Posted: August 25, 2014
Made in Colorado: JVC bats, BuffaLoam, Bungled Jungle creaturesEric Peterson
BuffaLoam Compost and Soil Products
Michael Duncan is an owner of Diamond Tail Ranch, as well as Duncan Oil and Silver Oak Winery in Napa Valley. The ranch in Glendevey (between Walden and Red Feather Lakes) has raised buffalo for the past 25 years, and currently has a herd of more than 700. Duncan looked to diversify his business and began composting buffalo manure in 2007. “Our wine is five years old before we sell it,” Duncan says. “We took that model to compost.” The aging process bumps the dung’s organic content from about 4 percent to 35 percent. “There’s a lot more to it than putting poop in a bag,” Duncan notes. $10.99 a bag retail.
Made by Diamond Tail Ranch Co.
Available at Natural Grocers, Ace Hardware and True Value stores in Colorado
Bungled Jungle Creatures
Pat Landreth and Suzanne Montano have been making oddball creatures together for about 30 years. “They’re all different,” Landreth says, estimating that he and Montano have crafted about 30,000 different beasties in all. They sell their unique wares at three shows a year in Austin, Telluride, their Bungled Jungle gallery in downtown Salida and an Arizona renaissance festival in Apache Junction. Landreth describes a “geometric progression” of creature creation. “Every time you make a creature, especially if you’re not bound by reality, there are 10 other ways you can do it,” he says. “It’s virtually infinite.”
$15 and up retail.
Made by Bungled Jungle
Available at the gallery at 132 W. 1st St., Salida
Spinster Sisters Natural Soaps and Skincare Products
Kelly Perkins came up with the name for her company with her sister in 1993. Today, sans sister- partnership and happily married, the moniker still stuck. “Married Sisters doesn’t sound as good as Spinster Sisters,” laughed Perkins. While she’s been making soap since the early ‘90s, she didn’t start selling it at Front Range markets until 2010 and didn’t quit her day-job as a business analyst until 2012. “You can’t get more polar opposite,” she says of the career change. Using natural, often homegrown herbs and other ingredients, Perkins now crafts soaps as well as men’s shaving products, moisturizers, healing balms and other skin-care products. “A lot of the salves have taken off lately,” Perkins says, highlighting a cayenne-laced muscle rub that’s akin to “a natural IcyHot.” $4 to $55 retail.
Made by Spinster Sisters
Vance Clifton makes baseball bats by hand and gives the proceeds to a scholarship fund in the name of his late son, Jake, who was going to junior college to play baseball before his untimely death in 2011. “After our son died, there was a cottonwood tree that broke off,” Vance said. “I carved it into a bat.” Vance, who’s worked on a ranch north of Pueblo for the last 30 years, makes about 400 bats a year from hand-sorted maple, birch and ash billets. Many of his bats are for Little Leaguers who no longer swing aluminum bats. He says it’s slow in the fall, but “it takes off” once spring is in sight. $60 retail.
Made by JVC Bats
Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com