Mountain Ranches of Western Colorado

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“The ranches where Michael Crouser so affectionately captures these scenes tell a story of staying power, of joy in the beauty of the world, of gratitude for the working animals—the dogs and the horses—of midwifery and husbandry, of seeing the seasons through. . . . It is a pleasure to be brought into this out-of-the-way part of the world with such understated passion.”
—Gretel Ehrlich, from the foreword

We have a special room set aside in the Main House at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Named after the founder of the ranch, the Marie Guiraud Ranching Library will house books on the history of ranching, along with volumes on ranching practices worldwide. We’re excited to add Michael Crouser’s new book, Mountain Ranch to our always growing collection!

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The mountain ranches of western Colorado preserve a way of life that has nearly vanished from the American scene. Families who have lived on the same land for five or six generations raise cattle much as their ancestors did, following an annual cycle of breeding, birthing, branding, grazing, and selling livestock. Michael Crouser spent more than a decade (2006–2016) photographing family cattle ranches in Colorado, intrigued “not by the ways their lives are changing but by the way they have stayed the same.” He was, he says, “most interested in the traditional elements of these traditional lives, . . . what they call ‘cowboying.’”

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Mountain Ranch’s duotone images capture the raw and basic elements of a hard and basic life.

For more on Michael Crouser’s work, be sure to visit his website. We hope you enjoy this book trailer on Mountain Ranch as much as we do!

Michael Crouser will be discussing and signing copies of his new book at Denver’s Tattered Cover Book Store (Colfax Avenue Store) on Monday, August 21st, 7pm.

Click here for more information!

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Gary Snyder’s Practice of the Wild

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Lawrence Ferlinghetti called Gary Snyder the “Thoreau of the Beat Generation.” He’s that, and after a lifetime of poetry, prose, and teaching, he’s become much, much more. His poetry is steeped in the western landscape, but clearly has roots in the traditions of Buddhism, Chinese poetry, and haiku. His major works of prose (A Place in Space and The Practice of the Wild) celebrates the simple act of living in place, no matter where that might be.

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Some have called this poetry collection Gary Snyder’s most personal. It begins with the young poet ascending still dormant Mount St. Helens in 1945, a climb that coincided with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Mountains and Rivers Without End is a book-length poem weaving geology, prehistory, myth, and worldwide spiritual traditions.

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Riprap was Snyder’s first book of poetry, published in 1959. This volume also includes his classic translations of Han Shan’s Cold Mountain Poems. We never pass by a copy of this wonderful book!

Gary Snyder has also collaborated with artist Tom Killion on two classic studies focused on particular landscapes:

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If you would like to learn more about Gary Snyder visit the indispensable Poetry Foundation website (it’s great!), and if you’re looking for a grand overview of his work, take a look at The Gary Snyder Reader: Prose, Poetry, and Translations, 1952-1998.

For now, here’s one of our favorite poems — enjoy!

For the Children

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island

 

A Book-filled Work Day at the Ranch

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Over Memorial Day weekend, Land Library volunteers met at Buffalo Peaks Ranch to gather some (260 to be exact) of our favorite books from the Ranch’s stored collection.

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Book plates were placed & pasted into the chosen books and photographed one by one. We will be finishing up the digital photo sorting and file labeling this week so we can send the photos to our Kickstarter Sponsored Book backers as soon as possible. Other backers can expect to see their sponsored books soon after.

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Each book was placed on an old Singer Sewing table and photographed.

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Another priceless volume from The New Naturalist series!

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A wonderful volume to add to our always growing collection of ranch histories.

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The bookplates will always remind us of the amazing support we’ve received!

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A perfect title for the Cooks House Library, wouldn’t you say?

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We pause a moment every time we see this favorite tome by John Muir.

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A Western classic finds a home at Buffalo Peaks Ranch!

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So many great books on the diverse cultures of the American Southwest.

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Cowboy up!

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We can never pass up a book by, or about, the great conservationist Aldo Leopold.

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A terrific new volume on raptors, or if you like, you can sit on the Main House’s front porch and watch the hawks & falcons soar.

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Raptor, a great title donated by the Gruening Middle School Library in Eagle River, Alaska.

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Ruxton — an early explorer who explored South Park, maybe even parts of the ranch?

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We had a wonderful day, unpacking books and getting them ready for the Cooks House Library’s shelves. THANKS to so many Kickstarter backers who made all of this possible!

 

 

 

The Authentic Underpinnings of Hope

Jean Giono wrote: “There are times in life when a person has to rush off in pursuit of hopefulness.” Well, whenever the Rocky Mountain Land Library rushes off, it’s usually in pursuit of good books. Here’s just a few of our latest arrivals. Somehow each volume answers Wendell Berry’s call: “A part of our obligation to our own being and to our descendents is to study life and our conditions, searching for the authentic underpinnings of hope.”

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The former Mayor of New York City, and the former Director of the Sierra Club team up to explore what a more local approach might mean in our age of climate change, along side Rachel Carson’s classic essay on the intimate joy of observing nature (now in a pocket-sized edition).

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We love David Montgomery’s earlier books, and we can never pass upa new book on soil — or the latest on water in the west!

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A slim volume on the joys of reading from one of our favorite writers, and a new collection of writings from the founding chief of the U.S. Forest Service, edited by Pinchot’s biographer, Char Miller.

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The Peregrine Returns: The Art and Architecture of an Urban Raptor Recovery, featuring the beautiful watercolor paintings of Peggy MacNamara.

Stay tuned for many more posts on great books at the Land Library!

Books, Empathy, and Earth Day 2017

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The Land Library often refers to books as powerful tools to understand the places where we live. Books also seem to be a wonderful repository of empathy for others. Just being surrounded by books, we’re more likely to think beyond ourselves, feel what others might feel, imagine how other species live their lives. Perhaps even imagine the impact we have on our brilliant blue planet.

Here’s one of our favorite passages from Neil Gaiman, as he writes about the importance of books, libraries, and empathy:

For me, closing libraries is the equivalent of eating your seed corn to save a little money. They recently did a survey that showed that among poor white boys in England, 45% have reading difficulties and cannot read for pleasure. Which is a monstrous statistic, especially when you start thinking about it as a statistic that measures not just literacy but also as a measure of imagination and empathy, because a book is a little empathy machine. It puts you inside somebody else’s head. You see out of the world through somebody else’s eyes.

We love the spark of other lives that books such as these provide:

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Empathy, joy and understanding gained from wildlife across the globe, and from around our neighborhoods!

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With curiosity as our compass, we have a world to explore, sometimes just a few inches from our eyes.

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Many an artist has found beauty in the simplest shapes on the landscape.

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A sense of wonder, that sparks both empathy and poetry. Laying the seeds for love and concern for the planet on which we live.

We hope you have a wonderful Earth Day this Saturday, with time outdoors, perhaps a book at night. What will the year ahead be for our planet, and what can we do to help steer a good course ahead?

The Important Work of Daydreaming

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A Good Place to Daydream? Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park, Colorado. photo by Jay Halsey

In 2013, author Neil Gaiman delivered a speech at the Barbican Centre in London. The second annual Reading Agency Lecture was titled Reading and Obligation. Neil Gaiman’s words on the power of books, libraries, and reading has guided the Rocky Mountain Land Library ever since.

Here’s just a short passage that we especially love!

“We all — adults and children, writers and readers — have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair….This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city exists because, over and over and over, people imagined things. They daydreamed, they pondered….

And then, in time, they succeeded. Political movements, personal movements, all began with people imagining another way of existing.” — Neil Gaiman, from his Reading Agency Lecture, October 14, 2013

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Author Neil Gaiman at his writing desk

The Land Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch will always be a place to ponder, to daydream and, of course, to read.  As Neil Gaiman writes: “Books are the way we communicate with the dead. The way we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.

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“They daydreamed, they pondered…”  Buffalo Peaks Ranch with Reinecker Ridge in the distance.  photo by Carl Young

Books + Land + (the missing piece we’re all working toward)

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University of Colorado’s School of Architecture graduate students beginning their design work at Buffalo Peaks Ranch.

We love Mark Wren, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library is incredibly fortunate to have him on our Board of Directors. Mark is well-known in the book world, serving as a sales representative for Texas Bookman for many years. He just sent this wonderful note off to friends, and we had to share it with the world!

Mark really captures the urgency (and OPPORTUNITY) coming up in the last 9 days of our all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign:

Dear Friends,

I would like to give you an update on our Kickstarter campaign for the Rocky Mountain Land Library.  We’re at an exciting stage with our efforts in getting the first building completely rehabilitated and renovated, so we can add the most important element – people!

This will allow us to fill in our missing element:   Books + Land + PEOPLE = the most amazing space and experience.

To all of you who have already pledged on our Kickstarter page – THANK YOU!  To my friends who are still thinking about making a pledge, please know that your pledge is so important.  We all know our world is changing so much, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library is a special place that will allow us to reconnect, reenergize, and revitalize our connections to the land, to the printed word, and to each other.  Ultimately, is there anything more important?

Please visit our Kickstarter page to learn more, and know that I’m here to answer any questions you may have.  Our leaders Jeff Lee and Ann Martin are a constant source of inspiration, and we have them to thank for their vision and amazing commitment.  I hope one day we can all gather at the ranch and celebrate together, with books in our hands, stars in the sky above, and friendship & fellowship with each other.  Thank you – happy pledging, AND reading!

We have 9 days left to go, and we’re more than half way to our goal – so the remaining days are so important!

Link to the Rocky Mountain Land Library Kickstarter page

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All my best,
Mark
Mark Wren, board member

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Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!