The Villard Ranch sheep operation is run by, well...The Villards! There are six of us and we all pitch in!
Albert has been in the sheep business all his life. As soon as he was old enough to hit the trail and help his Grandma, Dad and Uncle he did. Summers off of school were spent laming, haying, fencing and herding. He did attend a trade school for diesel mechanics after high school which has come in handy. He was then called back home to help out. So after doubling up classes to graduate early he came home and worked the next almost 10 years beside his Dad and Uncle. Grandma Villard was an inspiration to the family to say the least. She was forced to make some hard decisions after the death of her husband in 1929, shortly after purchasing the core of the Colorado ranch. She had children of her own as well as siblings to raise. All during a time of turmoil between the cattle and sheep MEN of the time. Being a sheep rancher at the time was one strike, a woman doing it was another. She not only withstood those harsh times, she flourished. At her retirement she passed along a strong heritage to her surviving sons to carry on. They too kept the ranch a viable and flourishing operation with hard work and a love of the land.
In 1992 Albert became his Father's partner. All the work grooming him for the job paid off. They were able to work side by side with a closeness that came from the same passion for what had been instilled in them practically from birth. His father's retirement in 1998 was a time of mixed emotions. He certainly deserved the rest from the hard work, but his being by our side in the daily operations is sorely missed. There is much knowledge to still be gained from our elders! Although the rest of us do pitch in the bulk of the work rests squarely on Albert's shoulders. His passion for the land, the livestock and his family make every day worth all the toils. Our strong sense of the heritage we hope to pass on keeps it all in perspective.
The "Boss" of the outfit used to be mom...now, four kids later...I'm not the boss of anything anymore!!! We have four lovely children. The oldest a boy with two sisters close together in the middle and of course the baby girl. All of the older kids helped with chores, feeding and watering animals and cleaning up too. When ranch events take place the kids are there to pitch in. We also have the support of some wonderful family members and friends. Ma & Pa Villard are still missed in every aspect of the ranch operations. They were always available to share knowledge and encouragement. Grandma Bonnie was always up for another road trip, to anywhere! Melody's mom, the Damn Grandma, grew to enjoy her time during lambing and helping with the ranch before passing too soon in 2015. The knowledge, support, friendship and laughter they provided is sorely missed.
We enjoy having the family work along side of us. Spring and Summer gatherings tend to be social events of the year for us as well. Our oldest, who graduated and went on to become a certified welder, comes home to help as much as he can. The three girls still help with all of our ranch operations and there is much joy in working next to these amazing humans.
Vacations are usually out of the question but the family and friends that pitch in for gathering, docking and shipping give us the much needed "lighter side" of life! We enjoy friends from all walks of life who come and help on the ranch as well. We welcome everyone. Some come as friends, but everyone leaves as family.