What goes on at Zapata during the winter?

November 14, 2011


A fourth generation rancher, Tess co-manages Ranchlands with her brother Duke IV. She is raising her two sons on Chico Basin Ranch with her husband David.

There aren’t any ranch guests, it’s really cold, the bison work has finished…what’s left to do during the winter? PLENTY. Here’s a list of the top 5:

1. Rest. After an intense 8-month season, we’re ready for some serious r&r. We all have different ideas of what this means– Asta, for example, gets rejuvenation from hiking and exploring nature while I prefer to cook. There’s just something about creating and enjoying hearty, meat-and-potato-based dishes in the winter that brings a smile to a soul.

2. Clean. The lodge, the bedrooms, the corrals, the shops, tack, horses, vehicles, our homes…really everything.

3. Travel. Whether traveling home for the holidays or to Reno for a trade show, we all seem to find ourselves on a plane at one point or another. David and I have our itinerary stacked with Winter trips– next month we’re heading to Reno for the CDGRA convention, NYC for a fun trip (neither of us have ever been!), and then to Denver for another convention. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

4. Plan. A significant portion of on-ranch time during the winter is spent talking about how the season went, making tweaks to our business and planning how to implement them in the next season. For example, this year we had some trouble with staffing and ensuring that everyone had a proper day off each week. Next year, we’ve decided that vacations will begin on Sundays and Thursdays, and that Sunday will be the non-riding day. This not only eliminates our problem, but also affords guests the opportunity to delve into off-ranch activities: hiking, biking, rafting, fly fishing…

5. Hire. Typically, we have over half of our employees hired by the time January 1 rolls around. Staff is perhaps the most important aspect of our business as the people make or break guests’ experiences. We put a significant amount of time into ensuring that all employees fit the bill and will do their part in ensuring that each guest has the best vacation of their life while with us. (Sidenote: YES, we are currently hiring. If you’re interested, drop me an email: tess@zranch.org)