When Barry Castagnasso reaches the top of a hill on his picturesque ranch just west of Hayden, the sweeping view in front of him puts a lot in perspective.
“We’re surrounded by industry,” he says on a late spring day pointing to the slopes of Mount Werner, then to the power plant and finally to the ranches and lush farmland everywhere in between. “We’ve got a good diverse economy, and agriculture is a big part of it.”
Down the hill, a more than 100-year-old ditch is carrying water past the front of his home that is three miners’ cabins from the Bear River Mine all pulled together.
Castagnasso, who has lived in Routt County for more than two decades, then points to a neighbor’s property that also borders U.S. Highway 40 and says he works at the power plant in addition to tending to his ranch. Another neighbor across the street traps for a living.
On his own ranch, Castagnasso, 61, is a fourth-generation Clydesdale breeder who continues to produce many grand champions in the annual National Western Stock Show.
“I like their temperament. I like their soundness,” he says about the horse he often refers to as the draft horse supreme.
As he talks about his passion, his dog, Bob, takes a moment to sniff one of the Clydesdales mulling around the property.
To stand out from other horse breeders in the country requires a vast knowledge of animal husbandry, some creativity and an understanding of the market, Castagnasso says.
Clydesdale breeding means a lot to the man who says it isn’t an easy task by any means. But it’s one his family has been doing successfully for many decades.
Raising Clydesdales isn’t the only thing that keeps Castagnasso busy. He also is a vocal member of the agriculture community in Routt County, and he inspects weed-free hay for the county.
On a typical day, he does his chores at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and he sometimes can be found picking raspberries for a neighbor while rock ’n’ roll music plays inside his home.
His late wife, Nancy, was a passionate participant in the Northwest Colorado Beanpole Project that aimed to bring high-speed Internet access to every county in the state and especially in public facilities including schools and libraries. She also was an early childhood development advocate.
“I guess it’s about community,” Castagnasso says when asked what has kept him here.