Of late, our Western Slope farm visits have taken us to pick delicious cherries and to meet happy pigs. How about we introduce you to some unusual sheep?
Desert Weyr is perched high on a mesa above the town of Paonia.
In the late 1990s, Eugenie “Oogie” McGuire decided she wanted to craft herself a traditional medieval cloak – from scratch. It would be made from wool, of course. She purchased one ram, five ewes and a loom, taught herself how to spin, weave and sew, and eventually made the cloak. As she says, “It’s more accurate for the 18th century. It took me six years to weave the fabric, two more to get up the courage to cut it, and two weeks to hand-sew it.” But what commitment! Now, Oogie and her husband, Ken, raise a large flock of Black Welsh Mountain sheep on pasture above Paonia.
Oh, hello there! We’re not really lost in the wilds somewhere; we’re just spending the summer traveling back and forth between the Western Slope and the Front Range. This is only a 300-mile commute but it’s so much more adventurous than it sounds!
If you drive between the Western Slope and the Front Range you must cross the Continental Divide (whether you want to or not). On this trip, we chose Monarch Pass.
Sometimes you get caught in a cattle drive. Livestock always have right-of-way.
Our house (on the left) is tiny compared to some of the big rigs we’ve seen!
Learning to back N into tight spots is one of my newly acquired skills.
N can drive the RV and take photos. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Apparently I can drive and take photos, too. Isn’t Colorado pretty?
In case you’re wondering, wooden clothespins do not solve vapor lock. We’re hoping a new fuel pump will.
One key element missing from our globalized grocery industry is seasonality. By that, I mean that we can have virtually whatever food we want, whenever we want it. It doesn’t occur to us that tomatoes taste better in August, or that citrus is sweeter and juicier in winter. Our supermarket produce departments know no seasons, and that is a loss – but because most of us have never known true seasonality, we don’t demand it. We should.
Colorado’s Western Slope has long grown most of the stone fruit produced between California and the Midwest, and wine grapes are now in vogue here as well. Make no mistake, though: growing fruit in a high-plains desert more than five thousand feet above sea level, with less than ten inches of total precipitation a year (that’s rain and snow), isn’t easy. Plus, the orchards and vineyards here are tiny, averaging only a few dozen acres; these are micro-orchards compared to those in California and Oregon and Washington, which cover thousands of acres. All of that means when cherries are in season here, often for as little as two weeks, one must act quickly. And so we did, hustling up to Antelope Hill Orchards for the opportunity to pick our own.