A Family Affair

Stephen H. Fowler

Stephen was born and raised in New Jersey, then spent time in Ohio & Indiana getting educated before settling near Columbus, Ohio where he raised 3 children and met Barbara.  Together, they have 5 adult children.  Wanting to improve how the public sector conducts its business, Stephen has worked for city, county, and state governments in economic development and environmental planning as well as non-profits dedicated to downtown revitalization, housing, and historic preservation.

Their blended family relocated to Douglas County, CO in 2016 and then to larimer County in 2021, where – when not building our ranch business – Stephen is a Certified Home Inspector for his own company – Vista Home Inspections, LLC.  To continue his desire to give back to non-profits and the communities he’s called home, he is a member of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins and currently serves as Vice-President of the Paco-Vicuna Association.

On the ranch; Stephen and Barb have raised horses, Paco-Vicunas, and several dogs.  Stephen’s interest in farming began as he spent a large portion of his childhood on my grandfather’s vast dairy farm in Orange County, NY.  Under his grandfather’s kind guiding hands and through his wise words, Stephen developed a love of the land and raising livestock that never left him.  He happily lives out his dream on the ranch every day.

Barbara Wolfe

Dr. Barb Wolfe has treated everything from echidna to elephants! Board certified in zoological medicine, she has practiced medicine and conducted research in zoos and conservation centers for over 25 years, working for the National Zoo, North Carolina Zoo, the Wilds, the Columbus Zoo, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and teaching at colleges of veterinary medicine at North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, and Colorado State University where she is currently a research faculty member.

Barb grew up in Cincinnati, OH and graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in molecular genetics, part of the first class to ever receive this degree. She worked for the biotechnology company Genentech prior to pursuing biotechnology fellowship at Texas A&M University.

Studying artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer in endangered species, Barb found her passion – caring for all creatures. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a DVM and PhD. She has enjoyed a rewarding career in zoo medicine with opportunities to improve reproduction through artificial insemination in elephants, wild equids, cats and antelope.

Barb has published over 50 scientific articles and book chapters and participated in species conservation projects throughout the world. From freshwater mussels and giant salamanders of the eastern US to wild cattle in Asia, chimpanzees in Africa and wild cats in Central America, she has been fortunate to study and care for many wild species. She has trained many of the veterinarians currently working throughout the US in zoos. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute and has provided leadership in the American College of Zoological Medicine, the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians, the Morris Animal Foundation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine.

Why Farm?

(Stephen’s grandfather – Ira Harold Houston – lived on a multi-generational family farm in Goshen, NY where he raised dairy cows, flowers, and vegetables. Many of Stephen’s best childhood memories come from time spent on the family farm. Amazingly, this article about Ira Houston – excerpted from a 1940’s Harvester World magazine – sums up why we farm.)

Until 1942, Farmer Houston was considered the top Holstein dairyman in his county. Not “semi-retired”, he raises flowers on a commercial basis.

Ira Houston: “If we don’t enjoy our life, it isn’t worth living.  Many people have said to me, ‘What fun do you get out of digging in the dirt?’  I can’t explain exactly, but it’s a wonderful experience just to help things grow.  Just as schoolteachers help the character of their pupils develop, we farmers start with a little seed and raise some wonderful products.

It is true that the farmer works long hours; but when you work for yourself at something you love, you don’t count the hours – you count the accomplishments.  A busy person is a happy person but, even while you’re working your land, you have time to think.  There is a little poem that says, ‘A man is nearer to [his] God in the garden than anywhere else on earth.’

I farm because I like it – like it more than any other thing. It is a way of life which fortunately also provides us with a living.  Farmers are happy people.  Ours is a healthful occupation – medical records show that – and it is soul-satisfying.  To me, farming is the perfect answer to living: healthful, happy, sufficient income, and a contribution to society.”