In January 2004 we bought some land in Colorado. This was initially intended as our “retirement plan”, but after much thought we decided that there was no reason to wait until we retired and that we should use the land sooner. We sold up in the UK and started our move to Colorado. Alba ranch is what we have decided to call our land, Alba being the old name for Scotland, where my husband is from and where we lived previously.
The terrain is very steep, forming one side of a mountain, heavily wooded and with awesome views. We only have 55 acres, (hubby likes to joke that it would be 80 acres if it were flat!) but it is enough for a little homesteading. Power and phone lines were in place when we bought the land and the first thing we had done was the installation of a septic system. Water supply, the last of the utilities, was hauled from town for a few years until we finally drilled our well. Yum, spring mountain water.
Hmmm, what can we say about the barn without compromising our legal position? Well lets just settle for saying the the Barn, as it stands now, is in fact the mark 2 version. Not as big or as grand as we had originally planned, but functional and it serves it’s main purpose to give shelter and protection for our livestock. As well as being internally divided for goat pens, there are storage areas for hay and feed, and areas to work in.
One of my hobbies, which developed into my passion and business, is spinning and weaving. We built a barn and some pens and had some angora goats. The goats were shorn twice a year and the fleece spun to make mohair for weaving.
As well as the angoras, we also had a small herd of milk goats which gave us fresh milk and cheese.
We have a chicken flock. I have raised many different breeds of chickens through the years but currently have cut down to just one flock that gives us our own eggs. We have had various roosters but currently only have one and Charlie jokes that he must be on UK time, as he crows a lot at 11pm!
As it is known that there are large predators in the the area, Bear, Cougar and Coyotes for instance, as well as the two legged variety, we felt that it was a good idea to get some livestock guardian dogs to protect our goats. Hence the arrival of Mitch and Larick. Mitch is a Great Pyrenees Larick is an Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees cross.
Of course, when I got completely immersed into fiber I had to go out and get myself some sheep. And with the sheep, I learned they do not think like a goat. So our herding dogs, border collies, would have to gather them up.
I still remember a few special sheep that did not think after even a long time that they should be herded, gathered, told what to do, or even looked at with the “eye” of any border collie. Sheep stamping their feet repeatedly at a border collie herding them is beyond hysterical!!
We had llamas on the ranch, meat sheep, meat goats, and other various critters. The dogs have been invaluable in keeping away predators, protecting the stock, keeping me company, and keeping various creepy crawlies at bay..i.e. rattle snakes and the occasional 2 legged variety of interlopers.
Alba Ranch would not be complete without the latest passion that I have developed over the last couple of years. My hands began to fail me so I had to cut down on the big livestock to much smaller herd. I looked around and decided to have a few French Angora rabbits for fiber purposes.
My most favorite fibers to spin are Merino sheep fleece, French Angora Rabbit fur, and silk. I have added a few French Angora Rabbits to the ranch but have no plans to add silk worms!