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by Gail Pitts
The Pueblo Chieftain
On warm, summer mornings, Dale and Ila Mae Allee like to have breakfast on the redwood deck off their kitchen, savoring the unobstructed view of Pikes to the north.
In the evening, they enjoy the sunset behind Greenhorn Mountain through the living room's picture window.
The Allee's 5,500 acre ranch on Waterbarrel Road - near Beulah- is strikingly green this late in June. The prairie paints a carpet in all directions from the ranch house.
Allee is one of Pueblo County's staunchest 4-H supporters and this year has been named to its Leader's Hall of Fame.
Born at North Avondale in 1929, when his father was working for the Thatcher family, he got his first taste of 4-H when he was nine or 10 years old.
"I always showed beef cattle, beef plus horses," he said.
Cattle always have been part of his life.
His dad moved from the Thatcher holdings to the Livesey ranch, 25,000 acres that "right now are the bottom of Lake Pueblo."
Allee spent eight years in a one-room school before attending the old Centennial High in Pueblo.
He tried a three-year stint at C.F. & I..
"Back in my time, every young guy went to work there," he said.
He was making $63 a week in 1957 and thought "I'd be a real success if I made $1,000 a month."
But he hated the mill. And he had some cattle of his own on the side.
"That graveyard shift was really torture," he recalled.
Still, when he quit he missed "the guys I worked with and I missed the paycheck."
He went to work for his dad.
The family moved to Westcliffe, but lived there only 11 months.
The elder Allee had the opportunity for an $87,500 profit on the Westcliffe ranch.
Meanwhile, a Texan had bought the Pat Ruddy ranch - once part of the Livesay - but "Hated it and wanted to go back to Texas."
That ranch is the Allee's home today.
"We have deeds back even before Charles Goodnight, before Gervacio Nolan."
Son Dennis and his family live down the road in the homestead house.
Daughter Donna and her family also live on the ranch. Deana and her family live in Pueblo.
Like so many 4-Hers, Allee became "reinvolved" when the three children were young.
He was leader of the Beulah Wranglers for 17 years. It's the old Turtle Butte Club, named for the buttes south of the ranch.
"We used to show at the State Fair. That was kind of the ultimate."
The club covered all 4-H projects, except Home Ec., he said.
That's not one of his many talents.
"He can zap leftovers," Mrs Allee laughed and waved toward the microwave.
But 4-H leader is just the toe in the stirrup for Allee.
He's the pool buyer at the Pueblo County Fair livestock sale. The youngsters raise money, $5, $100, $500 at a time from local friends and businesses. The money is pooled. If one pig or steer or lamb doesn't bring a price above market at the auction, Allee jumps in and buys it with the pool money.
It guarantees that all the 4-H youngsters will receive a fair return on their animals.
"Sometimes you will see me buy a grand champion," he said. "That's not pool money. Somebody's come up to me and said they want to buy so-and-so's animal but they don't want to bid."
Allee and former youth agent Bob Clark put together the first County Sale at the State Fairgrounds.
"It was a wreck. We had everything except buyers," he said.
He recalls that a banker from Minnequa "bought most everything at $5 to $10 over market."
"The next year, we got parents and businesses and it was OK."
Today, he usually has about $6,000 in pool money for the County Sale.
Allee also recalls the first Colorado State Fair Junior Livestock Sale in the Ag Palace. "It rained; water just poured through the roof."
Allee has been superintendent of the State Fair Livestock Sale for at least 20 years and chairman of the sale committee.
But you won't see him "hanging around" during the sale. Instead, he's everywhere at once.
"The real important part of the committee is to take care of snafus. I've got a large committee of really good volunteers."
He's looking forward to this year's sale, to be held in the new Events Center. "It ought to add some pizzazz," he said.
"I've been hanging around at this thing so I can have one at the Events Center."
Allee runs about 200 mother cows on the ranch and worries, like all cowmen, about the price of cattle, down 30 percent from last year.
"That's the hard part of it. You have to take what they want to give you, not what you want to get."
But prices of the supplies for the ranch, such as 500 gallons of gas a month plus diesel, aren't negotiable.
He also still raises a few horses, but isn't anxious to sit astride those bucking colts.
He rides an unregistered, year-old quarter horse/paint cro named Izzy.
"That's for what is he (izzy)," he laughed.
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