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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)

Bison and a picture
The 400 buffalo females in the pen were a sight to see last week, unearthly almost.  

These are the animals that are now grazing on the Zapata as livestock.  We will use them just as we do cattle, as a tool to manipulate the surface of the ground to achieve the conservation goals we want. We’ll treat them just as if they were cattle.
We will move them in the pasture rotation, doctor them when they need nursing. We will make sure they have water to drink.  In the fall we will gather them into the corral and pregnancy test them, sell the ones that do not breed, select the bulls that we are going to use for breeding, sort off the bull calves that we are going to sell.  They are the same as cattle except they look a little different, sound different and even smell different.  
Once you are around them for a while, they pull you in.  It’s as if they came out of time machine, from the area of dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, saber toothed tigers. It’s pretty interesting, something you have to see for yourself.  After being around cattle for so long, I see so many little things that make bison different: the way they establish hierarchy in the herd, pushing each other around, how they get excited and start jumping around when the feed truck comes in, the way they look out from the side of their eyes at you, the way dogs do.  It’s also amazing how slowly they move when they are so damned athletic.
We gentled them in the corral so that we can handle them on horseback – be able to move them to where we need to go.  Also, to electric fence, to the cake truck, to people walking around on foot.  We have beefed up the fences too, so that we don't taking any chances with them escaping.  From now on, we will have two different bison herds on the ranch, one running wild in one 50,000 acre pasture, and the other as a domestic livestock herd, just as if they are cattle.
I can’t say how much we are looking forward to learning about them.  

Posted by Tess L. on 12/20/2010

Thursday, Dec 09, 2010
The weather down here has been taking me by surprise! We had a cold spell for a while, but lately the days have been really nice. Since this is my first winter here in Colorado, I have had to make an adjustment to just how cold it gets at night. Today is was around 50 and I decided it would be a good day to take a ride out and check on our horses that are turned out for the winter. We have kept a herd of 10 horses in close to the corrals, currently on the old golf course. Most of the are younger horses, though Jeff and I each kept a couple of our steady horses in to work off this winter. The young horses vary in level; some we are in the process of starting from the beginning, while others need a little tuning up before they are ready to be in our string of guest horses. It is nice to have them in close, as we are able to ride them whenever we have a little extra time. Also, we have been riding them in the corrals with our bison herd in order to get the bison used to horses. The horses that are turned out need to be checked on regularly as well, so we can be sure they are all still healthy and in good weight. It was nice to have a bright, sunny day to take a long ride. I took out Snookie, one of the young horses we acquired this fall, and rode out to the Shedwell pasture. All of the horses are looking good, which is wonderful news. I really wanted to check up on our couple of older horses who may end up needing a little extra this winter, but so far so good. Riding through the pasture also gives me a chance to check all the vita-lix tubs I put out for the horses, to ensure they were still getting all the vitamins, minerals, and protein they needed to stay in good shape. As ranchers, the health of our horses is very important to us. Our day-to-day lives would not be possible without our good horses and we are very lucky to have such a wonderful string.
The picture above is one that I took a few days ago, when it was still COLD out during the days. You can see the old in the picture, though the view of the snow on the mountains makes it all worthwhile! We will be turning our bison herd out on the Zapata side next week and will keep everyone posted with how it goes!
Posted by Asta R. on 12/09/2010

Ranchlands Art Exhibition to hang in Denver Showroom
Artwork from the 10th Annual Ranchlands Artist Gathering will be shown at Columbine Showroom (595 S. Broadway, Ste. 105E | 303-722-4400) in Denver on Saturday, December 11th from 2-5pm. Bring your friends and mingle with artists, showroom and ranch staff, while enjoying a drink and some hors d'oeuvres.

The Ranchlands Artist Gathering was formed to support art and illuminate the important work that is occurring in land and wildlife conservation through ranching. 

This painting was done by Jill Soukup and will be displayed for the first time at Columbine.
Posted by Tess L. on 12/02/2010

Wednesday, Dec 01, 2010

Well, the weather has gotten a bit colder here at the ranch, but there is still a lot of work being done! We headed out yesterday to gather the cows and yearlings and bring them into the corrals to prepare for shipping. The herd was fairly spread out, so it took us a couple hours to gather them together and start moving back towards home. We all had to take turns getting off and walking our horses in order to keep our toes from turning to ice! Once we had them in the arena, we sorted them into 3 groups, calves, yearlings, and cows. It was the first night the calves were seperated from their mothers, so we listened to them all night long. This morning we shipped the cows, and this afternoon we will ship the yearlings. Tomorrow morning we have one load of calves to be shipped and then we will be done with them for the season.
We still have our smaller herd of bison on the Zapata side in the corrals. We have been working to teach them electric fences, so they respect the fences when we turn them out on pasture. We also have been feeding them from the cake truck, so they associate the sound of the truck with being fed. It is very interesting to watch the progress they have made, and hopefully they will make even more in the next couple of days.
Most of the horses are turned out in one of our bigger pastures and are very happy to be enjoying some well deserved time off. We have several of the younger horses in near the corrals, so we are able to work with them more and get them prepared for next season. I hope everyone is able to keep warm and enjoy these gorgeous winter months!

Posted by Asta R. on 12/01/2010

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