Meet The Bovines
Meet Uncompahgre Farm’s herd of red and black baldies- bringing together the best qualities of Hereford and Red and Black Angus. A critical aspect of regenerative agriculture is making sure we have the right animals for the pasture- suiting breed, size, and even temperament to the fields and managing them properly to improve the land. The gals are adapted to the high elevations of the Western Slope (necessary to avoid brisket disease), their smaller frames are better suited to being grass-fed and they have a lighter impact on the landscape.
Meet Your Rancher- Caleb Valdez
Born in rural New Mexico, Caleb grew up around livestock as his family trained horses and were farriers and one brother worked on El Sueño Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico. This is where Caleb first developed stockmanship skills, eying the swiveling ears and pounding hoofs of the herd and anticipating how to move them towards the next gate. When Caleb was in third grade, his dad worked a ranch in Northern New Mexico that was so isolated he had to be home-schooled, which in reality meant he spent his days ranching. Eventually they moved to Cortez, CO, where he competed in rodeo, showed steers, and played basketball. Caleb’s nickname on the team was Cowboy, and he can still hear his coach yelling from the bench “Cowboy, Cowboy!” After high school Caleb thought he needed to make something of himself, so he left Cortez, working to pay his way through different universities, eventually langing a career. As the first in his family with a degree and a steady job with benefits, his parents were proud, but the work didn’t excite him- he was caught in those golden handcuffs. Caleb kept punching the clock so he could travel and buy skis and bikes, but his computer felt far removed from the land. Needing a change, he packed up and left for CA in 2018 to be on the Redding Hotshots to fight wildland fire. This was one of the worst fire seasons on record, but the stress of the extreme fire behavior helped him forge lifelong friendships and learn to make decisions quickly. He also finally had enough saved to buy some cattle, suddenly finding himself leading four cows and a bull away from sales on Craigslist, still with a fulltime job and not an acre to his name. For a landless start-up with his savings invested in the herd, Caleb hoped to knit together a pasture rotation by leasing smaller fields owned by community members. That meant some nerve-wracking door-knocking- would folks think this was a hare-brained scheme? Luckily he met Frieda, a spry 87-year-old who’d worked cows, horses, and land all her life, and she took a gamble on him. Her encouragement kept Caleb going, and soon the community-based pasture rotation grew to include land leased from ten other neighbors around Montrose. Just as the herd is growing, so is the Uncompahgre Farms community, and we’re incredibly grateful for the continued support.