Bright Young Collectors: Andrew Schafer

Image courtesy of Andrew Schafer

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Andrew Schafer, one of the winners of the 2021 Taylor C. Kirkpatrick Prize for Colorado residents aged 30 and younger.  

Note: The 2022 prize is now open for submissions. The winner will receive a $1,000 prize, a trophy, and recognition at the 2022 Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair.  The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2022.

Where are you from / where do you live?

I live in the rural countryside near Dolores, Colorado. I have lived in southwestern Colorado my entire life.

What did you study at university? What do you do now for an occupation?

I studied business at Fort Lewis College and then continued to Colorado State University to earn a master's degree in Integrated Resource Management. I currently operate my own ranch/homestead with my wife. Our primary focus is our heritage Navajo Churro Sheep, but we also finish beef, raise laying hens, and plan to expand our perennial food forest/garden and add bees and pigs.

Please introduce us to your book collection.  What areas do you collect in? 

My book collection is focused around raising sheep and cattle, with an emphasis on alternative or old world practices. I have several books from around the world. I particularly enjoy books that connect human, animal and land. This is a relationship that's nearly as old as time and quite dear to my heart.

How many books are in your collection?

Around 30 or so. It is very important to me to read each book I intend to add to my collection, cover to cover. Not every book that comes home makes the cut.

Courtesy of Andrew Schafer

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

The first book to start my collection was actually a gift from an old rancher that knew I liked books. It's the three-volume edition by JE Rouse called World Cattle. Rouse took a worldwide trip documenting the breeds and management of cattle. It is incredible to see documentations of breeds that once were so vital to a region and have since been displaced and are rare or endangered.

How about the most recent book?

My most recent addition is Community Grazing: Practice and Potential in New Mexico by Clyde Eastman and James R. Gray. I look forward to reading this 1987 first edition that evaluates the tragedy of the commons in a region I am familiar with.

And your favorite book in your collection?

I have Godfrey Bowen's Wool Away which is one of the most complete books ever written on sheep shearing. Bowen was a real innovator in shearing technique to ease stress on the sheep and shearer. As a sheep shearer myself, I review it each spring before the shearing season begins.

Best bargain you’ve found?

I had my eye on some of Chip Hines books, he is a Colorado rancher/author who has now passed. One day I was perusing Ebay and saw one of his books for $0.99 with free shipping. Can't beat a deal like that. It is one of my favorites too.

How about The One that Got Away?

I had my eye on a 1909 rare copy of Alexander Graham Bell's sheep breeding experiments, It was signed which added significant value as his autograph is quiet rare. It recently sold for $8000 on eBay. I was unfortunately not a contending bidder.

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?

I would love to add any of the works from Jan Bonsma, a South African researcher who took time to thoroughly understand cattle metabolic function and what makes cattle adapted to a given environment. His books are quite hard to come by, but I do hope to add some someday.

Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?

I have really enjoyed shopping on eBay, there are often many undervalued and uncommon books that can be found if you hunt frequently enough. As for a brick and mortar shop, BOOKS in Cortez, CO is my favorite. It's a very well organized shop with a proprietor who I enjoy visiting with.

What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?

It is easy to say without hesitation that collecting antique tools would be my go to, I already have a few gems.