Sterling Ranch in Douglas County is backdrop for old-school cattle drive

Cowboys and cowgirls bring livestock that will remain through winter

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Residents of Sterling Ranch had the chance to see cowboys and cowgirls at work during a cattle drive in the community Nov. 21.

This was the first time that Sterling Ranch — a 3,400-acre development in western Douglas County — has made an event out of the cattle coming to graze on some of their open land, said community founder Harold Smethills.

“We’re always looking for fun things to do on Sterling,” he said in an interview. “People are always asking us about the cows.”

The 40 head of cattle were moved by the cowboys and cowgirls to a winter grazing pasture on the west side of the property while residents watched. 

The community used the event to teach the residents about why they have cattle there in the first place, Smethills said.

“It’s really one small part but important part of our prairie management plan,” he said.

Before it was a community, Sterling Ranch was a cattle ranch that had been overgrazed and “turned into little more than weeds and dirt,” according to a news release on the event. 

The cattle help keep the prairie healthy by eating grass, aerating the soil and fertilizing the land, Smethills said.

“They’re a part of fire control because they eat grass, so you don’t have fuel for a fire,” he said. 

Sterling Ranch hopes to eventually bring in other animals, such as goats and sheep, to support their ecosystem as well. 

“You can live in a box over a train station anywhere in the world but at Sterling Ranch, you’re living with the traditions of the West,” Smethills said. “You’re here to enjoy the West and be outdoors and those traditions are what comes together to form something very special.”

The team of cowboys, cowgirls, horses and dogs came from the Clough Cattle Company. 

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