Diamond Tail Ranch
Homecomings are a unique and special time in life. Almost anyone you ask can tell you of a special memory related to one. The CAA trail ride of 2007 was such an event, a homecoming of CAA proportions. The return to the Diamond Tail Ranch evoked memories of past rides, special people and the real bond between friends and the CAA family.
The Diamond Tail Ranch in the high valley of far northern Colorado is like a second home to the Cowboy Artists of America. This is the fourth time the CAA members were the guests of Ray and Sally Duncan, but this one was special for a multitude of reasons. The last time the CAs were guests both Joe Beeler and Ray Swanson were on the ride. Joe had a long-standing friendship with Ray and Sally and loved the Diamond Tail. He and son Jody hauled horses to the ranch for the ride in 2003. This year, Jody was guest and we all returned to the Diamond Tail without Joe, although many will tell you that he was there, too.
On Tuesday night, all hands gathered in the new guest lodge where Ray Duncan, with reverence and pride, unveiled “Joe’s Bar” for the first time. Large square tiles formed the surface of the new bar, each with bold images of Joe Beeler paintings in the Duncan collection. It was a moment to cherish. With a toast to Joe, everyone headed to dinner, and Trail Ride 2007 was officially underway.
The next morning broke to a bright, clear blue sky and 23 riders mounted up for a short ride and a quick gather of the Longhorn and Corriente herd. Once in the pen, riders sorted out the mother cows and the ropers took over, heeling and dragging calves to the branding fire. This wasn’t just an ordinary branding. It was just a little over a year earlier that Joe left us while doing just that, branding calves. At the conclusion, all the riders and guests gathered in a circle, removed their hats, offered remembrances of Joe and all were silent for a few special minutes. The cattle, the birds, the horses and men – all were still. It was the sort of moment you remember for the rest of your life.
After a lunch on the open range, the riders circled back to headquarters picking up a buffalo skull along the way. The Diamond Tail is home to some 750 head of buffalo, 200 quality Angus cows, the Longhorn and Corriente herd and now a band of mares bred to produce world-class bucking horses. Just seeing the mares and the foals in the meadows at the edge of the Aspen thickets is a sight to behold. The Diamond Tail is truly a special place, so well cared for by the Duncans and resident manager Scott Butcher and his wife Bobbi.
It isn’t all play and no work. The CAA members conduct the business of the organization during the trail ride. While in camp, members sign the tip sheets for the collector catalogues and hold one of two important business meetings of the year. It was especially memorable for a fellow by the name of Tim Cox of New Mexico. Tim was elected to membership in the organization and will exhibit for the first time at the 2008 CAA Sale and Exhibition in Phoenix.
Other guests on this year’s ride included Men’s Arts Council CAA Show Chairman Kirk Thompson and his Vice-Chairman Tom Ryan (no relation to CAA Emeritus Member of the same name). Also joining the group was Dr. Red Duke of Houston, Texas, who graciously agreed to fill in as the trail ride doctor. While his able services weren’t needed, the members were glad to have him and he was good company.
The trail ride wrapped in grand fashion on Thursday night when all of the CAA wives and guests arrived at the ranch from their stay in Steamboat, some three hours away. They were given a tour of the ranch and facilities and joined in a wonderful dinner prepared by the catering crew. It was during that special time after dinner that the CAA honored hosts Ray and Sally Duncan, Mike and Renee Duncan and Bill and Maggie Rey. Each was presented with a pair of custom spurs made by Randy Butters in the same style as those he made for Joe Beeler.
And as a most fitting end to the memorable ride, CAA President Wayne Baize announced to all assembled that Jody Beeler had been made an Honorary member of the CAA. Could it get any better than that? Probably not until the Cowboy Artists return to the Diamond Tail.
Learn more about the Diamond Tail Ranch at http://www.diamondtailranch.com.