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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)

Thursday, Sep 29, 2011
Well, we have finished off another couple of busy, but very entertaining weeks! Last week we had a great group of guests join us here at the ranch, including Bill and Larry who came back for a week again this year after so much fun last year. Thanks guys for joining us again, it was so wonderful to spend time with you both!! We also had Elena  from Italy, Shari from Wisconsin, and Adam and Debbie from London with us for the week. Pictured above are Bill, Elena and Shari.  On tuesday, Larry, Bill, Shari and Elena were brave enough to join me for a long day at the Chico. We left early tuesday morning to meet Jonathan and Michael at the very south end of the ranch to gather and sort bulls out of one of the commerical herds. We were successful in finding and sorting off all 16 bulls, followed by a long drive back to May Camp. Not any old person can spend all day in the saddle, and 7-8 hours is certainly all day- thanks for all your help guys! Debbie and Adam spent the week enjoying all the aspects of the Zapata, as well as the surronding area. My mom spent a great deal of time with them and I owe them a huge thank you for helping to make her vacation out to visit me so enjoyable. They also isnprired me to hike up to Zapata Lake, so hopefully that will happen in the next couple of days and I can let everyone know how it goes! In addition to these week long guests, we had several people join us throughout the week for a few days and I must say I enjoyed meeting you all and spending time in the saddle with you all- hope to see you again for a longer stay next time! In particular, we owe Dottie, Frank, German, Gustavo, and Estevan a big thanks for helping us move our somewhat uncooperative cows on Thursday, right alongside Bill, Larry, Elena, Carla and myself. It wasn't the easiest move to date....
In other news, the colors in the mountains are fantastic right now, constantly reminding me of why I love living here. The aspens are turning amazing shades of gold, but in addition there are so many other bushes and trees chagning to reds, yellows and oranges. My mom and I took a drive up to Ouray yesterday and some of our photos are just amazing. I was able to see a whole other part of Colorado- I will try to post some pictures as I get them on the computer.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to their fall!!
Posted by Asta R. on 09/29/2011

Learning to Fly and Changing Colors
The baby swallows around the lodge have been seen running around the sidewalks lately learning how to fly. One made it up to a window ledge and I'm not sure if they've mastered their skills enough to make it back up to their nest. The babies we've seen run around quickly as they flap their wings and have brief moments of lift off. Hopefully we'll get to see it when it clicks and they take off. The baby birds are almost as big as the momma birds, but you can see the yellow freshness of their beaks that wrap widely around their face and makes it look like they are smiling.

Tess and I took the primitive road trail within the park that leads you all the way over the mountains when it's open and it is a great, great trip to take if you are traveling with a 4 wheel drive vehicle with a good amount of clearance. This is the best time of the year to be back there where you can see the back side of the dunes as you get started and then as you make your way into the dense trees and aspen groves you see all of the different plant life in their different stages of shedding, with some still green as can be, some completely without leaves and some bright yellow. In the next few weeks the majority of the trees will be changing colors and that is by far the best time to be back there.

As we made our way back out of the park you could see the polar bear shape in the mountain very easily with the trees changing colors at the top of his back. You can see the two legs below the back and then the head hangs low and to the right, giving you a side view of what looks like a polar bear, that has also been called an anteater and long-necked turtle by some of our friends who couldn't quite visualize a polar bear.

Posted by David L. on 09/27/2011

Name the Horse #2 Winner!
Congratulations to EMILE DUBIA for suggesting the winning name for our new horse, MONKEY! Thanks to all 38 of you who participated, there were some really great suggestions. This winter will bring many more Name the Horse contests, too, so start thinking now. Oh, and Happy Friday!

Posted by Tess L. on 09/23/2011

Massage Therapy Comes to Zapata!
Big news!! We have partnered with massage therapist Cynthia Nielsen, CMT, CR to bring massages to guests at Zapata. Rather than scheduling appointments at the local spas that are over an hour away, we decided that it was time to bring massages to you! Cynthia specializes in incorporating many techniques to individualize massages and bodywork treatments to meet your specific needs. Her treatments range from traditional Swedish Massages, to Refelxology, Lavender Facials and Head and Scalp Massages. 

I had the pleasure of getting a massage from Cynthia last week and was thoroughly impressed. In addition to customizing the treatment to my specific needs, she let me select oils from a collection that she makes herself from native plants-- I chose Lavender and Echinacea. Another one of my favorite parts about Cynthia is that her mobile massage set-up allows for flexibility in where you have your massage. Guests can choose to have the treatment outside under the cottonwoods, or privately in their room. 

Be sure to schedule your appointment on your next visit to Zapata! 

Posted by Tess L. on 09/23/2011

All Natural Grass Fed Lamb
Our sister ranch, Chico Basin, in Colorado Springs has just started selling all natural, grass-fed lamb. There are a limited number for sale that will be taken to a USDA certified processor. The lamb will then be available for pick up from the ranch that is just 35 minutes southeast of Colorado Springs.

They are selling whole animals that usually yield 60 to 75 lbs of meat, so if that is more than you need, people often get together with friends to buy the whole animal and split it up.

The sheep have become a great addition to the education program at Chico and are raised by the Chico ranch manager, Michael Moon's, children, teaching them how to care for animals from a young age.

For more info and to reserve a lamb call 719.683.7960 or email
Posted by David L. on 09/20/2011

Outdoor Dining
One of the nicest things about this time of year is outdoor dining. Summer is great for it, too, but the bugs often make it slightly unpleasant. And what's better than enjoying a delicious gourmet dinner under a canopy of changing trees? 

Every couple of weeks, Mike prepares an al fresco dinner. Typically it's lunch, but occasionally dinner. The meal is normally either a spread of homemade pizza with his own bison pepperoni and an array of fresh veggies, ceasar salad, garlic toasts and a ice cream sunday bar OR bison steaks with sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, roasted potatoes, salad, homemade bread and a berry crisp. YUM! 

David and I like to host dinners like this at our house every once in a while, too. We had the Rolet family over for one a couple of weeks ago, while my dad was in town. Here are a couple pictures from the night. 

Posted by Tess L. on 09/16/2011

Buffalo Moon
Last night we had a big bright, full moon that rose up over the Sangres and lit up the buffalo in the nearby pasture.

This time of year there are big flocks of mourning Dove flying around the ranch eating the sunflower seeds that are mostly gone by now. The big rabbit brush around the ranch are also showing their yellow flowers giving a nice yellow glow to the pastures around the ranch.

The mornings are getting much colder and darker and as Tess said in her previous post, Fall colors will be here soon. This is one of our favorite times of the year with the bison gather coming up and staff heading to the mountains taking a week here and there hunting elk, deer, or pronghorn with bows or rifles and doing their best to fill freezers for the year. It's always nice when they are successful and the summer sausages and steaks make their way back to the ranch.
Posted by David L. on 09/13/2011

Hot Sauce
By far one of the best parts of the ranch - Mike's hot sauce collection. We have everything from Tabasco to your Cholulas, Tapatios, El Patos and the spicy habanero blends. The Tabasco selection alone is impressive with flavors I've never even heard of, including buffalo, habanero and garlic. The buffalo tastes like buffalo wing sauce, the garlic is pretty mild and the habanero is a barn burner!

Next time you're at the ranch be sure to find your flavor!

We had a great few days with the Nature Conservancy staff here for a retreat, with over 50 employees. It was a fun group and the house was packed!
Posted by David L. on 09/08/2011

Wednesday, Sep 07, 2011

The last coulpe of weeks have brought us lots of changes- we lost several of our summer staff as they headed back to college. All in one week, Julie, Nadine and Jack headed off; Julie up to Canada for college, Nadine back to Switzerland, and Jack to Durango for school. I wanted to take a minute to give them all a HUGE THANK YOU for all their help this summer- you all were the best!! We had a bery successful summer, due in no small part to all of their support and hard work during the season. It has been rather quiet around the ranch without you all, and I'm looking forward to seeing you all for bison round-up!
Last week we had another great group of guests here at the ranch, though I mut say the crowd of 12 felt small compared to the previous weeks. The picture above is of Will Killen practicing his roping skills (on his dad) during lunch with Hayden. Thanks for the great picture, Hugh! They spent several days out riding with us, Will learning how to gallop around like a cowboy, and even learning how to rope! They also spent a day fishing in Salida- the fishing is still great up on the Arkansas. We also had David and Michelle, from MA, with us for 5 days- unfortunately they were 2 days late thanks to the hurricane that hit the east. I really enjoyed spending time relaxing in the saddle with them on some gorgeous day rides, can't wait to see their pictures from the sunset ride through the bison! Mike joined us from Indiana, and as our only guest on Monday night joined us all for a Labor Day celebration at my house.
This morning, Hayden and I got 15 horses saddled up to take a group of TNC staff riding during their annual staff retreat here at the ranch. The yard around the lodge is scattered with tents, with 53 people here, it is a big (and fun) crowd! The sun is getting bright, but the temperature continue to hover right around 60, so I'm imagining it will be a perfect fall day, bringing smiles to all of our faces!

Posted by Asta R. on 09/07/2011

Transition to Fall
It's about that time of year where we we begin to notice a few spots of yellow in the surrounding Cottonwood Grove and on the mountain peaks. The air is crisper, especially in the mornings, and our plants are unrevived by water, leading us to think that it's been getting awfully close to freezing at night. I've been finding myself toting sweaters along to work and leaving the windows closed when I leave for the day. 

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the coziness involved-- fires in the evenings, warm hues of orange, brown and yellow blanketing the landscape, hearty soups and casseroles for dinner, and opening up the cedar chest to haul out heavier blankets for our bed.

The pace at the ranch changes accordingly, too, but not quite in the way one might expect. Bison roundup is just around the corner-- about one and a half months away-- and is perhaps the most fast-paced couple weeks that we have. Take a look at last year's blog posts to see exactly what goes on, and stay tuned in the upcoming weeks as we chronicle this year's event.

Here are a few pictures that I took last year around the end of September. We do have a few vacancies left in the upcoming weeks, too, if you find yourself needing a full Fall immersion. 

Posted by Tess L. on 09/01/2011

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