Zapata Ranch Daily Journal

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch
November 11, 2015

Bison Worked

It’s the second week of November.  That means bison works is over and I can sleep again.  Just kidding.  Bison works occurs annually at the ranch the first week of November.  However, there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done, e.g. fences fixed and checked, vehicles repaired, working corrals and facilities looked over.  The crew and I started several months ago preparing and planning.  As always there were a few hiccups, but overall things went smooth.  In

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September 7, 2015

Bison Plan

Planning is a huge part of my job. Every week I write a work plan for the week ahead. It’s rare when it doesn’t change, but it still helps to create a big picture. Here it is September already. In 2 months time guest season will have wrapped up and bison works will be here. I’m already starting to think about what it will take to work all those buffs. It’s a huge undertaking,

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August 13, 2015

Fenced Out

I took some guests camping on the Medano side last week. The wranglers and I were setting up next to an old set of corrals. Essentially the corrals were an enclosure as nothing can get in and graze. There was a remarkable difference in the forage in the corrals compared to just outside. I borrowed Andrea’ phone and snapped a few pics.

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July 28, 2015

Elk & Fence

Our local game warden counted 7000 head of elk in the valley in his yearly inventory. While it’s good to see healthy numbers of wildlife, it makes keeping fences intact as they migrate a challenge.
This year we received a grant from the Colorado Parks & Wildlife through the Habitat Partnership Program (HPP). The HPP provides funding for special projects to make fencing more wildlife friendly.
Part of our plan is to install metal gates and high-visible electric wire.

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July 14, 2015


In April the snow on the mountains was all but gone and the forecast showed no signs of rain throughout the month. Ranching in the valley is challenging enough with an annual rainfall average of 7 inches. We rely on snowmelt for our irrigation needs. April came and went without much of a change. Then May came.
If it wasn’t raining or snowing in the valley, it was coming down on the mountains. Soon water was

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June 5, 2015


Awhile back I wrote about our neighbor George Whitten helping me with some fence work. Neighboring is still an important part of ranching today. I believe it’s a tradition that will never go away. Yesterday was our turn to help.
Kate, Sara, and I loaded horses into the trailer and headed at in the morning for George’s place in Saguache. Caitlin and Savannah followed in the Toyota.
When we arrived Nick was already there from our sister ranch,

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June 4, 2015

Roping Bison with Gandhi

On Wednesday horses and cows needed to be moved from Section 36 to our West pasture for Friday’s branding. The gather went easy. Cattle were moved into the Elk and myself the wranglers and guests started them north as Sara, Carina, and Len helped us get them going then went back for the horses.
Sara called me an hour later. They had come across a bison calf. One of the horses had chased the calf south.

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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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