Zapata Ranch Daily Journal

To view entries by location, click on a ranch name: Zapata Ranch // Chico Basin Ranch
January 18, 2016


A lot of my job on the ranch involves planning.  Usually every Saturday I take the time to write up a work plan for the week ahead.  This involves looking back at the week and what we accomplished and also looking ahead to what still needs to be done.

I not only do this on a weekly basis, but on a daily basis.  I start each morning reflecting not only on what needs to be done, but on what was done

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December 15, 2015

Training Bison

Every November we work the bison on the Medano side.  During this time we bring some calves and yearlings down to the Zapata.  We keep them in the corrals and feed them there for a few weeks.  During this time we train them to electric fence, being fed from the cake truck and hay wagon, being used to seeing people afoot, and horses.

My two interns, Caleigh & Megan, and I started by pushing them horseback up into a smaller pen

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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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