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 16, 2013

Who we are, where we’re going

Amy suggested we try a different approach to opening our financial planning brainstorming meeting. At her suggestion I put together a few prompts, & an outline that led us to describe the Chico in some different ways, and embark on our brainstorming meeting in a positive, cooperative spirit.

In the meeting, we were attempting to answer the questions that I alluded to in my last blog post, How can we make enough money to offset the losses that not having calves

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February 14, 2013

Drought, selling cows

Duke, Stuart Amy & myself met on Tuesday afternoon to check in. The dress code was neckties & work clothes. The topic of conversation revolved around the drought, & that we are going to sell off a substantial chunk of the cow herd over the next months.We were all quiet & thoughtful & a little goofy looking, as we sat & talked about what the ranch might look like with fewer cows on it, & where we’ll focus our time

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February 13, 2013

Beefmaster records

Duke tasked Amy with certifying the Beefmaster cows. The Beefmasters are a pure bred group of cows (Beefmaster is the name of the breed). We haven’t registered this group for the last eight years. And now it’s time.

The re-certification process involves going through years of calf records (lists of numbers indicating a momma cow and her calf) & matching the current group of cows, to the ones we had certified 8+ years ago. Some records are incomplete, and numbers are

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February 7, 2013

The Quonset

This week has been dedicated to reorganizing and improving the Quonset (the big red hangar looking structure at HQ).  Here Harper is planing 1 of 6 new work benches we’re building for the metal and auto mechanic bays we’re creating in the Quonset.  He’s planing it smoother than Suave’s new felt brim.  For those unfamiliar with Suave’s new headwear, it’s pretty darn smooth.  For those familiar with the Quonset, note the west door is open in the background.  Eli, Michael

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January 31, 2013


He’s still alive and kicking it.  Cholla is a hell of a drug.

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January 29, 2013

Schoolhouse Proverb

A photo by Jeanie Mitchell of an inscription left by a member of one of the many volunteer groups that put time and heart into the schoolhouse.  Thanks to Bill Maynard for forwarding it on.

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January 22, 2013

Lone Star School House

After the Lone Star School House fire, things have been very quiet and sad at the Chico.  Its like an old friend died.  I can’t say how sorry I am that this happened, the responsibility that I feel, the loss.  Its one of the vestiges of the past that was a symbol for many things.  It touched the lives of so many children and grownups alike: school kids, boy and girl scouts, hunters, guests and all the families that have

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January 19, 2013

Nothing We Could Do

It was a tragic afternoon.  We lost a Chico landmark, and more, a partner in many of our endevours, when the Lone Star Schoolhouse burnt to the ground yesterday afternoon.  It will take us a while to sort our all the ramifications to our education and hunting operations, let alone just the sense of loss of the passing of this unique building.
No one was hurt and we got there in time to keep the fire from spreading far into the surrounding grass, we

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January 10, 2013


With our crew reassembled after the holidays, we have jumped into a series of pasture moves and gathers. Working in two or three separate groups of riders, we went to with gusto this week: consolidating groups of cattle and moving them elsewhere on the ranch, and sorting out old rough looking cows for sale.

Because we’ve been dealing with a lot of dry cows (cows without calves on them), my dog Liz(ard) has been able to accompany me on pasture moves.

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January 4, 2013

Festive Colors

Folks from town always seem more than willing to share their festivities with us.  While out chopping ice on New Years Day I saw not one, but three different balloons.  That was just driving along the road in one corner of the ranch.
This one was more bouyant than most, maybe because it didn’t land in a cholla patch.  The shiny red balloon sure was a stark contrast the dry old winter time prairie.  On one hand we are glad we

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