Meet the Wild Bunch at wild mountain
Hi! We are the payne Family
And we are a small, family-oriented farm and ranch. We are originally city slickers who decided to leave the hustle bustle of city life for the wild frontier of the Colorado Rocky Mountains in search of a slower life for our family, a life more connected with nature, and land we could turn into a farm. We bought a yak ranch in the "foothills" outside of Denver and have since been working hard to convert it into a full-kitchen farm and ranch! Being first generation farmers, we've had to learn a lot along the way and nothing has been easy. But our passion for responsibly raised, good food keeps us going. While farming and ranching runs in our family going many generations back, we didn't grow up doing it. We love to eat and cherish dinner time with our family, and we believe everyone deserves to have quality food at the table, grown the old-fashioned way. It's too easy to become disconnected from each other and our food sources in modern society. And we believe that raising, cooking, and eating food together is the best way to connect. We hope you'll find inspiration, love, and good food here at Wild Mountain Ranch!
Brittyne's passion for food runs deep. She's committed to raising delicious, healthy food the way it used to be and cooking for people. She runs the animal operations, maintains pastures and field rotations, and is currently working on the greenhouse and produce operation of the farm. She's a city girl turned farm girl - check out more about her history below.
Chief Builder & Farm Stay Manager
Dan is the chief engineer and architect of the ranch. He's responsible for infrastructure, buildings, and repairs to help the ranch grow and evolve. Dan's become an expert in fencing, chicken housing, predator-proof outdoor quail coops, mobile chicken tractors, and custom barn stalls.
Head of chicken Happiness and Well-being
Scout's passion for chickens is undeniable! She looks after them every chance she gets, ensuring they are loved, fed healthy snacks like worms and veggies, and kept safe from predators every night. She cherishes our beautiful blue eggs from some of her favorite heritage breed chickens.
Ranch hand in training
Holden helps around the ranch any chance he gets. He loves mucking the sheep barn, chopping wood with Dan, feeding the animals, and collecting eggs. The most dependable ranch-hand around, he's sure to lend a hand and always with a big smile.
Head of Ranch Security
Bear loves his job as Head of Ranch Security. You won't find him off duty for a minute. As the alpha Livestock Guardian Dog of the ranch, he's protector and friend to every animal. He protects against all predators with confidence and loyalty, never skipping a beat, often making him the Ranch's main attraction and mascot.
sheep security in training
Koda is Bear's niece, and head of sheep security...in training :) . Just a pup, she's learning from the best in the business, Bear. As our flock of sheep grows, so will her responsibility. She loves fiercely and is eager to work, and deeply loves and admires her uncle Bear.
How it all started
This is my dad, his dad (my Papa), his uncle and cousin. And yes, they are standing over a covey of quail, the proud catch of the day. I remember my dad talking about hunting when I was a little girl and even bringing home bear meat one day. I was instantly fascinated by this idea of working hard for your food. At a young age, I knew there was something special about it.
My dad raised hunting dogs, who had puppies. And geese and rabbits and ducks were frequent "pets" too. I was born a natural animal lover. We didn't live on a farm, but I'm sure my parents felt like it at times! Farming is in my blood, but I was always far removed from it and the generations before me who were the family pioneers. But nonetheless, I craved being outside and getting dirty (I often came home from the creek covered in mud, sorry Mom!). I wanted to be outdoors catching fish with Papa, playing in the patch of woods or finding any animal I could bring home. Looking back, I think I was destined for some kind of steward ship. A rough and tumble tomboy by nature. A little dirt and unkempt hair is my preferred look!
Then I "GRew Up"
The glorious days of childhood behind me, I graduated high school, went to college, and I worked multiple jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. Then like most people coming out of college, I desperately began looking for just one job that would pay the bills. As school days blew by me, so did my lofty idealistic dreams of becoming a vet, a chef, or a food writer. Those ideas seemed unrealistic - additional school was too expensive or freelance writing was just not enough to pay the bills. "Adulting" became important, and I lost sight of the things that made me tick in the mad dash to "grow up."
Everyone was going to school and entering the professional world. The idea of farming or ranching as a job had NEVER occurred to me. That is, until my first-born was about to turn 1. Enter Scout, the wave-making baby who still changes our lives daily. I remember watching her play. She was fascinated and obsessed with animals and already a force of nature. She inspired me daily to push myself and set examples I had never thought of. I wanted to show her it was possible to do anything you set your mind to. But what kind of life did I really want to show her? I knew I'd been passionate about food since I was little girl, begging my parents for a strawberry patch and waking up early to make pancakes and burn bacon. But to own a restaurant, become a chef, or be a food critic? Eh, no thank you. I loved animals, but a vet who does surgery? No thanks again.
What if I raised and grew the food instead? Be part of food from its very beginnings. YES! So I told my husband I wanted to farm, that I thought it would be good for the family, and I caught him completely by surprise! He had all the right questions. Would we really like it, how do we even get started? My gut told me that farming and ranching hit on all the things most important to our future: family life, connected to nature, sustainable food, and feeding people.
So he built a coop for quail in the backyard, and I started a small garden. Then, my husband had the brilliant idea to get me a spot at the community garden nearby so that I could start learning from others. I learned so much and became part of a community who also thrived on bringing things to life to share with friends and neighbors. The more we did the more it reinforced that it was still not enough.
In mass culture today, don't grow up thinking or being taught that farming is easy to do. Unless you're born into the land or raised doing it, it's hard to start.
All in: The big move
We made the big decision that country life was what we wanted, but it wasn't until 4 years after this big decision that we finally found the right place. First, we up and moved our family from Texas to Colorado, following my husband's job and this idea that we could find a farm and ranch later... in the mountains. We rented a place in the suburbs and began the hunt for land. A LONG, stressful, emotionally exhausting hunt for land. The planning and saving had all led to this moment, but looking at so many places with unusable, mountainous land and harsh terrain was giving me doubts. It seemed like we were on mission impossible. During a snowy, cold February day, we finally found our ranch (which had yaks on it at the time), and we bought it "grass-unseen." The whole ranch was covered in multiple feet of snow, but somehow we knew it was perfect. We could picture the chickens, the cows, and the challenge of growing veggies! And when the snow melted, we discovered we had a lot of field rehabilitation to do. But challenge accepted! And we've been loving it and haven't looked back since.