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Sand Creek
Category: Live from the Ranch
The snowfall that the Sangre de Cristo Mountains receive during the winter turns into melting snow, forming a free-flowing stream called Sand Creek. The amount of water at Sand Creek depends on the amount of snowfall we receive. This past winter, the amount of snow was slim, making the amount of water low. With Sand Creek only flowing for about 2 weeks of the year, it is thought to be a celebration- a mark of the melting snow and the beginning of warm weather.

The free-flowing stream is located on the northern side of the ranch and 7 miles from the Sand Ramp Trail Head within The Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Last week, we took a few hours in the afternoon to make our way to see the flowing creek. On our way, we passed the herd of 2,000 bison lazing around the grove of the Wedding Trees to enjoy the afternoon shade. Hisa Ota, the previous owner of the ranch, was married under the grove of trees, giving the name Wedding Trees.  

Nearing closer to Sand Creek, a 20-head herd of elk were seen in the distance enjoying the water.  Seeing the elk herd stampede and trample the sand behind them was such a beautiful site.

Posted by Anonymous A. on 06/21/2011

Category: Live from the Ranch
Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring!

May was an important month at the lodge- a time to clear away the remnants of winter and add a “springtime” feeling. Janet Phillips and a good friend, Diane, spent a few days with us to renew the landscape around the lodge. Flowers were planted, shrubs were trimmed, and hummingbird feeders were set out.

It was a really nice to spend a couple of days outside in the sun. The weather cooperated for the most part, though it did get a bit windy for a day or two, but the temperatures were cool and the sun was out.

Ever since we planted flowers, the robins have been coming closer to the lodge, and lounging lazily in the sprinklers and pecking the ground in search of worms. The hummingbirds are all over the place, too, and are loving the sugar water that fills their feeders. AND, unfortunately, the flowers have brought the deer a bit closer as well. I say unfortunately because not only are they coming closer, but they're also snacking on the flowers that we so carefully planted and now so conscientiously water. We're planning to put some pinwheels in the gardens to keep the deer away-- fingers crossed!

Posted by Anonymous A. on 06/02/2011

Bison Tour
Category: Live from the Ranch
One of our most popular guided tours we provide to our guests is a Bison Tour, which is offered everyday 9am or 2pm with a reservation. In order to be comfortable and knowledgeable to lead these tours throughout the season, I’ve had the privilege to attend 3 bison tours this past week. The 2-hour tour gives us the opportunity to teach our guests about our 1,500-head wild bison herd and how we use them to conserve the 50,000-acre pasture in which they live. We drive our guests through the pasture for an up-close view of the bison and their home. Along the route, we are sure to keep an eye out for other types of wildlife such as, elk, pronghorn antelope, porcupines, and coyotes.  We make a stop at the original Medano Headquarters, which dates back to the 1870’s and on the historic registry, as well as the bison working facility, a Temple Grandin creation.
DID YOU KNOW:  The terms “buffalo” and “bison” are often used simultaneously. However, “buffalo” refers to Water Buffalo found in Africa.

Take a look at Zapata's facebook page for a pictures I took on yesterday's tour.

Posted by Anonymous A. on 05/18/2011

Branding at the Chico
Category: Live from the Ranch
Last Friday and Saturday, the folks here at Zapata drove out to Colorado Springs to help our sister ranch, Chico Basin Ranch with branding 150 calves. We set out early Saturday morning to the pasture and wrangled the cattle into a bordered fence.  Since my riding skills are not yet up to standard, I rode along in the horse-drawn wagon, where we stored the branding equipment.  The ranchers at Chico used the traditional method by roping the calf, holding it to the ground and applying a branding iron that was heated in a fire. While 2 ranchers secured each calf to the ground, others took turns giving shots to the inside of the front leg, earmarking, and castrating.  I was more of a bystander at first, but soon clung to the action of holding the calves to the ground. With many helping hands, we managed to brand the calves in 4 hours.  I’m hoping to have another similar opportunity of branding in the near future!
Posted by Anonymous A. on 05/13/2011

Monday, May 09, 2011
Category: Live from the Ranch
I travelled from Ontario, Canada to Zapata Ranch to participate as an Intern for the next 6 months in the fields of hospitality and tourism. During my time here, I will be working in areas such as reservations and bookings, marketing, food and beverage service, leading bison tours and assist in horseback riding tours and children’s programs.

During my first week on the ranch, I have already experienced so much, indoor and outdoor. A favourite site was leading a herd of 400 bison by a feed truck from one pasture to another. A project of mine this week was creating a children’s outdoor scavenger hunt with clues referring to the history, wildlife, and natural objects in and around the ranch. In the evenings, I enjoy working in the restaurant assisting with dinner and dining with our guests, while sharing experiences here on the ranch.

With my first week coming to an end, I can truly say that my coworkers welcomed me and made me feel at home. By waking up every morning with deer roaming the ranch, the bright sun and blue skies, and the friendly staff and guests - I am truly grateful to have this experience at Zapata Ranch!
Here's a picture that I took of a neat stump that's on the Scavenger Hunt.

Posted by Anonymous A. on 05/09/2011

Thursday, Oct 01, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
Here are a few photos from last week.
Anne from France via Washington DC took this one of the girls and their babies on the move to the Elk pasture.

TNC's very own, Audrey, shot Dan working yearlings. As you can see, Poke is eagerly watching from the gate. Although sometimes Poke gets a little too eager when Dan is working cattle.
Posted by Anonymous A. on 10/01/2009

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
Boy, the wind is blowing hard today. I would guess that it is 30 mph sustained and over 40 mph gusts. Dan and Jeff are out moving some yearlings to get them ready to ship on Saturday. I feel sorry for them.
We have a photography workshop arriving today and will be here until Sunday. It is always fun to hang around in the evenings while everyone is showing off their new prizes. Becasue we are in the midst of fall colors there should be some spectacular ones.
Posted by Anonymous A. on 09/30/2009

Sunday, Sep 27, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
Oh, I forgot to tell you that Fall is in the Air! This week Mt. Blanca and Crestone Peak got their fair share of snow on top. Both are over 14,000 feet and snow capped now. Even Little Bear had a dusting one morning which is just over 13,000. We haven't had any white stuff here on the valley floor at headquarters...yet! Today it is over 70 degrees with not a cloud in the sky. A perfect fall day!
Posted by Anonymous A. on 09/27/2009

Sunday, Sep 27, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
Dan and I went out to check on the mares a few days ago. Here they are so curious and cute!
Posted by Anonymous A. on 09/27/2009

Sunday, Sep 27, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
Maryanne finally popped!
Posted by Anonymous A. on 09/27/2009

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
We had an extra special treat last Friday. We got to brand 30 head of calves that were left over from our annual spring branding. As you all know, branding is my favorite event with cattle work. Becasue the calves were bigger than in the spring we headed and heeled them. I had a good day of roping but I had more fun helping everyone on the ground. Here is a snapshot of what that looks like. Feebe is taking pictures, I am kneeling on the calf, Mona is casterating, Cerena is holding the calf down and Sabine is giving the shot. Guests not shown here are: Emma, Willy, Daniel, Hugo, Jenny and Patricia. We also had fun with Franz, a German travel photographer. Thanks everyone for all the fun.
Posted by Anonymous A. on 09/09/2009

Tuesday, Sep 01, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
I was reading the last few postings made by Adrienne and I had to add that the day we spent driving the horses home was truely fabulous. Here is a picture of the event. This is my oldest son Blayden leading the herd.

We have been spending a lot of time horseback this week; driving steers to their new pasture, sightseeing in the mountains and riding young horses. I have been riding two mares this summer; Cindy and Kitten, and both of them are doing very well. I hope that this fall I can graduate them to the Hackamore. This graduation follows in the footsteps of the Great Basin Buckaroos who learned from the Spanish Vaqueros. The goal is to eventually have a horse "straight up" in the bridle, or spade bit. This process takes numerous years and lots of time invested in understanding each horse seperately. So far, I have been riding Cindy and Kitten for about a year and a half in the snaffle bit and if we progress at the same pace it will be another four to five years before they are in the bridle. The process is very long but rewarding beyond imagination when it is realized. If you get a chance to come visit us, ask about this style of horsemanship. We love to share!
Posted by Anonymous A. on 09/01/2009

Friday, Aug 28, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
For the last week nearly a dozen of our horses have been grazing on a few hundred acres on the Medano side of the ranch. There is lots of grass over there and whenever possible we kick ponies out in a pasture near the bison barn. The trip back and forth in a trailer can be monotonous - each time we discuss trailing the horses across the open desert rather than use a truck and trailer.
This week all our dreams came true. Dan, Regin and his two boys, Blayden and Waylon, and myself trotted across the West pasture to pick our route. Then crossed Lane 6 headed for the trees in the distance, knowing the horses were a little to the east. As the crow flies, or a horse trots, it is only 6 miles from Zapata headquarters to the Medano headquarters. But it felt further without any fences or roads to gauge distance.
At straight up noon we had the horses sorted and were ready to kick open the gate. Regin turned to his boys and said "Stay in the back with me and we'll drive 'em. This may get a little western." The boys grinned, preparing for the most exciting day horseback ever! The corral gate opened, the horses were now in the bison pasture - a mear 40,000 acres. Dan took the lead at a trot, I hazed the herd into a straight line and the Fletchers were riding drag. The horses lined out and headed for home. The entire drive went off without a fluke - as if it had been done a thousand times. The herd waited patiently at gates, trailed in a line across open country, trotted through belly high grass, made their way home.
It was a sight to see! What a great day in the saddle...
Posted by Anonymous A. on 08/28/2009

Sorting bulls at dawn
Category: Live from the Ranch

Early one morning not too long ago Jeff, Dan and I headed out from the corrals just before sun up. Our mission was to sort the bulls off the cows because their job should be done for the year; now it is time for them to relax and graze. As we trotted out to the Pure Bred meadow the sun was just coming over Mt. Blanca. It was a magnificent sight - cattle on green grass, a small herd of elk in the distance. Dan and I rode two of our new horses - first ride outside of the roundpen. For as long as I ride those horses I will remember the beauty of that morning.

Posted by Anonymous A. on 08/24/2009

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009
Category: Live from the Ranch
I was driving home the other evening and I saw a doe deer cross the road. Naturally I slowed down but to my suprise two twin fawn's followed their mother. They were very young, still had their spots. That is the first set of twins that I have ever seen. Nature is amazing.
Posted by Anonymous A. on 08/12/2009

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