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.

July 14, 2014

Hoping for Rain

Saturday afternoon large clouds gathered angrily overhead, as if they were going to wash us away, yet again they slipped around our north boundary, as if fleeing, to the east.  Like they have been doing for the last three years.  As I tried to fall asleep that night, I wondering (hoping) what rains might come in the night.  Jumping out of bed in the dark the next morning, I made coffee and headed outside.  To my surprise and great joy,

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July 9, 2014

The Sheep Shade Huddle

The kids brought the sheep into headquarters this morning so they could perform their weed eating duties in the ranch yard.  They keep pretty busy at work most of the time, but as the day heats up shade gets more important than food.  Being sheep, it is a group endeavor.

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July 3, 2014

More Sand Creatures

The diversity found on the Chico surprises me all the time. I saw these yesterday on my way to a pasture check in the sand country. I see the ground squirrels pretty regularly but they don’t pose for very long. The turtle is the first I’ve seen, previously I have only found the shell.


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July 2, 2014

A Sunday Afternoon Adventure

On Sunday we saw a lost, or what we perceived as being lost, Stingray Corvette headed down the road toward the sand behind my house.  It’s rare to see anyone on our roads except our trucks, much less a high performance car.  Duke and I half smiled because we knew it would be back soon due of the loose sand it was headed into, and the low clearance of the car.  I say half smiled; we also were in awe.

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July 1, 2014


The cholla cactus just started to bloom last week. At first you just would see one flower here and there, but after a few days, there were blossoms everywhere. They don’t last very long, but the bright, purple flowers are pretty astounding against the blue skies, and offer a contrasting color to the greens and golds of the prairie. 

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June 28, 2014


The summer solstice was here and now behind us.  It’s still dry, but we always forget that June is mostly like that, and how it also brings the heat on.  Michael is on vacation with his family on a lake somewhere, I’m pretty sure.  Thinking of him, reminds of cool places, like the mountains where the streams are beginning to slow down as the winter snow fields melt. We are seeing pronghorn females loitering alone in the pastures; we’ll soon

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June 26, 2014

More Babies

Yesterday, Amy and I wrangled the broodmares from the north part of the ranch to bring them to new pasture.  We stopped by headquarters to look through them and inspect the new foals. There are still a few more to go but so far they are all healthy and vibrant. Here’s a shot of Amy petting a young one that decided to nap before going back out. 

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June 18, 2014

Back in the Saddle

It’s a busy time of year on the Chico. We are still branding calves, sorting dry cows and turning out bulls for the summer breeding season. That all translates to a lot of riding and roping, my favorite things. But we’ve also been busy preparing and hosting for the concert last weekend. It was a great event and fun for everyone but I’m happy to turn in my carpenter’s tool belt for a little while. This shot is my view

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June 17, 2014

Steve Earle and the Dukes

Steve Earle and the Dukes (the name of his band). What a show last Saturday night.   What a party!  Duke Beardsley was here and we joked about how the three Dukes should have cornered Steve E. and taken a photo of Steve and the Dukes.  Would have been fun.  I kept thinking about how much time and energy and money it took to put this show on, and then when the cars started streamed down the road coming at

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June 9, 2014

Ranch Roundup

Bird banding, bison babies, lambing and more branding kept both the Zapata crew and the Chico crew busy this May.

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