February 14, 2013


Michael managed Chico Basin Ranch for several years up until 2015.

Duke, Stuart Amy & myself met on Tuesday afternoon to check in. The dress code was neckties & work clothes. The topic of conversation revolved around the drought, & that we are going to sell off a substantial chunk of the cow herd over the next months.We were all quiet & thoughtful & a little goofy looking, as we sat & talked about what the ranch might look like with fewer cows on it, & where we’ll focus our time & effort in order to keep the place financially viable. Duke, a consummate brainstormer,  offered that we might start gathering watercress out of the springs on the ranch, & selling the stuff to whole foods. We laughed at this, & left the meeting with heads full of thoughts & dreams & fears about the future.

We are selling cows because we didn’t grow enough grass last summer to support our cows through another growing season (spring & summer), especially if we don’t receive much rain again.

We spent time this week figuring out how many cows our sub-irrigated, creek bottom pastures can support through the next 12 months. These sub-irrigated pastures don’t directly depend on rainfall to grow grass, so we will plan to use them to support what we do keep on the ranch, and we will keep hoping for rain.