RANCH

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about RANCH

Cattle ranching lies at the core of who we are. We work every day to preserve our ranching heritage and traditions by living them, while simultaneously embracing new ways of thinking.

February 17, 2011

Harvest

Once a year we go out and harvest several animals, cattle and bison, to feed all of us who work here at the MZ and the Chico.  We cut all the meat in a matter of a couple days at the Chico in a barn where we have the cutting tables, packaging tables, saws, and knives, plus all the other necessities such as the bbq, coffee, music, and almost the entire crew from both ranches!  It’s a lot of fun and very rewarding to get together as a big

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February 1, 2011

Good Crew

I’m lucky to have such a good crew right now with all the work that needs to be done.  This is an unusually busy winter because of the new bison herd on the former cattle side of the ranch and all of the fences and infrustructure have to be reinforced accordingly.  This is one main reason why more people don’t raise bison.  The cost of infrastructure is very high.  Luckily for us, we already have the sufficient settup on one side

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January 6, 2011

Cake-training Bison

Well, we survived the holidays and are back into the routine.  As you may have read, our bison are turned out into the pivot, an irrigated pasture just north of the lodge.  Our focus right now is teaching them to eat cake (a protein/mineral pellet) and to follow the cake truck.  We started by driving right towards the main herd, letting out a really loud “whooooooo” and then start feeding.  We have a person or two on horseback that can

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December 20, 2010

Bison

The 400 buffalo females in the pen were a sight to see last week, unearthly almost.

These are the animals that are now grazing on the Zapata as livestock.  We will use them just as we do cattle, as a tool to manipulate the surface of the ground to achieve the conservation goals we want. We’ll treat them just as if they were cattle.

We will move them in the pasture rotation, doctor them when they need nursing. We will make sure

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November 19, 2010

Finalizing Bison Roundup

As Asta said, we finalized the big bison round up and processing last Saturday night.  It was a very intense three weeks.  There were many emotional ups and downs due to the unsure nature of gathering and working bison.  This herd in particular is very unpredictable because they live in a large area of about 50,000 acres and only get handled this one time during the year.

After being outrun by several small herds the first morning, our spirits were down as the first slight sign of failure presented

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October 21, 2010

Counting Down to Bison Works

I am now counting down the days to the beginning of the fall bison work.  We will start gathering next Wednesday and continue for ten days or so and then spend a week working them through the chutes.  We have a complex schedule of friends and neighbors coming to help, meals being provided by Mike, our chef, shipping dates for our sale animals, processing dates for private treaty sales, and many more details.  Preparation is very intense right now because when we start,

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September 30, 2010

Cattle

My week started out with fixing gates, adjusting hinges, fixing broken corral poles, and overall getting ready to ship cattle.  The yearlings we received the last day of February are all gone as of yesterday.  Tuesday started out with finishing the fixing of the corrals and then filling them with 979 yearling heifers.  Asta and I spent several hours with the brand inspector counting and looking at the brands on every heifer.  Later that afternoon we turned them all back out to fill

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September 8, 2010

Beefmasters

Among many other things, we have been getting a few days of cattle work in lately.  On September 1st we pulled the bulls out of the cow herd which had been in for 75 days.  We have about 130 heifers also in with the cow herd and are hopeful that they are bred up when we preg test them later this fall.  The bull to cow ratio we use is 1:25 or sometimes 1:30 bull to mature cows.  With heifers

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August 18, 2010

Doctoring Cattle

There’s still a little bit of summer left here but before we know it it’ll be fall.  We’ve been doctoring for foot rots lately, a bacteria the cattle get in any wound on the hoof caused from the abrasive sand.  We are riding through the cattle once or twice a week and rope any heifers we see that are limping.  Other than that the cattle are in great shape and the grass in the pastures is very good thanks to the rain we got in the

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August 9, 2010

Training Cattle

A large part of last week was spent building temporary electric fence and moving the yearlings every couple of days.  The reason for the relatively small paddocks and short grazing periods is to be able to concentrate the cattle and force them to eat overgrown areas.  This stimulates new growth and provides fresh habitat for migrating birds, elk, and bugs which are an important food source for birds.  My favorite part of this project is calling the cattle into the

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