Golden eagles, wild turkey, cutthroat trout, and elk herds are among the many attributes of this gorgeous Northern New Mexico property, now on the market. The 3,497-acre High Timber Ranch is located 11 miles east of Tierra Amarilla and about 60 miles west of Taos and the Taos Regional Airport.
The spread has been in the Woolley family since it was acquired in the mid-1950s. The family has leased the grass to a rancher who runs cattle and calves in the summertime and also maintains the fences.
The ranch was orginally purchased to run sheep, which thrive in mountain country in the summers. In the early years, the ranch was operated the same as much of the open lands of Northern New Mexico — the people who ran sheep would pay for mercantile goods by means of the unique partido contract. The store owner got a percentage of the issue (offspring and wool) of the sheep. It was a fascinating aspect of the old ranching culture.
The property shifted from sheep to cattle in the early 1960s. One of the big changes was taking up the woven-wire fences that were used for sheep and installing barbed wire. Generations later, you can still see big rolls of woven wire on these northern ranches, because the hands just rolled the fences up and put them aside.
In late May, the man who runs cattle today was busy with an annual job, reversing what he did last fall. Every year, the entire fence is laid down — this includes the perimeter fencing and eight or nine miles of fence on the ranch interior — by unfastening the wire and "stay posts" from the posts that are anchored in the ground.
The two reasons for this ritual, according to the Woolleys, are that when the elk migrate, they tear fences to pieces; and the other is to prevent snow damage to standing fence. The rancher can get the fence back up in a matter of days in the springtime, but it used to take weeks to splice a fence that was torn up by elk and snow.
This ranch can sustain up to 120 cows and calves or 650 yearlings, according to marketing materials from Dougherty Real Estate. There are two large pastures, and shipping pens and scales that are easily accessed from U.S. Route 64. Numerous stock tanks provide for both cattle and wildlife on the ranch.
"The Woolleys have this ranch and others in Wagon Mound and Abiquiu," said David Dougherty, who went to school with them. "This is a high-mountain ranch and they would drive the cattle to the other ranches for winters. My family was a ranching family and in the summers I'd go off to southern Oklahoma and the Woolleys would come up to this one."
There are two homes on the ranch: a 1,600-square-foot residence with living room and a fireplace, a large kitchen, and two bedrooms and two bathrooms; and a 500-square-foot bunkhouse Dougherty said is perfect for guests or a ranch/wildlife manager. The power for the house comes from a quiet generator and the water is from an artesian spring.
The beautiful mountain setting has aspens, spruce, Douglas-fir and high-altitude grasses like timothy, mountain brome and bluestem, and wildflowers including Rocky Mountain iris, columbine, and lupine. There are two streams, the headwaters of the Rio Tierra Amarilla, and one of them runs with native cutthroat trout. Part of the ranch boasts a view of Brazos Peak.
The Woolleys have leased the ranch in the summer for cattle and in the fall to a hunting guide. Last year's incomes totaled $15,000 for grazing and $34,000 for hunting. Last year there were 23 elk permits issued.
Dougherty said the cattle rancher has no problem if new owners choose not to lease the grass. "The tough part is that that would remove your agricultural status and the taxable value would go up a lot. The taxes are presently only a little over $500."
Dougherty Real Estate is co-listing High Timber Ranch with Hall & Hall, whose specialty is hunting properties. Dougherty is marketing the ranch more as a preserve for the elk, mule deer, bear, and cougar. "We're looking for the older couple with a bunch of grandkids to go up there and have a great time fishing, looking at the wildlife and the stars. The night skies up there are amazing," he said.
The ranch is listed for $7,190,000.