The Big Eight


It was December of 2012. I was standing in the driveway of what I didn’t know at the time, was going to be my eight acres of paradise in Crawford, CO.

The clouds were heavy and the ground was soaked with moisture from the pervious night’s rain. Cottonwood leaves from the stand at the end of the driveway littered the ground, giving the air an earthy aroma. The North end of the rectangular eight acres was open pasture. The South end consisted of a grove of Cedar trees. In the center of the property where I stood was a dilapidated mobile home. The area around the mobile home was scattered with the last tenant’s treasures.  I didn’t dare get too close to the structure, thinking a wild animal may leap out of one of the missing windows or doors.  Pieces and parts of rusty barb wire fences strung out in different directions, giving no clue to the property’s boundaries.

A small stream ran East and West along the back of the mobile home. The West Elk Mountains were to the East. They felt close enough to touch. I found a cast iron wellhead cover.

As I wandered through the Cedars, a small herd of mule deer jumped from their beds and ran off. “ Don’t go,” I called to them. “ I won’t be here long.” I hated disturbing them. This was their home. Then I found a horse skeleton that added to my feelings of trespassing. The bones were scattered and the skull gave me the creeps.

While leaning against my rental car, I could vision the property being cleaned up, free of the mobile home, junk and new fences replacing the old.  I hoped the summer pasture would provide enough grass for my horses.

I was on the property for a total of forty-five minutes. While driving back to Boulder, where my daughter lived, I called the real estate agent and put an offer on the eight acres. I had to fly back to Vermont the next day.

The following summer I arrived in Crawford with my two horses and camping gear. I wasn’t sure if I was going to spend the summers or move to Colorado for good. I enjoyed cleaning up the property and I loved the lack of responsibilities other than my basic needs of camping and tending to my horses.  My new life was off to a good start.

I learned the stream was actually an irrigation ditch and what I thought was a wellhead was a water tap.  The pasture turned out to be a hay field and produced enough hay for the horses. I learned that fences were made to fence out, not fence in as it is in the East.  After realizing this was home, a small house was built with a porch to enjoy the views.

Since being here I have chased and caught a few more dreams; working on a dude ranch as Head Wrangler, working with an outfitter and meeting new friends who love and live the lifestyle that I am now part of.

And Monty is in my life. The kindest, gentlest man I have ever known who values family, friends and a ranching lifestyle.

If heaven isn’t in Crawford, I don’t want to go.