A true American Dream story, a brand purchased by an Italian immigrant and his wife in 1926 and a teenager’s Christmas wish to own an Angus heifer represent the start of an operation that has truly withstood the test of time. Lazy JB Angus run 300 Registered Angus females amidst the San Juan Mountains in Montrose, CO. Originally located in Louisville, CO, just outside of Denver, Lazy JB was founded by John and Rose Biella and their son, Frank and his wife Elizabeth. Hard work and determination kept the ranch going through the depression; Frank worked in the coal mines and Liz (Elizabeth) milked cows, tended to chickens, sold milk, cream, butter and eggs in town and raised three children, one of which would later be the reason behind the “Angus” in Lazy JB.
While Lazy JB had an array of breeds to begin with (mainly Herefords to be honest!), it was a 16 year old’s Christmas wish that would be the start of a multigenerational Angus operation. Richard, the only son of Frank and Liz, received his first Angus heifer as a Christmas present. He named her “Black Diamond” after the coal mine his father Frank worked in. This female would become the foundation of the operation and be the first Angus female to wear the Lazy JB Brand. Richard was extremely active in 4-H and FFA programs growing up, participated in the 9th Annual National Western Stock Show Catch-It-Calf program and would later encourage young people across the state of Colorado to be a part of agriculture no matter the facet of the industry. Richard’s passion for Angus cattle was passed on to his daughter Kathi (Creamer), who also grew up showing Angus– winning state and local titles. She served as a Colorado Angus Queen, held many offices within the CJAA and represented the state in the National Junior Angus Showmanship contest in 1975 where she was named among the top 15 finalist. She could often be found chute side, fitting cattle with some of the industry’s top-hands, a passion she would later pass on to her children, Brandon and Britney.
Fast forward to 1999, when urban development began encroaching on Lazy JB, the dream of expanding the operation would become a reality as Richard, his wife Elaine, his daughter Kathi and her husband Jeff Creamer and family would close up shop in Louisville as the last working ranch/farm on US-36 between Denver and Boulder, CO. The ranch was relocated to Montrose where it was able to expand in numbers and allow Jeff and Kathi to live out their lifelong dream of a full-time ranching career.
Family owned and operated couldn’t be truer than with Lazy JB Angus as the Creamer family run the day-to day operations without outside help and handle every aspect of the herd and land management. Brandon is a local county 4-H extension agent, and Britney is an area sales manager for BioZyme Inc. Both grew up in the Angus breed serving as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the NJAA board of directors, showing numerous bred & owned animals with the coveted Lazy JB brand and experienced successes that ranged from Angus Champion Bulls, females and steers, an ROV Show Heifer of the Year and a NJAS Showmanship Championship. Both play an active role in all aspects of Lazy JB. Brandon and Britney say they are extremely grateful to have parents that allow them to be directly involved in the day to day decisions and investments the operation make; from selecting herd bulls to purchase, to mating decisions, sale cattle selection, marketing and operational design and function, Jeff and Kathi are always open and encouraging to their input.
As within any operation, the hurdles that must be crossed to stay afloat in today’s agriculture industry are inevitably always evolving. For Lazy JB raising cattle at high altitudes come with more obstacles than the average cattlemen deal with. The Creamers work diligently to conquer the obstacles of high desert cattle country and rise to the challenge by utilizing multiple tools and technology within their herd. All bulls and females are Pulmonary Arterial Pressure (PAP) tested and bloodlines are watched carefully to ensure that cattle can handle the stresses presented at high altitudes. “In many instances we cannot use the same sires as many of our fellow cattlemen because they just point blank cannot live at high elevation and don’t work for our commercial cattlemen” says Brandon. “Our cattle forage on ground that is not suitable for any use other than grazing, in the summers we graze cattle; including donors and former show heifers up to 9,500 feet and winter cattle at 6,500 feet. These cattle have to be sound, fertile, self-sufficient and able to work in all segments of the industry from the showring to the pasture to the feedlot.”
Cattlemen and those that raise livestock all have their own criteria and at Lazy JB they “don’t follow trends; we know our cows and our environment, we study bloodlines and look at genetics to try to make the next generation better. The bulls we purchase are done so with a purpose and we know that longevity within your herd will result in the sustainability of the cattlemen” says Jeff. After a number of years marketing bulls private treaty and at consignment sales, they gradually built their numbers and held their first annual bull sale in 2001. The selection of these sale lots is not taken lightly and only 65 bulls are marketed through the annual bull sale. In the fall of 2010 an online show heifer sale was added where only the top 10-15 tier of world class show heifers and future donor cows are offered. “We believe in the power of the female, and that behind every great herd sire and future donor is the dam that raised them to be what they’ve become. The mother cow is the true factory in every operation; she will be the one that ultimately decides your future in the cattle business and this is a major focus for us when selecting the show heifers we offer each fall, we want them to not only be successful in the ring but when set into production” says Kathi. Replacement females and steers are marketed privately through the ranch or with Superior Livestock. While many reading this may most recognize the Lazy JB Brand from within the showring, they are a major source for commercial and registered producers to find the genetic needs for their cowherd to optimize their investment.
While they are grateful to be involved in many aspects of this industry they are quick to credit the showring for the life skill development, friendships and foundation it has built for their family. “We are involved in this industry because we love the challenge of producing superior cattle and seeing those cattle work for our customers. We all want to be successful,” says Britney “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. But we all measure success differently. For our operation, there’s nothing more exciting than watching our bull customers command top premiums for Lazy JB sired calves, watching a kid achieve their goals within the showring or when you can say that a female from your herd has helped a family send their child to college, ensure that they could continue ranching another year or became the foundation of an operation that has grown ten fold, there’s simply no better feeling,” she adds.
We are extremely humbled and grateful of all the good in our lives that God has blessed us with and look forward to continuing our family’s ranching legacy for generations to come. The Lazy JB brand is something very near and dear to our hearts and something we try every day to live up to while embracing industry advancements and honoring lifelong tradition. •