Two area farms were honored in August by History Colorado at the 2015 Colorado State Fair for remaining in operation under the same family for more than a century, despite economic, environmental, societal and other pressures.
Westesen Farm and Ranch, located near Olathe in Montrose County, was established in 1903, according to HistoryColorado.org. Carl Westesen, who immigrated to America from Denmark in 1888, owned a feed store in Denver with his wife, Maude Bishop. "In 1903, he traded the store and $1,600 for 160 acres near Olathe," where he kept sheep and other livestock and grew crops and planted an orchard.
Their son, Harold, took over operations in 1945 after serving in World War II, and made the transition from horses to tractors. Harold built concrete irrigation ditches and the largest onion cellar in the state.
Harold and wife Dorothy also grew onions for seed, and Moravian barley for Adolph Coors.
Today, their son, Dan, and wife Diane, produce Olathe Sweet corn and other crops and produce honey. They also replanted the orchard with the same heirloom tree varieties that Carl originally planted. The farm has been home to five generations.
Houseweart Ranch was established in 1915 by Oran Charles Houseweart, who moved to the area from the family farm in Kansas in 1898 at the age of 24 at the advice of doctors in order to alleviate his asthma symptoms. After working for other ranchers, he and his sweetheart, Mable Grove, purchased 20 acres on Rogers Mesa near Hotchkiss, removed the fruit trees, and planted pasture for milk cows and chickens. They eventually expanded their operation to include beef cattle and purchased 60 more acres and a U.S. Forest Service grazing permit.
Their son, Oran Grove, took over the business following Oran Charles' death in 1936. Today, Oran Groves' grandson, Ira, wife Cynthia, and their daughters currently live on the original plot of land purchased by Oran Charles. Ira operates a blacksmith business, Ira Houseweart Metal Works, and Cynthia markets Princess Beef, a homegrown, grass-finished beef from the family's herd of prized Angus-Simmental cattle. Some of the herd's mother cows descended from the original Houseweart herd.
Almost 500 farms and ranches have been designated as Centennial Farms since the program began in 1986. Other Delta County operations and the years they began operation and were recognized include:
Mt. Lamborn Ranches, Ltd., Paonia - 1889/1999
Hice Ranch, Austin - 1910/2013
Valley Homestead, Hotchkiss - 1899/2013
Jones Polled Herefords, Eckert - 1886/1988
River Road Ranch, Delta - 1885/1988
Hotchkiss Family Ranch, Hotchkiss - 1880/1994-1995
Cribb-Leitzinger Farm, Hotchkiss - 1898/1997-1998
Kehmeier Ranch, Eckert - 1894/1999
Vela Ranch, Eckert - 1893/1999
Hotchkiss Ranches, Inc. (Delta and Gunnison counties) - 1881/1989