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The new ranch economy

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Above: Dan and Jeanne Carter have spent more than 20 years diversifying the economy of the Imperial Stock Ranch. 
Below: Imperial Stock Ranch was founded 140 years ago by Richard Hinton. Many of the structures he built still remain. 
// Photos by Randy Johnson

The Carvers employ six fulltime men on the ranch and six women in the yarn and wool operations. Employing a dozen people is no small thing in this remote rural area. They liken themselves to being a small town, not only doing the many tasks involved in ranch work, but being their own fire, road, utility, medical and landscaping departments.

The several hundred all-white Columbia sheep (no black stockings on these babies) are Jeanne’s purview, and over the past decade she has created direct-market businesses for their wool, yarn and meat. A natural storyteller and writer, her energetic evangelizing for sustainable practices such as using local fiber has made her semi-famous in the state, in rural and urban circles. Last fall, designs made from Imperial Yarn and patterns headlined Portland Fashion Week.

Jeanne is as bubbly and energetic as Dan is low-key and cowboy cool, and there’s a good-natured range war that goes on between the cattleman and the sheep lady. He simmers a bit that his cattle ranch is now known as “the sheep ranch.” He considers sheep supremely dumb.

“I enjoy the historic significance of the sheep,” says Dan. “I just get worn out hearing about it constantly.”




+1 #1 Imperial RanchGuest 2013-03-18 15:54:59
How exciting to read about the Imperial Ranch as one of my relatives George Ward was once an owner. George E Ward was a son of Elizabeth Sharman and George Prevost Ward. Elizabeth and my Gt,Gt,GT Grandfather were brother/sister.
How wonderful to see such dedicated people still believing and strongly finding ways to hold on to their land.
It is also interesting that my son, who lives in Vermont was raising Katadin sheep for meat and stock. Even his 9 yr old daughter helped during lambing season.
Some of George's family went West and others stayed back in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. At age 77 I still drive up there once a year, especially in the Spring as I love the smell of freshly plowed fields. But unfortunately, many are using liquid manure. And even closed windows can't keep out that putrid smell.
Thank you for the wonderful articles and video allowing me to see a part of my ancestor's way of life.
Trudy Sharman
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-1 #2 Imperial Valley Real Estate AgentGuest 2013-05-25 16:34:20
Great article! Well written and nicely presented. I hope all reader will enjoy and keep up the share.
Imperial Valley Real Estate Agent
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