Birds grow so fast. The chicks are no longer the cute, fuzzy, yellow babies of picture books. They weigh about a pound (about 1/3 their adult weight) and they are getting uglier by the day. They won’t be pretty again until all of their adult feathers are in. I should have taken some pictures to document the ugliness. Alas, I did not.

I did, however, take pictures of our other resident birds. These birds are much more attractive. I believe these are the babies from previous posts. Look at how they’ve grown and matured. They are so beautiful!

We found rabbit remains under one of the old pickups tonight. We’re hoping that our owls are doing their part to keep the rabbit population in check. Last week we ran into two bull snakes. Maybe the rabbits will stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden this year!

New Developments at the Ranch…

This week, we have two things to report. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words; I’ll let the pictures tell most of the story.

Story #1: What happens when you turn the sheep out to graze?

Notice the height of the grass compared to the driveway.
Watch as this grass….
Eventually looks like this

and this. Amazing!

 On the evening following these pictures, we had a little surprise (or two) in our trees.

Story #2 Two Little Owlets

Baby #1
Baby #2
They still have their downy feathers. We wondered if they could fly.

They just sat in the tree, watching us as we snapped tons of pictures.

Putting the sheep out to pasture

One of the things we have always believed in and supported is producing natural animals. Whether it is grass-fed beef or pasture poultry, we try to raise our animals naturally. This week, the weather is finally warm enough and the grass is getting tall. Soon, we will be turning the sheep out to pasture. Here are a couple of pictures of us putting up some fence. As we’ve already mentioned, our third generation rancher (two years-old) helps out as often as she can!

Wrapping Up Another Week

Time is sure flying by. I can’t believe that summer is just around the corner. Today, we bought three more gilts to add to our herd of pigs. Next week, our shipment of spring chicks arrive–followed shortly by our shipment of baby turkeys (poults). Soon after that, we’ll be picking up our new boar… And the list goes on.

In other exciting news, we will attend a jackpot this Friday night in Kersey. One of our two newest 4H customers will be participating with lambs from our flock. We are so excited for her and can’t wait to attend. So, here’s a special shout out to Rachel! We wish you the best of luck and hope you do well.

Getting Ready for Chickens

In about 2 weeks, we will receive our shipment of chicks from a hatchery in Nebraska. We are raising free range birds this year. We’ve been looking at a free range operation ever since we visited a free range operation in Nebraska. This year, we are finally ready to forge ahead with our plans.

First we needed to build a free range chicken tractor. We opted for a hoop house model. Building it was a lot of work, but it was fun and satisfying. Now we just have to hurry up and wait until the birds arrive.

Laying out the frame.
Hog panels make the hoop.
Tying on the chicken wire.
It’s nearly finished; it just needs the tarp.

We Have Pigs!

The best memories my wife has of farming have something in common…pigs. My wife often reminisces to others about the first batch of piglets we had. Early one Saturday morning, we headed up to the auction in Brush, Colorado. After a good, old-fashioned farm breakfast at the auction house restaurant and an hour or two viewing and bidding on animals, we became owners of ten little white piglets.

I told my family that if they would sit quietly in the pen with the piglets, then the pigs would come to investigate them and start rooting around them–so once we had them home and unloaded, that’s exactly what they did. My wife and kids had such a good time that day! They were forever pig lovers from that day forward.

While my family seems to be happy enough to have the show lambs, my wife has been grumbling about missing the pigs. And I, being the good-hearted husband that I am, quickly obliged by finding a couple of show pigs that were in need of a good home. Again one Saturday, we headed out on a mission to buy pigs. The girls and I all loaded up in the car and drove to Limon. My two year-old granddaughter was smitten as soon as she saw the “mommy pigs.” Interestingly, she was more interested in the big pigs than she was in the piglets–which was actually a good thing since we were buying the big pigs. Of course, we had to stop for a meal before we headed home. We had quite a good meal at Jenny’s Mexican Restaurant in Limon, if only they had Coca-Cola…

Our Brand

Our brand, JNP, and our name, JNP Ranch have deep roots. Many years ago, at the turn of the last century (1900 not 2000), a young man traveled across the United States and settled in the Nevada desert. Like many others, he made his living ranching in the White Pine Valley. His name was Niels Peter Jensen and his legacy lives on in our brand. While the brand JNP is still owned by his grandsons in Nevada, here it belongs to us. It is very special to us because it signifies not only our attachment to the past and our families (and our great Danish stock), but also our union and commitment as we became Jensen and Penry or JNP Ranch in 1998.

The Farmall H

It probably only took us one season to decide that we needed a tractor. My wife really wanted to resist–I think she equated a tractor with commitment or finality. However, she soon changed her tune after a spring of mud and muck.

I watched for the right auction and one Saturday, we headed down south. We bought our Farmall H for $1500. My wife believes that the tractor was one of the best farm purchases we’ve ever made.

We have lots of memories centered around that tractor. The wife and kids used to sit on the blade as I leveled the muddy corral, many friends and family have enjoyed tractor rides, and my oldest daughter learned how to drive a car by practicing on the tractor (she took out a gate in the process). In fact, all of my children have driven the tractor at one point or another.

It’s been a great machine–practically a member of the family. Unfortunately, we no longer own our tractor. I made the mistake of selling it a few years back.

Man, I miss that machine!

A little history…

We became JNP Ranch in late 1998 when I came home with 5 head of hodge-podge cattle. I ventured up to Northern Colorado to the weekly auction with my wife and three kids, and we came home 4 head richer. What started out as an opportunity for my wife and I to give our children a chance to experience a bit of country life soon turned into an adventure for friends, children of friends, neighbors, extended family, and now grandchildren. We feel so fortunate to have built a lifetime of memories that involve so many people we hold dear.

We intended to raise our cattle for beef, but soon discovered that one of our heifers was bred. Although her calf did not survive, we knew then that we were destined to breed and raise animals. Soon, we had 18 head of cattle and a bull. Two of our favorite cows were our first young mother (we called her Baby) and another ravenous cow my daughter dubbed Honey. Honey was so interested in eating, that my daughter soon had her eating out of her hands. Our legacy was born and you might say the rest is history.

We didn’t just happen upon our ranching experience by accident. Both my wife and I come from strong agricultural stock. I spent my summers on my grandparents’ farm in Iowa and still return to Iowa each fall to help my cousin with the harvest. My wife’s families are tried and true pioneers that helped settle the Wild West. In fact, our name and brand is passed down to us from my wife’s great-grandfather via her father.

Over the years, we have had animals in a few different pastures, but the majority of our time has been spent at our current location in Parker (the Southeast Denver Metro Area). There, we have cavorted with a variety of livestock–cattle, hogs, poultry, and sheep–and a variety of wildlife as well–rabbits, various carrion birds, owls, hawks, coyote, snakes, frog, and deer.

We love Colorado–the beautiful scenery and fair weather (but not the mud in the spring). We’ve weathered the proverbial storm–pitching hay in a snowstorm, digging springtime ditches so the muck will flow, swatting flies while fixing fence, and of course, freeing various vehicles from ditches, snowbanks and mud. We can’t imagine a better way to spend our life. We are excited to welcome you into our family and hope you enjoy the adventure as much as we have.