Meeker cowboy loves life on the land

MEEKER -- Cowboy Jim Sheridan has spent most of his life either on his horse or tending his cattle.

Sheridan's great uncle and grandparents homesteaded in Meeker and he continues the ranching tradition on his family's land.

Sheridan manages 500 head of cattle on his ranch with the help of his hired hand, Raul Olivas. Olivas has worked for Sheridan for 20 years.

"He does the work of four men," Sheridan said. He said with the help of one hard-working man, managing the ranch is a possible feat for him.

Sheridan said he shared his ranching lifestyle with a group of out-of-towners through an old-fashioned cattle drive. Sheridan and his helping hands moved a herd of cattle from Hayden to his ranch in Meeker.

People from Aspen to California paid to make the trip and get a taste of ranching life.

Sheridan said the cattle was trucked from Hamilton to Meeker because the highway made the remaining miles of the cattle drive unsafe. He said he still has people calling him requesting a chance to ride in a cattle drive.

Sheridan now ranches the land once owned by his great uncle, Pat McHatton. McHatton claimed 160 acres for his homestead allotment between 1883 and 1884. During that time, the homesteaders were required to build a permanent residence on their allotment of land in order to receive the title to it.

Sheridan's ranch is nestled in a valley two miles up Rio Blanco County Road 15. The ranch is now larger than the 160 acres deeded through the Homestead Act as Sheridan has bought some additional surrounding property.

Sheridan's grandparents also claimed a homestead allotment in the Meeker area, which was later sold.

Sheridan said as a child he lived at the homestead that was first owned by his grandparents and then his parents.

He said during his younger years he worked at the dairy farm that was a mile from his parents' house.

He said when he tired of milking cows he would visit his uncle's

ranch.

"I liked it up here the best," he said.

Remaining structures of the dairy farm are still visible but the operation stopped several years ago, Sheridan said.

He said at that time, the dairy farm, bank and Meeker Hotel, made up the town of Meeker. The town of Meeker, he said, has changed but not drastically.

Sheridan moved to his great uncle's ranch in 1977 with his late wife, Mary Ann. Sheridan said Mary Ann liked to ride and work cows.

Sheridan has seven children and Mary Ann had five children. He said his children live in many different locations throughout the states.

Sheridan's son, Paul, or "Shotbuck," lives on the ranch. Paul does not work the ranch but built a home next to his dad.

He said he has many great memories of attending his sons' wrestling competitions.

He said Paul and his son, Pat, were both state champion wrestlers and he met numerous people from throughout the state during his sons' years in wrestling.

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