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Live from the Ranch

This is the official Ranch Journal, a collection of short reports about daily life on the ranch. Postings are made by all ranch staff, but mostly by Tess Leach & Kate Matheson, Guest Services Managers, David Leach, Business & Marketing Manager and Jeff Gossage, Ranch Manager. (Banner photo 3 by Stephen Weaver)

Saturday, Oct 30, 2010
We started our bison round-up on Friday and have been having a time! The work has been hard but also rewarding. Yesterday we had several people down from the Chico Basinb Ranch, as well as one of our friends from the valley. We had a bit of a hard time at the beginning of the day- the bison were running very quickly and not very willing to turn. We were able to get a few small herds into the trap before our lunch break, at which time many of us had to switch to fresh horses. In the afternoon we were able to get 2 herds of about 100 each into the trap; we were satisfied when we called it a day. Today we headed out first thing in the morning to the Turjillo meadows. There was a fairly large herd already in the meadows, but we could see several others heading towards the water tank in the meadows. We decided to take a couple hours to let them all gather in the meadow, we had a nice nap and lunch. Once we started moving them, it didnät take them long to get going. It was about a 5 mile run to the meadows. Fortunately, we had a lot of good help and great horses and were able to get about 500 bison into the trap. At that point, we were happy with the day and decided to head in early and take a well deserved break.
Here is a picture of us waiting to start moving the bison. We will keep you posted throughout round up!
Posted by Asta R. on 10/30/2010

Fall Colors
The colors here in the past two weeks have been amazing. Last week you could see the color creeping through the trees and at the peak, the groves around the lodge were full of bright yellow and orange.

It's amazing what bright colors can do and how they really light up their surroundings and create a big open feel as opposed to the normal, cool shaded areas we're used to.

The mountains had no snow at this time, but within a few days everything got flipped on its head and winter is here. The temperatures have dropped and the snow has hit the mountains. Monday morning we had thick cloud cover and when it cleared the mountain tops were thick with snow.

So from bright, fire yellow to massive blankets of white we have been all over the place in just a few short days.
Posted by David L. on 10/27/2010

Monday, Oct 25, 2010
Today has been an eventful day already! I woke up to the sound of the wind whipping outside my house and knew it would be. Jeff, Margot, Carla and I started off the day by sorting out which horses we were using for bison round-up, gathering the horses already down from the Chico Basin Ranch, and running both groups of horses over to the Medano. Moving the horses as a large herd is always exciting, as they tend to run fast and hard. They started off a little slow, but it didn't take long for them to get going full tilt- we were galloping our horses as fast as we could to keep up with the lead horses. The horses from Chico are unfamiliar with our ranch, so they ended up running a little too far and past the pasture we were heading for. Fortunately, they stopped themselves and allowed Margot and I to catch up with them and head them back in the right direction. Just as we put them through the gate, the wind got significantly cooler and hail started hitting our faces. We made a dash for the bison barn, where we were able to get ourselves and our horses under shelter to unsaddle and let them dry off. After a few minutes of hail, the snow started falling- with the golden leaves on the ground and the snow on top, it was a beautiful sight to see. The snow only lasted a couple of hours, and while the wind is still whipping and the temperature still cold, the sun is shining. We are finishing up all of the last details of preparing for bison round-up; it is keeping everyone on the ranch very busy.
On Saturday, we were able to take a break from preparation to take a ride into the Sand Dunes. We had a big group out with us, inlcuding Kathy, Roger, Kelly, and Steve, who all joined us for the end of the week and weekend. The weather was a little brisk, but the horses kept moving along and we were able to ride past Little Medano Creek and found a great spot under some trees for a nice lunch. Here is a picture of the line of riders we had coming back down the trail after lunch. Thanks to all of you who joined us on Saturday- it was a blast!
We will all try to keep you posted during bison round-up and post some great pictures, both here and on our facebook page.
Posted by Asta R. on 10/25/2010

A Wonderful Week
We have had a great week here at the ranch, many thanks to our great guests that joined us, Jerry, Jerry, Jennifer, and Tim. On Tuesday we moved the cows into the BLM pasture on the East side of Hwy. 150. In order to get them into the pasture, and then in order for them to get back and forth to water, they go through a tunnel that runs underneath Hwy. 150. It is pretty cool! On Monday we rode the fence line of the pasture to check for any breaks before the cattle arrived; fortunately it was all in good repair. Moving the cows went really well with all the great help we had. On Wednesday we took a ride in the bison pasture- I think it was the best ride I have had over there yet. We were moving along most of the day and made it far back into the pasture. We found some wonderful sand dunes to run around on. The above picture is of the guests and myself standing on one of the sand dunes at the back of the pasture. We also saw several elk and tons of bison, inlcuding some fairly large bulls off in bachelor herds. As we were cantering up to dollar lake we scared up one large bull who went galloping off- it was a gorgeous site to see. Yesterday we finished off a week of good riding by moving our bulls out to our furthest south west pasture, where they will spend the winter.
With the leaves on the trees changing colors all around us, and regular snow on the mountaintops, this is a beautiful place to be this time of the year!
Posted by Asta R. on 10/22/2010

Thursday, Oct 21, 2010
I am now counting down the days to the beginning of the fall bison work.  We will start gathering next Wednesday and continue for ten days or so and then spend a week working them through the chutes.  We have a complex schedule of friends and neighbors coming to help, meals being provided by Mike, our chef, shipping dates for our sale animals, processing dates for private treaty sales, and many more details.  Preperation is very intense right now because when we start, there's no turning back.  By next week we will be on horseback every day heading out for the far reaches of the ranch in search of bison herds.  Usually there are several bunches of 2 or 3 hundred which will be the groups we concentrate on getting in first.  Our crew will consist of 15 to 20 people daily, all of them being experienced riders.  Once we find a herd we will start very gently pushing them towards the trap (a small pasture).  This usually goes well until we start getting close to the trap and the lead animals will sometimes get nervous and try to get away.  It's the job of the lead riders to outrun them and turn them the right direction which sometimes means a race to the trap in which the riders must stay with the lead until they're through the gate.  The drag (back of the herd) is full of the more gentle animals so the riders in the drag must push these buffs to keep up with the lead.  The key is to stay with the lead but don't let the drag get too far behind. 
This gathering project is looked forward to by everyone: our crews on both the Chico and MZ, friends, and neighbors.  It will be fun, however it is hard work with long hours and the pressure is on to succeed.
Wish us luck and I will try and squeeze in an update here and there in the next three weeks. 
Posted by Jeff G. on 10/21/2010

February Photography Workshop
Because of the great success that we experienced with last month's Photo Workshop led by Bobbie Goodrich and Susan Burns, we've decided to do a winter workshop with them in February. The workshop will again explore post-production processes only this time with the dramatic winter landscape. 

If you haven't had a chance to look at some of the work produced at their last workshop, take a second and look at the albums of workshop images I've posted on our facebook page.

And, here's a flier created by Bobbi and Susan for the February workshop. Call the ranch or the photographers for more info or take a look at our website.

Posted by Tess L. on 10/13/2010

Fishing the Rio Grande
Jeff and I headed to South Fork this weekend for some long overdue fishing. I have been to South Fork before but never appreciated how close it is. Only an hour away and a lot of pretty river to fish.

We got in Saturday afternoon, fished until dark, went into town for dinner and then headed up into the mountains to make a fire for the night. It's been getting cold but the clear crisp air made the night sky vivid and there were bright shining stars as far as I could see.

The next morning we got up before sunrise and headed to the river again. Jeff made some coffee and we got rigged up to go out on the water.

The Rio Grande is a big, wide river and that morning we were the only people on the water. The trees were changing colors as well and the river slowly lit up with the sun rising a little bit at a time. We headed right for the sunny spots first so that we could warm up.

We didn't see a soul all morning and most of the time I couldn't see Jeff. This is one of the nicest rivers I've fished and being so close I'm planning on making it back to South Fork and the Rio Grande whenever I get the chance.
Posted by David L. on 10/12/2010

Friday, Oct 08, 2010
About this time of year, people begin feeling the shift in weather and wondering what exactly it is that we do all winter on the ranch. And the short answer is that with the guest season greatly over on November 1 and quiet until March 1, we're left with about four months to relax, travel trade shows and conventions, and prepare for the upcoming season. 

This winter, we have 4 shows on the calendar:
  1. Dude Ranchers Association Annual Convention
  2. Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association Annual Convention
  3. Destination Colorado Convention
  4. Go West Summit
We look forward to each of these events annually, as well as the break that the change of pace that the season brings. 

Posted by Tess L. on 10/08/2010

Wednesday, Oct 06, 2010
The bulls had to be moved today, so Margot and I decided we would head out for an early morning ride. I have a new horse at the ranch, who hasn't seen too many cows in his time, so we also thought it would be a great expereince for him. We headed out as it was getting light, which is a beautiful time of day. The weather was chilly, though suprising not too cold for an  October morning, but both horses were a little full of energy. We rode out to the bulls and began to gather them and push them. My horses was a little suprised by them, but was very well behaved. He may make a great ranch horse after all! While we were moving them, I heard an elk bugling and looked up to see a small herd of cows led by an average size bull. He bugled a coulpe more times, then the herd ran off and over a dune so we could no longer hear them. We got all 12 bulls moved into their new pasture, checked the fence for power, and were riding in on 2 horses that still had plenty of energy. This cool weather will get the younger ones a little excited.
In other news, we bought a new horse this weekend- Snickers. I have had her at the ranch for a couple of weeks and am very excited that she is now a new addition to our string. Here is a picture of her from the artist workshop.
Posted by Asta R. on 10/06/2010

How the Sand Dunes Were Created
Last week we had some very strong wind that gave me a clear reminder of how the great sand dunes were created.

In the picture the wind is blowing the sand all over the place and when the wind heads towards the mountains, the sand hits the mountains and remains there.

Then when the runoff from the rain or melting snow begins, the sand is brought back down to where the dunes are.

For thousands and thousands of years this cycle has been occurring and ultimately created the great sand dunes.

The great sand dunes park tells this story very well and they have huge murals and interactive exhibits that talk about the formation of the dunes and the wildlife in the area.

This picture is taken in the exact same place without the wind blowing and is a good comparison for seeing how strong that wind and sand can blow.

Posted by David L. on 10/01/2010

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