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Tavaputs Ranch

Entertaining at Tavaputs

Entertaining at Tavaputs

In the late nineties I had the opportunity to go up to Tavaputs Plateau, in the Bookcliffs of eastern Utah.

I got to know the Jensen family, who own  a guest ranch and cattle operation in the area. I had met the Jensen’s before as our paths had crossed on a few occasions, but it was a great experience to really get to know them.

I play guitar and sing a little. A good friend of mine named Lavar Wells, who also plays and sings, was a pilot who flew guests in to the ranch. He had been entertaining up there for a while. He asked if I would be interested in going and helping him to which I gladly agreed. We would fly up there in the evening, eat a wonderful dinner, sing for a while, sleep overnight and he would have me home in time the next morning to ride horses. We did this about once a week for a couple of summers.

The best part about this was getting to know the Jensen family. Butch and Jeanie, and their children, Tate and Jennie. The whole family worked together in harmony to make their operation work. Butch and Tate would take guests on horseback rides. Jeanie and Jennie would cook, clean rooms, change sheets, and anythings else that needed to be done. They made everyone feel right at home.

At the time Tate was only about 15 years old, and Jennie was a year or two younger than him. I’d never seen such hard working kids. They all just did what ever needed to be done, no complaining. They were just happy to be part of it all.

After I had been there a few times, and knew them better, I started taking my son with me. He was about a year younger than Tate. They immediately became best friends. Next thing you know Butch was staying summers with them and helping on the ranch. My son’s name was Butch also. So when he was on the ranch he was called Little Butch. However he grew up to be bigger than big Butch.

Tate and Butch

Tate and Butch

I’d never seen a kid quite like Tate. All he ever wanted was to be a cowboy. He was a dang good one. When Tate was 15 he built his own cabin. He did this himself. He cut down the trees with an ax. Peeled the logs, and put it all together without any power tools. When he had it done he poured a cement floor in it, and moved in. As far as I know, whenever they were on the mountain, this is were he slept. Like I said he was just a teenage boy at the time.

Little Butch loved going to the ranch and helping with the cattle. He would work for the Jensen’s in the summer when he wasn’t in school. After he got out of high school he went to work full time for them, for a while. He later became a horse shoer. Got married, started a family. He still remained best friends with Tate, and went and helped them whenever he could.

Our relationship with the Jensen family has truly been a blessing in our lives.

The Jensen’s came from generations of ranchers and cattlemen. Jeannie’s family, the Wilcox’s, also spent their lives ranching in the area. So naturally Tate would grow up being a cowboy. As he grew into a young man he became a big asset to the ranch. He knew cattle, he knew horses, and he knew the country.

On August 28, 2011, Tate was tragically killed, at 31 years old. Tavaputs Plateau will never be the same.

I was honored to sing at his funeral. I sang “The Cowboy Rides Away”. That was the hardest song I ever tried to sing. He was buried at the ranch on Tavaputs. In the country he loved.

The world lost a dang good cowboy. We can’t afford to lose good cowboys.

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Comments

  1. Jeri Houston says:

    Well written story of life in the country, the Jensen family will absolutely love this. I heard the
    Cowboy Rides Away song that day, the emotion in your singing voice was clearly evident, it truly made the song. Thank you for taking the time to write down your memories & sharing them with us all.

    • Thank you so much. I really appreciate your input. I’m just learning to write, so this really means a lot to me. Keep checking back on my blog as I’m trying to post a new article each week.
      Thank You,
      Don