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Welcome to Our Patch of Heaven!

Howdy friends! In honor of our 100th year in operation (it's incredible!), the Bar Lazy J is going high-tech! Now not to worry--there's still none of that allowed here while you're on vacation, but while you're away and anxious to keep up with what's going on (or you just need your "ranch fix"), come check in on our ranch blog where you'll find hoards of photos, we'll follow our staff and you'll hear all the latest happenings first! Of course reading about it isn't nearly as good as the real thing, so we hope to see you out on the trail real soon, but until then, check out what's happening and leave your comments--we love to see that our friends have stopped by! Happy trails everyone!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ode to Mud Season



        You’ll often hear people in these parts talk about the beauty of ALL the seasons in Colorado. Even I have said that we wish all of our guests could see both the subtle and dramatic differences each season brings: the wildflowers in the Spring, the star-filled skies at a campfire in the summer, the changing aspens in the Fall and the snow-coved trees and landscapes in the winter. Truly the mountains are a sight to see at any time of year. Well….almost any time of year….

       It seems we tend to forget we have one season here not taught to others in grade school. The 5th (and not so beloved by the vast majority of folks) season is what we call “Mud Season”. Mud Season?  What’s that? we’re often asked. Well let me give you an exclusive insiders peek at our “less favorite” months of the year. The time between February and June when the weather is unpredictable, the storms are often sudden and fierce and the snow is wet, wet, wet.IMG_4426IMG_4392IMG_4427

       First of all, January and February are usually the coldest months. This year was no exception. By the time March rolls around and temps start getting into the 30s again, you feel like Spring is right around the corner! The snow will start to melt—often completely if there are even just a few days of consecutive warmth and the sun is shining. 35 degrees feels like t-shirt weather and Spring fever is well on it’s way in. One might start to have thoughts of putting away their snow boots and heavy coats….IMG_3831

…only to have eight more inches dump overnight. 903334_10151462628974864_281329461_oIMG_4174

        That too will melt over the next week and instead of snow boots you’ll need mud boots as the puddles build. But as soon as your driveway dries out?… They’ll be more snow in the forecast. Thus begins the cycle of mud season. And hence the name. Snow and melt. Snow and melt. Rinse and repeat.


        So if you live on a ranch (we do) and have lots of animals (we do) and work outside (we definitely do), we do NOT recommend light colored carpets, shoes that aren’t completely waterproof (your fancy high heels would be a total fashion flub), or clothes you mind getting dirty. You quickly realize why so many homes have hardwood or tile flooring out here!  (And why Carhartts come in all those dark colors….)IMG_4480

       But then again….I concede. When you think about what mud season really means, you can find the beauty in it after all. It’s one big wake-up drink for all the plants that went dormant for those long winter months. It’s a huge swell in the rivers and reservoirs that will provide water to every living thing in the county—including the hay fields that will feed our horses, the wildlife and the fish in our streams where many of you will be with your waders very soon. The bigger the mud season, the greener our summer and the more wildflowers we’ll see covering the mountainsides in just another month or two. Last summer we had no mud season at all and it was a dry dangerous summer with low water everywhere. The animals couldn’t find food and moved to lower elevations (remember the bears?) and all over there were fires and dangers of fire across the state. Any kind of open flame was prohibited for months. This year, although we’ve been dumped on and dumped on some more while the rest of the world looks on in sympathy, we are thanking the heavens and welcoming the weather no one else wants.

        Those of us that call this home have simply learned to adapt. The animals have to be a little tougher (all the cows are even having their babies right now!),


the vehicles have to be a little sturdier,


the plants a little heartier,


and the people a little crazier! Ha!904465_10151462632214864_1673931454_o

       Mud season is essential to our way of life and the lives of all living things here. So I suppose I retract my earlier statement. It’s not “pretty” in the sense that most people think of when it comes to nature’s beauty, but for those of us who live here and know the important work all of this moisture is doing—it may be one of the most beautiful seasons we have. Without it—there wouldn’t be those incredible flowers in the Spring, those relaxing campfires in the summer or those breath-taking colors in the Fall. So YES. It’s true every season here is one of beauty—all FIVE of them. Thanks Mud Season. You do your thing. We’ll tough it out and uhh...... we will try to keep the griping on social media sites to a minimum.

Here are an assortment of photos taken throughout the last month in and around the ranch. Thank you Eddie and Electra for sharing some of these as well!





But perhaps the BEST part of mud season? Is that it means our 101st season is just around the corner….


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dorothy’s—Gone But Not Forgotten

      It seems like just yesterday that we could take a little stroll up to “Parshall-town” and stop in and see Miss Dorothy. Then again—maybe she wouldn’t be there. Her hours were irregular and depended entirely on her family time and bowling schedule. Either way—no one minded. Like Dorothy, the locals who knew where to find her general store, were content with whatever hours she was there. She lived behind the store and when she was home, the store was open. You’d pull open the screen door and step inside a world of soda pop, antiques and candies you could still afford. The only place a candy bar still cost a little bit of change and Miss Dorothy would write down your purchases on a pad of paper and ring it up in an old time cash register. She’d have her sports games or western movies playing on a small tv behind the register and you got the accurate impression that she was simply happy to be there in the store—regardless of whether anyone stopped by or not. But people always did. To see her and catch up on local happenings. We loved to hear her stories and she always let my daughter pick out a piece of candy and a small stuffed animal from her collection on the shelf. There were special memories made inside that store.

Grandma and 2 of her beauties (Sue Sue and Laila)

      In the summers, Dorothy’s was a beloved part of the children’s program at the ranch. Saturday morning, the kids mounted their horses and we rode them to '”the candy store” for a special treat. All of us always wondered how she kept that place open. Orphaned in the Great Depression due to her parents passing, Dorothy always made the best out of the little things she had. Her motto, “as long as I have food and can pay my bills, that is all that matters” were words that she lived by. Nothing was ever for sale for more than she could’ve paid for it. She often bought from the local large chain grocery store and resold the same items there at the store for the same price just to offer the locals a close option when they weren’t able to go as far as town. There was even a section for fishermen and hunters. A little bit of everything you’d ever need.  Everyone loved Dorothy. That was evident.

      The store

     Sadly, but inevitably, Miss Dorothy passed peacefully one winter evening in her sleep. She was well into her 80s. The general store sat empty that summer and many people placed flowers in front of the doors in memory of that sweet woman and the little general store she loved. And then as if it simply could no longer be without her anymore, the general store itself caught fire the following winter. A faulty heating system was blamed, but somewhere inside one might imagine that little store mourned for Miss Dorothy and her legacy there. Knowing it never wanted to be known as anything less than Miss Dorothy’s General Store, it followed quickly behind her.

      This winter they finished tearing it down. Filling in the basement and hauling away the old time refrigerator where we all picked out our cream soda pops every week. I had an inclination and rested my hand on the huge machine –the memories were overwhelming as they flooded in. It was hard to drive by those weeks as little by little the pieces were taken away. A smallIMGP1831 doll on the shelf amidst the rubble brought tears to my eyes. But when it was all gone and the lot was cleared and strikingly empty, we gathered there at the corner and our hearts were filled with love for that sacred piece of ground. And though we couldn’t see the old gas pumps, the screen door, or Dorothy’s face through the glass—it was all still there. And always will be. Thanks for the memories Dorothy. Heaven needed a good little General Store….

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