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June 7, 2013

Chico Branding

Today was a special day.  The season’s first branding, later than normal by almost 60 days due to the dry weather.  We haven’t wanted to be distracted from giving the cattle herd all of our attention because of the elevated stress level, so we haven’t branded at all, and instead have focused on putting the entire together along with the horses, into one herd that is rotating around the entire ranch in a migratory pattern.

We met at 3’30 am and

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May 20, 2013

Ranch Rodeo

Last weekend a few of the crew participated in a local ranch rodeo in Monte Vista – Duke, Jeff, Stuart, and me.

This picture is from the trailer loading contest. The most hilarious part was that the clock stops once everyone piles in the cab of the truck – normal capacity of 3 – and all of the doors shut. The Z fans said it looked like something from a circus with clowns racing around a car and Jeff sailing over

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April 25, 2013

Jaden

This week we had a new member of the crew join us, 14 year old Jaden from Alamosa came to Zapata on a work experience day. Whilst the bitter wind blew and snow fell from the overcast sky Jaden jumped right in and helped sort over 50 pairs from the Pivot to the Blanca pasture. Jaden ran the gate, ensuring only the pairs passed through and making sure none turned back. Later tht day he helped J.R trim and clear

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March 27, 2013

Triangulating Cholla

This is a picture from last week of Stuart drawing a pasture for the Fountain Valley first-years to gather. Becoming comfortable navigating these 87,200 acres takes a matter of months. I remember looking at a similar Stuart Phelps picture my first week at the Chico. It filled in a small and vaguely rectangular puzzle piece on the blurry map in my head.

After five months without any staff changes, it’s wonderful to see the ranch through the eyes of newcomers–whether guests,

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February 13, 2013

Beefmaster records

Duke tasked Amy with certifying the Beefmaster cows. The Beefmasters are a pure bred group of cows (Beefmaster is the name of the breed). We haven’t registered this group for the last eight years. And now it’s time.

The re-certification process involves going through years of calf records (lists of numbers indicating a momma cow and her calf) & matching the current group of cows, to the ones we had certified 8+ years ago. Some records are incomplete, and numbers are

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November 18, 2012

Changing of the guard

Kerstin, Elliot and Brent left the Chico today. Kerstin’s next move is to work on a cattle ranch in Australia while Elliot is planning to work at a landscape architecture firm in San Francisco. Brent is off to visit his parents in San Jose, CA and figure out what he will do next.

I will miss all three, and found a thing in each which I respect and admire.
Kerstin managed to keep the subtle landscape of the Chico always beautiful to herself, not

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April 30, 2012

Making a Wagon for the Ponies

We’ve had two Haflinger ponies for several years now that we got for both pulling a wagon and for riding, the latter being what they’ve been used for so far. Just recently, however, Rex has renovated a wagon that was not being used and I just recently hooked the two ponies up. Prior to us buying them they had done some driving but were very rusty. I have been out driving them several times now and it looks like we have a really

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February 1, 2011

Good Crew

I’m lucky to have such a good crew right now with all the work that needs to be done.  This is an unusually busy winter because of the new bison herd on the former cattle side of the ranch and all of the fences and infrustructure have to be reinforced accordingly.  This is one main reason why more people don’t raise bison.  The cost of infrastructure is very high.  Luckily for us, we already have the sufficient settup on one side

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November 19, 2010

Finalizing Bison Roundup

As Asta said, we finalized the big bison round up and processing last Saturday night.  It was a very intense three weeks.  There were many emotional ups and downs due to the unsure nature of gathering and working bison.  This herd in particular is very unpredictable because they live in a large area of about 50,000 acres and only get handled this one time during the year.

After being outrun by several small herds the first morning, our spirits were down as the first slight sign of failure presented

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