One of the things we treasure is the partners we have with whom we can enjoy handshake deals. No contracts, no trying to squeeze the most out for our benefit or feel like there are winners and losers. One of those most treasured partnerships of ours is with Christy and Matt Belton of Belton Livestock. For over a decade, we have enjoyed an amazing partnership and friendship with them for our cattle round up weeks and their cattle operation.
Christy and Matt have what is called a grazing allotment with the US Forest Service out in the Routt National Forest so they can summer their herd out on 16,000 acres of public land where the grass grows deep and the rivers flow through the forest land. Our role in the partnership is to help manage the fencing of this allotment and to help round up the cows at the end of the summer. It’s no small feat to put up fence on 16,000 acres, and anyone who has helped Nate at the beginning of the summer can attest to the hard work and intense pace of getting the job done. Rounding up the herd is a lot more fun, although still hard work!
The past week we’ve been focused on bringing in the bulls so they can stop…..doing their job. The Beltons don’t want late summer calves, so there is only one way to stop that from happening. Remove the bulls. Now, that is easier said than done. It’s a little like taking a guest at VVR and telling them they need to leave a day early. Sure, it’s beautiful, the food is great, and the company is lovely. But you need to go now. Ummm, no thanks? Because of their reluctance to come home earlier than the ladies and children, we aren’t quite there, but trying to get out any opportunity we can with the guests to bring more home.
Once that job is done, and as we near the end of September, we will head out to bring the cow-calf pairs back home as well. Part of the arrangment with the US Forest Service is the animals can’t go out on the land too early in the summer, and they need to be in by October 1. So, we leave them out on the forest land as long as possible so they can enjoy that high mountain grass before bringing them home to the ranch headquarters for Belton Livestock, where they will find hay instead of belly high grass waiting for them. The ladies are smart though, they know winter is coming, so by that time of year they are a little more willing to come home. Tell that to a rider facing a big momma cow who isn’t so sure she wants to head down the road as instructed.
Yes, it’s a good deal. The cows get fat and happy, the calves grow big and strong, the Beltons get some help with their herd management, we get to ride amazing country for days on end as the foliage turns, and then, like a good grandparent does with grand kids, we wave as Matt hauls them down the driveway to go back home. More than anything, we get the opportunity to have a relationship with two truly amazing humans and we consider them part of the ranch family. Here’s to great partnerships, handshake agreements, and riding the range.
PS- I found a cool, old video about Belton Livestock that is fun to watch! Click HERE to watch.