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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice, Christmas, and New Year Wishes

Greetings everyone,

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the holiday season.

It has been quite an eventful year, especially professionally. In February, I co-organized a rancher-oriented session on sustainable grass-fed livestock production at the international Society for Range Management conference hosted by the Colorado Section in Denver. In April I left the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service after five good years to start my rangeland and ranch planning, monitoring, management and consulting business, Shining Horizons Land Management, LLC. A week later, Jenny accepted a full-time permanent position in the NRCS Kremmling Field Office, taking over my old desk and truck, as well as my house.

After visiting the Quivira Coalition's Red Canyon Ranch in Socorro, New Mexico, the Ranney Ranch in Corona, New Mexico, and the 47 Ranch in McNeal, Arizona, I started my first full-time ranch management job with Jim and Daniela Howell (of the Savory Institute) at the Howell Ranch, a seasonal custom grazing operation in Cimarron, Colorado, from May-October. I lived in a one-room cabin on the edge of an alpine meadow, irrigated, fixed fence, and kept most of over four hundred cattle where they were supposed to be.

Since then, I've been based out of Kremmling, staying with Jenny when I'm not on the road; worked a couple of stints with my good friends George Whitten and Julie Sullivan, raising organic grass-finished beef in Saguache, Colorado; and taken my tradeshow booth to the Quivira Coalition's Carbon Ranch conference, and the Colorado Section Society for Range Management and Colorado Division of Wildlife's Habitat Partnership Program annual meetings.

I've reawakened my creative side, including starting this blog for my writing and photography. Jenny and I went to the Confluence literary festival in Moab, Utah, where we hope that some of the writing skill of Craig Childs and Bill DeBuys wore off on us. Jenny is working on her first novel. Over the summer I took an oil painting class with Mary Hill at the Montrose Center for the Arts, where I produced my first two oil paintings; a pencil drawing won an award at the Ute Indian Museum. My photographs are also on Flickr and, as of today, some are in the art gallery at the Mirage Trading Company in Moffat, Colorado.

 Jenny and I had a great visit with my parents, my sister Erin, her husband Josh, and my newest nephew Drew in Dallas, Texas. We've spent time with Jenny's sons Leif and Ola; Jenny's sister Amy, husband Marty, and daughter Sara; and we'll be visiting Jenny's sister Sara and her family over New Year's.

Early this morning I pulled my underwear on and “briefly” stepped out into the cold dark to see the total eclipse of the full moon, a dark peachy-pinkish-red orb hovering next to Orion. Moon, daughter of Earth, daughter of Chaos. A beautiful celestial coincidence to mark the darkest time of year, the fading of the old, and the dawn of the new. It has indeed been a year of new beginnings. Whether you prefer to celebrate new beginnings under the lunar eclipse, full moon, or star of Bethlehem, under the warmth of the Christmas tree, or the shade of the Bodhi tree, I wish you peace, love, and compassion in the new year.