The following article was recently published in the June issue of The Stockman Grassfarmer.

Grassfed Critics Are Ignoring Methane Eating Soil Microbes

LOVELAND, Colorado: Beef cattle belch out tons of methane. Some studies claim cows account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

  And, it turns out that grassfed cows belch more than their grainfed cousins, a fact that gladdens the hearts of feedlot owners seeking a patch of moral high ground on which to plant a green flag.

  Now along comes Bill McKibben to snatch the flag back for the grass-feeders. (“The Only Way to Have a Cow” by Bill McKibben. Orion Magazine, March/April 20I0).

  How is it, he asks, that vast herds of wild ruminants never burped the skies full of methane in days of old? The answer, he claims, is methane eating soil microbes.
Read more on Git Along Little Microbes…

Abert’s squirrels are about as beautiful as rodents get. They are about the size of their cousins the fox squirrels that are so conspicuous along the Big Thompson at Sylvan Dale, but they are jet black or salt-&-pepper gray in color, and sport magnificent ear tufts.


These are southwestern mammals, ranging from Durango, Mexico, to northern Colorado. The animals depend on ponderosa pines for their livelihood. They eat pine seeds and the inner bark of young branches. Nests in ponderosa pines are built of pine branches and needles. The squirrels can be very difficult to spot, but listen for the scratch of claws on bark as they scamper up a tree to gather food and building materials.

Also, look for tufts of green needles on the forest floor. Then look for 1- to 2-inch chunks of barkless twig, about the diameter of a pencil. These are called “pine cobs” by Abert’s squirrel aficionados; they are the leftovers from squirrels’ snacking on pine bark! The animals are active year around, and both the squirrels and their sign are particularly conspicuous on snowy slopes during winter.


They seem to like larger trees best. They are present in the heavy timber of the hidden valleys on Alexander Mountain, up Sulzer Gulch, and especially at Cow Camp. Abert’s squirrels are one more great reason to get into Sylvan Dale’s back country—on an overnight pack trip as a summer guest or as an Adventure Rider…or both!

Dave Armstrong
Resident Naturalist–Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

We’re pleased to announce that David Jessup has been chosen for a fellowship awarded by Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation. David was selected as one of the five “conservation practitioners” to take part in the program. A total of only eighteen fellowships were awarded.

David Jessup is co-owner of Sylvan Dale Ranch, a 3,500-acre working dude ranch west of Loveland that raises grass-fed beef for local sale. Jessup’s fellowship will allow him to test two soil restoration strategies, mob grazing and compost tea application on an irrigated hay field where decades of hay removal has depleted the soil. Working with university and government collaborators, he will measure changes in soil quality indices and analyze the potential value of these improvements for a ranchland ecosystem services market for Colorado and the Western United States. His report will be applicable to soil restoration, conservation and grazing land management for private and public lands” (

Warner College Collaborative Conservation Fellows
Photo credit:

Read the full article

Wow, what a great day birding!

The “Birding The Big Thompson” monthly bird walk series had a special outing here at the ranch. The day broke, gray and beautiful with gently falling snow. Typical weather for April in Colorado. We tallied over 30 species of birds! Many of our participants saw new “life birds”, meaning it was the first time ever that they saw a specific species!

One of the highlights of the day was a Broad-winged Hawk with prey – an unfortunate Black-billed Magpie. Another was the gorgeous flock of Western Bluebirds – joined by one Mountain Bluebird.

Read more on When It Snows, There’s Birds!…

Ranch guest Connie Kogler has this to share about yesterday’s bird watching outing at Sylvan Dale on the Simply Birding blog:

Broad-winged Hawk seen during a good day birding

“Today I took a group of thirteen folks out to Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch (private for a birding tour. We had a great day with 30 species found. … We spent about 3 hours browsing the ranch and enjoying the birds and weather” (Connie Kogler).

You can read Connie’s full post and view photos of the birds spotted at Connie’s blog, Birds ‘O The Morning.

Visit our Nature & Birding page for more birding information and to download a checklist of the potential avifauna of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, courtesy of  David M. Armstrong, Sylvan Dale’s Resident Naturalist.

Then come enjoy your own good day birding at Sylvan Dale!

Every day is Earth Day at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch.

In our daily activities we try to keep in mind that this is the first day of the rest of the life of the planet.

This happens in little ways and larger ones. On the personal scale, Team leads and their staffs are sensitive to the “Four R’s”—Refuse-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. This comes naturally at Sylvan Dale. The modern guest ranch operation was founded in 1946 by Maurice and Mayme "Tillie" Jessup, both “children of the Great Depression.” Re-use was simply a matter of survival and recycling earned a few extra pennies.

Read more on Every day is Earth Day!…

We have a couple new calves to add to the proud Heart-J Herd!

The New Two

The first calf is a free-martin and was born on Sunday April, 17th. Her brother was born the next day on Monday.

Come out for our Easter Celebration Brunch and take a hayride to visit them!

You may be interested in a community-wide effort to clean up Loveland area waterways!  COME ON OUT SATURDAY AND BE PART OF A SPECIAL PROJECT!  Sylvan Dale Ranch is once again joining the Big Thompson Watershed Forum’s 2011 Annual Spring Waterway Clean-up this Saturday, April 16th from 9:00am to Noon.  The City of Loveland is hosting other groups in other areas – but if you’d like to help on the Big Thompson River near the ranch, call 970-667-3915 and we’ll give you the meet-up info.  Here is a shot of ranch friends and neighbors, Connor and John, smiling with their efforts last year on a beautiful stretch of river.  More than 250 volunteers of all ages gathered up 10 tons of trash last year!  Let’s beat our own record!

Filed under Green Practices by on #

BRAVO! Sylvan Dale is thrilled to learn that the former HP/Agilent campus in Loveland has been chosen as the location for the new Colorado-based Aerospace and Clean Energy Manufacturing and Innovation Park.

HP/Agilent Technologies Inc. campus in Loveland, CO
HP/Agilent Technologies Inc. campus in Loveland, CO. Photo credit:
Google Maps

We applaud all those who worked so hard to bring this exciting project, called “the biggest economic development initiative in Colorado in at least a quarter century” (Tom Clark, Metro Denver EDC) to our home town!

Read more on Yay ACE! (Aerospace Clean Energy)…

Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion

It was Christmas night, around ten-twenty in the evening when Scott Atchison, executive Chef at Sylvan Dale, was getting ready to let out “Forrest”.

Forrest is Scott’s 55 pound Border Collie who was sporting a brand new blinking collar (because black dogs are awfully hard to see in the dark of the night). Forrest usually waits to be let out — but not this night, the dog ran to the front of the house with Scott following behind.



Once outside Forrest began running about frenetically, the small yellow light on his collar blinking and tracing his movements in the darkness while Scott tried to keep the beam of his small flashlight fixed on the dog.

Moments later Scott heard a growl followed by a shrill cry. He looks to see the source of the strange squeal but his small flashlight was insufficient to illuminate the area. He sees clearly enough however to view a mountain lion as it heads toward the river.

Mountain Lion at Sylvan Dale

Mountain Lion at Sylvan Dale

Scott rushed inside to retrieve a ‘real’ spotlight, one of those light up the night rigs and goes looking for the Cat. He headed back to the location where he’d heard the growling and screaming. Approaching the spot, about 10 or 15 feet away, he observed the lion clawing at the wood of the old pump station.

Apparently something startled the cat and it escaped from the area, racing across the frozen river slipping and sliding all the way. Maybe Forrest the alien-looking dog scared it off, but Scott figured the wild cat was just trying to get away and decided it was a good idea to do the same!

Scott reports the lion appeared to be younger, perhaps about a year old and weighing around 100lbs. “Good thing it ran the other way,” says Scott, “because with my worn knees, I don’t run so well!”

View photos of mountain lion near Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch


You’re likely familiar with the Loveland Valentine re-mailing program for which Loveland, Colorado is famous:

Loveland is perhaps best known nationwide as the home of the “Valentine Re-Mailing Program”. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Valentines are packaged inside larger envelopes and sent to Loveland, where volunteers hand-stamp them with a Valentine’s verse and send them on to the intended recipients. Each year a contest is held by the Chamber of Commerce and promoted through through the local newspaper, the Reporter Herald, for residents to submit their designs and verses. — With Love From Loveland

You may not be aware however that Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch has been treating valentines to our legendary hospitality just as long as the city of Loveland has been operating it’s legendary letter re-mailing program, (1946-2011).

Read more on Sharing an Anniversary for Valentine’s…

OH SNAP! Dreams do come true

Sylvan Dale finally gets a real dose of snow today and it looks as though the white stuff will stay around for a while with colder temperatures expected.

The ranch takes on an especially romantic atmosphere when the white snow blankets the turf, tracing the tree branches with a silvery sheen.

Although it was still overcast, we captured a couple shots of the property this morning and will try to get out to grab some more as the day progresses.

Hopefully the late day will provide better lighting of the gorgeous landscape. Check back later today to see them!

Snow Falls at SDR, New Year's Eve Eve 2010

Read more on I’m Dreaming of a White December 30th!…