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How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch - The Rest of the Herd!

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6/24/2023, By Julie Van Hise


Hi! I'm Julie Van Hise. My husband, Chris, and I are 1st generation ranchers and owners of 4 Bear Ranch - a ranch that not only provides for our family but provides for the local community as well. In 2017, we bought our home unknowing of what it would transform into in 4 short years. From mountain wilderness to mountain ranch wilderness - we have lovingly worked hard in building our dream! How did we get here? Starting a Ranch when we didn't know we wanted a ranch? It's actually kind of strange really...we thought we were good for animals. But, higher powers thought differently. Remember the ranch in Clinton where we got Uptown Girl, renamed to Lucy Lulu? Well, their lives completely changed resulting in changes with their ranch, and ending with changes to our ranch!

On November 6th, 2021...we received the rest of the herd! Pure bred Dexter cattle: 1 Bull, 2 Pregnant Cows, and 1 Steer Calf. That brought us to a total of 7 cattle! 7!!! The herd also came with 11 chickens...and a chicken plucker!!! We can honestly not wait to use this chicken plucker!! After the last turkeys we processed, our fingers were so sore! My husband kept complaining that he couldn't move his hands and that his fingers hurt...maybe processing 6 large turkeys in a day was a bit aggressing, but it needed to be done!

And a couple months after this, another social media post kept surfacing from the same friends...and yup, we needed her too. Another adventure: Livestock Guardian Dog! Yup, that's right, we were so fortunate to have the opportunity to buy Nala, our loving Pyrenese Merema Shepherd mix that is not only loving to us, but also our neighbors, and all of our livestock and theirs as well. She has chased bears and lions, plays with the pigs, keeps the chickens and turkeys safe, and now even barks at the ravens, hawks and eagles swooping down to get the birds.

It is funny how things happen in life. How changes in some peoples' lives present opportunities in others. We are all on a journey in which who we meet along the way can certainly be a much larger impact than simply buying a heifer calf a few months prior. The ranch owner remembered us and our plans for the future of our ranch, and we of course, remembered him and his wonderful family. As he and his family were potentially leaving the cattle journey, we were just beginning ours. As the rest of the story goes, our paths crossed, and we made new friends (of which we are very grateful) and finished getting what we needed for the ranch. After all, what else could we possibly need to complete our developing vision for the ranch?

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