March 17, 2011
Every winter I expect the work load to slow down a bit and be able to get to things that I didn’t have time to do such as get some young horses started. Here it is mid March and I am finally getting around to those horses. For about a week now Nick and I have been catching our four year old mares every evening and working with them in the round pen. They are both very mild tempered horses and have taken …
February 24, 2011
Twice a year we get together to make the grazing plan for the next six months. On Monday we will be making the plan for the 2011 growing season. We will discuss all the factors involved with pasture health, animal health, logistics of moving herds, calving, employee needs, and many others. When we are done we will have a plan that maps the rotation of the different herds that fits the needs of the ranch as a whole.
February 17, 2011
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 …
February 1, 2011
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 …
January 6, 2011
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 …
December 20, 2010
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 …
November 19, 2010
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 …
October 21, 2010
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, …
September 30, 2010
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 …
September 8, 2010
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 …