HIS NAME IS RIO. He grew up in a ranching family with seven brothers and sisters, 40 miles from the nearest town. He had his own horse from age six and he learned how to do just about anything from his family.
If you talk to him long enough, you see the power of the American Cowboy – quiet, assertive, independent, knowing that he can handle whatever comes his way. As we were leaving, he introduced his horse Raspberry, who he had been given as a boy. With sudden grace and wistfulness, he jumped on her back and rode around with no bridle. He was at home. She was happy; maybe they both remembered their good times together.
How does your day start?
I’m the herdsman and ranch manager. I started as just overseeing the cattle and all the management regarding them. Now I oversee the property management as well. My typical day starts with just chores, feeding horses, checking on them. We have cattle that we’re fitting for shows and stuff that we hand feed. And I line out the crew for what they’re gonna do that day, making sure the feed’s getting started on the cows in the pens.
There’s plenty to do – the ranch is 27,000 acres. There are cows scattered from one end to the other usually. So we’ll start checking different ones in different pastures.
What time do you start?
Between 6:30 and 7:00. We’ll make the rounds, check on all the animals in pens and feed them. We make decisions for what needs to be done. Most of the guys have their own projects they’re working, like fencing or feeding.
What could go wrong in the night?
We raise and sell a lot of bulls. Most of them don’t get sold till they’re two years old. They can start getting a little testy by that age. And they knock down fences in a while. So, checking fences, water breaks, wintertime freezes, that kind of stuff. Always something.
Do all the cowboys live here?
Three of us live on the ranch. Two of us have families, and we live here in the ranch housing. The single guy lives in an apartment. And then, the other guys all live off the ranch in their own housing, but are local here to Golden.
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