Written by Ruth Price
As Abby leans forward to share her story, her eyes brighten with passion. The Hutchinson Ranch was established in 1868 and Abby is the 6th generation to run the ranch. She took over operations in 2005.
Abby wasn’t always certain girls could be ranchers. In the 1980’s men were ranchers and women weren’t. When she was 7, she cut off her hair and asked everyone to call her Abi. A strong relationship with her grandfather Dr. Wendell Hutchinson led to her confidence that she could fulfill her dream. He nurtured her interest, taking her with him to check cows, go on veterinarian calls, assist with branding, and do “preg checks”.
She was away from the ranch during college and felt the heartache of separation. Coming back to the ranch did not seem to fit in her future so she studied psychology and planned to be a manager at Starbucks. Then she started helping at the CSU Agricultural Center. An advisor took note of her enthusiasm and encouraged her to change her major. She did. “I felt like I had been called home. The classes were filled with my type of people.”
One summer she followed a cowboy to Wyoming to a horse ranch. When he commented, “Kind of funny we’re both here running somebody else’s ranch when we both have ranches.” Within days Abby returned home. Her grandfather was ecstatic and asked her to continue his legacy.
She stepped into her role with joy but there was something missing. Abby wanted to be a mother. Could she be a rancher and a mother? Not one to be deterred, she decided she had the grit to do both. Soon her daughter Aven arrived. It’s not always easy. One day when she was cleaning ditches, she remembers being pregnant and exhausted. She asked the land to hold her and her family. “It’s like I just never feel alone. I feel that my grandparents are rooting for me.”
She’s on a mission to save the ranch not only for Aven, but for her family and friends who share her love and commitment. Abby searches out ways to diversify and increase revenue. She has formed partnerships with Guidestone, the manager of the Hutchinson Homestead and Learning Center, and the Children’s Discovery Ranch. For Chaffee County and beyond she’s paving a path to sustaining a historic ranch with creative ideas and partners. Abby’s also a role model for women and mothers who want to be ranchers. Just come and watch her feeding her gentle cows from her bright red tractor with her daughter beside her.