Ah, the luxury of open spaces.

For many, moving from the city to a small ranchette or acreage is the romance of the West coming true. A few acres may seem like unlimited space after living with neighbors an arm's length away, but many times acreage owners put too much stress on their land by demanding too much from it.

Rod Sharp, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agriculture and business management economic specialist for the Western slope, said that the value of many properties can be destroyed because of poor management. The Western Small Acreage Expo, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, April 29, in Grand Junction, provides acreage owners resources to better manage their land.

Sharp said small acreage management is becoming a critical issue, because of development of the West. Poor management of an acreage leads to erosion, affects the quality of water, plummets property values, harms animals and angers neighbors.

"More and more people are able to afford a few acres," said Sharp. "But many of them aren't familiar with the special set of circumstances that comes with living on a small acreage. For example, many small acreage owners put too many animals on too little pasture. Five acres of pasture often is not enough to support one horse, let alone four. Before long, the pasture is a field of dust. The value of the property has nosedived, the neighbors are annoyed and the horses are suffering."

The expo, sponsored by Colorado State Cooperative Extension and Colorado State University Agricultural Experiment Station, will focus on many issues of owning a small acreage. Admission to the day-long expo is free and provides activities for the whole family.

A variety of hands-on demonstrations, lectures and exhibitors will offer information on pesticide safety, soil and water testing, composting, fencing, organic crop production, animal vaccinations, animal handling techniques, growing fruit, water management, pasture management, living with wildlife and horse care and management.

Space is limited for some workshops, so pre-registration is recommended by April 14. Call Sharp to register or for more information, at 970-245-9149.

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