Utilizing Our Local Ingredients: Embracing Fat

Posted in Ranch Report

At ACES’ Rock Bottom Ranch, live remarkably happy and healthy pigs. They spend their days wallowing in baths of cool mud or grazing in the pastures. They are given respect and attention by the steady flow of staff and visitors that frequent their domain, and used as educational tools to demonstrate to the public the importance of preserving heritage breed pigs.

In the Woodpile

While splitting some aspen on Sunday I came across a perfect circular hole the diameter of my finger in one of the cut ends. A strike with the maul and the wood split along the hole. Inside was what looked like a green leafy cigar divided into six sections. In each chamber a leaf-cutter bee larva (genus Megachile) is overwintering. Inside it is nourished by pollen ball provided by the female who dug the cavity, cut the leaves, and laid the eggs. Leaf-cutting bees are solitary bees unlike hive forming honey bees and yellow jackets.

The Mind of Big Willy

Posted in Ranch Report

As we hear reiterated at many a ranch educational program, fall is a time of harvest. We collect apples from trees, pumpkins from the vine, dig potatoes and carrots, and so forth. On our field programs, students join in for cider pressing. They take turns spinning the crank of the apple-crusher, and all sing the song: “This the way we crush our apples, on an autumn day.” Next we turn the topmost crank, and the press mashes the fruits.. “This is the way we press our apples...” And the sweet cider oozes out. Meanwhile, a 600-pound beast watches.

Small and Savage

Posted in Ranch Report
Napoleon the Rooster

Among the egg-laying hens, there lives a one-pound rooster with 100 pounds of testosterone.  He has become known as Napoleon, for want of a better name.  Rarely does five minutes pass without the little bantam unleashing his high and squawking crow. The full-size chickens, turkeys, and peacock are like giants next to him.  Nonetheless, Napoleon walks with the pride of a king.

Goat Families and Inherited Traits, Apollo seeks a home

Posted in Ranch Report

Rock Bottom Ranch staff make regular visits to Basalt and Crystal River Elementary Schools, to teach our famous programs.  Currently, I contribute by designing fourth grade lessons.  Our education programs are designed to meet life and earth science curriculum standards, with a special focus on ecology and the environment.  Additionally, it has been a goal of mine to integrate our classroom programs more closely to the ranch and sustainable agriculture.  I have also wanted to bring more art and cartooning into our card, as those are areas in which I have special training

Indian Summer

Posted in Ranch Report
Rock Bottom Ranch Lake

Its Indian Summer here at Rock Bottom Ranch, and the weather has been beautiful! Harvest is definitely in full swing! The garden has been cranking out green beans and squash, and the pasture has been fattening our final batch of meat birds.


Freedom Rangers in the Land of Dragons

Posted in Ranch Report
Freedom Rangers

Rock Bottom Ranch is featured in the fall issue of Edible Aspen Magazine!

Herdin' Pigs at RBR!

Posted in Ranch Report

As the summer winds down at Rock Bottom Ranch, the number of families traipsing through the ranch dwindles, fewer and fewer chickens dot the fields, and the prolific growth of the pastures slows.

The Tireless Toad


A few weeks ago Howie, Kevin and I climbed Ashcroft Mountain. The hike was beautiful, the views were great and my peanut butter and banana sandwich at the summit was delicious. There were tons of awesome finds along the way, what may have been a bears den, some spectacular lodgepole pines, Howie narrowly avoiding an old tree crashing into his head and then later almost stepping on an elk calf and even some big cat tracks. But on the ascent down I made a find that trumps all the others. I know... at this point you are thinking that this day most certainly cannot get much better.

Castle Creek Spring

Castle Creek

After a long winter, evidence left by local animals is beginning to show. With a receding snow pack, new animal signs are uncovered everyday.

One of the most common signs is the elk chew. When the snow is high and forage is buried, elk (Cervus elaphus) rely on the living bark of Aspens for sustenance. I can only assume this grove of Aspens off Castle Creek Road was given the attention of a herd for a good amount of time. These scars will remain far longer than the lifespan of an elk and this grove will bear the mark of a hungry herd for decades to come.