Tall Tales Ranch to provide adults with special needs a place to thrive

Posted at 3:35 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 17:35:59-04

As Lone Tree gets ready to roll out thousands of new homes in a master-planned community east of Interstate 25, the city and one of its oldest properties is also carving out space for people living with disabilities.

Cattle roam the hillsides as a rooster crows.

Chickens scatter in the shadow of an historic silo, where just beyond you can hear the gentle trickling of Happy Canyon Creek.

It is a little piece of paradise off I-25 and Ridgegate that will be the future home of Tall Tales Ranch.

"We couldn't have hand-picked a better property and for Coventry Development and Schweiger Ranch to have donated it to us is just a dream for us," said ranch founder, Sue Mooney.

"The land and location of this land is crucial to our vision," said Pat Mooney, the co-founder of Tall Tales Ranch.

The Mooneys had a vision for their son, Ross and others who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"Historically there has been so much isolation and so much separation,"  Sue said, "We're really trying to break the paradigm and bring people together."

Tell Tales Ranch will be that place. An integrated community where adults with special needs, the "Ranchers," can live, thrive and gain independence.

Ranchers will work with horses and small farm animals, operate a coffee shop, manage community gardens and run a weekly farmers market. 

Plans also call for a community center barn.

The "Ranch Hands" and "Ranch Staff," people not living with disabilities, will live on the property as part of this cottage community and oversee operations while providing around the clock support.

A new light rail station under construction across the street just off the highway at Ridgegate connects the community to the great metro area.

"This is very much past, meets present and future.  You've got light rail,  Tall Tales Ranch and the 1870's," said Elizabeth Matthews, Executive Director of the Schweiger Ranch Foundation. 

The non-profit foundation donated the land, making the Mooney's dream a reality.

The area was homesteaded by three brothers from Austria in 1874.

The original home and out-buildings are part of 38 acres preserved as a State Historical Landmark.

The Ranchers will be welcome there and encouraged to be involved in guiding tours and caring for animals.

But getting the land is just the start for the Mooney family.

"[We're] trying to get community partners to help us build Tall Tales Ranch," said Pat Mooney.

The plans are almost finished, and the Mooney's said it had taken years to get to this point.

"So when the money comes, all the pieces are in place," said Pat.

"It's really just a magical property," said Sue.

Schweiger Ranch has special events and tours year-round.

The Mooney's are holding a hoe-down in September to raise funds for Tall Tales Ranch.