOT and truly enjoy being together and getting the job done. Page has only been in the family a few years but I’d be lost without her. 

Sandi: Things don’t always go the way we’d like but we never seem to quit trying! Perseverance is our only option. 

Page: Ranching has challenged me because it wasn’t something that I grew up with. I had to learn that ranching isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life.  My involvement in the ranch has challenged me to be a better person, which is something I am grateful for.  

How has ranching enhanced your life?
Sandi: I love the people I get to work with every day. Having Page here as the only other female on the place, I hold her especially dear to me. 

Page: Ranching has enhanced my life in many ways. Because of ranching I’m able to work with my husband every day, which is one of my greatest blessings. I also gained my husband’s family, whom I love and adore, just like my own. 

Name: Judy Green
Ranch: Crags Ranch
Location: Hayden, Colorado 

History: Our ranch was founded in 1895 by my husband’s great grandfather and great grandmother, Leon H. and Mary Green, when they arrived in a covered wagon on the East Williams Fork River in August of 1895.  He called this homestead – Crags Ranche – and filed the name with the county clerk in 1912.  We continue to use the name Crags Ranch for the property.  My husband, Jerry, is the fourth generation of Greens to operate the ranch.  

I grew up on a wheat farm in Strasburg, Colorado where we had a small herd of Registered Black Angus. I spent most of my time horseback except when I could help out in the farming of summer fallow or in the harvest fields. I have been involved in agriculture my whole life, so the transition to full time ranching was not a major step for me. 

Today: Jerry and I work side by side in the daily operation of the ranch and only in the past couple of years have we had any extra hands to help us get our work done. 

Challenges: Ranching in Routt County offers challenges that we weren’t faced with on the Eastern Plains. Old Man Winter is far different here after the snow comes in November and usually doesn’t leave until April.  But it can be just as big a challenge in a dry year to have enough moisture for pasture and a hay crop.  As in agriculture everywhere, weather is the variable that rules how one manages one’s operation.  

How has ranching enhanced your life? The rewards of our ranching lifestyle come in the quiet moments that you share with nature: the calls of the song birds, the glimpse of the shy deer, the beauty of a new born calf, the splendid color palette that appears on a daily basis.  Being your own boss, not having to “punch a time clock,” or commute to work on a traffic clogged highway are rather nice perks in this business.  Besides, ranching has given me the opportunity to be horseback.  I’m blessed.  

Name: Jo Stanko
Ranch: Stanko Ranch
Location: Steamboat Springs, Colorado 

History: I was raised as a wild child of the mountains, not on a ranch.  I married into the ranch life when I was a sophomore in college and met my husband. In his proposal, he said that his life plan was to eventually take over his family’s ranch and he wanted me to be a part of that life. That was in 1966. The Stanko Ranch was established in 1907 by my husband’s grandfather who in the 1890’s had come to the US on his own when he was just 13 years old.  

Today: Besides being a partner, part-owner, and cheap labor, I also taught school for 30 years to support our ranching habit.    

Challenges: The biggest challenge has been dealing with the impacts of development. When we started ranching with my husband’s folks in the 60’s, Steamboat was a small remote supply town for agriculture. Today, Steamboat is a huge tourist town year round. As more people move here, it changes the culture, the economics, and the values.  

How has ranching enhanced your life? Ranching has enhanced my life through communication and connections with the land, animals and people who are involved in agriculture. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities and experiences provided to me by agriculture throughout my life.