Chico Basin Ranch

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch


The Chico is an 87,000 acre cattle ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado. Its sprawling ranges of short grass and sandsage prairie, spring-fed lakes, and creeks are home to diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, prairie dogs, coyote, badgers, and much more. Owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Ranchlands, the Chico also offers education, farming, recreation, sporting, arts, and hospitality programs.

February 10, 2015

The Alley

I had unusually gone running on Sunday. Tromping thru the pastures on foot rather than atop a horse was a fresh experience, but I didn’t realize it would foreshadow the next week’s work. As we sorted cattle for the annual pregnancy check, I dashed, dodged and sprinted up and down “The Alley” as 1000 lb beef missiles came one after another, sometimes in a barrage of five. I felt like I should have had on a clown costume, but there

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February 9, 2015

Sticking Together

We have been meeting early in the mornings, when you can just barely see, gathering outside the saddle room rehashing the day about to begin. Everyone is going in different directions in the dark preparing syringes and vaccines, saddling horses, checking the fence around the weaner steers, feeding and seemingly a hundred more things in preparation for pregnancy testing almost 1,000 females. As it becomes light enough to see, three of us in the back of the pens on

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January 28, 2015

A Day on the Sister Ranch

Yesterday I headed over to the Chico from Zapata to join their crew in a large gather and sort day.

I don’t often get a chance to head to the other side of the mountains to spend time with that crew, but I always enjoy it when I do. The landscape is different to Zapata; the dawn seems more drawn out because of the expanse of the prairie and you get to ride in the morning glow for longer.


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January 22, 2015

Give Me a Horse

Last week we had to move around 500 head of cattle out of four pastures into one. This encompasses over 10,000 acres of land to cover. In general, we keep our cattle herd together in a single pasture, but in this instance cattle had broken through fence into an adjacent pasture, had been intentionally left behind in another, and yet another pasture had been invaded by a neighbor’s cattle. Unfortunately, due to constraining circumstances such as weather and logistics, we

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January 21, 2015


Chico Basin Ranch sits on a little less than 88,000 acres (approximately 137 square miles). The island of Manhattan could fit inside the boundaries of our property six times. There’s no other way to describe this ranch than vast–there are pastures I haven’t been to yet and I don’t even know my way around all the ones that I have been to. And for all the talk of the overcrowding of our planet, unsustainable population growth, and the congestion of

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January 12, 2015

The Future

Here she is – Miss Chico Basin. Her mother is home raised ½ Beefmaster, half commercial angus cow, moderate in size, hardy and thrifty and able to stay on the move and forage, through drought and plenty. This young lady is ¾ Beefmaster and, though not yet weaned, already over 1/2 the size of her mother. She is the product of a long term refining process, molded by our philosophy that cattle should be adapted to

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December 30, 2014

Touched by a Painting – Western Horseman

A side street in urban Denver, Colorado, is an unlikely place to find bales of hay tucked around a doorway obscured by a black cloth. But it’s how I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

November 19, 2014

Colorado College Students Monitoring at Chico Basin Ranch

Chico Basin Ranch uses the Land EKG® monitoring system to quantify the health of the grassland in their pastures. We enjoyed doing some of this prairie monitoring for Michael this year while getting to know the ranch and it’s native shortgrass prairie.
Monitoring on the ranch was simply complicated. We’d drive many miles to pasture, find the monitoring location amongst the the grasses, take photos of the area and of the ground, estimate the amount of grass on the ground, weigh

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October 15, 2014

The Pecking Order

Anyone who has had a stare down with a Red Racer doing it’s “I’m a cobra and I’m checkin’ you out” routine knows they are an Alpha Snake. Running into this guy on the trot home the other day was proof. Yes, that is a rattlesnake he’s eating. Adds a whole new meaning to “Don’t Tread on Me”.

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October 2, 2014

Fall is Here

Yesterday, after the clouds cleared from the storm, Pikes Peak’s shoulders were covered with the first snow of the season. Mornings are now crisp, the middle of the days warm, the range gold, yellow and tan and full of grass from the wonderful rains this summer. Fall is in here in full force. The snow tells us what we already know: winter is on its way. We are all looking forward to the new season

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