Keeping with family tradition
Local coffee shop owner continues work on ranch generations later
December 29, 2007
Craig — Most days, Katrina Springer can be found at Serendipity Coffee Shop – a bakery and cafe that she owns – cooking and serving up homemade soups, meat loaf, Cajun shrimp pasta and other meals.
When she’s not at Serendipity, chances are that Katrina is helping out at her family’s sheep ranch.
Katrina was born in Meeker to Angelo “Butch” and Karin Theos. She grew up on the family ranch, 12 miles east of Meeker, and attended Meeker schools.
The family ranch has been passed down from generation to generation. Katrina explains that it got its start with her great grandfather, Angelo Theos. He came to Price, Utah, in the early 1900s, returned to Greece for a while, and then brought his family to the Meeker area in the 1920s.
Great-grandfather Angelo bought homesteads around the Meeker area until he had accumulated 15,000 acres. His goal was to start a sheep ranch, and that’s just what he did.
When Angelo retired, he split the ranch between his boys. One of them, Tom Theos, was Katrina’s grandfather. When Tom’s son Butch (Katrina’s father) was old enough, Tom made him a partner in the sheep ranch.
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Then, when Grandpa Tom retired from ranching, Butch and Tony, Katrina’s younger brother, became partners.
Butch and Tony manage the ranch today.
Katrina says the ranch runs 3,500 to 4,000 ewes. The sheep are a Marino/Cormo cross. Katrina proudly explains, “My dad and Tony have figured out the best genetics for wool and meat. They have come up with a balanced animal.”
According to Katrina, a couple of years ago, their wool sold for the highest in the nation.
The sheep are pastured, by permit, on the White River Forest, which borders the ranch on one side. In the fall, the sheep are gathered, and after the lambs are sold, the herd is wintered in Rangely.
In the fall, the Theos family leases out some of the property to hunters. The hunters stay in a lodge located on the ranch property. Processing of game also is available to the hunters.
“Hunting is the only thing other than sheep that we do,” Katrina said.
But she also cooks.
Katrina says her interest in cooking goes back to her grandmother Kay Theos who did the cooking on the ranch. She was a great cook and an inspiration to Katrina.
Katrina chuckles when she remembers asking her grandmother how to make certain dishes.
“Yiayia” (‘Grandma’ in Greek), she’d say, “how do you make stuffed tomatoes?”
“A little of this and a little of that,” her grandmother answered.
Katrina insisted, “But how much?”
“Oh, you’ll know,” is all her grandmother said.
When Katrina was attending Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, she met Shavn Springer. They were married and have two children, Kaylee, 8, and Brady, 10. They moved to Craig nine years ago. In August 2006, Katrina bought Serendipity.
The entire Springer family helps out at the sheep ranch. Son Brady even does the painting (branding) of the sheep in the spring. Katrina laughs when she says she mostly runs back and forth with supplies such as milk replacer, salt and lambing needs.
At certain times of the year, she cooks for the work crews. Katrina says she has taken over the cooking from Grandmother Kay.
In April, for 3 1/2 days, she cooks for the shearing help. It’s a challenging job because she has to cook up foods in advance that don’t have to be reheated – such as cold chicken and sandwiches. Then, it all has to be hauled to the shearing area. Another big cooking time for Katrina is when the sheep are gathered, sorted and lambs shipped. It’s another three-day event.
And how does she keep Serendipity going when she has to help out at the ranch? According to Katrina, she’s very fortunate to have a great staff that’s cross-trained.
And the impact that an agricultural background has had on Katrina’s life?
She says, “I think the biggest life lesson I’ve learned from being raised in an agricultural background is the work ethic. You don’t stop until you’re done. This doesn’t apply only to my business at Serendipity but also to raising kids and being a wife.”