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To receive an autographed copy of Mariano’s Crossing, you may buy a copy using a button below. The first button is for shipped orders. If you have the opportunity to visit Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, please select the second button and pick up your copy from the ranch gift shop; stop by and say hello!

Mariano’s Crossing is also available from most book stores (please support your local independent book store!), in addition to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Book Tour by Laura Pritchett


One of my favorite authors may be coming your way. If you live in any of the cities listed below, be sue to attend Laura Pritchett’s reading and book signing event. She’s a prize-winning author from northern Colorado, and is a neighbor of ours. Two of her previous books are among my favorites: Hell’s Bottom, Colorado and Stars Go Blue. Many of the same characters populate both stories, including an Alzheimer’s victim to tries to avenge the murder of his daughter before his disease makes it impossible. Very gripping. I haven’t yet read her new book, Red Lightning, but it sounds great as well: a woman who abandons her baby daughter to smuggle illegal aliens seeks redemption.

June 20, 5 pm, Skylight Books Los Angeles, CA 
June 26, 2 pm, BookPeople of Moscow, Idaho
June 27, 7 pm Auntie’s Books, Spokane, WA
June 28, 3 pm, Elliott Bay Books, Seattle, WA
June 29, 7:30 pm Powell’s Bookstore Hawthorne Portland, OR
July 1, 7 pm,  Book Bar, Denver, CO
July 13, 7 pm, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
July 14, 7 pm, Powerhouse Arena, Brooklyn, NY

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Can you invent a term for what these pigs do? Enter our Naming Contest Today!

Pigs exploring the pasture









When Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm put his pigs to work making compost out of the manure and wood chips in his barn, he coined the term, “Pigerator” to describe what they do.

We need a new term to describe the work pigs are doing to one of our pastures at Sylvan Dale Ranch.

The pasture is an unproductive swath of sod-bound fescue just south of our Big Valley Lakes. The forage lacks variety because the fescue chokes out any other plants that try to sprout there. Our cattle graze it every year, but the soil is compacted and the growth is meager. This pasture badly needs regeneration.

The traditional remedy is to spray the old grass with herbicide to kill it, then plow, disk, harrow, reseed, and fertilize, then let the new pasture grow for a year to get established. Unfortunately, this method harms soil fertility. As an alternative, we tried mob grazing with cattle. By packing a large number of 1300 lb. cows into a small area of pasture, we hoped the churning impact of cow hooves would damage the fescue enough to allow a new seed mixture, broadcast on the ground and “planted” by the cows, to germinate and add some variety to the pasture.

It didn’t work. That fescue sod is tough!

Enter the pigs, courtesy of Spring Kite Farm, a new Sylvan Dale agri-partner. Michael Baute and Meghan are young farmers based in Ft. Collins, Colorado. For several years they have successfully grown vegetables to supply local customers and restaurants, and were looking for more land to lease in order to expand operations and introduce pigs, chickens and goats into their mix of offerings. Sylvan Dale Ranch raises grass-fed, grass-finished beef, along with enough hay to fuel our horse heard and get the cattle through the winter. Why not join forces with Spring Kite Farm and together, create a truly holistic, comprehensive agriculture operation?

At some point during these discussions it dawned on us that pigs might be able to do what the cows couldn’t churn up the pasture enough to weaken or destroy the fescue as a prelude to re-seeding. Pigs don’t just graze, they root. Those amazing snouts might turn enough soil and gobble up enough of those pesky fescue rhizomes to open up the sod for new plants. Worth a try. We decided to start small to see if it works.

You can see the results in this video Pretty impressive, we think. Pigs doing the work of machines. What should we call them? What should we call the work they are doing? We’ve started googling synonyms for “plowing” and for “pigs” to come up with ideas, but we haven’t got there yet. Here’s where you come in.

We invite you to a naming contest! Use the “Comments” feature on this blog to send in your entry. A distinguished panel of judges will select the winner!

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Mariano’s Crossing Tour – View from Red Ridge


Was this ridge the secret grave site of Lena Medina, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Loveland’s first settler? According to David M. Jessup’s historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, the beautiful young girl could have been buried in a place like this after her distraught Indian mother stole the girl’s body from their home on the Big Thompson River.

Thirty participants visited this site during the May 17 tour of historic sites depicted in the book.

“Wow! What a ride and what a beautiful place,” said one participant after ascending to the cliff top.“ Another said, “it was a very special day for all of us. David Jessup was so knowledgeable of the history of the ranch and of course of his book.”

The tour, sponsored by the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale ranch, began with brunch in the ranch dining room followed by a walking visit to the original ranch homestead next to the river. Other sites included the restored Medina cemetery, the old Weldon school, and Namaqua Park, location of the original stage stop and trading post established by Mariano Medina in 1858.

The tour was sold out several days in advance, and a waiting list established for the next tour, to be scheduled sometime in September. To get on the wait list, contact To purchase a book, visit

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The Reporter Herald posts an article on upcoming historical tour

History and fiction combined in tour of Mariano’s Crossing

By Jessica Benes

Reporter-Herald Staff Writer

POSTED:   05/13/2015 03:31:40 PM MDT


Mariano’s Crossing

“Mariano’s Crossing” is available at or on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. His next book, a prequel to this one, is almost reading to be published.

Find out more about the tours at

David M Jessup surveying flood damage at Sylvan Dale Ranch

Standing on the bridge over the Big Thompson river where the road was washed away by flood waters, David Jessup, owner of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, talks with a man surveying damage Thursday, September 26, 2013 in west Loveland. The guest ranch sustained heavy damage in the Front Range flood. (Lilia Munoz / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

In David Jessup’s story, “Mariano’s Crossing,” he uses history and creative fiction to answer the “why” of many mysteries in Mariano Medina’s life.

Mariano Medina was one of the first settlers in the area before Loveland was Loveland.

History is full of holes. There were rumors that Medina’s wife, Takansy, stole their daughter’s body, who died at 15, and buried it in a secret place. There were rumors that Medina tied his son onto a horse and that his son died that way. There were rumors that Medina shot a man off a ladder while the man was working on his roof.

Jessup, who owns Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch with his sister, Susan Jessup, will host a tour on Sunday of historic sites used in his book.

Visitors will take a walking tour of the main ranch and look at a site of Indian tepee rings and a wall that was part of the original homestead of William Alexander, who settled with his family on the property in 1864. The wall used to be beneath a lodge that was destroyed by the September 2013 Front Range flood.

The tour will also include a drive to the site of the old Weldon School and to the Mariano Medina Cemetery near Namaqua Park. Jessup will also show viewers the location behind the Big Thompson School that he used in his book as the fictional burial site of Lena Medina and John Alexander’s hideout.

“We did a previous tour back in the spring of 2013. There was so much demand for it that we scheduled another in September 2013,” Jessup said. “Then, you know what happened in September 2013.”

The flood that came down the Big Thompson River dug out a big chunk of the Sylvan Dale land and took out several buildings. The ranch is back on its feet but can only serve half the people it used to. The ranch used to have lodging for 60 people for overnight stays and now are at around 30.

Jessup said the tour is available for only 30 people but they are compiling a waiting list for more tours at a time and date to be determined.

“Mariano’s Crossing” is available at or on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. His next book, a prequel to this one, is almost reading to be published.

Jessica Benes: 970-669-5050 ext. 530,


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May 7th – Mariano’s Crossing – Loveland’s First Family, Fact and Fiction

Join author David Jessup for a virtual journey into post-gold rush Colorado, when Mariano Medina, a Mexican trader, became the richest man in the Big Thompson valley. What caused the mysterious death of Mariano’s daughter, Lena? Why did Mariano’s Indian wife steal Lena’s body from their home? These questions, and more, will be explored in depth using historic images from the museum’s collection. Contact: David Jessup at (970) 481-8342.

Mariano's Crossing Book CoverDavid-JCost:          Free

Time:         5:00pm-6:00pm

Location:   Loveland Museum/Gallery, 503 N Lincoln Avenue, Loveland

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Mariano’s Crossing – Book Tour of Historic Sites


In cooperation with Loveland’s Historic Preservation Month, I will be leading a tour of sites described in my award-winning historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing on Sunday, May 17, 2015.  The tour is sponsored by the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning at Sylvan Dale Ranch.

The event will begin with brunch at Sylvan Dale, followed by a presentation and a walking tour of the ranch grounds, including Indian tipi rings and the remains of the original Alexander homestead dugout, which was exposed by the 2013 flood.  We’ll end with beverages and snacks and a presentation on the history of Sylvan Dale and the great floods of 1976 and 2013. In between, the group will visit the site of the old Weldon School, the Medina Cemetery, Namaqua Park (Mariano’s original Crossing) and Red Ridge, the novel’s imagined location of John Alexander’s hideout and Lena’s secret gravesite.

A group tour at Sylvan Dale RanchThe Red Ridge segment of the tour will be available only to participants who have their own four-wheel drive vehicles, who can car-pool with someone else, or who choose to climb the last half-mile on foot (calculate a half-hour fairly steep hike up an old quarry road bed).  Those who are unable to join the Red Ridge segment will return to Sylvan Dale for happy hour before the late afternoon program. 

Cabins are available for optional bed-and-breakfast stays for anyone who would like an overnight spring get-away.

I look forward to your joining us!

David M. Jessup


PS. For those not able to join the tour, please consider attending a “virtual tour” (my Fact-to-Fiction slide presentation) at 5:00 PM on Thursday, May 7, at the Loveland Museum, 503 N. Lincoln Ave. No charge, no RSVP necessary.

COST:  $79.00, paid in advance.  Includes full brunch, late afternoon snacks, meeting facility and tour.  Optional Bed-and-breakfast overnight “spring getaway” stay available for $110/night (double occupancy).

REGISTRATION:  On-line at,

Or send a check to National Center for Craftsmanship (fiscal sponsor of Heart-J Center, at PO Box 150, Masonville, CO 80541, with “HJC book tour” in memo line.   Questions?  E-mail, or call (970) 481-8342.  


12:00 Noon.  Full brunch in the Sylvan Dale Heritage Room.

12:30 PM.  Historic photo slide presentation Mariano’s Crossing – From Fact to Fiction. Heritage Room, Sylvan Dale Ranch.

1:00 PM.  Walking tour of main ranch grounds, including the original William Alexander Homestead, the original bridge location, old barn, Indian tipi rings, and view of Mt. Alexander.

2:00 PM.  Depart for driving tour, car caravan to the Weldon School ruins, Marianna Butte, Medina Cemetery, and Mariano’s Crossing near Namaqua Park.

4:00 AM.  Red Ridge, the “Hideout,” overlooking the river valley below. (hikers and 4-wheelers only. Others return to main ranch for happy hour). 

5:30 PM. Beverages and snacks at Sylvan Dale Heritage Room, with presentation on the history of Sylvan Dale and the great floods of 1976 and 2013.

Optional: Overnight Bed and Breakfast “spring get-away” stays available at Sylvan Dale. $110/night.



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Parenting with Courage and Uncommon Sense

Parenting with Courage CoverParenting With Courage and Uncommon Sense, by Linda E. Jessup and Emory Luce Baldwin, contains the wisdom of over 30 years of parenting classes run by the Parent Encouragement Program, founded by Linda in 1982.  This book is truly a gift for parents and all adults who work with children.  Sections of it read like a novel as you follow the Naylor family’s struggle to overcome challenges and learn new ways of guiding children of all ages through encouragement, rather than authoritarian or permissive parenting styles.  You will identify with them (and learn with them) as they journey from discouragement to hope and change.

Autographed copies of Parenting With Courage can be purchased here.

Linda professional

Linda E. Jessup founded the Parent Education Program (PEP) in 1982 and directed it for 18 years.  Once a “desperate parent” herself, Linda developed the PEP curriculum from the practical and inspiring approach to parenting of Alfred Adler and Rudolph Dreikurs and served on the Board of the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology for two terms.  She has published numerous columns and produced a radio show on parenting, and speaks frequently at parenting workshops.  She and David have raised four children and added several foster teenagers into the family mix.


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A Sunny, Literary Break

Key West SunriseWe don’t mean to rub it in, but Linda and I managed to escape the cold north and our flood recovery woes for a few days at the Key West Literary Seminar.  I was invited to join eleven other writers in a workshop/critique group led by Paula Alden, with the purpose of “taking your writing to the next level.”

The workshop was very helpful as I work to put the finishing touches on a prequel to my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing.  The new book’s working title is Mariano’s Choice.  Mariano Medina falls for Takansy when they first meet at Fort Bridger in 1842, then must choose between abandoning her or betraying his friend, and her husband, Louis Papin.

Paula Alden is the author of The Answer To Your Question, a literary thriller.  Linda and I are half way through it, and are totally in its grip.  A devoted mother is awakened by police looking for her college-age son, who they claim is a serial killer.  The harrowing hunt unfolds in alternating chapters, first through the eyes of the mother, then from the point of view of a poor, uneducated young woman seeking the mother’s help to resolve her own troubles.  Each point of view is authentically rendered, each with a distinct, and very believable, voice.  We find ourselves caring about these people, even the son, and can’t wait to keep reading.

David J

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Author Readings at Bas Bleu

I’ll be participating in an evening of readings by local writers on November 5th at 7:00pm at Bas Bleu Theater. There will be poetry, excerpts from novels and essays. Written and read by members of Northern Colorado Writers: Dean Miller, Nan Reed, Wanda Tierney, Nic Widhalm, David Jessup, Rich Keller and Stephen Benjamin. Doors open at 6:30pm and admission is $5.  C’mon down!
Details here

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Conversations With Authors Event

When I started twelve years ago to write my historical novel, Mariano’s Crossing, I never thought I would be sharing a speakers platform with two of my favorite authors, Laura Pritchett and Patty Limerick.  Now, I am pleased to say, that moment has come.

On Saturday, October 5, starting at 10:00 AM, the three of us will be speaking at a “Conversations with Authors” event at the Embassy Suites Hotel near the Budweiser Events Center Near Crossroads Blvd and I-25.  Sponsored by the American Association of University Women, the event raises funds for post-graduate scholarships for women.  The cost is $50.

For reservations, including lunch, contact Martha Diccico by e-mail  or call 970-461-5794.  The RSVP deadline is Monday, September 30, but if you get this too late, try anyway!

I first learned about Laura Pritchett when I got hooked on her book, Hell’s Bottom, Colorado.  It’s a collection of inter-connected short stories which, taken together, create a compelling account of three generations of a ranching family in a town suspiciously like Bellvue, Colorado, where Laura lives.  Word is out she has a sequel in the works, and I’m elbowing everyone else aside to be first in line to buy it.

Patty Limerick runs the Center for the American West at CU, and in her previous books has transformed the way we view the history of the American West.  Her latest book, A Ditch in Time, tells the fascinating story of Denver Water, with some characters that appear stranger than fiction.  Each wonderfully readable chapter begins with–you guessed it–a limerick.

Hope you can join us.  For me, it will be a nice break from Sylvan Dale flood recovery!


David J

PS.  Click here to read an article about this event in the Loveland Reporter Herald.

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