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.

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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December 15, 2012

A Long Way to Green

This week Stuart and I made the long trip out to Central Kansas to check on some calves we sent out to pasture there about three weeks ago.  The drought has caused us pursue different alternatives as we attempt to retain ownership on our calves long enough to take advantage of what most predict will be a very strong market this winter and spring, without pasture on the ranch to keep them here.

These calves are on “Volunteer Wheat”, taken care of by

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December 8, 2012

Sometimes it pays to get up early

Actually, I think it almost always does, but we have been especially well rewarded by some great sunrise recently.  Aidan shot this on with my phone last Sunday before we left for church.

Things should be winding down, but we seem pretty busy none the less.  We spent the last couple of days getting our slaughtering done and sides hung in the Quonset for aging.  We also ground up a cow for burger.  Hamburger does not need to age.  Once the

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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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