At Hayes Ranch, seeing red isn't necessarily a bad thing.
That's where you'll find 100 percent registered Red Angus cattle. The ranch is owned by John and Patricia Hayes, who live part time in Chicago. They trust the daily management to Dusty and Radiance Beals.
Radiance is the familiar face on Saturday mornings at the Durango Farmers Market. She prides herself on catering to customers, offering custom cuts and filling orders for both backyard barbeques and large holiday parties.
"I enjoy the interaction with customers, because I feel the product we raise and sell is of high quality and is unique."
The Red Angus breed originated in Europe, according to some authorities, as a crossbreeding of dun-colored cattle brought by invading Norsemen with aboriginal black Celtic cattle along the coasts of England and Scotland. The naturally hornless (polled) breed has been regarded in the U.S. as two separate breeds, depending on their color. In the early 1900s, black was arbitrarily chosen as the proper color for the breed, excluding the red offspring, the product of a recessive gene.
In the 1950s, the Red Angus of America Association was founded, after cattlemen in the U.S. recognized the benefits of various traits that came from selecting the red-colored progeny. Gaining popularity worldwide, the Red Angus is often used in cross breeding as a "genetic dehorner," because the polled gene is a dominant trait. They also calve easily, are described as having uniformity, outstanding appetite and good dispositions.
Hayes Ranch, located seven miles south of Hesperus, is managed by Dusty Beals, whose grandfather ranched in Lewis and Dove Creek and instilled in his grandson a love of ranching. The physical nature of the job is the most rewarding.
"Dropping exhausted into bed at the end of the day, knowing I put in an honest days' work is a satisfying feeling."
The couple enjoy working together and raising their two daughters to be "fine little cowgirls." The ranch currently has 45 head of mother cows and approximately 15 bulls that are also marketed as high- altitude breeding stock. Breeding is done at the ranch; no starter calves are brought in, allowing them to select for the traits they desire most. Pastures are rotated, and the cattle are grain-finished using a mixture of corn, cottonseed hulls, fish oil, vitamins and minerals. The animals are butchered locally at Sunnyside Meats at 14-18 months, a reflection of their attention to quality over quantity.
"Customers have described our beef as buttery, juicy and sweet," said Radiance Beals.
The ranch offers various cuts of beef, including all-beef sausage and brats with intriguing flavors such as chipotle Creole. The products can be found locally at the Durango Farmers Market, Kennebec Café's menu, Hesperus Oasis and directly from the ranch. To learn more about Hayes Ranch, visit http://hayes ranches.com/.
Marje Cristol owns Linnaea Farm in Durango and sells cut flowers and goat-milk cheeses. She also serves on the Durango Farmers Market board. Reach her at 946-2712 or marje@LinnaeaFarm.com.