Ash Creek Ranch
March 14, 2009
By Matt Massey

Saturday morning started out cloudy and a little on the cool side. The 65 plus volunteers gathered around the camp site in a circle to listen to the days goals. We were informed that we were going to remove approximately 4 miles of woven fence or sheep fence. AAF Ash Creek Ranch Project 004 resizedThe woven fencing was preventing pronghorn from traveling into or through the pasture. We were also told we would be pulling all the old fence posts out of the ground, rolling up the woven fence, and hauling the removed fencing and posts from the area. Then we were going to put in new fence posts and string new 4-wire fencing that consists of three strands of barbed wire on the top and one strand of antelope-friendly smooth wire on the bottom. We broke camp and headed to the Ash Creek Ranch. Nobody seemed to know why or who put up the sheep fence. It had been there for years and years. One theory was that the sheepherders used this as a holding pasture during thier long drives out of the Verde valley.

Ash Creek Ranch is located up I-17 about 75 miles north of Phoenix. Go 8 miles west on highway 169, then at mile post 9.7 turn south. The ranch is another 2 to 3 miles down the road.  There nestled in a little valley lies the ranch, the home of Gary and Sharla Mortimer and their two children. There is a ranch house, several barns with livestock and a tree farm. The trees and shrubs are grown for the Mortimer’s nursery in Prescott. There are also several ranch hands on the place.

We all parked at the ranch and walked and rode in various types of vehicles to the work site. The Arizona Game and Fish Department, AZGFD, supplied the new fence and posts. The AZGFD were represented by Troy Christensen, Tom Bagley, Carol Lynde and Wade Albrecht.  We broke up into groups to tackle the fence. Some removing the old fence from the posts, while others were rolling up the old fence. There were people hauling the rolled fence to a pick up location. Others were pulling the posts out of the ground with a bobcat tractor and a chain. 

AAF Ash Creek Ranch Project 008 resized
AAF Ash Creek Ranch Project 015 resized

The next group stretched a smooth wire from strategically placed fence posts that were cemented in the ground two to three hundred feet apart. The next bunch came through and pounded fence posts in the ground every 16 feet along the tightened smooth strand. This by far was the most demanding, grueling job of the day. The plentiful volunteer crew made the pounding of AAF Ash Creek Ranch Project 022 resizedthese new fence posts such a success. It seems everyone, young and old, stepped in and took turns pounding the posts.

As the noon hour rolled around, most stopped for a much needed and well deserved lunch. The cool wind picked up and the clouds started rolling in from the west. This didn’t seem to slow the work force down at all. The volunteers ranged from 7 to 70 in age. They included moms, dads, sons, daughters, grandmas and grandpas, as well as, boy scouts, girl scouts, and retirees. We had it all.

After a little blood, a lot of sweat and no tears, the day was coming to an end. As 5 o’clock passed by, the work day was coming to an end. We were finishing up with the bottom wire (smooth strand), all the posts had been driven into the ground, and the bottom wire tied to the posts. We were all physically exhausted, some stiff and sore and others, like me, even stiffer and sorer. As we all walked back to the ranch where our vehicles had been parked, all thoughts turned to our appetites…and the anticipation of the wonderful steak dinner being prepped back at camp. The Arizona Antelope Foundation, AAF, truly appreciates all the volunteers’ efforts and hard work and believes that the volunteers should be thanked for a hard days work. The AAF prepares a fantastic much deserved meal at the end of the work day.

When we all arrived back to the camp site, we gathered around the camp fire and talked about the day. The camp cooks were busy making appetizers (quesadillas) for whoever wanted some. The cooking assembly line started. The barbeques fired up and steak started grilling.  For those that weren’t steak fans, there were hotdogs and hamburgers to feast upon. Side dishes included steamed red potatoes and ranch beans. With the wonderful aroma of the steaks on the barbeque, it wasn’t long before the grub line was forming. One hour later everyone was full and happy.

Jerry Guevin was at camp with the traditional AAF table set-up. He was selling long sleeve and short sleeve shirts, various hats, mugs and other things with the AAF logo on them. Jerry was also giving out free advice at no extra charge, to whoever might listen.

Some folks left shortly after the dinner for various other commitments. Most however spent the night and went home the following morning. A small work force of about 10 to 15 volunteers stayed to try and finish up the project on Sunday. Sunday’s holdovers were ram-rodded by Art Boswell and Scott Anderson. They all worked to noon and they called it a day. A little less than a fourth of the three wire fence was put up on Sunday.

Art Boswell, Al Sue, Bill and Mary Keebler, Troy Christensen from the AZGFD stayed Monday and Tuesday along with Gary Mortimer and the ranch-hands and completed the fence. Art’s quad ran all three strands of wire at the same time. It worked out great saving a lot of time.

Once again another successful combined work effort from the Ash Creek Ranch, The AZGFD and the AAF. Special thanks to the Boy Scout troops 617, 1, and 330 from Chino Valley and Girl Scout troop 9 from Scottsdale, as well as, Art Boswell, Al Sue, Scott Anderson, Bill and Mary Keebler and Jerry Guevin from the AAF. Also in attendance were Jen Anderson, Catherine Ayotte, Joseph Beesor, Ray Blanchard, Donna Blomquist, Edward, Susan, Charlie & Cameron Bloomfield, Mark , Zachary, Samuel, & Kyler Boswell, Hayleigh Daugherty, Mike Forzano, Bonnie Glenn, Bruce & Alex Goodman, Daniel & Ernie Hernandez, Tyler Jensen, Bob Krogh, Dave Laird, Cecil Lavance, Charles Mackey, Matt & Georgia Massey, Jimmy Mehen, Andrew & Janet Millard, Rod Moyer, Russ & Colton Nelsen, Oscar Oland, Brandi & Benjamin Pott, Kelley Prasad, Glen Mills, PA, Emily Rich, Paul Sandstrom, Al Sue, Teskey Family, Jason Tomkins, Bruce Waddell, William Waidelich, James Wickman, Dwight Wilson, Jim & Natalie Wood, JoAnn Yeager, Rick, Jane & Carl Zapfe, and Charles Pregler USForest Service

2009 March Ash Creek Ranch Photos






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