Creating land since 1992
One day in the summer of 1992 we heard about a ranch in Mora County, near Ocate. At the top of a small rise we came to the ranch gate. A dark wooden sign with white lettering stood among agave cacti and long stands of grass. It read “Twin Willow Ranch”
Joe Rivera owned a ranch, which had been passed on to him by his father, Conrado. The Rivera family had lived in the region for many years and owned other property nearby. Conrado bought this property in the 1930s to be near his aging father, Reyes Rivera.
,Joe Rivera owned a ranch, which had been passed on to him by his father, Conrado. The Rivera family had lived in the region for many years and owned other property nearby. Conrado bought this property in the 1930s to be near his aging father, Reyes Rivera.
Besides the little red barn we saw near the entrance, the only building on the land just beyond were a modest, single story, white frame house, a shed, and off in the distance, a shepherd’s hut that we were told, was part of the original homestead.
With Joe’s Rivera permission, we drove along a rugged path to the top of the first mesa, Lefebres Mesa, named for the French family that long ago settled via Canada to Taos. We came to discover the orginal name of the ranch was “Lefebres Ranch”, though the family has no remaining tie to it. From there we gazed out over the rim at the breathtaking expanse of the ranchland below. We continue to explore the land, discovering Lefebres Creek, which flows out of the mountains, goes underground, and eventually empties into the Canadian River to the south.
Twin Willow Ranch- now Twin Willows Ranch- covered 1,100 acres, almost equally divided between the pastureland and high country. At about 7,500 feet elevation, it rose to 8,900 atop the mesa. The green pastures extended to the foot of the mesa, which was cloaked in scrub oak and stands of huge, healthy Panderosa pine, White fir, and Douglas fir.
After exploring the land and peering out over the valley, we all agreed that the land was simply extraordinary. We loved the mix of pasture surrounded by forested mesa.We wanted a ranch that we would enjoy as a family, a place where we could hike, ride horseback, care for animals, especially rescue animals. Most of all, we wanted a ranch that would serve as a destination, a place from our everyday lives, where we could all come together.
Twin Willow offered all that and more. We knew the search was over-We found what we were looking for. We bought Twin Willow Ranch from Joe Rivera.
Right behind the little house on the hill, I used to have the woodpile because of rats. I was thinking what kind of brand I was going to get. I was chopping wood up there and I looked down and saw those twin willows and I thought, “I’m going to call this Twin Willow Ranch because there are only two willows and they are the only ones in the whole valley.
The shepherd’s hut-a small, 150-year-old structure made of logs and mud-was in ruins when I bought the ranch. It was once part of the original Lefebres homestead. We restored the whole structure and honored the local tradition of finishing the exterior with a mix of clay and straw.
A fundamental shift in the purpose and character of Twin Willows came about with the closing of the horse business in late 2003.The experience of the ranch no longer focused on horse breeding or competition. Rather, it has evolved into a new concept, a sanctuary for animals and a place where family and friends can gather to relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy the pleasures of the land.
The name Ocate is the Apache word for windy gap or valley of the winds.
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