Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the bath/kitchen facility is progressing nicely and OLT received a grant from Saguache County to defray some of the costs toward building a methane digester sewage treatment system instead of a conventional septic system.
In the next several years, the plan is to restore hayfields and improve dry-land pasture for cattle. The hayfields need tending and water. The initial investment will largely be in straight pipe, valves, and gated pipe to distribute the water to an increasing acreage with a target of 55 acres of hayfield irrigated by this method. Irrigated hayfields in 2013 and 2014 totaled 8 acres. In 2013 and 2014, the cutting and baling of the native grass hay was contracted. Ideally, OLT would have the equipment and do that work in-house.
2015 will be the third year of a partnership with an organic beef producer from Chaffee County; Arrowpoint. Cattle will be used to restore the grazing acreage to a healthier state with planned impacts to introduce more organic material into the soil to improve soil ecology with a more concentrated but shorter interval of hoof impact to stimulate the growth of grasses and forbs. If you haven't had a chance to taste the beef produced, it is available at the Welcome Center.
We are exploring raising Black Hogs on a small scale to diversify the soil restoration species that will help improve soil health and mitigate weeds and invasive plant species.
A few of the historic structures at the Everson Ranch have gotten attention. Their decay has been arrested and their structural integrity shored up. We'd like to keep working on the interiors to provide acceptable accommodations for volunteers and other visitors. The aforementioned bath/kitchen is a new structure (initiated in 2013) built to provide a facility for sanitation and cooking. This infrastructure is necessary before asking for volunteers and/or paid ranch hands. The metal storage container, brought in during the summer of 2014, is being fitted as grain storage and inventory storage for a shop that has been approved by TNC.