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Working Ranch - November/December 2017

The Roberts Ranch calves qualify for an ‘all natural’ program. to concentrate on the building of Roberts Ranch. The Forks remains a local Livermore landmark, although it has changed hands many times. Roberts Ranch was never sold. Often called one of Colorado’s “legacy ranches,” the property is now held by a trust, with its more than 16,000 acres remaining intact. That’s rare along the Highway 287 corridor where, starting decades ago, many working ranches were broken into small pieces and sold to city folk wanting acreages on which to build houses in the country. Roberts Ranch won’t be subdivided, though, because of conservation easements, which protect the ranch from development by limiting its use to agricultural production, in perpetuity. Consequently, Roberts Ranch has been, is and will be home to a cattle operation. Resident manager Zach Thode is charged with keeping the operation on fi rm footing, fi nancially. FROM WOODSTOCK TO LIVESTOCK Holding a degree in engineering, Thode is an out-of-the-ordinary, fi rst-generation rancher. If there were farmers or stockmen in his family tree, Thode never heard about it from his parents. And by the way, Mom and Dad were fl ower children. “Yep, they were genuine, Woodstockvariety hippies,” affi rms Thode, explaining how his parents moved to the Livermore area and bought a small piece of land, back when some of the large ranches were being subdivided. “We were off the grid. My parents, my brother and I lived in a tent, with no electricity and no running water until I was six years old,” Thode recalls. Still, Thode can claim he was nearly ranch-raised. Early exposure was a result of a rancher’s wife being his daycare provider. When Thode was nine years old, a local rancher and horseman took the boy under his wing. First, Richard Borgmann helped train a young horse that Thode had acquired for the price of a whole dollar. Then Borgmann offered the kid a summer job. “I worked for him for the next 13 years, up until I graduated from CAITI HLADKY Hay is a cash crop as well as a feed resource for ranch cattle. Hay fed on the ranch goes mainly toward replacement heifer development. Mature cows run year-round on range, with minimal supplementation. TROY SMITH NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017 I WORKING RANCH I 75


Working Ranch - November/December 2017
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