By HANNAH BALLANTYNE/Montana State News
Southeastern Colorado is a land of rolling grass hills and tree-lined creek bottoms. On the Uh-Oh Ranch, 20 miles outside the town of Kiowa, Mindy Bower and her husband Kevin Hall live a life of rewarding sustainability.
Bower is a tall woman with sharp blue eyes and long silver hair that is always neatly braided. Wherever she goes on the ranch, a passel of dogs follows her every step – Australian shepherds, Border collies and colorful mutts with bounding strides and excellent manners.
Horses and dogs, sheep and cattle – these are Bower’s passions and also her livelihood. Her greatest interest however, is the horses. The ranch runs 20 head of horses, the majority of which are outside horses – horses owned by other people that pay her to train, ride and care for them.
These horses include everything from cutting horses to hunter jumpers worth over one hundred thousand dollars. Bower has been riding horses since childhood and training them since her early twenties. People come from all over the country to bring her horses. Other trainers’ call her for advice and she is viewed as a sort of guru by people that are into horses.
Bower’s husband Kevin, is impressed daily by her commitment to what she does.
“She works so hard but to her it isn’t even work, she feels so passionately about training horses and helping people understand their horses better.” Says Kevin Bower, who is a farrier by trade and also very involved in the ranch work.
“I can’t picture myself doing anything else, or living any other way.” says Mindy Bower. “Horses are such a challenge and such a reward. There’s nothing fuzzy or cosmic about working with horses. They’re very practical and you have to approach them that way. They’re also very honest. You get out what you put in and it’s the same with your life.”
Nearly 15 years ago Mindy and Kevin bought the 1,000-plus-acre ranch and made it their home. The ranch has an old log home on it, but the two of them choose to live in an economic Mongolian style yurt, which is filled with books, art and a wood stove.
They have running water pumped into the yurt from a well but don’t use indoor plumbing. Instead, Mindy built an incinerating outhouse, neatly tucked away behind some cottonwood trees.
Rounding out the operation on the Uh-Oh ranch is a herd of cattle and a flock of sheep. Raising grass fed all natural beef and lamb is a vital part of what Bower does and aligns with her philosophy of living in a sustainable way. She supplies local shops and markets with the beef and lamb she raises. And she and her husband get the majority of their food from their own animals and large garden.
“I don’t like to live in excess,” says Bower, “I’m not out to solve any global issues on waste or pollution, I’m just living my life in a way I can be proud of. I think it is important that people be self-reliant and independent and I think that’s something we’re losing in this era. I want to be able to pursue my passions and be a good steward of the land and my livestock.”
– Edited by Rachel Anderson