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.

November 29, 2012

Projects, project horses

We have started into another group of young horses, projects for the winter. Amy is working a short palomino gelding she nicknamed “Short-cake.” Kathleen has “Merlin” a friendly, blue-eyed creature. And Stuart is finishing up with “Brooks” a buckskin gelding with a big head, and an old fashioned temperment. I am working a cremello mare with blue eyes. She seems nice and I am enjoying the gradual learning process.

In the meantime, Harper is working in the shop– tackling one project after another,

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November 18, 2012

Changing of the guard

Kerstin, Elliot and Brent left the Chico today. Kerstin’s next move is to work on a cattle ranch in Australia while Elliot is planning to work at a landscape architecture firm in San Francisco. Brent is off to visit his parents in San Jose, CA and figure out what he will do next.

I will miss all three, and found a thing in each which I respect and admire.
Kerstin managed to keep the subtle landscape of the Chico always beautiful to herself, not

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October 29, 2012


The swing from warmish chilly mornings has swung to cooler chilly mornings that are sometimes on the cold side.  The tree colors have faded except for a lone tree here and there.  The cows are now out in their winter grounds, all pregnant and haired up.  The corrals cleaned up after all the processing.  Trucks, tractors and pipes under houses and in the livestock watering system are winterized.  Fires burn inside some of our homes in the mornings and evenings.


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October 19, 2012


To say Ruth was beaming after her accomplishment would be an understatment.  Cole was more than happy to share in the excitement of his sister’s first successful hunt and dived in to help with the skinning and field dressing that followed.  If only he didn’t have to Two More Years before he can hunt big game himself.
We had spent a good part of two days searching for and stalking antelope without a chance to fire a shot.  The stalk that led up to this was particularly long and

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October 19, 2012

Ready… Aim

Ruth is getting ready for a follow up shot after hitting her first antelope at 275 yards, truly a dangerous girl.

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October 16, 2012

Shipping Calves

This herd has just arrived from a long drive over several miles, thirsty and tired.  The next day, we gathered it from the holding trap around the corrals, and moved it into the corrals where the calves were sorted off, and the cows turned back out.  In the next several days, the calves were shipped off the ranch to a grow yard where they are cared for during the stressful time of weaning.  What we will do with the calves

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October 8, 2012

Fall Works

Fall cattle works.  What can I say.  Today, as we moved the summer’s calves and their mommas, I thought about the long dry summer, the long cold winter ahead. The calves sought their mothers, the mothers complacently moving along with the minimal amount of energy useage, grazing, generally making it difficult for us to move the entire 1000 head herd (mothers and calves).  Another season behind us, the period of retreat to think and plan, ahead.  I love fall, and

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September 28, 2012

Fall works begins

We started into our fall works by weaning the calves from our 1st calf heifers and preg checking them along with the yearling Beefmaster heifers.  It was a busy week with lots of team work and coordinating, good training for a bigger week to come when we wean and check the big commercial herds.

Above Amy and our newest intern Kathryn hold the back while Allen is doing his best Musketeer impression.

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September 22, 2012

Like Mother Like Daughter

I took this shot after we moved the Sand herd yesterday morning, a very pretty sight of a Beefmaster cross heifer calf.  The green they are grazing on is Kochia weeds.  Last weeks rain was not enough to change our fortunes, but it did green up the weeds and make them palatable again.  Keeping the cattle moving so that they can take advantage of what little green feed we have had has kept the cattle in good shape in spite

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September 6, 2012

End of breeding season

We’ve been pulling bulls out of all the herds this week and last, and trailing them to a pasture we call the Back Pocket. The length of breeding season determines the length of calving season, determines the uniformity of calf crop and the fertility of mother cows. Most of our bulls are destined for slaughter; only the youngest will linger for another breeding season.

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