We welcome you to visit us and discover all that we offer.
In Progress - Equine Center
In addition to chickens, ducks, alpacas, dogs and cats, we now have two horses in our menagerie. One of our residents is currently receiving horseback riding lessons and we are hoping to expand these services along with other equine therapy programs in the future. We have finished fencing the pastures, built barns, loafing sheds, a round pen and tack room, and our new riding arena is close to completion.
Collins Lake Ranch is nestled between hills just off the main road in Cleveland, NM. Surrounded by forest, this tranquil valley has all the elements and resources of a traditional ranch complex. The 12-acre lake dominates the valley floor, with beach area for launching boats and room for anglers to cast a line. A little way up the hill on the south side of the lake are the residences, the barn and community activity center. Further up the valley is the sustainable organic farm, that provides the seeds and starts for our small community garden. These are the hubs for services to people with disabilities.
O v e r v i e w
How We Got Here
In 1997, shortly after adopting their son, Alex, Steve and Shelley Smaby purchased this 300 acre ranch for a vacation home. Alex was diagnosed with autism at age two and the ranch has always been a place of peace and contentment for him and his parents. As Alex grew older it became clear that he would not be able to live independently. After exploring a range of options for Alex, it became apparent that there was no better place for him than the ranch. That seed grew into plans for a place where other individuals with developmental disabilities could live productive, meaningful lives in this beautiful setting. After several years of planning, we broke ground in the summer of 2013. Our first resident moved here in January 2014 and we now have six adults living here, with many more that receive respite care and other supports.
Other Ranch Residents
As activity picked up at the ranch, it was only a matter of time that Steve moved out here full time. He lives just across the lake with his two daughters and their many Great Pyrenees. Steve enjoys building and working outdoors and is always looking for ways to improve the property. He is also helped a great deal by Mark and Cherry Masters (and their new daughter Aila) who live on the property and operate a sustainable organic farm. Cherry is the master gardener for the Center and Mark is responsible for the amazing landscaping throughout the property.
Our primary buildings support a number of people who have disabilities, alongside their coaches, friends and family members. There are two residential buildings with four bedrooms in each. Residents typically bring there own furniture and personal items, decorating their space in the way that is most comforting to them. Each house has a communal living area and a kitchen with dining area to strengthen relationships. Wholesome meals are prepared by staff with assistance from the residents. Our community activity center has a large central area for team building and group activities, as well as space for training coaches on how to work best with each participant. Our licensed commercial kitchen is used by staff and local residents for food processing, community events and our camping program. The community activity center also houses administrative staff, including our registered nurse, who manages medications and other medical issues. There is a small apartment on the grounds as well, which is available for individuals needing their own space, away from other people.
Our Latest Expansion - Summer Camping
This summer marked the beginning of our collaboration with Mountain Friends Camp whereby they lease our facilities for their teen camping program. Over thirty five campers and staff joined us for three weeks in July, playing and working at the ranch. Two large yurts were built for sleeping along with a modern bath house. Their vision of inclusion and respect for the environment made them an ideal partner. Not only were our residents able to be part of their camping program, but their campers and staff learned more about the unique facets of individuals with a range of disabilities. We look forward to many more sessions with our Friends in the future.
In addition to hosting the Mountain Friends, we are actively looking for other organizations that provide camping programs for individuals with disabilities. We can accomodate groups of 30 - 40 in our bunk-yurts and we can either provide food services or allow your staff access to our licensed commercial kitchen and dining area.
Our philosophy is based on an inclusive, and individualized, high quality lifestyle for this underserved rural area. There are strong traditions here, of sustainability and support for each other, along with cultural heritage and respect for meaningful work. Please look at our program specifics, and contact us to schedule a visit to our ranch and facilities.