CONSERVE

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about CONSERVE

Conservation has long been a cornerstone of our operations. Since our livelihood depends on the vitality of the land, we have a vested interest in keeping these ecosystems healthy and thriving. Because we work closely with conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, we are able to take advantage of science-based management methods to which ranchers have not traditionally been exposed.

January 16, 2014

Full Day on the MZ

I had a great day today at the MZ. I started the morning at 7, interviewing Jeff (with Isaac) for a biographical film we are making about him for Ranchlands Review. We went for two hours talking about his life. It was fun going back to the very beginning when he first arrived at the Chico, 14 years ago as an excited, wide-eyed boy.

On the way over, driving in the early dawn, Jeff and I caught up on how the extreme winter conditions are affecting

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January 15, 2014

Preparations

The last couple of days have been busy preparing everything for next week, when we will be weaning all the steer and bull calves from the main cow herd.  We’ve been hauling hay, fixing fence, building gates, and making sure the corrals are in order to accommodate such a large herd. Pictured above is everything Michael needs to hang gates and make other corral repairs. Tomorrow, we start moving the cows towards headquarters from West Chico, the largest pasture on the

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January 11, 2014

Tumbleweeds

While driving home the other day I encountered this wall of tumbleweeds that are stacked up on fences everywhere. They are non-discriminant, snagging on barbed wire, sheep mesh, and electric fences all over the Chico and high plains. I missed the photo opportunity, but the other day the county was plowing the tumbleweeds roads with their snow plowing rigs so that cars could pass through. A friend of ours was driving around out east and found himself stranded when tumbleweeds

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January 9, 2014

Shorter Days, Shorter Stays

The cows are now at the southern-most end of the ranch. With a quick grazing rotation, only taking about half or less of the forage available in some pastures, and with a large herd, the cows are sometimes in a pasture for only 2 to 3 days at a time. We are coming into the western portion of the ranch, which hasn’t housed cows since last spring. This makes for a lot of fence work, fixing all the water gaps

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January 8, 2014

A Good Long Day

I got this shot as we were trotting home past the Bar J H after clearing a couple pastures at the south end of the ranch yesterday. We are still moving the cattle relatively quickly. Constantly moving onto to new ground gives them the highest level of selectivity, and therefore nutrition, as we move through the coldest part of the year and into the third trimester of pregnancy. On many moves, by opening the gates and a calling the cattle the vast majority of

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January 6, 2014

An Early Morning Walk on the Chico

The winter storm from yesterday left clear blue skies, frosty tree limbs and frigid cold temps of -10 below this morning. I went out for a walk when the sun was just coming up with David and found the horses all fluffed up in the Rose, wondering what we were doing out there. We saw a hawk in a cottonwood tree and some geese standing on the ice.

The virgin snow cleaned the surface of the ground bare of everything except plants sticking through. Normally after

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January 4, 2014

New Overheads

A couple of cows are enjoying the new overheads Grahm built today. Today is Grahm’s last day on the Chico. He has been a pleasure to work with, and these are some handsome overheads— his last project on the ranch.

An overhead is a raised electric fence suspended between tall gateposts. It allows us to keep gates open as we drift cows from one pasture to the next, while keeping the rest of the fence electrified. At the Chico we have

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January 2, 2014

Once in a Lifetime

Not that any experience ever actually repeats itself, but sometimes something happens that you know will stand out as a truly unique moment. Saturday afternoon while setting out several pheasant for some hunting clients we flushed out not one, but four Bobcats! They emerged one at a time from the tall grass in the draw below our alfalfa field, as if to be sure the full affect would register, each one pausing for a moment to look back at us before disappearing into the

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January 1, 2014

DJ Gossage

Last night we brought in the New Year at Jeff and Carla’s house. We ate food and had conversation. Mainly, we jammed to some tunes. Jeff has an impressive collection of vinyl records that often make a showing whether for a New Year’s Eve get together, an impromptu dance party, or a lunch break. Jerry Jeff Walker, Johnny Paycheck, Hank Williams Jr. (pre Monday Night Football), Jimmy Buffet (pre making songs with Alan Jackson), Corb Lund, Bruce Springsteen, and others provided the entertainment. Some songs

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December 28, 2013

Sudan Fields

We’ve been grazing our weaned calves on a center pivot field (think of the patchwork of circles you see when you fly over farm country) for the past month. The common mistake of using ranching and farming interchangeably, holds true here. The field is planted with Sudan grass (looks somewhat like corn stalks without the cob) and managed through a lease with some local San Luis Valley farmers. Thirty days after the first hard frost we moved our cattle onto the field. We set

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