I met my now husband, Mark in sunny Southern California in the summer of 2010 while visiting my sister. We hit it off and before we knew it he was flying out to Denver every weekend or I was flying out to Los Angeles. I knew this man was going to be the man I spent the rest of my life with and on October 1, 2010, during a helicopter ride through the Grand Canyon, he asked me to marry him.
We were married on October 1, 2011 in Golden, Colorado and moved to Whittier, California where we ran Mark’s termite and pest control company together.
Living in Los Angeles was exhausting. Mark and I were working 12-14 hour days sometimes seven days a week. We were blessed because we worked together but our conversations became more about work and less about personal or fun things. We knew something had to give so on one of the very few vacations we took back to Colorado; we started looking at pieces of property. Mark spent a lot of his childhood on his parents cattle ranch in Texas and he would tell me stories of horses, cows, chores, quiet… it sounded amazing.
We came across a property in Matheson, Colorado and quickly fell in love. I am a native of Colorado and had never even heard of Matheson, much less knew where it was. It was perfect, peaceful, and literally in the middle of no where. We didn’t know how, but we both knew, one day, this was going to be our forever home.
After being fed up in Los Angeles, in October of 2015, Mark and I took a leap of faith, sold our company and home in California, packed up a Uhaul, and our four dogs, and moved to Matheson. We honestly didn’t have specific plans but we have never done anything that felt more right.
We immediately started off with a couple horses. Duchess, a 20 year old mare, perfect for me to learn off and China Doll a 15 year old mare. To say that I fell in love was an understatement. If Mark would let me bring these two in the house, I probably would have. It was winter, so we didn’t do a lot of riding but I spent every moment I could watching Duchess and China and learning everything I possibly could.
At about the same time, I decided that I wanted to have my own farm fresh eggs so I ordered 24 chickens, made a brood box in my garage, and waited patiently for the girls to arrive. The day they arrived was such an exciting but also scary day. They came to me from Michigan so they had a long trip and three didn’t make it. I put them in their brood box and just sat back and watched. I even had to Google what a “sleeping chicken looked like” because I thought that I was going to loose even more. I named every single chicken (against the advise of many) and spent every day watching them grow and interact with each other. The 21 that survived are still the 21 roaming free and spend most of their time down at the barn with the goats.
The goats were 100% Mark’s idea. I was very worried about how I would take care of them, do they stink? What do you even do with a goat; but before I knew it Mark had found three pregnant Nubians and we were on our way to bring them home. I connected with these girls immediately and we named them Snap, Crackle, and Pop. I learned how social these girls are and how much of a personality they have. To say I became excited about kidding season is the understatement of the century.
Mark and I like to go big so after we got used to the goats, we started thinking, well what else can we handle? Mark came across a guy that had an alpaca ranch but he was selling, so he needed to get rid of his alpacas. Well, why not? We know nothing about alpacas so it seemed like a great idea! Turns out, it was a wonderful idea. We were able to give the eight male alpacas a nice home and they love roaming free on the property. This year was our first year shearing the boys and wow what an event that was! We are already processing all the fiber so be on the lookout for American Country Essentials alpaca fiber goods!
Knowing that we were about to have kids (baby goats) on the property Mark suggested that we look into getting a donkey for protection. One night my older sister sent me a link to a rescue in Elizabeth, CO that had two mini-donkeys. I didn’t even know donkeys came miniature! That was it, I was sold. I set up a meeting and the next day we went and visited my mini-donkeys. What we didn’t anticipate was that there was a white horse there that the director of the rescue explained was the donkey’s best friend. He followed them everywhere! What?! I can’t split up friends! After some serious convincing, I convinced Mark that the white gelding, Hercules, was coming with us as well.
Kidding season brought five more goats, three girls and two boys. We learned how to castrate the boys so all the kids could continue to live together. I was blessed that the first time mamas did not need my assistance during the births. They actually didn’t even need me there at all. Each mama gave birth minutes before I arrived. I fell in love with each kid and carried him or her everywhere. Something I am regretting now because the 120lb goats still think I can carry them into their pens.
In June of 2016 Duchess gave birth to a foal, Gus Gus, and in July of the same year, China Doll gave birth to a foal, Bandit. I was lucky enough to be there when Gus Gus was born and the entire experience gave me a new appreciation for life, my animals, and being blessed to live on this property. I bonded immediately with Gus Gus, which is why he is so great at selfies! China Doll gave birth on her own and protected Bandit from us for a while so imprinting on Bandit has been more of a challenge but fun to say the least.
We acquired two more horses in 2016, Loca and Countess. Loca is seven years old and the daughter of China Doll. She is a very young, untrustful horse so Mark has had a lot of fun training and learning from her. Countess was given to us because she isn’t saddle broke and she needed a good home. What’s one more?! She is the sweetest horse with the kindest eyes.
This year I have taken on bee keeping and what an experience that has been. I have gained so much respect for the honeybees and learned so much from keeping them. I have spoken to a couple schools about how important honeybees are and hope I can share my passion for years to come with other eager learners. They are doing well right now and although we probably won’t get any honey this year, I’m extremely hopeful for next year’s flow season.
Moving to Matheson was a 110% a leap of faith. My animals and my property is my release. I catch myself talking to all of them and although they never talk back, we somehow have come to really understand and depend on each other.
Thank you for taking the time to read a little about who we are, and what brought us to our ranch out here on the Plains of Colorado. Mark and I (along with all the animals) wish you the very best!