Diversified ag: Guest ranch gives family years of memoriesWritten by Allie Leitza
“When I got out of college I thought it would be nice to make enough money to be a rancher. When my career started out I was able to be outside for most of my work. It then became a suit and tie job when I was given the title of executive. Executive just didn’t fit me well. I decided I would come home and buy a ranch,” recollected Cole.
The Vee Bar Ranch was one of three stops on the Wyoming Business Council’s annual Diversified Ag Tour, which was held on June 19 in the Laramie and Centennial areas this year.
Upon buying the ranch, Cole and his family knew they needed to make changes in their operation in order to make money, and pay off the loans that were taken out to purchase cattle. Cole’s son Kelly, an engineer, started to build log homes. He wanted to start a business constructing the houses.
They started putting their log homes in their first of four subdivisions in the Laramie area. The family saw this as their opportunity to make the money they would need to make ends meet, and would eventually bring them to financial stability.
Vee Bar Ranch, their current location, was the last of the four places they purchased. The Coles sold 40-acre parcels of land along the river. Each easement provided the buyer with a building site to ensure each home and its outbuildings would be out of sight of one another.
Fences were not put up on the land to ensure the Cole family could ride through the area. Those living on the Vee Bar Ranch could ride on a portion of the land as well.
“We turned as many people down as we let in. We wanted people who would fit into our lifestyle and our family,” said Cole.
A few of the parcel buyers asked Kelly and his crew to build their riverside homes. Kelly was also responsible for the renovations made to the guest house, where the staff is housed, and the building of the cabins for guests.
Running the business
September through May the Vee Bar Ranch is a bed and breakfast. The guests are provided a breakfast and are given the option to add a dinner to the mix. On Friday and Saturday the ranch is open to the general public for dinner.
During the summer months the guest ranch is in full swing. Vee Bar Ranch has a three-day lodging minimum. During this period of operation, guests can take in the beauty of the ranch from atop a horse.
Just as in any business endeavor, marketing must be done to inform the public of the options Vee Bar has to offer. Vee Bar does marketing through the Dude Ranch Association as well as the Wyoming Board of Tourism. The Vee Bar Ranch has recently started to work with the ski resorts to provide ski tickets and lodging.
A family affair
“We are so lucky to have our grandkids grow up in our backyard. I grew up in the Laramie area, and now our family gets to do the same. When I was working in the construction business, I missed out on watching my own kids grow up. We have had seven of our grandkids grow up right in front of us,” said Cole.
Not only did the grandchildren of the Cole family grow up on the ranch – they have been involved as part of the staff from early ages. Cole’s granddaughter Carrie has been working at the ranch since she was about 13.
“My involvement just kept growing,” said Carrie.
“Carrie and her husband Brent are doing a great job, and I am so proud of them,” said Cole.
Cole may have joined the ranching community late in his life, but the family-owned operation has brought he and his family close to one another.
Diversified Ag Tour hits Albany Co
The Vee Bar Ranch was one of three operations that a 50-member group visited as a part of the Wyoming Business Council’s (WBC) Diversified Agriculture Tour in the Laramie-Centennial area. June 19 was the tenth year the Wyoming Business Council has put together the tour. The Wyoming Women in Ag group has been in collaboration with the Wyoming Business Council to put the tour together.
The tour started out in Casper, as it is nearly in the middle of the state. Each year the WBC chooses a different location that is only a few hours from Casper to ensure that the tour is something that can be done in a day.
“We select the places we visit based off the people we have met in our everyday jobs. Some of the operations we find through referrals. We make sure that the places we tour have diversified their operation. On the tour, we have never been to the same location twice. When we started out, the tour consisted of mostly women. Now, we are starting to get more men involved,” said Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Director Cindy Garretson-Weibel.