First came the massive torrent that ripped through our beloved Sylvan Dale Ranch during the pre-dawn hours of Friday, September 13. Linda and I, and Susan and her Dave, couldn’t believe our eyes. How could another "500-year storm" happen only 37 years after the one that menaced our parents, Maurice and Mayme Jessup? This time, unbelievably, the destruction was even greater than the famous flood of 1976.

View the full letter, photos, and video at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch blog.

Big Thompson River by Jessup Lodge

Big Thompson River by Jessup Lodge

Want to help? Consider a donation to the Sylvan Dale Ranch Recovery Fund

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By David Jessup

On the final night of Sylvan Dale Ranch’s Native American Week a few years ago, Gray Wolf presented one of our young guests with a cobalt necklace he had owned for many years.  Gray Wolf is a Northern Cheyenne who hosts a special program each year at our “tipi camp.”  The guest was a sixteen-year-old girl who had spent the week here with her mother.  Several times during the week she had treated her mother with disrespect.  Up at Cow Camp she actually called her mother a B—-.  One of the wranglers picked up on this and asked Gray Wolf if he might talk to the girl.  Read more on Gray Wolf and the Cobalt Necklace…

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By David Jessup

Grass-fed beef is more expensive than grain-fed, feedlot beef.  At least that’s been the pattern until recently.  Now, it appears, the price gap is narrowing. 

Consumers have been able to partially overcome the price difference by buying grass-fed beef in bulk directly from ranchers.  By purchasing a whole, half, quarter, or eighth, you save between 15 to 26 percent of the cost of individual cuts and an even greater percent over what you would pay for grass-fed beef at the grocery store. Often friends and family will split a bulk purchase to get the best value. (We call it “cow-pooling.”) Read more on Why is Grass-fed Beef More Expensive? Or is it?…

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By David Jessup

Here is an account I wrote in August, 2010, worth posting now that I have a blog!

I caught the biggest trout I ever caught in the Big Thompson River yesterday.  Twenty-one inches.  A huge, fat rainbow, like one from our trophy lakes. 

That big boy came out of the stretch of river in the lower valley where it slows into a riffle above the irrigation dam.  It was about 7 pm.  The slanting light from the setting sun lit up every bug like a firefly, including my size 16 royal trude.  The cliffs above were ablaze, and it was hard to not look at them instead of focusing on the end of my line. Read more on Moby Trout…

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By David Jessup

Time Magazine calls it the “next food frontier.”  Consumer demand for grass-fed beef is growing at a rate of 20% a year.  People are catching on that beef from grass-fed cattle is lower in saturated fat and higher in Omega-3 anti-oxidant vitamins than meat from their grain-stuffed, feedlot raised cousins. 

But there is a potential problem.  Grass-fed beef can sometimes be tough.  Some producers make this a virtue by labeling it “lean.”  But according to Alan Nation, the Johnny Appleseed of grass-fed beef, the product will never realize its potential until better quality and consistency is achieved. 

If we lived inFrance orArgentina, where people tend to slow-cook their meat, it might not be such a problem.  But here people like fast-cooked, seared meat.  Tender, juicy and well-marbled.  Is there a tradeoff between health and edibility?  Read more on The Grass-feeders Dilemma…

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By David Jessup

Our beautiful Big Valley used to suffer from cow pie pileup.  Mounds of manure, all deposited in one place.  Well, three places really, but concentrated in those spots to such a degree that the beautiful native grass couldn’t survive.  I call them kill zones.  They blighted six to eight acres in total.

One such bovine bathroom was in a little swale on top of the Big Valley East Ridge.  A beautiful spot, rimmed on the north and south with ponderosa-covered sandstone cliffs.  The great plains stretch away to the east; the snow-coveredMummyRangelooms to the west.  A picnic place, a destination.  Except for the cow pies.   The manure reached a foot deep in some places.  Instead of western wheat grass, blue grama and wildflowers, the place became infested with weeds – ragweed, pigweed, Russian thistle.  They grow as high as your armpit. 

Why did our cows chose such a place to defecate?  Our herd – 60 cows, 2 bulls, 25 steers and 15 replacement heifers, spend October through February in theBigValley.  Read more on Cow Pie Pileup – Is it Natural?…

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By David Jessup

The recent furor over “pink slime” – the unappetizing name given by critics to the filler found in most store-bought hamburger – misses an important point:  the real health danger lurks elsewhere.

Pink slime, or “finely textured beef,” as the industry prefers to call it, is made from beef trimmings from slaughterhouses spun in a centrifuge to separate out some of the fat and bathed in ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria.  It makes up over 25% of what you’ve been buying as hamburger in grocery stores and fast-food restaurants.

Ammonium hydroxide raises the Ph level of the meat product from acidic to slightly alkaline, an environment hostile to bacteria such as the E. coli variant that has caused numerous deaths and massive hamburger recalls.

The chemical appears to be harmless – the USDA has pronounced ammonium hydroxide safe, and it’s used in other processed foods.  But no one seems to ask the question, why is the meat so acidic in the first place as to foster bacterial growth?  Read more on “Pink Slime” is the Least of Our Worries…