Fully connected
Category: Live from the Ranch
So, it took a little longer than expected, but the new place at the Casita (still thinking of a sweet name) is now fully connected. Here is a picture of the septic line, connected, laying in the ditch, ready to be connected. 

Feels great to have that done. It took a little more work than we thought, deepening the trench and removing roots by hand was quite a task. I've learned something here on the ranch, projects seem to almost inevitably prolong themselves, no matter how hard you try to hit a deadline. Something to remember when planning. 
Posted by Elliot A. on 07/07/2012

The New Pad
Category: Live from the Ranch
Well, its been a while since I've posted, as i have been without a working camera for a bit. Jonathan was nice enough to let me use his Blackberry, because my phone broke, and the blackberry has a fairly nice camera on it, so I'll use it for the time being. 

I do have an exciting post though! (well, exciting for me anyways...) We recently started on a project to renovate a storage room at La Casita (jonathans house) into living quarters. We had a local contractor, Dan Weigland, come in and do most of the major renovations, carpentry, and appliance installation. After that, it was up to us to finish off the rest of the job. This included painting, installing hot water, running drain pipes, connecting septic, finding furniture, etc. After all of that, there are still a few details to wrap up, but its in full commission now. And it looks awesome. 

I'm living there full time now with my friend Trent, who is interning here for the summer. Its working out great, we love it. I had an awesome experience living in the bunkhouse, and will always associate living at the Chico with the bunkhouse. I learned a lot there, how to live communally, how to respect others with whom you live and work with, how to separate work from off-time, and mostly, how to live simply, to make do with minimal space. It was a great experience, but after about 10 months, it will be refreshing to have my own space (minus trent), away from headquarters. 

I'd like to thank Duke, Janet, Jonathan, Brent, and Trent for helping out so much with the project, everything you all contributed is very much appreciated. 

This picture is a panorama which I stitched together in photoshop, and its taken on my phone, so the quality is lacking, but hopefully you can get a sense of what its like. Just one room, with an addition we built that houses the bathroom and a closet. 

Come visit me anytime and check it out!
Posted by Elliot A. on 06/29/2012

Category: Live from the Ranch

Well, the final phase 1 design development is done for our hunting lodge plan. All of the hardscape forms, pathway shapes, tent models, etc. have been settled on. I'm now moving onto putting it all into my Computer Aided Drafting program AutoCAD. This program gives me the ability to draft the design with absolute precision, and create documents with which we actually build the design with.
The above screenshot is what the interface looks like when I am drafting. Now that the phase one design is finished, its time to delve into the details, things like: Materials selection, irrigation design, utilities designs, grading, drainage etc. I'm making fairly good progress in these areas already, and am confident about our July 1st groundbreaking date. Work never stops though, better get back to it!
Posted by Elliot A. on 05/25/2012

Category: Live from the Ranch

Here is an action shot I took at our branding earlier this week.   

  So I now have three brandings under my belt. I can't even come close to expressing how much fun they are. I love the hard work, the dirt and sweat, the skills which are required, and just being around everyone in one big group, all of us laughing and sharing great times. 
    What a great place to come and develop skills you never knew you could. I find that to be the case very often around here. People, wether it be me, a guest, a student, or anyone else, are always learning around here. Its an environment, culture, and work type which most people aren't accustomed to, and therefore have much to learn about it. I enjoy learning very much, and love teaching others about the things I've learned. 
    Branding season is one of the best times of the year here on the ranch. So much work to do and so much fun to be had. I look forward to learning more and progressing my skills further. 

Posted by Elliot A. on 05/04/2012

Storms' a coming
Category: Live from the Ranch
Within the last week or two, we have been experiencing some our first warm season storms. These thunder and rain storms are my favorite type of weather.

I love the breeze that slowly builds into varying degrees of wind. The tall ominous thunderheads that slowly and steadily consume the bright sky, transforming it into dark. The moisture in the air, the smell of dry land begging to be satiated. The bolts of lightning striking the surface of the earth, and the shaking cracks of thunder which proceed.

The atmosphere outside is very unique at this point. Watching storms build and grow excites me. I hope for water, knowing that any amount is a good amount. Mostly, I just hope for a dang good storm. 

Posted by Elliot A. on 04/29/2012

Saturday, Apr 21, 2012
Category: Live from the Ranch

Look at the stratification of colors i came across in the Vega. The greens, yellows, reds, whites, oranges, and blues are striking. To me, it looks like the strata of a sedimentary rock, formed over thousands of years. The shot is framed nicely by the electric green cholla and the bright blue sky. I love how diverse the vega is, it has so many cool little nooks, great topographical features, and lots of water. It is my favorite pasture on the ranch.  
Posted by Elliot A. on 04/21/2012

Sunday, Apr 01, 2012
Category: Live from the Ranch
You have to love the veritable wolf pack we have running around the ranch. I'd estimate about 12 or more dogs call this ranch home. They are all taken care of very well, and I assume, love living here. 

I enjoy being greeted by Kit every morning, seeing Oakley lumbering around with her pregnant belly, taking care of the boys when the Phillips are gone, and seeing vic vito and dew show up in the morning looking for Allen. 

The dogs are a crucial element to the good juju of the ranch. They just make the whole place more enjoyable than it already is. 

Just the other day, I was taking care of Oakley, Jonathans lab. I told her to load up, so she hopped up into the cab of his truck, and sat down in this position, just like a human. 

Can I help you?

I just though this was very humorous... It sort of made my day. 
Posted by Elliot A. on 04/01/2012

The little things
Category: Live from the Ranch
Every once in a while, I'll just stop, and take in a scene of absolute beauty. This is one of my favorite aspects of working here. The ability to just stop for a minute, look, smell, hear, and feel the serene beauty of nature. 

Here is a nice picture of one of these such scenes. Stunning. 

Posted by Elliot A. on 03/23/2012

Category: Live from the Ranch
Today I spent a few hours out at the lodge site, analyzing the topography of the land. I will soon be starting the preliminary grading plan for the site. This plan delineates how we will move the soil on site to achieve a flat area to pour the foundation. With the goal being a flat pad, and equal proportions of cut and fill, it is my responsibility to plan the best way to achieve this without disturbing the existing environment and the natural systems embedded within it. Luckily, the site is relatively flat, sitting on a plateau which drops off gradually down to the lake. 

This is the view towards Pikes Peak from the top of the plateau on the site. It was a beautiful day to be out in the field. I enjoyed my time just looking at the contours of the land, deciding how best to fit the lodge into them as seamlessly as possible.

Posted by Elliot A. on 03/09/2012

Let It Snow
Category: Live from the Ranch

On thursday and friday the ranch received some much needed precipitation. It came in the form of about 4 inches of snow. This moisture is a blessing to us an dour animals here on the ranch. Because of precipitation like this, we can expect and plan for more early spring growth. This will make the end-of-winter stretch for grass less strenuous for us. Any water we can get, we will accept gladly, so keep it coming mother nature!
Posted by Elliot A. on 02/05/2012

Category: Live from the Ranch
Well, here it is, my first blog entry. I am so very excited to be writing on the Chico’s blog, and have a chance to share the happenings on the ranch. I am new to the blog, so let me give you a quick introduction to myself.

My name is Elliot Arthur. I was born and raised in San Francisco, living just outside of the city in a town called Danville. I have been interning here on the Chico for a little over 5 months now. I recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture. I am 22 years old, and after graduating, decided to take a not so traditional route for my field, and come out to work at the Chico. I hope to learn about range ecology, native plant species and and environmentally sustainable design while working here. These topics are very pertinent to landscape architecture, and are ones which I am very interested in. I also hope to use my knowledge of landscape design, aesthetics, and the built environment in any ways possible.

So enough about me, let’s get to my first entry.

About two weeks ago, we received a shipment of cows from Texas. As we were unloading the cattle, a few cows were very stressed out and giving us quite a hassle. One, in particular, was giving us a real hard time. She absolutely refused to go though our chute which we send each new animal through to give them the proper brands and tags. We tried four separate times to get her through, but she just wouldn’t go. She would charge us, run away, and do everything in her power not to go through. We finally decided that our efforts were futile, and that she needed time to calm down before we could be successful.

We put her in the corrals here at headquarters, to give her a few days to cool off. Throughout this time, we monitored her temperament, checking on her every once and a while to see if she had calmed down at all. However, every time someone would even approach the corral fence, she would lower her head, snort, and hoof at the ground as if she were about to charge. She obviously wasn't making much progress.

Until one morning, we came out to the corrals and found this...

As it turns out, she was rapidly approaching her due date, and was simply stressed out because of it. She was so defensive because she was about to calf, and felt threatened by all of the commotion of travel, unloading, and processing. It was amazing to me, we all thought she was just a rampant cow who was simply one of those cows who is mean and unruly, but really, it was just nature working it’s ways, protecting a calf who was on the verge of being born. A beautiful thing really.

After the calf was born, mama cooled down a bit. Obviously, she was still defensive of her newborn son, but you could tell her stress level was way down, and she was more inclined to work with us. She is now living happily out in the pasture with her calf, life is good.
Posted by Elliot A. on 01/23/2012

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