Karen and Monty Todd both come from Crawford ranching families. It's a lifestyle they have chosen to do.
Karen Filener Todd's great-grandparents on both her mother's and father's side of the family homesteaded. Her great-grandparents homesteaded the property where rocker Joe Cocker now lives. Her parents sold the property to Steve and Curielle Duffy who split the property in two and sold half to Joe and Pam Cocker. Karen grew up on that property.
Her great-grandparents on the Filener side were Sadie and Ben Head. Their daughter Zyta married Harold Deutsch. Karen's mother was Dixie Deutsch Filener. Karen has one sister and three brothers. One brother is deceased.
On the Filener side of her family Karen's great-grandfather was John Filener. He lived in Crawford. Her grandpa Filener came to the area with a wagon train. He was Frank Filener and was married to Alice Hermance. Grandpa Frank and Karen's uncles worked on the Gould Reservoir. Her Father Franklin Filener married Dixie Deutsch.
Monty Todd's great-grandpa was Dr. Levi Todd who according to a 1995 Fence Post article by Helen Morgan was both the first doctor and proprietor of the first drug store in Hotchkiss. He lived in the home now owned by the Zach Hotchkiss family on Riverside Drive.
Monty's grandpa is John Todd and married Dorothy Davis. Monty's father Larry Todd was born in a log cabin on Fobare Lane. Town of Crawford trustee Hetty Todd is Monty's mother. Monty has one sister and two brothers.
Monty and Karen now ranch on 146 acres raising Angus, Saler and Simmental cattle. The home was built in 1977 by his dad, the same year Monty graduated from Hotchkiss High School. Prior to 1977 Monty and his family lived just northeast of where Karen and Monty live now on Cottonwood Creek Road. One of his dad's brothers is also a doctor, Jim Todd. The rest have been involved in ranching.
Karen's family raised primarily hereford cows, and they always had a few milk cows.
Cattle ranching has been a family tradition that Karen and Monty have wanted to continue.
"Right now cattle prices are good. Usually that's not always the case," Karen said. "You do this because you love it. It's the lifestyle, the independence. Seasons determine what you should or not be doing. You are pretty much your own boss. It's a lifestyle, rather than I'm going to make a million bucks raising cows."
Monty and Karen have six kids. Their son Brady, 19, just graduated from Marine Boot Camp in San Diego on Sept. 9. He is not interested in doing ranching now. He will train to be an airplane mechanic.
"It's hard to say," Monty said when asked if their kids want to continue in ranching. Brady is going in a different direction. Kia Packard, the oldest daughter is 26 and lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband. Amanda Orr, 22, works in Grand Junction. Kristin Orr, 21, is studying nursing at Colorado Mesa University. Lindsey Todd, 17, is a senior at Hotchkiss High School. She is the Delta County Fair Queen and is in FFA. Her goal is to be a national FFA leader. She's active in volleyball, basketball and track. Tristen Todd, 14, is a freshman at Hotchkiss High School. He's in FFA and plays football.
In 2001, Monty told Karen to go to a meeting of the Black Mesa CattleWomen. Today she is president of the organization. Black Mesa CattleWomen promote the cattle industry through education. They have sponsored beef cook-offs at Hotchkiss K-8 and Crawford School. Thewinners have made their dishes at the county fair. Their annual booth at the fair gives information on the health benefits of beef.
This past summer 30 teachers came on an agriculture tour organized by Lanny and Pat Denhan, with the Black Mesa CattleWomen providing the meals. Karen has been asked by a Delta kindergarten teacher, Ann Goehl, and a fourth grade teacher in Bennett, B.J. Bushman, to come present a program on beef to their students. This is an "Adopt A Classroom" program by the Colorado Foundation For Agriculture.
Speaking to classes is something that Karen relishes. Call her at 985-5080 to make an appointment.
Black Mesa CattleWomen are asked on occasion to write letters on issues to senators and representatives. It was in the 1940s when the wives of ranchers who wanted to help promote their husband's product formed the CattleWomen organization.
Currently the officers for Black Mesa CattleWomen are Karen as president, vice-president Chandra Carr, secretary Nancy Carlson, treasurer Pauline Carr, historian Jennetta Broadfoot, and executive board members Dixie Luke and Shirley Cotten. Monita Todd is past president.
It was the charter members' families who established a scholarship fund. Those scholarships are continued today. The group is considering having the scholarships be agriculture related rather than an open scholarship.
Monty jokes that his reason to attend Delta County Livestock Association meetings is to eat the CattleWomen's homemade pies. The Livestock Association presents an annual barbecue at the county fair. They have a banquet in November and a picnic in July. Eating is important to the men and, of course, it promotes their beef products. As vice-president, Monty attends some state events.
Colorado CattleMen's Association represents the ranching industry on state and national issues. They fight for agriculture, land and water issues vital for ranching to continue. They also are for humane treatment of livestock. According to Monty, the U.S. Humane Society has been a thorn in their side concerning ranch practices. Monty believes there are a few "shady ranchers" that give the rest of the ranchers a bad name. He is upset that all the ranchers get ridiculed because of the actions of a few.
The Todds represent a long established family ranching business. Most family ranchers would prefer to be punching cows than to be in Denver for political events. And they are too busy digging post holes, fixing fence and fixing the tractor's transmission to be making those trips to Denver as well.
Ranching is full time, but because of the Todd's strong family values, they volunteer in the community. Monty is a junior high wrestling coach.