Zapata Ranch Daily Journal

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch
May 9, 2016


Spring is here in the valley and there are signs of it everywhere. The cottonwoods are greening up, hearty wildflowers are bursting through the ground and wildlife and their young can be spotted all around. Pronghorn, bison, and elk calves pepper the valley and mule deer fawns, jackrabbits, and a variety of birds can be seen around the lodge. I’ve even seen gray foxes just down the road from the ranch, which was very exciting. Spring is truly a special

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May 3, 2016

The Bison Posse

How many adult riders does it take to move a herd of kiddie bison? Fourteen. Obviously.

That was the size of our posse this past week when we pushed the remaining managed bison herd into the corrals on the Medano side of the Zapata Ranch. The wee woolies were getting prepped for their long road trip to the Land of Tatonka aka South Dakota aka the location of our newest ranch management project aka their new prairie home.

I always jump at

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April 14, 2016


Spring snuck up on me this year.  I took some time off to head back to Kansas for a week in late March.  There was no mistaking that spring was in full force there, given the golf course-like pastures.  Here in the high desert, it’s a bit more subtle.

Before I left we’d been around a few fences and hadn’t really noticed any green yet.  There was a green hue, but perhaps I thought it was wishful thinking or my mind

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April 13, 2016

New Arrivals

Last week the MZ took on 103 new soon-to-be mother cows.  They’d spent the fall & winter at the Chico and had started dropping babies in March.  Twenty-five calves took the ride outside of mom here on the semi.  They also sent us another 56 yearling heifers.

Forty-five cows arrived on two trucks first.  Kate & Andrea helped me unload them into a holding pen as I counted them off.  Soon truck three arrived with the pairs & yearlings.  The yearlings

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March 14, 2016


Growing up in California, I always had great access to produce that had been grown no more than 50 miles away. It felt like farm-to-table at its finest when I presented a dish with several different varieties of vegetables and was able to say, “this entire meal is made with local produce.” Unsurprisingly, it took a bit of adjusting moving from coastal California to landlocked Colorado. But thanks to our local co-op, Valley Roots Food Hub, I’m getting to that

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March 12, 2016

Stoked on Stoats

I’ve lived on the ranch for three years now and it seems I have one or two really pivotal wildlife sightings each year. I’ve seen bears, bobcats, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, beaver… An endless list really of varied and exciting species… but today I saw my first Stoat! I had seen Long-Tailed Weasels aka “big stoats” in my mammal books on the area, but never come across one in real life, so I was practically giddy when I saw one pop

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February 22, 2016

A Bison Move

During bison works, we wean some calves and bring them down to the lodge corrals.  Here, we train them to electric fence and acclimate them to seeing a person afoot and horseback so that they are gentle and easy to manage.  Once they’re ready, we turn them out to a small pasture where they can graze and learn to follow a feed truck. We keep them in this small pasture as long as we can so we can keep a close eye

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February 1, 2016

January Ranch Roundup

January was a busy month processing our bison herd on the Zapata and our largest cattle herd on the Chico.

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January 29, 2016

Easy Grader

The road to the Medano side of the ranch is roughly 3 miles long and was once a county road that stretched from Hooper to Lane 6, winding throughout the ranch.  Now a private road, it’s rough and wash boarded and really hard on equipment and vehicles.  Weekly or bi-weekly maintenance is key in making the trek out of the ranch a smooth experience and in this case, a seemingly mundane task can be a rewarding experience.  The process of

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