Caretaking: A way of life - Profile of Glen Horton III
Date of Birth: February 6, 1952
Interests: Nature study, camping, woodcrafting, photography, metaphysics, writing, reading, gardening, watching the sunrise and sunset.
Quote: "Caretaking is much more than a job - it is an attitude, an ethic, a way of relating to all of life, and a way of living in harmony with the earth."
A view of Glen at the ranch
Glen works on the 1,000-acre Brush Creek Ranch, at an elevation of 8,000' in the Gore Range of Colorado.
Prior to caretaking, Glen had been a Park Ranger in Northern Michigan and was the steward-owner of Homeland Nature Sanctuary, a small nature sanctuary, retreat and campground. He has also restored a derelict farmhouse and surrounding land into a comfortable and productive organic homestead.
Caretaking and land stewardship are not new concepts to Glen, who grew up on a farm once owned by his great grandfather. The two adjacent farms had been lovingly cultivated and cared for by generations of Hortons. From a very early age, the "caretaker attitude" was instilled in Glen by his parents and carries on to this day.
Although his responsibilities at Brush Creek include general ranch labor such as fixing and building fences, tending irrigation ditches, haying, and working with the livestock, Glen says that much of what he does at the ranch is land stewardship: helping to preserve and maintain the land for future generations. According to Glen, "The ranch owner and manager are both very environmentally conscious and the ranch is run as holistically as possible."
Practicing holistic resource management on a ranch means considering every decision in relation to the whole. For example, reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals and, instead, using beneficial insects to restore and maintain the health of crops. Holistic management also means living with the wildlife rather than fighting it.
The ranch's high location makes for a very short growing season. The only crop produced is grass-hay which is cultivated on 400 irrigated acres. Because of this summer's drought conditions, it took some creative efforts on Glen's part to keep the hay crop healthy and viable until harvest time. When harvest time came, in mid-July, Glen, his boss and a co-worker worked dawn-to-dusk 32 days straight without a full day off.
Glen sees his job as an opportunity to learn valuable new skills, especially in the area of practical land management experience. He also explains that, out of practical necessity, his mechanical skills have expanded tremendously.
Glen describes his favorite piece of ranch equipment, "A '56 Ford Series 600 tractor. I practically grew up on a '52 Ford 8N, so the ranch's '56 is like an old friend. It's a cranky temperamental old beast but once I learned its foibles, we got along just fine."
Glen lives seven miles north of the ranch in a small (14' x 16') cabin situated on a mountain reservoir. There is no 110 volt electricity in the cabin so Glen runs 12 volt lights and uses Coleman appliances. When describing his living situation Glen says, "From my front porch I can see some awesome sunrises and sunsets. The mountains across the lake explode in dramatic color and texture under certain lighting conditions."
Glen is compensated on an hourly basis. As he explains, "I'm not becoming rich in a monetary sense from my earnings but the satisfaction and rewards that come from working in an incredibly beautiful environment doing vigorous, healthful work - and not having to punch a clock - can't be measured."
In summarizing his experience at Brush Creek Ranch, Glen states, "I feel that the practical land management experience I'm acquiring here at Brush Creek, combined with that which I've garnered in the past, is making me a very well-rounded earth steward-caretaker. This collection of experiences will be a tremendous asset when a more permanent caretaking position presents itself in the future."
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