The Esty Ranch was homesteaded in 1875 by John Outcault. It passed down to his three daughters, yet the heart of the ranch went to the youngest daughter Vevarelle. In 1994 T. Michael Clarke (Mike) purchased the Esty Ranch from Vevarelle Esty, making him the third landowner of the property and first non-family member ever. Mike’s intention when purchasing the ranch was to restore, maintain and operate it as an iconic working ranch. His motivation, commitment, and substantial investment of resources created the showplace and functional hay and cattle operations it is today.
The later acquisitions of LeValley and Wilson/Vader ranches and the Bureau of Land Management “BLM” and U.S. Forest Service “USFS” grazing permits provided Esty Ranch the opportunity to expand its hay operation and further invest in the cattle operation to stay competitive in this industry.
Historic buildings were carefully restored, and new structures were erected to manage the growing needs of the operation. Check out the Esty Ranch Gallery
Hay fields were cleaned and graded, and irrigation ditches were improved, reinforced and expanded for a more productive harvest of quality Timothy blend horse hay. These ditches are able to carry the water safeguarded by its water rights to the hay meadows even during years of drought. This will ensure that quality horse hay is available every year for its customers.
Mike had great respect for the history of the original homestead, the passion to continue the legacy that the family created, and the motivation to make it more efficient. He was very detail oriented in every aspect of his life and continued to be with Esty Ranch. This included testing several hay blend varieties in order to harvest the best product possible in the high elevation and short growing season of the Gunnison Valley.
Although Mike passed away in April 2015, the legacy continues. His passion and dedication will continue with the support of his family, and the pride and dedication of the employees that have worked with Mike over the years to make Esty Ranch a beautiful and successful hay and cattle operation it is today.