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Saturday, Aug 31, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
The Rose Lake from the air.  There are five of these lakes on the ranch.  They are unique to the Chico, rare on the prairie, all filled by springs running clear cool water, flowing out of the ground.  A home flock of duck live in these springs and slues, year round.  

Recently, as some of you have read, Bill Maynard posted in the bird journal, about how rich the dragon fly population was on the Chico - the lakes are their habitat.  Makes me wonder what other wonders there are in the prairie that we don't know about.  Jonathan found a badger den the other day; i'm going out to put a time lapse camera on it to see if we can catch the badger family life on film. 
Posted by Duke P. on 08/31/2013

Thursday, Aug 22, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 There is a monster storm broiling over us and the entire prairie, it seems.  Constant flashes of lightening show how low and boiling the clouds are in the dark.  Massive hunks of thunder drown out every possible noise, so that even Frankie my dog who is not usually bothered by storms keeps looking toward the window, very worried.  But the wind is what screams the loudest and what moves you by just looking at the trees being tossed around like limp flower sacks.  
I stepped outside just now and stood behind the corner of the building and feel its power even though i was not in it, because every single thing beyond my corner was being ravaged by it.  I wondered what it would be like to sit in a small tree house with glass walls and feel the whole tree swaying as if about to be yanked out by its roots.

Tomorrow i wonder if this wild thing will leave its its load of rain behind.
Posted by Duke P. on 08/22/2013

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
Every day the mare band comes up to my house with all the fat mamas and the curious springy legged fouls.  The mares take turns rubbing their rumps on the post, and the little ones line up at the fence looking over the dogs or me.  

In the background, is a field of green, as such as has not been seen for a long time.  Its has made their coats shinny and slick and their eyes bright.  It has put a bounce in their step so that you know all is well.
Posted by Duke P. on 08/17/2013

Thursday, Aug 08, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Looking south from my house during the rain.
Posted by Duke P. on 08/08/2013

Thursday, Aug 08, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Yesterday it rained over most the ranch, the first big general rain that we've had in over 5 years.  In our west and south ranges, it was the first rain since three years ago.  We spent alot of time on the front porch watching it come in a dark line across the prairie.  Then watching it come off the roof in great torrents.

Later during supper on the porch (we couldn't pull ourselves inside) the frogs came out and burst into song like opera singers.  We haven't heard them since 5 years ago.

You don't know how much pressure you are under until it rains.  And then when it does, it feels like a big lead ball is taken off your shoulders.
Posted by Duke P. on 08/08/2013

Friday, Jun 07, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Having bean and onion tacos, the best lunch ever.
Posted by Duke P. on 06/07/2013

Friday, Jun 07, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Afte the branding, watering the horses.
Posted by Duke P. on 06/07/2013

Friday, Jun 07, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
Today was a special day.  The season's first branding, later than normal by almost 60 days due to the dry weather.  We haven't wanted to be distracted from giving the cattle herd all of our attention because of the elevated stress level, so we haven't branded at all, and instead have focused on putting the entire together along with the horses, into one herd that is rotating around the entire ranch in a migratory pattern.

We met at 3'30 am, as can be seen in the photo above, and departed in the dark, so as to be at the back side of the pasture with the entire day in front of us, and so as to better be able to pair the mothers with their calves.  Another reason it was special is because the entire crew was made up of everyone from both ranches, except for Jeff, who stayed behind to mind things at the MZ.  All 23 of us with the wagon hitched had, spent the better part of a day, holding the cattle up out at the Holmes mill, and dragging them out one by one with ropes.   A grand day, branding, eating bean and onion tacos and spending time together doing something that I think every one of us felt was the funnest things we could be doing anywhere.
Posted by Duke P. on 06/07/2013

Thursday, Jun 06, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
Yesterday at Kenny's branding I took Grace and Julie and their friends and we worked most the morning with the rest of the crew helping Kenny brand his calves. This photo is of Grace (behind the calf, holding the rope) helping get a calf down.  It was her 16th birthday and I was so proud of her out there mixing it up with all the boys.  

Tomorrow we brand our first group of calves.  It'll be all day because theres lot of them.  We'll be riding out of the corrals at 4 am in order to have the whole day in front of us.  We want to be standing at the back of the pasture as first light comes.
Posted by Duke P. on 06/06/2013

Monday, Apr 08, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 When are working on horseback, the horses are run in either in the evening last thing, or first thing in the morning, depending on when we are leaving.  Notice the young mob at the last.  These are the young weanlings that we have just taken off the mares and are halter breaking.  Part of their training is putting them in with the remuda so that they get used to running into the corrals without acting crazy and flying all over the trap when they are a little older and juicier with the green grass, and secondly, to be around people and to become used to the process of catching horses.  We like to be able to walk into the pen full of horses and not have everything running around in circles, and instead, have everyone relaxed, hanging in their friends groups, and being being caught as we walk out among them and put the reins over their neck's with minimal movement on their part.  When we jingle up the  horses, they run straight into the corral, at a fast trot or a gallop.  Imagine what it would be like if horses were going everywhere all over the trap, or contrarily, if they all came in at a walk, from the different places they were grazing.
Posted by Duke P. on 04/08/2013

Monday, Apr 08, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Horses going out, notice who's at the back.  
Posted by Duke P. on 04/08/2013

Monday, Apr 08, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Duke talking with Jonathan
Posted by Duke P. on 04/08/2013

Saddle Making
Category: Live from the Ranch
 This is the stage we are at with the first saddle.  Its amazing how long it takes.  What i've learned, in its most basic form, is that it boils down to two things: fitting and shaping each piece of leather as exactly and completely as possible, including tacking it into place, then, permanently putting it on.  Its especially about the pre-fitting and shaping and molding, making sure its exact, that you have the right amount shaved off, pulling just tight enough here and there, the same on one side that it is on the other.
Posted by Duke P. on 04/08/2013

Saturday, Apr 06, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
I've been making a saddle for Julie, and following that one, I'll make another one for Grace.  A friend, Duncan, who runs a leather shop in Buena Vista, and long time saddle maker, has spent the last two days with Jonathan and I in the workshop.  My hands are tired after over 12 hours working today.  Photos to come.  Its a life time desire, making a saddle is the pinnacle in leather craft  for me.  Duncan has been a life safer, i can't imagine figuring all that off of a video.  Tomorrow he leaves. Just me and Jonathan, then.  We'll have fun one like always.
Posted by Duke P. on 04/06/2013

Friday, Apr 05, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
We went out yesterday to gather cows from four pastures that we will be shipping to auction tomorrow, with others that we brought out of the sand last week. These are the older cows that are in the least best shape. Old friends.  Sisters.  Really don't know what to say.  Its getting to be routine.   We have waited till the last moment to ship this group.  As we will each group that is staged from here on out.

Every week we meet to talk about markets, dwindling grass reserves and how much greening is going on in the bottoms which at this early stage is inconsequential.  Our latest plan is to wait till the end of April and if no moisture comes, ship another few loads of cows, and again at the end of May till we have only what the creek bottoms can support.  Really, the only nice thing about yesterday was the blue sky that stretched from the mountains in the west clear to the prairie to the east, and the warm beautiful day and its crisp beginning as the sun first appeared.

And at the same time, we are figuring out other sources of income such as horse clinics, branding camps, youth horsemanship schools, concerts - like we have posted on this site: http://chicobasinranch.com/index.cfm?id=232d6681-2298-4794-b9929d3171ca6073&calendar--special-events.html.  Later we are building a facility on the ranch to provide a place to relax for our birders, hunters, fishermen, and outdoor enthusiast.

 
Posted by Duke P. on 04/05/2013

   
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