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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)

Medano Creek
 First flow filling our tracks.
Posted by Kathleen M. on 03/31/2013

In the Right Place at the Right Time
While riding up the dry bed of Medano Creek, we were shocked to round a bend and see the very first spring snow melt winding its way towards us.  A foamy tongue of water finding its way through the sand, turning the dry creek bed into a stream before our eyes!

We stopped and watched its progress, marveling at our luck of being in the right place at the right time.  The horses stared too, snorting and side stepping out of the way as the stream of water reached their hooves.  Unsure if this strange serpent was friend or foe.  It slithered on past us, filling our tracks as it went.

From upstream more water filled the channel, and in an instant Medano Creek was alive and flowing.  Then on we rode up the newly formed creek, splashing towards the mountains bathed in springtime sun.

Posted by Kathleen M. on 03/31/2013

Tuesday, Mar 26, 2013
 The air was brisk this morning and snow still clung to the ground from the storm a few days ago, but it was clear spring had arrived.  The sun warmed our cheeks as we rode out to gather and sort more heifers, and you couldn’t feel that touch of winter in the wind anymore.  Our riding guests for the week-- the Bizzell family-- joined us for the day.


Back from our ride, we had lunch at the corrals under the shade of the cottonwoods, and paid a visit to local Zapata celebrity—Gordon the Bison.  8 year old Jake Bizzell became fast friends with Gordon, and even helped the fuzzy guy practice being led!  Gordon has taken to the halter well, and is quickly becoming a charming bison ambassador to our ranch guests.

Posted by Kathleen M. on 03/26/2013

Spring has Sprung!
Spring is officially here. The cows are being sorted off daily and those that are about to drop are moved to the pivot ready to give birth. The pivot is right outside the lodge window so we can keep a close eye on the newborns. Two riders are out each day checking, riding through and helping out any cows that are having trouble with their birth. This little guy was helped out this morning and it didn't take long for him to be looking around for his mama and trying to stand up.
Posted by Kate M. on 03/19/2013

Z Store
 This year we'll be opening a store at the lodge. For years we've been building leather and bison-made goods for friends and family and this year we'll start selling through the lodge store and online. 

The leather goods are all made on the ranches, Zapata and Chico Basin, by all the ranch crew depending on the time of year, family members of the crew, and members of the local community. 

The bag above is one of the favorites so far. We will start queueing orders if you'd like a bag like the one above. Send us a note and we'll get you on the list and a new bag your way within a few weeks.

This will be the new store location where we'll soon have a cabin set up with a full leather workspace. For those of you who have been here before, this is the same location where we used to have the massage tipi. The leather shop within the store will be used for making everything from bags, bison-fur pillows, belts, bridles, chinks, and bracelets to bison-fur beer koozies, and where we'll spend time tooling and leather-stamping with guests. Leather work is one of our biggest passions and we're looking forward to spending time at the table with our guests and sharing our creations for everyone to enjoy at home. 
Posted by David L. on 03/13/2013

Friday, Mar 08, 2013
This time of year is when the nutrition in the grass hits its yearly low and it shows in the cattle’s condition. A couple of weeks ago we sorted 70 of the skinniest ones out of 477 and yesterday we sorted through them again, this time finding 15 more. We put the “skinnies” in their own pasture and we’ve been supplementing their grazing with about 15 lbs. of hay per animal every other day. This helps because they get part of their daily needs met without having to go out and find it. The “skinnies” tend to be the less dominant cattle and separating them means that they don’t have to compete for the best grass in the pasture. We had a big crew for sorting yesterday which included Tess, David, Kate, Peter, Brenna, Rex, Mike, Duke for a few hours in the morning, and me. It’s fun when everyone joins and the weather cooperated beautifully. 
Posted by Jeff G. on 03/08/2013

Thursday, Mar 07, 2013
Rex, Mike, possibly a person or two from the lodge, and I will be taking a staff pack trip next week. It’s still pretty cold but we will bring a tent with a wood stove and we should stay plenty toasty. We are doing it simply for a fun, just a good thing to do once in a while as a team, although it does help us come up with new ideas for our trips with guests and gives me a good idea of how much repair my gear needs. We may be able to do some fishing in Sand Creek or just look for wildlife. It’s a cool time of year to go back there because we will most likely not see any other people. 
Posted by Jeff G. on 03/07/2013

Monday, Mar 04, 2013
We have a variety of things going on this week and next. We have a couple weeks before we start prepping for calving so one thing we will do is use the time to get things back in order including our shop, the bison barn, and out in the pastures where we have rolled up old fence or replaced water troughs and never got all the old junk picked up. We may go out and sort heifers again toward the end of the week and next week we will be moving our cows back to pasture from the farm country west of the ranch. I also have some meetings this week and Rex is doing his monthly check of the perimeter bison fence. Mike is building temporary fence for the horses who are grazing a thin strip of grass next to the paved road and we move them weekly to a new strip. Early next week we are doing a staff pack trip behind the dunes which should be fun.
Posted by Jeff G. on 03/04/2013

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