Chico Basin Ranch

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


The Chico is an 87,000 acre cattle ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado. Its sprawling ranges of short grass and sandsage prairie, spring-fed lakes, and creeks are home to diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, prairie dogs, coyote, badgers, and much more. Owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Ranchlands, the Chico also offers education, farming, recreation, sporting, arts, and hospitality programs.

January 10, 2013


With our crew reassembled after the holidays, we have jumped into a series of pasture moves and gathers. Working in two or three separate groups of riders, we went to with gusto this week: consolidating groups of cattle and moving them elsewhere on the ranch, and sorting out old rough looking cows for sale.

Because we’ve been dealing with a lot of dry cows (cows without calves on them), my dog Liz(ard) has been able to accompany me on pasture moves.

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January 4, 2013

Festive Colors

Folks from town always seem more than willing to share their festivities with us.  While out chopping ice on New Years Day I saw not one, but three different balloons.  That was just driving along the road in one corner of the ranch.
This one was more bouyant than most, maybe because it didn’t land in a cholla patch.  The shiny red balloon sure was a stark contrast the dry old winter time prairie.  On one hand we are glad we

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December 15, 2012

A Long Way to Green

This week Stuart and I made the long trip out to Central Kansas to check on some calves we sent out to pasture there about three weeks ago.  The drought has caused us pursue different alternatives as we attempt to retain ownership on our calves long enough to take advantage of what most predict will be a very strong market this winter and spring, without pasture on the ranch to keep them here.

These calves are on “Volunteer Wheat”, taken care of by

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December 8, 2012

Sometimes it pays to get up early

Actually, I think it almost always does, but we have been especially well rewarded by some great sunrise recently.  Aidan shot this on with my phone last Sunday before we left for church.

Things should be winding down, but we seem pretty busy none the less.  We spent the last couple of days getting our slaughtering done and sides hung in the Quonset for aging.  We also ground up a cow for burger.  Hamburger does not need to age.  Once the

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November 29, 2012

Projects, project horses

We have started into another group of young horses, projects for the winter. Amy is working a short palomino gelding she nicknamed “Short-cake.” Kathleen has “Merlin” a friendly, blue-eyed creature. And Stuart is finishing up with “Brooks” a buckskin gelding with a big head, and an old fashioned temperment. I am working a cremello mare with blue eyes. She seems nice and I am enjoying the gradual learning process.

In the meantime, Harper is working in the shop– tackling one project after another,

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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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October 29, 2012


The swing from warmish chilly mornings has swung to cooler chilly mornings that are sometimes on the cold side.  The tree colors have faded except for a lone tree here and there.  The cows are now out in their winter grounds, all pregnant and haired up.  The corrals cleaned up after all the processing.  Trucks, tractors and pipes under houses and in the livestock watering system are winterized.  Fires burn inside some of our homes in the mornings and evenings.


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October 19, 2012


To say Ruth was beaming after her accomplishment would be an understatment.  Cole was more than happy to share in the excitement of his sister’s first successful hunt and dived in to help with the skinning and field dressing that followed.  If only he didn’t have to Two More Years before he can hunt big game himself.
We had spent a good part of two days searching for and stalking antelope without a chance to fire a shot.  The stalk that led up to this was particularly long and

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October 19, 2012

Ready… Aim

Ruth is getting ready for a follow up shot after hitting her first antelope at 275 yards, truly a dangerous girl.

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October 16, 2012

Shipping Calves

This herd has just arrived from a long drive over several miles, thirsty and tired.  The next day, we gathered it from the holding trap around the corrals, and moved it into the corrals where the calves were sorted off, and the cows turned back out.  In the next several days, the calves were shipped off the ranch to a grow yard where they are cared for during the stressful time of weaning.  What we will do with the calves

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