Horse Haven Ranch
We’ve loved every minute of our journey
Matanuska Colony Project
Horse Haven Ranch has a remarkable history. It's place in Palmer's history was one of the many reasons we fell in love with the property. It all began in 1935, when President Roosevelt started the federally-funded Matanuska Colony Project to encourage growth in Alaska. Almost 200 families signed up to come to Alaska to start their own colony legacy. This photo is of the colonist's tents set up in what is now, downtown Palmer. A man named Clyde Martin drew this property as one of the colony tracts (tract #40) being dispersed through the Matanuska Colony Project. The tract had nearly 111 acres made up of three lots.
Hard Times Ahead
Times were hard for the colonists. Supplies were limited and expensive. Education and medical were almost non-existent. The colonists accomplised so much for the resources they had. They made highways and built the Matanuska and Knik bridges. Palmer became the center of commerce for the Valley. While the colonists banded together and many survived through, the Martins packed it up that fall and let it go back to the government. In 1936, Replacement Colonists came to Alaska to redraw the farms that were left behind. C.N. and Bertha Perrine drew colony tract #40 and built the colony home we live in today.
All the Bacon
The Perrine's lived and worked the land for several years. They likely were the builders of a much older barn that was built closer the river. If you look, you can see the hole in the top right where the colony home was before they moved it to where it is today. Arthur & Elina Holbrook were the next to add to our history. The Holbrook's moved from Michigan in 1944 and bought colony tract. The Holbrook's raised pigs in the old colony barn by the river and a family in the colony home. At some point, the erosion took that barn and went into the river.
A Marriage of Two Colony Families
Another colonist family, the Falk's, lived and helped colonized the valley. We actually have a Falk lake and a Falk lane in the Butte named after Victor Falk. In 1945, we see the Holbrook and Falk family join through marriage. Juanita Holbrook and Vic Falk Jr were married on June 21. The Holbrook's continued to work the land until it was sold to their son-in-law, Vic Jr. in 1954. At some point in this timeframe, the farm transistioned from a pig farm to a dairy farm. In 1948, they built the iconic barn for dairy cows that we know today. Face it, they are the reason you are here right now.
A Dairy Dream
The Falk's raised their family on the farm and added onto the colony home for their growing needs. In 1962, the Falk's sold the ranch the Doyle McCombs. McCombs then expanded the dairy farm to include 185 cows. He added on the newer barn addition to the back that added 100 feet. He also added several additions to the colony home.
A Barn Turns Red
McCombs went a step farther and ended up subdividing and building a road that runs alongside the ranch to a new neighborhood. McCombs Road actually leads to the parking lot you will be using on your special day. He also painted the yellow tin to the traditional barn red and added a tin roof. Doyle McCombs would go on to work the farm for almost 40 years before deciding it was time to retire.
Horse Haven Ranch
In 2002, Patti and Ray Huntsman began looking for horse property to move their seven horses to Alaska. They met with the McCombs and it was love at first site. They renamed the farm as Horse Haven Ranch. Patti moved their horses to Alaska and also opened the ranch for boarding. The would eventually own 25 quarterhorses. The horse boarding and raising proved to be difficult as Ray got sick and her time was being pulled in different directions. Patti decided she needed to find another avenue to keep the roof over their heads while he fought to get well.
Chicken Haven Ranch?
Starting in 2009, Patti began to bring in chickens for the locals. She also began to raise ducks, geese, turkeys, and guinea hens. The "crazy chicken lady" was born. She was out there at 60 years young, working hard raising her birds and taking care of her husband. In 2012, Ray lost his fight and escaped the constant pain he was in. Patti has continued to raise birds to make a very modest living. However, as expenses increased, it became harder to make a profit. She was debating selling the ranch and moving from her home for the last 18 years. Her two youngest daughters approached her with the idea of converting the barn to a wedding venue and an idea was born.
The Real Work Begins
Saying that you are turning a barn into wedding barn sounds so simple but it's a lot of work. The barn has been used for cows, horses, and birds for 72 years. The work is challenging but it has been rewarding to complete as a family #itwillbeworthit. Patti and her two youngest daughters are building this legacy together. We have very big goals of making the ranch into a destination wedding location, eventually even including the colony home as part of the package. We are converting a pole barn into a 2000 sqft pavilion to start. The milk house is the bridal suite and the wash station is now a bridal dressing room. We are adding a bathroom house with a mens and womens bathroom as well as two family restrooms. We will also have a basic prep kitchen. We have about 3 acres for parking and a 5 acre field for your ceremony and any other fun activities you would like to have. Every year will see major changes as we complete items on the checklist. Keep in mind, the iconic big red barn itself will not be used as a reception hall for years to come. It is open for photos and houses the bridal suite. With that in mind, as we make these improvements, our rates will obviously go up. If you'd like to lock in the amazing pricepoint we are offering, book today!
Much of our story and background came from the Palmer Historical Society. We would like to sincerely thank them for all the hard work and time they did researching for us.
For more information: http://www.palmerhistoricalsociety.org/