Of all the worries western farmers and ranchers contend with at any given moment—drought, disease, pests, mid-August hail storms, mineral rights development, water wars, and more drought—the Mikita family of Calhan, Colorado has a unique problem to add to their list: Super Slab.
It sounds like something out of a ‘50’s science fiction movie, or a crop disease. It is, in fact, the brain child of a private developing concern that has proposed a 210-mile long toll highway curving through Colorado's eastern plains from Fort Collins to Pueblo, and has been decried by locals “as a solution in search of a need.” The proposed path of the Super Slab winds through the eastern plains of the Colorado Rockies and the Mikita’s 2,500 acre ranch. Were the project to go through, Scott Mikita says, “we could lose every inch of our land.”
The land that hosts the Mikita Dairy has been farmed by the family for generations, Scott and his wife Robin being the fourth. “When my sons grow up, they’ll be the fifth,” Scott predicts. Three of those generations live within spitting distance of each other now. “We like to joke that my parents live ‘up north’, Robin and I live ‘down south,’ and my grandmother lives in the middle,” Scott says. “Of course, we’re all within 50 yards of each other.” Some folks might find that arrangement too close for comfort, but for the Mikitas, close is comfort. “We’re a very tight-knit family,” Scott says. “When my sister had to live away with her husband for a few years, she and my Mom were on the phone pretty near every day.”
It’s an alliance that has brought them a long way and a good way. Though they have only recently become certified organic, the family has always farmed with minimal inputs. “My grandparents were not seduced by all the hype of chemicals and ‘bigger is better’ that came along in the 50’s. Their operation was working fine without all that. Why mess with it?” Still, when Scott graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Agriculture business, he couldn’t resist messing with it a little bit. “I had some big ideas,” he admits. He thought they might do a little better with more cows, and little better yet with more inputs. “It was clear to me pretty quickly that it did not make sense. I had the herd size up to 90 and I barely saw my family.”