Zapata Ranch Daily Journal

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch
April 22, 2015

A Grass Plan

On Tuesday Kate and I headed to our sister ranch, the McAuliffe, in New Mexico for a grazing conference with Kirk Gadzia. Kirk learned under Allen Savory early on in his career. He and Duke Sr. have been friends for many years and Kirk has consulted with Ranchlands at times since.
We arrived at 6:30 and the meeting started at 8. Kirk covered various topics that morning such as rest periods, plant physiology, and root systems. After

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April 10, 2015

Heifer Check

Elana got the gate and we entered the pivot pasture where the first calf heifers are kept. These are two year old females who are having their first calf. They are checked in the morning and evening to make sure they aren’t having trouble. Upon our arrival everyone seemed o.k. until we counted them. Twelve. One short.
The pasture was driven as our expectant eyes looked for a mother in labor or better yet with calf.

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April 9, 2015


Last week we welcomed Desiree to the Zapata family. Desiree is our new cook and one of our team leaders. She has already made a brilliant impression on us as someone who is passionate about food, where it comes from, how it’s prepared and making sure there’s lots of people around to enjoy it. From chicken pot pies, superb bison tenderloin and TO DIE FOR banana cream pie she’s keeping the team and guests fueled for busy days outdoors. However

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April 7, 2015

Green Grass

The crew and I moved the bison and the cattle into one pasture yesterday. The grass is growing fast so we want to get as many animals on it as we can. Then we can rapidly move them through the pastures so that the cattle that are calving now and the bison who will calve in a month can get the nutrition they need for the new mouths to feed without overgrazing.
The move took most of the day.

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March 27, 2015

The First Two

Montana and I left the house at 5:15 a.m. Lane 6 was as quiet as were we. The coffee was hot but hadn’t fulfilled its purpose yet. Kate was starting the fire at the corrals so we could see to saddle. I caught Blue and Montana, Cinco.
The trailer was loaded with horses and the truck with riders. Kate and I handed the walkie-talkie back and forth as the navigation of the move was pointed out

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March 24, 2015

Almost Summer

A look at the forecast revealed an early summer day even though it was early March. Sixty-eight degrees for a high. The darkness gave way to light as I made my way down lane 6 to the lodge. I choke the bike and it gave a try. One more and it fired up. As I let it warm up I took a call from Scott. Elk had torn down a good section of fence,

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March 13, 2015

The Call

“ The cops just stopped by. A seven year old boy went missing from the dunes. He was last seen at 5 p.m. heading west.”

I read those words on my phone. It was from Scott. It was Sunday evening. I was reading The Crossing. After that I was thinking of my son. He was fast asleep and safe, but I couldn’t help think of him over and over and all I saw was

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Photo by Roger Wieck
March 12, 2015


Last weekend Chris Pague, Senior Conservation Ecologist for the Nature Conservancy, pointed out a likely coyote den near the lodge after we followed a yipping coyote. This afternoon, a few of our Sandhill Crane Photography Workshop guests came in to ask what was making such a loud noise outside the lodge. I told them that coyotes had a den nearby and walked out to the spot Chris and I had visited over the weekend. Sure enough, I spotted her right

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March 5, 2015

Spring Prelude

I picked up Scott at 7. We ran the Big South fence and checked voltage. Elk activity was looked for on the road. Herds of elk run through the fences so we have to make sure the fence is up and hot every day.
We headed to pick up a charger. I put one together the day before, but it was a no go once I hooked it up to the fence. The new charger was

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