The Hat Trick Ranch (aka Last Pinos Ranch) has survived years of rough going and come out smelling like a rose…or maybe a puck. After decades of close-to-the-bone cattle ranching, the place now prides itself on producing the finest organic hockey pucks on the planet.

Back in 1975 the old place looked like it was going the way of the Cookie Tree and other legendary spreads in the Uncompahgre Valley. The talk was of flooding the place and building a mass reservoir. First it was downtown Ridgway, then Billy Creek, then the Lower Dallas, then and the present site on the shores of Spud Hill.

It’s all due to a prudent Raynell “Cheery” Campbell, whose family homesteaded the sagebrush, cedar and dried river bottom acreage in 1889. By 1980 she had found herself “poor on the feeding end but rich on the way out” and it led her to capitalize on her best natural resource.

Then Raynell and her team reached out.

In 1983 she bought her first puck press from a small Toronto sausage maker, dragged it over the Rockies and began producing cow pies as round and perfect as hockey pucks. Passing motorists would marvel at field after field of pucks drying in the Colorado sunshine.

Puck bovines were common in Europe before World War I but the art of processing the discs was lost in the shuffle until the 50s. Above we catch a glimpse of Cheery Campbell’s aunt Berna during a milking expedition in Reims in 1916 with one of those special cows.

“My neighbors thought I was a moron but genius is never detected by the blind and frightened,” she said sipping a double Campari and soda on the rocks in her quasi test range — a three-acre ice rink specifically designed for quality control.

In only three years she had sold over 2 million of the rubber-coated dung discs. Customers included school programs, junior hockey associations and later even the National Hockey League.

“When we found the right industrial dryer and a sealer that could stay off the sauce, we went into full production and raised the bar overnight,” she spat.

“It takes special type of cow to drop a hockey puck. You gotta know what you’re looking for at the sale barn,” said explained. “It ain’t the color or size of the animal or even what it is fed,” she continued. “It’s more about attitude and wanting more out of life.”

Campbell’s cows, which she lovingly calls thoroughbreds, don’t look all that much different from your run-of-the-mill bovine…to the uninitiated…but to the staff at Hat Trick knows a hockey popper when they see one.

The connection between cows and hockey pucks was unheard of around these parts until Hat Trick Ranch got the ball rolling in the 1970s.

And they’ve seen many. The healthy herd that currently grazes in the grass of the Mañana Creek ranch numbers in the low thousands. Although generally tranquil the cows are ultra-sensitive and visitors are reminded to stay on the their own side of the fence.

The face off at Hat Trick Ranch is the innovative rural subcultures that have spawn a host of satellite industries. Tourists gobble them up along with colorful brochures and T-shirts.

“It’s all in our secret formula which combines just the right amount of the stuff you sling with the stuff that holds it together,” she reiterated.

– Sally Peaches

“I don’t spit in the beer of the devil, if the devil don’t spit in mine.” 

-Mint Juleps on Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box

Filed Under: Soft News


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