Hutchinson Homestead

Spring in the Life of a High Country Rancher

Spring is here, and in an agricultural region, an iconic image that heralds this season is baby livestock of all kinds.  Here in Chaffee County, as one travels the county roads, this is most easily seen in the pastures of local cattle ranches, where you’ll find herds of momma cows and their calves, frolicking, nursing, resting in the sunshine. The Hutchinson Ranch is no exception.

Although ranching practices have evolved over time, the heart of ranching has always been caring for animals, producing food, and stewarding the land. New techniques and technologies have made some ranching jobs easier, and yet, many of today’s ranching tools and skills, especially in the high country, are the same as they were over a hundred years ago when the Hutchinsons began ranching.

The year begins with late winter calving when ranchers keep an around-the-clock watch on their pregnant cows and take care of the calves once they are born.  Abby Hutchinson’s (6th generation) herd started calving the end of January, and they are almost done, which Abby states is record time this year! In late spring, new calves are gathered and branded before being moved with their mothers to fatten up in higher mountain pastures. Like 100 years ago, before summer fully arrives, fences will be checked, ditches cleared and pastures prepared for irrigating and growing hay.

Want to be a part of the dedicated and enthusiastic team that helps share this and other Homestead stories to people of all ages?  Become a Homestead Volunteer!  There are many volunteer positions available to fit personal interests and time availability. For more information, click here, or contact Andrea: (719)239-0955 or

Also this year, Abby is arranging a workday to invite people to help clear ditches to prepare for irrigation season.  If you would like to follow in the footsteps of the Hutchinson Family, and participate in a tradition that goes back to the very earliest days of ranching in Chaffee County, please email

Be a part of a lasting agricultural tradition and participate in Spring on the Ranch!

Hutchinson Homestead 2015 Highlights and Winter Kids Quilting Series

I am always so grateful for this time of year, giving us time to pause, take a breath, and reflect on how the past year has gone.  For the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center, what a year it was!

One of the biggest successes of the year came with the completion of an interpretation grant in May 2015. Funding through 23585918884_8a98d2766e_mHistory Colorado State Historical Fund and the National Park Service Save America’s Treasures Program, and a year and a half of work with an amazing interpretation team, saw the design, fabrication and installation of interpretive displays in the Visitor Center, new signage at the site’s entrance, a brochure, website and welcome video.  All of these combined made us truly ‘visitor-ready’.  Since then, over 230 visitors stopped by the HH&LC to learn more about the site and take a tour of the Homestead buildings, to learn their stories and walk in the footsteps of those who have lived and worked here before.  Of those guests, the majority happened to be driving by, saw the sign, and decided to stop in.  Hooray for heritage tourists and the opportunity to share such a unique place with visitors to Chaffee County!

Summer at the HH&LC also resounded with the laughter of children, strains of banjo music, the braying of Delbert the Donkey, and the rustle of pasture grasses as children hiked, explored, and played during our Farmhands Summer Camp programs.  Farmhands programs at the homestead weave together the cultural and agricultural history of the site, traditional homestead skills and current ranching practices.  Children ages 5-12 had the opportunity to work with guest instructors including Abby Hutchinson, several fiber artists, a farrier, blacksmith, leather-worker, beekeeper, large animal vet, historians and cowboys, as well as explore the pastures, irrigation ditches, corrals and Cottonwood groves of the Hutchinson Ranch as part of their camps.  In all, there were 386 student contacts through 6 distinct summer programs/ 24 program days, as well as 115 students through 3 school field trip programs this year.

The success of these programs and tours are due in large part to the time and talent of our volunteers and guest instructors.  Their graciousness in sharing their expertise with children and visitors are what bring the HH&LC to life.  For them, we are truly grateful!

Finally, 2015 saw the transition of the operations and management of the HH&LC from Salida Area Parks, Open Space and Trails (SPOT) to Guidestone.  It is due to SPOT’s fundraising, care and attention, and the support of many individuals and businesses, that the HH&LC is what it is today.  Guidestone is honored to be entrusted with the oversight of the homestead moving forward, and we are thrilled to help bring the HH&LC into this next phase of community engagement, events, programs and celebrations!

pioneer girls samplersAs we dive into the New Year, we are kicking off the programming season with a Friday Enrichment Kids Quilting Series!  Quilting was an important skill on a homestead, and a way to spend time indoors through chilly afternoons. Learn to piece, sew and quilt a small lap quilt in the company of friends, and take home a cozy treasure for the long winter ahead. Designed for ages 9 and up, and all experience levels, participants will join us for 6 Fridays, beginning January 15th! Local quilter, Jodi Poole will help provide instruction as we learn this traditional life skill.  For more info and to Register, Click HERE!

There are many additional programs and events being designed and planned, and we look forward to sharing all of these opportunities in the near future! From the homestead, we wish you a cozy winter, and hope you will visit us sometime in 2016!

NCCC is Here!

Through a partnership with the Conservation Legacy AmeriCorps VISTA Program, Guidestone Colorado has been awarded and will host an AmeriCorps NCCC Team May 17 – June 2. Comprised of nine young adults between the ages of 18-24, the Team will be volunteering their labor to two community sites in Salida that Guidestone Colorado manages: the Salida School Gardens, Holman Ave. Site and the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center on Hwy. 50.

The Team will assist Guidestone Colorado in preparing those two sites for the coming season. At the Salida School Garden, Holman Ave. Site they will be assisting with planting produce, expanding the growing area, and assisting with the fruit tree orchard expansion. At the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center the Team will assist in preparing the grounds and conducting maintenance on the historic buildings in preparations for summer tours and Farmhands Education Programs offered through Guidestone Colorado.

Would you like to meet this amazing group of individuals who are serving our community? Join us May 30 from 10am-2pm for the Adopt a Fruit Tree Salida School Gardens Fundraiser!