Friday, July 29, 2011

Hay Season Begins at the Kurtz Ranch

Earlier in the day on Sunday a friend called and asked if she and some visiting guests could come out and say, “Hi.” I said I would have to start raking at 2:30 PM but I could visit with them before I got started. Once at the ranch and standing in my kitchen, one of the visiting guests asked me, “So, why is it that you have to rake at 2:30 PM? Is there some special reason why you rake at 2:30 PM?”

I smiled and said, “We’re waiting for the heat of the day to dry the hay. It needs to be nice and dry before we rake and bale it.” I then went on to tell her that Jr., our friend and previous owner of the ranch, had told us the best way to tell whether or not the hay is perfectly dry. He said to gather up a handful of grass and twist it with your hands. If it breaks after three twists it’s ready to bale.

About 2:30 PM Pete and I went out and picked up a handful of hay and twisted three times. The hay broke away and I climbed into the Challenger tractor to begin my afternoon of raking the hay meadow. Hay season was underway at the Kurtz Ranch.

Our hay this year is tall and thick. The challenge this year, as it seems to be every year, is to negotiate the monsoon rains that arrive mid-summer. Yesterday, while picking up a special nut for the round bale spike, I asked the parts employee at Tri-State Equipment, a John Deere dealer in Craig, Colorado, how he thought hay season was going for local ranchers. “Well, it’s not going too well from what I hear. Sounds like there’s going to be a lot of cow hay,” which meant the majority of hay that’s been cut has been rained on. When hay is rained on it loses a portion of its nutritive value. This is particularly true of grass hay which is used primarily for horse feed.

We felt relieved and satisfied when Pete was able to bale up what hay was down before it rained earlier this week. The bales will likely represent some of the best hay we'll harvest this season and offer a visible sense of satisfaction in the richly colored green bales now stored in the hayshed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pete's Sale Barn

I'd like to introduce a new weekly feature on my blog: Pete's Sale Barn. Each week for the next couple of months I'll be showcasing one of our quarter horses for sale. To kick off this new posting we're pleased to offer one of the ranch's favorite young horses.

"Prince," a super-cute four-year old buckskin gelding is one of the friendliest horses around. He's a very talented prospect with a natural stop and terrific willingness to learn. At fourteen hands, Prince would be great for anyone interested in a youth performance horse, a delightful trail riding horse, or for the gal who would like a smaller handling horse.

If you're interested, please contact Pete at
Plesase also visit our website at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Loving the Land

During the summer season we often enjoy having more guests to the ranch: from friends and relatives to horse clinic participants. This morning we had the pleasure of greeting a guest of a different kind. Brady Gibbons, a field advisor with Holistic Management International, stopped by to acquaint us with HMI's work. Headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this non-profit organization promotes sustainable land management practices for farmers and ranchers nationwide.

Sitting in the shade of cottonwoods near the arena Brady eloquently shared with us the mission of HMI. In addition to their consulting services to farmers and ranchers, they promote an ethic of caring for the land through four different educational programs. Kids on the Land, a program for children K-6, educates students about how the earth sustains life and ultimately food production. Gen Next is geared toward high school and college students and focuses on integrating Holistic Management principles into secondary and post-secondary school curriculum. Ag Town Turnaround is a new program that assesses the needs of depressed agricultural communities and then assist in the promoting local partnerships and policies based on Holistic Management principles with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture. The fourth program is for beginning farmers and ranchers with an emphasis on female farmers. This program's objective is to educate these farmers and ranchers about sustainable land management so they might be economically successful. Interestingly, 165,000 farms are run by women.

In his soft-spoken delivery, Brady communicated not only HMI's visionary work but also Brady's love and commitment to his work, one that I can only characterize as one of integrity and hope. Working toward sustainability of our land through holistic management and practices is not only vital to nationwide food production but to the life of our economy, our communities, and succeeding generations.

We look forward to Brady's next visit and further discussion on how the Kurtz Ranch might become more sustainable not only agriculturally, but for the next generation.

For more information on HMI, go to

Or contact Brady directly at

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Improving Brood Mare Nutrition

The sign on the good-looking white Chevrolet pick-up said, “Ranch-Way Feeds.” The young gal that stepped out into our barn-yard looked like a new college graduate wearing Baby Ariat boots, freshly pressed denims, and a black Ranch-Way Feeds company shirt. Kelcey Swyres had been in contact with Pete about a custom specialized feed supplement for our brood mares. Kelcey holds a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition and serves as a consultant with Ranch-Way Feeds in Fort Collins, Colorado

In this part of northwestern Colorado, our meadow grasses are low in copper and zinc, both of which are important to brood mare and foal health. After sampling and evaluating our hay, Kelcey suggested a trial of a supplement mixed by Ranch-Way that might not only improve our brood mares' overall health, but their foals as well. So, now we'll give the brood mares this custom mix, with supplements of copper and zinc, during their entire gestational period.

Riding shotgun with Kelcey on her sales trip was Jerrod Samber, a territorial representative for Ranch-Way. He specializes in hogs, sheep, goats, and on this stop he was hoping to learn from Kelcey’s expertise as she visited with equine clients. He has served as an extension agent and also has his own show lamb business in Sterling, Colorado.

We appreciate Kelsey’s expertise in first evaluating our hay samples and then scientifically formulating a supplemental grain appropriate for our part of the country and our breeding program. Thank you Kelcey!

For more information, contact Kelcey or Jerrod at the Fort Collins Company Store at: 1-800-333-7929.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emma Plays Too Hard

When I walked into the veterinarian's office late yesterday morning, the receptionist said to me, "Oh no, not Emma again." Emma is one of those dogs who, much like an accident prone child, needs medical assistance more often than others. My veterinarian, with a soft smile, said it best, "You know, Emma's just one of those dogs who plays just a little too hard now and then."

"...a little too hard now and then" is actually an understatement. Sometimes I think the terrier in Emma came down multiplied several times over in the Boston Terrier family tree. Emma's terrier predecessors had nothing on her. Whether it's a ball, a stick, her mom, or the ranch, in Emma's mind it all belongs to her and anyone who messes with it messes with Emma.

So, when I threw the red Kong toy for the last time Monday evening and it went behind our renter's car, I don't know what twist or turn Emma made to be sure Brodie, Cassidy's Australian Shepherd, didn't get a chance to have a piece of the Kong toy for himself. I imagined the Kong bounced high and Emma lept to great heights and then landed awkwardly on her foreleg. But Dr. Christina Peters speculated that a twisting motion or effort to evade may have caused a possible tear in Emma's tricep.

Much to Emma's disappointment, she lays near under my desk. The only good thing in the doctor's orders is that we're together. Quiet and inactive are not descriptors of Emma's days. And so, she and I will do our best to take it easy and let the pain medication and anti-inflammtory drugs take their healing affect.

As much as I'd like readers to think that I'm capable of succeeding this morning in following Dr. Christina's orders, I must confess as I opened a door and made a phone call, Emma escaped my supervision. After a few calls for her and no Emma, I hopped on my bike and headed out to the arena. Across the way on the far side was Emma doing what she usually does when Pete's riding. Just joining up with Griz and Brodie: wandering the arena, sniffing the ground, and eventually lying in the shade with her buddies comforted in communion and the routine of her outside world.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Kurtz Ranch Website

Pete's been working hard with Alisha Smith of Gringa Creative to build an exciting new Kurtz Ranch website. The site went live late last week and I'd like to invite everyone to visit at:

We're very happy with the the site and want to thank Alisha for her expertise and great work!

If you have any questions about our sale horses or Pete's cinches, please don't hesitate to contact Pete at: He'd be happy to visit with you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Common Ground Clinics a Success

Andy and Regina were delighted to have both Common Ground Riding Clinics and Andy's Cow Work Clinic full this weekend. Despite a few rain showers, the clinic participants worked hard and appeared to walk out of the arena pleased with their progress during the day. At the end of the day they enjoyed visiting with new fellow riders and sharing their love of the sport in the summer shade of nearby aspen trees.

Over the weekend riders also had the opportunity to try out the Balance Rider, a device created to help equine enthusiasts develop their core strength and centered riding skills. Created by Jim and Jo Lauter, the Balance Rider received exciting feedback from both English and Western clinic riders.

For additional information about the weekend, please read the following article printed in The Steamboat Pilot.

Other links you might be interested in:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cassidy's Headed to China

Pete and I’ve recently begun to ask Cassidy if we can come along in her suitcase to China. We’re envious!

Recently selected to participate in the inaugural educational program called, Rodeo China, she will spend ten days in Beijing, China in early October with a contingent of five 4-H Youth Agents and approximately sixty Colorado youth representing 4-H, FFA, and Little Britches Rodeo.

The Rodeo China program was created by Richard Tucker and his wife, Carrie. Both from South Carolina, they’ve had a long-term interest in China both through Carrie’s work as head of the Asian Studies Task Force at Furman University and Richard’s support of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s rodeos for the past ten years. Knowing that the Chinese love the West and value cultural history, Carrie and Richard felt they had an exciting concept.

Once the idea began taking shape, Richard contacted a number of individuals to help in organizing, what would become, a very ambitious event. One of those individuals was Jeff Goodwin, the head of CSU’s 4-H Extension program. Jeff was then charged with selecting the representatives from Colorado’s agricultural youth programs.

Cassidy attended her first training this past weekend in Pueblo, Colorado and reported that she would have to work a bit at mastering the pronunciation of not only her name, but, “Hello,” “Please,” and “Thank you.” It didn’t take Cassidy and the others long to figure out there was a translating application on their I-Phones and Smart Phones for Chinese, providing both print and audio translations.

When the Rodeo China contingent arrives in China, Cassidy and the other ambassadors will spend their days teaching 3000 rural Chinese youth, 300-400 each day, the intricacies and fun of roping, mutton busting, pole bending, and calf scrambles. They will also discuss basic livestock and agricultural practices with youth and Chinese representatives. At night the Bird's Nest will come alive with eight nights of professional rodeo in the Bird's Nest in Beijing. The 85,000 seat arena, built for the 2008 Olympics, will showcase the top rodeo talent in each rodeo event competing for a purse of over $8 million dollars. Cowboys and cowgirls from the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, and Canada will participate.

Richard and Carrie hope Rodeo China will launch a five-year program to improve understanding of the American West in China in addition to creating more educational opportunities for both American and Chinese youth.

For more information on Rodeo China, visit:

For more information on Jeff Goodwin & CSU 4-H Extension, visit:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Common Ground Clinics Return to the Ranch

This weekend, Andy Kurtz and Regina Wendler will take to the arena at the Kurtz Ranch for the next round of summer Common Ground Clinics, July 9 & 10, 2011. The clinics begin at 9 am both days and include instruction, video analysis, and lunch. Cost for the clinics is $500 for new clients and $350 for returning clients.

We will welcome a few lucky riders on Monday for a beginning cow work clinic. If you're interested in joining Andy and Regina on Monday, there are just a couple of openings left. Learning how to do cow work will be some of the best fun you'll ever have on horseback.

For more information, contact Andy at or Regina at

Also, visit their website at