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Hanging on high in the Rockies

Agriculture.com Staff 07/07/2010 @ 9:08am

When Andrew Hyde homesteaded in 1886 near Edwards, Colorado, he couldn't have imagined that the land he claimed would one day be worth $250,000 an acre. Today, the homestead, known as the Lazy Ranch, is fighting for survival as ski-related development sweeps westward from Vail. Tiny towns like Edwards have been engulfed, and century-old ranches are now endless rows of condos.

The Calhoun family, owners of Lazy Ranch, are this year's winners of the BARN AGAIN! Farm Heritage Award for their heroic efforts to preserve their ranch and its historic buildings. Because of their efforts, vistors to the Vail Valley can glimpse what life was like before the landscape was transformed by the ski industry.

BARN AGAIN! awards are presented each year by the National Trust and Successful Farming magazine for the best examples of historic farm buildings preserved and used for agriculture. The Calhouns received a $1,000 cash prize, thanks to sponsorship of the 1997 awards by The Ertl Company and Toy Farmer Publications.

When Andrew Hyde homesteaded in 1886 near Edwards, Colorado, he couldn't have imagined that the land he claimed would one day be worth $250,000 an acre. Today, the homestead, known as the Lazy Ranch, is fighting for survival as ski-related development sweeps westward from Vail. Tiny towns like Edwards have been engulfed, and century-old ranches are now endless rows of condos.

Buddy and Linda Calhoun board horses and raise hay on the former cattle ranch. "Dad raised grain and hay, and ran stock," recalls Buddy's mother, Ardyth, who also lives on the ranch. "He put up hay with a team of horses," she says.

Buddy Calhoun returned to the ranch in 1973 to help his parents run the operation. The land had been rented out for several decades, and most of the old buildings were boarded up. In addition to managing the ranch, Buddy bought a herd of Charolais. He used the profits to repair the buildings.

Brown says the cattlemen's group has taken the unusual step of starting its own land trust to help ranchers who want to keep their land in the family.

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