WHAT DOES A MODERN-DAY COWBOY LOOK LIKE? WHAT DEFINES THEIR PERSONALITIES AND THEIR CHARACTER? WHAT DRIVES THEM AND WHAT WORRIES THEM?

 

NESTLED BETWEEN THE SAN JUAN RANGE TO THE EAST AND THE SANGRE DE CRISTO MOUNTAINS TO THE WEST LIES THE BLUE RANGE RANCH AND THE WHITTEN FAMILY. GEORGE WHITTEN IS THE ORIGINAL COWBOY, BORN AND RAISED ON THIS LAND. GEORGE WAS EVERYTHING I EXPECTED FROM A MODERN-DAY COWBOY, AND MORE. HE HAD A SLOW, DEEP, SOOTHING VOICE AND CALM DEMEANOR. HIS HANDS COULD FIX ANYTHING; STEADY AND STRONG, AND HIS MIND WAS HUNGRY AND YOUTHFUL. HE HAD A STRONG COMPASS FOR RIGHT AND WRONG AND BELIEVES IN THE PROPER WAY OF DOING THINGS. WE TALKED RELIGION, CULTURE AND TRAVEL OFTEN.

HIS WIFE JULIE IS AN ENERGETIC, VEGAN “HIPPIE FROM CALIFORNIA”. HER SMILES IS BROAD AND GENUINE AND HER EYES CARRY WARMTH AND LAUGHTER. AN UNEXPECTED BALANCE ONCE, BUT MAYBE THE PERFECT FIT FOR A MODERN-DAY COWBOY. ONCE THEY MARRIED GEORGE WENT ORGANIC. HOLISTIC LAND MANAGEMENT AND HUMANE TREATMENT OF THEIR ANIMALS ARE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THEIR STORY. SO ARE THE BURDENS OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND DROUGHT, AND THE CHALLENGES FACING A SMALL, FAMILY OWNED, GRASS-FED RANCH COMPETING WITH THE LARGER SUPER-RANCHES.

DREW, A 24-YEAR-OLD CALIFORNIA BOY FROM THE BAY AREA, HAD BEEN AN APPRENTICE WITH THE WHITTEN RANCH FOR EIGHT MONTHS WHEN WE MET HIM. HE HAS A RUGGED BOYISH CHARM AND A PASSION FOR PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE, A RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATE HE PREFERRED TO WORK WITH HIS HANDS AND BEGAN AN APPRENTICE PROGRAM TO LEARN FARMING AND RANCHING. HE HOPES TO ONE DAY OPEN HIS OWN RANCH.