Early on a perfect September Saturday morning, Ranch-Way feeds, the oldest business in downtown, is eerily quiet.
The retail outlet that once serviced pet owners and hobby ranchers across Northern Colorado has now been closed for four years. But make no mistake, the business here, though owned by a midwestern company, is still viable, servicing backyard critters to the land’s biggest feedlots across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska and even into New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma on occasion.
“If there’s a hungry cow, it’s gotta eat, … and we’ll feed it,” says Nara Freemyer, sales director for Ranch-Way Feeds, now a subsidiary of Hubbard Feeds of Mankato, Minnesota.
On a week-day morning, or the occasional Saturday, work starts early here, as the production crew starts at 6:30 a.m. with the fleet of semi drivers eager to get on the road before traffic hits the downtown location. In all, the feed operation has about 30 employees, though it is about eight to 12 employees understaffed, Freemyer says – and probably had about 50 employees when it still had the retail outlet.
The operation began in 1868 as a flour mill on the banks of the Poudre River and was known as the Lindell Mill. That mill was rebuilt several times before converting to feed production in 1948. The operation was sold to Hubbard in 2016.
The red buildings and dry cribs are the remnants of the original feed operations, which displays the historical marker. Since the retail outlet is gone, the few visitors at the operation are probably on a historical tour of the downtown, as the business remains the oldest downtown business still in operation.