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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)



Hayes Carll with special guest Joe Pug in concert!
We are beginning our final preparations for Hayes Carll and Joe Pug in concert at Chico Basin Ranch on August 2nd.  We’ve been in cahoots with Duke, Jonathan and Brent from Chico to make sure that the stage is ready to go,  the fire pit is dug and the ranch staff are pumped up for the concert.  We cannot wait to see everyone there for a great evening of music, food and community!


Posted by Sam M. on 07/25/2012

Banana and Nut Muffins for breakfast!
As well as eggs, potatoes, sausages and fruit of course! 
Posted by Kate M. on 07/22/2012

Gordon the Orphan UPdate

In May, Gordon was brought to the corrals because he had been abandoned by his mother.  We are happy to announce that Gordon is growing up to be an adorable, young bison.  He has made friends with all of the staff and many guests as well.  We are continuing to feed him a bottle twice a day as well as hay and feed.  He spends most of his days running through his 1-acre pasture and relaxing in the sunshine.
Posted by Sam M. on 07/14/2012

Did you know: Cougars.
We don't see a lot of cougars at Zapata, in fact I haven't heard of anyone seeing one on the ranch. However, they do live in the mountains just above us and in the National Park. A while ago I was talking with Jeff and the subject of what a cougar eats came up. I was shocked to learn that second to deer and elk, porcupines make up a large part of their diet! Another interesting fact about cougars (aka: mountain lion, puma, panther and catamount) is that their hind legs are longer than their front legs, which makes it so that they can leap up to 35 feet.

Posted by Tess L. on 07/13/2012

Connor tells us the impact Zapata-Medano has made on him in only a couple of short weeks.




For some reason or another I have this innate desire to find one word that best describes a person, place, or thing and the other day while I was out working on the new bison fence under construction on the Medano I started thinking about what one word best describes the Medano-Zapata Ranch.  Several words came to mind but the one that I settled on was dynamic
(marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change).  You see, every day at the M-Z is different, whether it be the tasks that the staff must attend to, the guests that are visiting, the weather, or even just your perspective, nothing here is static. 

 

As I traverse the 50,000 acre bison pasture I am constantly taking a moment or two to look up and enjoy the beautiful landscape that surrounds me, and every time I look up I see something different.  The moving clouds cast shadows on parts of a meadow or the mountains while allowing sunlight to illuminate a ridge, forest grove, or grassy knoll that I had not noticed before.  The passing rains of the summer monsoons dampen the sand dunes highlighting the changes in their form dictated by the ever-blowing wind. The elusive bison are always on the move searching for the next patch of luscious grass to sustain their never-ending appetite, like pawns on this chessboard like countryside.

 

But it is not just the landscape that is dynamic; the people that are such an integral part of it are just as so.  This is evident in the little girl that over the course of a day overcame her fear or riding a horse, or the group of guests that wake up in the morning never before having moved cattle but go to bed that night with the experience of rounding up and moving an entire herd several miles.  It can be seen in actions as minute as an intern learning how to hitch a...

Posted by Kate M. on 07/10/2012

Bird Life at Zapata and the surrounding areas by Laurence Pitcher

I didn’t really know what exactly to expect in terms of Bird watching at Zapata as it is not often mentioned in the bird guides, especially as I arrived after the bulk of spring migrants had moved through. But I left truly enlightened to what this “oasis” in the plains produced.

 

Upon arrival I was immediately struck by how much bird activity there was around the Ranch HQ, Yellow Warblers sang from the Cottonwoods, Mountain Chickadees could be heard and family parties of American Robins and Northern Flickers fed fully fledged young amongst the lawn sprinklers. Barn, Cliff and Violet-green Swallows were everywhere utilizing the cabins and outhouses as nest sites.

 Over the coming days it became clear the birds of prey were much in evidence, a pair of American Kestrels that were breeding near the corrals announced the presence of any other bird of prey as they noisily harassed any intruder, Coopers Hawk, Red-tailed and Swainson’s Hawks were all mobbed as they passed through HQ airspace. High flying Peregrine, Golden Eagle and daily sightings of the Turkey Vultures were also note worthy. Both Mountain and Western Bluebirds added splashes of color. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds buzzed through the air whilst a large group of approximately 40 Pinyon Jays could be heard if not seen methodically working their way around the ranch finding food for their constantly begging young, who trailed the adults everywhere. Also a pair of Clarke's Nutcracker put in an appearance one afternoon.

 A real surprise for me was the appearance, on two mornings, of a pair of Evening Grosbeak. I’m unsure of their exact status in this area but I really didn’t expect to see this bird here and having missed them on numerous attempts to see them in North America, it was a treat. As I was watching the Grosbeaks 2 Black Swift passed high overhead, another species that had eluded me on multiple attempts to catch up with them! All of a sudden both were in front of me at the same time!

 

The Black Swift is North Americas largest and most sparsely distribut...

Posted by Kate M. on 07/08/2012

Ride to Crestone
 Yesterday, Anna, our new wrangler from Australia, and I rode to Crestone from the Sand Dunes with 5 guests. On a trail I knew well in parts, others I had seen once whilst riding in the mountains as a child with my dad and brother and many bits I did not know at all, we set off on an exciting 8 hours. We set off at the beginning of the trail at 9 on the dot and with just one little wrong turn up a canyon about a mile, we rode into Crestone at a gallop to meet Danielle and the trailer to take us home around 5:00. It was a beautiful ride shared with great company and for some of us, a highlight of our riding experience. 
Posted by Julie P. on 07/07/2012

Rain!
After months without a single drop of rain, three days ago we had a nice afternoon storm. The clouds started forming over the mountains around 3pm, and rain started falling around 4. It fell for just about 30 minutes, but was a soaker and left the ground quenched after so many dry months. Maybe it was because of Connor's rain dance?


Posted by Tess L. on 07/05/2012

4th of July Camping


Although we had a little bit of wet weather, that didn't dampen our spirits.  We had a very successful camping adventure and were even able to see fireworks 40 miles away!

Posted by Sam M. on 07/05/2012

4th of July Camping
To celebrate the 4th of July, we are taking the guests on a camping trip to the Medano.  We are packing food, shelter and other essentials in a horse-drawn wagon and venture into the bison pasture.  Tonight’s dinner will consist of bison burgers and Mike’s homemade pasta salad and coleslaw.  At sunset, the bison herds and elk keeping us company until the Alamosa fireworks begin.  When it becomes dark, we will enjoy the fireworks and have a peaceful evening under the stars.
Posted by Sam M. on 07/04/2012

   
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