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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Dear friends and family,

We hope that this annual dispatch from the frontier finds you well, enjoying the holidays with your loved ones, and reflecting on a well-lived 2011—what a year it's been! 
Matt Barnes, range monitoring,
The Howell Ranch
Professionally, I continued to own and operate Shining Horizons Land Management, LLC, providing ranch and rangeland management for a triple bottom line of ecological, economic, and social resilience.  I managed the Howell Ranch, a seasonal custom-grazing operation with over 400 cow-calf pairs on several thousand acres near Blue Mesa Summit in western Colorado, for a second summer.  I gave presentations about improving grazing management on the ranch at the Society for Range Management annual conference in Montana, and the Colorado Plateau conference in Arizona.  I also spent time at San Juan Ranch in Colorado, and JT Land & Cattle in New Mexico; and found time to participate in the Quivira Coalition and Southwest Grassfed Livestock Alliance, and the International Rangeland Congress in Argentina.  I joined the Rangelands Editorial Board, and am the incoming President-Elect of the Colorado Section Society for Range Management.

I had my first solo photography exhibit at Off the Beaten Path in Steamboat Springs, and finished my third oil painting at Montrose Center for the Arts.
Moving cattle on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, San Luis Valley
(oil painting by Matt Barnes)
Jenny Stricker
Jenny worked as technician for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Kremmling—until last Monday when she accepted a position as an NRCS soil conservationist in San Luis, Colorado–a long-sought step up!  San Luis is the oldest town in Colorado, in the southeast corner of the San Luis Valley—an area rich in culture, history and natural beauty.  The job starts mid-January, so we look forward to brushing up our Spanish and diving into a whole new adventure.  Watch for our new address in January!
San Luis Valley, Colorado

It was a wonderful year for traveling and visiting. We rang in the New Year in Arkansas with Jenny’s sister and family (who also visited us in July in Steamboat Springs). In April, we visited my family near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania—including my brother and sisters, Fritz, Jennifer, and Debbie, and their families. In May, Jenny and her son Leif flew to Holland, Michigan, to visit Jenny’s aunt and uncle, Ellie and Mike Bremer. In June, Jenny and her son Ola attended the Nan Desu Kan anime convention in Denver (where Ola won a standing ovation during a video game tournament). In October, we visited my family in Amagansett, Long Island—my brothers and sisters and mom and dad, Judy and Fred.And, in November, we flew to Seattle to visit Jenny’s cousins, Rich and Paul, and aunt and uncle, Phyllis and Dic Lawson.

Barnes family visit: Jennifer, Fritz & Jamie, Bob & Debbie Parks, Jenny & Matt

Newborn nephew, H. Matthew Johnston
Courtesy Erin (Barnes) Johnston
And, of most blessed fortune, our extended family grew by one this year: Hill Matthew Johnston was born to my sister Erin and her husband Josh in October.
The celebration of birth, of renewal, in myriad forms yet one theme, at this time of year seems universal.  The slow return of Father Sun to Mother Earth has already begun, that unending play of yin and yang, emanation and dissolution, the harmony of the Uni-verse, the One Song.  May all our stars lead to the newborn promise, the one truth of many names, the unity that is beyond names.
Jenny Stricker and Matt Barnes
In beauty and harmony,
with loving-kindness and compassion for all,

Matt and Jenny

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