Zapata Ranch Daily Journal

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch
January 28, 2015

A Day on the Sister Ranch

Yesterday I headed over to the Chico from Zapata to join their crew in a large gather and sort day.

I don’t often get a chance to head to the other side of the mountains to spend time with that crew, but I always enjoy it when I do. The landscape is different to Zapata; the dawn seems more drawn out because of the expanse of the prairie and you get to ride in the morning glow for longer.


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January 21, 2015


“It’s people that make the difference. Little people like you.”
Frank Shirley

God taught me a lesson about fifteen years ago. I originally went to school for automotive repair. I got a job at a dealership a few years after school. I shared a garage with about ten other technicians. I had to listen to about ten different radio stations all day. That and I always had a customer who wanted to watch while I fixed their

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January 16, 2015

Getting Mobbed by Bison

At this time in the Zapata grazing plan we have the large horse herd out on vacation grazing with our older bison herd. Now and then I ride along with Brett to go and check on them. As we go through the pastures, Brett will feed cake to the bison herd, first sounding the loud train horn to attract the bison’s attention.
They run toward the truck for what is an exciting delivery and we drop grain pellets that we call

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January 13, 2015

Green Colored Glasses

Moving from northeast KS where we averaged a 30” yearly rainfall to a 7” average in the valley was a bit of a shock to my internal agrarian system. However looking back at some summertime pictures I’m seeing a different shade of green.
In the beginning I asked myself, “What in the world do these critters live on?” Now, after six months my pastoral perspective has changed. An animal’s ability to adapt is amazing.
On a recent move I

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October 4, 2014

End of Season

The guest season is drawing to a close here at Zapata with just two weeks left. People always wonder if we just put our slippers on and relax for a few months afterwards, but the reality is these upcoming months are as busy as any summer month!
Recruiting for the 2015 season begins, marketing plans swing into action, the ranch and lodge are winterized and if course bison roundup and processing begins. So as with any ranch… the list never

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October 1, 2014

Bison Detective

I always said that if I wasn’t a rancher I’d have been a detective.  Sometimes I get to be both.

We’ve had a few bison on the Zapata side who have decided that they don’t care much for fences.  I’ve had the hunch that it’s just been a few bad apples, but figuring out which ones is the trick.  I had them narrowed down to a certain bunch, so I put them into a separate pasture.  They took their sweet time,

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September 30, 2014

Changing of the Guard

First the moisture brought more greenery than we’ve seen in a long time. Now the green is turning to browns and yellows.

Fall is here in full force and color.

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September 29, 2014

Motorists and Moving Cattle

I was moving some cattle off water last Wednesday back into a BLM lease we have.  The cattle have to travel under 150 highway through a tunnel.  I got the girls started and they did the rest.  Mothers bawling for their calves to gather up and go, quickly turned into a solid convoy of quiet cattle moving back out to pasture.  It was nice.

As I sat and enjoyed the sight so did several motorists along 150.  At least two vehicles

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September 13, 2014


A few weeks back I wrote about getting a bison out of the lake.  The reason she had so much trouble is because of the design of her feet.  It’s not that it’s a bad design.  The hoof was simply doing what it was designed to do: penetrate the soil, that is.  It’s a great design out in a pasture where it was meant to be used.  Cattle and bison hooves do a great job of penetrating and aerating the

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September 12, 2014


We’ve recently had an exciting edition to the Zapata crew. Executive chef Robbie Douglas joined us two weeks ago and has already made a brilliant impact. Robbie’s passions are local produce, seasonal goods and  cooking outdoors. He has already cooked a number of early morning breakfasts over the fire at the corrals while the guests and crew saddle horses before sunrise. Robbie’s wonderful family have moved to the ranch and settling in fast with plans of chickens, ducks, gardens and hoop houses

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