Pam and Steve Williams have tied themselves to the land. They own and operate Glas Deffryn Ranch, a 200-acre specialty operation outside of Steamboat Springs where they raise Scottish Highland cattle. Although their ranch requires daily work, its hold on them is loose enough to enjoy retirement. “We never miss a day of powder. We have a parking space and locker at Steamboat. It’s thirty-five minutes from our home to the gondola.”
Steve had a career as a petroleum engineer for Amoco, Pam taught high school biology for 28 years. They are inquisitive, fix-it folks who thrive in retirement by having a small business that requires their attention and ingenuity. They take their time. First bought the ranch, built a barn, and then a loft house,. They recently moved into their permanent house full of quirky, exquisite detail. There are still finishing touches to be done, and they will get to them in time.
Pam and Steve are long-time cyclists. Their latest assistant is a motor-assist off-road cycle. Steve adds a trailer to and pedals it all over the ranch and triggers the motor on uphills. They save money and energy over driving their pick-up on ranch chores. The motor-assist bike has essentially replaced the horse.
Pam and Steve expanded their ranch by purchasing a scenic portion of the Yampa River that includes seven major bends. Then they put the whole property into permanent conservation. “We never had any children. Leaving this land untouched will be our legacy.”
Steve drove me around the ranch and introduced me to the cattle, all of who know him as if they were pets. Right now they have three bulls, kept in their own pasture, plus seven breeders, five two-year-olds, five one-year-olds, and a good assortment of calves. They’ll sell the two year olds at the end of the season. Each 1100-pound steer will yield about 400 pounds of grass-fed beef, but the ranch is a break-even operation. The economies of scale required for real profit would require a larger operation.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I can’t imagine the technology of tomorrow, but the human condition will be the same. Bulls will be roaring and humming. People will be doing what we have done all over the west.” – Steve Williams