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Music and Leather
Category: Live from the Ranch
This week has been filled with tunes and quality time in the leather room at Chico.

Several Mercantile orders have been made and Stu Baby finished his chinks! 

Monday was all day in the shop - A quality Labor Day all-around, finished with an evening dove hunt. We've started making dove tacos this year, dicing up and seasoning the breast - D Licious!
Posted by David L. on 09/04/2013

Medano HQ
Category: Live from the Ranch
 This is the old Medano headquarters. An impressively large spread where the majority of the ranch crew lived. Most of the little houses were where the ranch hands lived. All of the buildings were also connected by a walkway you can see around the edge of the buildings. See the large wood pile in the middle and blackened chimneys? Subzero winters probably burned through the whole pile.
Posted by David L. on 05/24/2013

Big Baby
Category: Live from the Ranch
Yesterday I went out with Jeff and Duke to check on the heifers and their newborns. One of the calves of the day was this beast. Even though he was big and stout and showed a lot of strength when we moved him, he wasn't wanting to bound around and try out his new hooves. We took him to the sick pens with his mama and hopefully he'll be feeling a little more lively in a few days and will become a big strong steer.  
Posted by David L. on 05/23/2013

Ranch Rodeo
Category: Live from the Ranch
Last weekend a few of the crew participated in a local ranch rodeo in Monte Vista - Duke, Jeff, Stuart, and me.

This picture is from the trailer loading contest. The most hilarious part was that the clock stops once everyone piles in the cab of the truck - normal capacity of 3 - and all of the doors shut. The Z fans said it looked like something from a circus with clowns racing around a car and Jeff sailing over the top of the trailer after taking the rope off of the steer.

I believe it was the first ranch rodeo for all of us. We might do another one near Saguache in June now that we have a feel for the events - trailer loading, branding, doctoring, and sorting - and the rules, timing, etc.
Posted by David L. on 05/20/2013

Z Store
Category: Live from the Ranch
 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

Category: Live from the Ranch
 Gordo helping me saddle up Rocky Top. He and the horses are regular pals now.  
Posted by David L. on 02/14/2013

Black Friday
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Last night Kate had great success with her new horse Black Friday. After several afternoons of ground work and getting used to one another, Kate got on a calm and trusting Friday.

The audience - Tess, Sam, Peter, and me - were all present half hoping for a rodeo, snacking on some beef jerky in the freezing afternoon/evening. We were just as happy all went well and Friday paced around the round-pen, attention locked on Kate. We'll see how this afternoon goes - it should be aces for our Brit friend.  
Posted by David L. on 02/13/2013

Category: Live from the Ranch
 The Blue Dodge didn't want to start today, so it got a solid run around behind little Duke's truck - the pull start worked with great success!

I've never been very mechanical and have enjoyed learning little in-and-outs that are necessary when the machines break down. The malfunctions are inevitable and the hard life machines live on the ranch makes breakdowns a frequent occurrence. Because of this we all become impromptu mechanics, building on the experiences from our last mechanical challenges. It starts slow with learning to plug tires and evolves into welding and inventing your own parts out of thin air (i.e. the scrap pile). 

Around this time last year I visited Duke in Australia on his overseas ranching excursion and got to see impromptu mechanics at their finest. The Australian ranches are typically so far from anything that they're forced to fix just about everything themselves. The majority of the operations also heavily rely on machines to cover a lot of land - airplanes, motorcycles, and monster 4 wheelers with big bull bars. One man there may have the knowledge to do the majority of the work needed on all of those machines and also semi-trucks, tractors, and cattle trailers - impressive stuff. 

The new knowledge and lessons are always fun, I just hope for them to take place around the shop and not in the middle of the farthest pastures, conveniently lacking cell phone coverage for miles - haha! 

Posted by David L. on 02/11/2013

Bachelor Bulls
Category: Live from the Ranch
The bachelor pods of bulls have been more active recently as breeding season is upon us. On the way to work last week I came upon a group of 8 bulls, two big mature bulls and the rest younger studs in training.

This bull was the biggest in the group and most likely the dominant breeder. The majority of the year we don't see the bulls too often as they hang out in the tall rabbit brush where we don't typically ride or drive, so seeing the big guys is always a treat.
Posted by David L. on 05/21/2012

Running Water
Category: Live from the Ranch
The water is flowing and the bison are loving it. They've been congregrating around this little creek, sleeping by the water, playing in the water and sticking nearby so they can go in for a dip.

Temperatures will be in the high 70s and 80s this week so the water will continue to run as it melts off the mountains. Jeff and I might try to get some fishing in this weekend before everything gets completely blown out, but it might be too late. We will see.
Posted by David L. on 04/24/2012

Morning Ride
Category: Live from the Ranch
When guests go on rides through the park or on the Medano we trailer over with the horses in tow. Just as breakfast is coming to a close, Asta, Carla or one of the crew will pull the trucks and trailers around in front of the lodge. It is a great morning greeting to hear the horses quietly moving about in the trailer.
Posted by David L. on 04/17/2012

Mike's Biscuits
Category: Live from the Ranch
Mike's biscuits are my favorite breakfast item at the lodge. Whether they are covered in gravy, jelly or honey, if there are biscuits around I'll be eating them.

Mike gave me the recipe last year and I've made them at home a few times and the recipe is a sure fire success. They are always delicious.

The biscuits and gravy combo Mike makes is hands down one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. I love breakfast more than any other meal and have a lot of favorites, and Mike's B & G's never waiver from the top of the list.
Posted by David L. on 04/10/2012

Flower Time
Category: Live from the Ranch
It has been unusually warm for this time of year and the plants are starting to bloom.

Every Spring, Tess and her mom, who is a gardening enthusiast, arrange the flowers and potted plants for around the lodge. Over the weekend I stopped by the greenhouse with Tess and Asta to drop off pots and take a look at what they'll be planting this year. Most plants were not flowering yet so we used the little picture cards that showed each plant in full bloom to gauge what we wanted.

Earlier in the week I went on a ride with Asta and the Second Baptist School group from Houston and had great weather and a nice ride with the kids.

Posted by David L. on 03/27/2012

Little Surprises
Category: Live from the Ranch
This deer skull nest is one of the many surprises I come across on the ranch. It's been there for a long time and the crew and guests see it everyday as it is located right next door to our saddlehouse. The same birds probably return each year and build it back up. The placement is perfect and gives the deer character and a little bit of a hair style.

Another little surprise - After being away for a month and arriving home I found two headless garter snakes back by my office and one half eaten in our front yard. One was miraculously draped over the top of a gate post and I knew immediately that it was a little surprise from the owl that has been hunting around the house. He's more than welcome to stay and keep on the hunt as we don't really care for the garter snakes that out of the whole 103,000 acre ranch, like to spend winter under our home. As I write this the owl is sitting outside of my office, quietly and patiently, only blinking, waiting for his next meal. He is a quiet, stealth machine.
Posted by David L. on 03/20/2012

White Buffalo
Category: Live from the Ranch
We have a bison calf on the ranch right now that has light colored fur and we are always on the lookout for her as we drive around. Tess will come back from a run or a drive and be so excited that she saw the white buffalo. There are albino buffalo that are pure white, but our girl is more of a very, very light tan. Maybe the hide will change as she grows but hopefully it remains and she grows to be a big, strong, healthy beast and we can spend several years trying to spot our white buffalo running about.
Posted by David L. on 03/14/2012

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