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Revegetation Volunteers
Category: Live from the Ranch
This morning more than twenty volunteers showed up at Headquarters to participate in a revegetation project in the Longbranch Trap pasture, just to the south. There is a small creek that runs through the west side of this pasture, and cottonwood shoots and native bushes are being carefully planted all along a scenic stretch. Ninety new cottonwoods are getting a chance at colonizing the stream-bed as well as hundreds of willows, chokecherries, and a few other local shrubs which went over my plant-ignorant head.
This group, the Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, is based in Boulder and Fort Collins, and has been coming here for the past few years to do restoration projects at different spots around the ranch. They know what they're about and, in trade for a camping spot and a deluxe (!) burger dinner, we and our land are the happy beneficiaries of their ministrations. 
Posted by Harper K. on 04/13/2013

New Lambs
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Here three new mamas peer over the pens that Dawn has set up for the ewes in the lambing shed. Each has a set of twins sleeping in the hay underneath them. Later today they will be turned out into a larger shelter, still separate from the rest of the herd. This keeps the lambs close for Dawn to catch for ear tagging, castrating, etc., and in addition gives the new moms a chance to get acquainted with their offspring without having to deal with the bustle of the flock entire. As these move out of the small pens, new pregnant ewes will move in to give birth as they are ready. Dawn and her kids officiate the entire operation beautifully. 
Posted by Harper K. on 04/13/2013

Saturday, Apr 13, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 The full moon setting behind the Bunkhome a few weeks ago. 
Posted by Harper K. on 04/13/2013

Dinner in the Bunkhome
Category: Live from the Ranch
 The newest member of the Chico crew - Zan Carroll - cooking dinner for the Bunkhome this evening. Lola the dog is doing some illicit scrounging while I was distracted with the camera.
Posted by Harper K. on 04/11/2013

Almost Rain
Category: Live from the Ranch
 We had glowering rain clouds over and around us all day, but I never felt more than a few drops. The weather report says that there's a 20% chance of rain tonight.

Early grasses are just starting all over the ranch. From a truck or horse you can see flashes of green shoots so subtle that they seem to evaporate if you look too directly at them. It would be just perfect timing to get a slow soaking drizzle tonight. We'll see, and fingers crossed.
Posted by Harper K. on 04/11/2013

Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Amy and Kathryn looking out from the office at the snow coming down yesterday. We all got a lot of paperwork done while sheltering from the storm.
Posted by Harper K. on 04/10/2013

Warm Spaces at the Chico
Category: Live from the Ranch

There are really excellent hiding spots, refuges, warm places, burrows, watering holes, at the Chico. Hard work and systemic uncertainties make us take domesticity seriously, it seems. All of our homes have been adapted to fit the people who use them hard and lovingly: when Nick comes home after delivering tubs out in his eastern pastures in the middle of a snow storm for 8 hours, he needs a fully-formed Home to welcome and restore him in order to go out and do another long day in just a few hours. So rather than wearing these bases out, people clean and improve the places they live in and rely on. The Bunkhome and May Camp and the Office can handle caked boots and bloody shirts and animals without degenerating into dens. In fact these homes, like all good living spaces, seem more graceful for the depth of their utility than any well-sculpted and specialized apartment I visited in New York City. I mean, that’s not new, that ornamentalism isn’t comfortable, but here are a few pictures of these remarkable buildings we get to come home to. 

Posted by Harper K. on 04/10/2013

A Sleepover With the Rescue Calf
Category: Live from the Ranch
Here Kathryn and Lola inspect the calf (Eager is her name) we've been keeping and feeding at Headquarters, and find it to be good. She slept just inside the Bunkhome in order to get out of the freezing wind. Now she's back outside with the sheep, waiting for her next bottle of milk-replacer.
Posted by Harper K. on 04/10/2013

Hopefully, the Last Snow
Category: Live from the Ranch

Yesterday it was in the 70’s and today it’s freezing and blowing sheets of snow. Last evening I had on one layer and this morning I had six. On a trip south I had seen definite green coming up and now everything is white. Hopefully, the late snow will melt slowly into the ground over the next few days and springboard this first growth onward and upward. 

Posted by Harper K. on 04/09/2013

Tuesday, Apr 09, 2013
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Yesterday's green
Posted by Harper K. on 04/09/2013

Organized Metal
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Our newly-remade metal shop
Posted by Harper K. on 04/09/2013

Careful Pipe Fittings
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Our new part bins in the plumbing room.
Posted by Harper K. on 04/09/2013

Careful Wood
Category: Live from the Ranch
This and the two image above are part of the post below. All of them are about paying attention and care here at Chico.
Posted by Harper K. on 04/09/2013

Stacked Pallets
Category: Live from the Ranch

These stacks of pallets, as much as anything else this morning, made me excited about the Chico and about the prospect of ranching in general. The supplement tubs that we put out for the cattle come on these pallets and we store them to eventually return to our supplier for a refund. Without explicit agreement, everyone who handles the tubs (at least 8 different people) decided to make a stack of equal height, straight lines, and consistent orientation. Which is a success so small that it feels barely worth mentioning. But ranching seems to accrete both good and bad habits and make them quickly visible. The kind of energy with which you show your face every day for years on end – how pallets are stacked, trucks are cleaned, fences tightened, parts sorted and organized, records kept, corrals painted and re-painted, scrap metal re-used, visitors greeted and made welcome, dinner is cooked, and etc. – becomes, cumulatively, all of the final feel and output of the organization. This kind of feedback, rewarding good habits and punishing bad, isn’t unique to ranching. But it feels more dramatic and systemic here than it has in any other work I’ve participated in. Although it's a constant battle, this stack is a heartening record of the attention people here are willing to pay to the routines that drive this place. If pallets are stacked like this, then I feel like the rest of the system must have some good things happening.
My favorite places and objects here are well-worn and clean, and my least favorite are new and dirty. Luckily there are more well-oiled fencing pliers that are older than I am, than there are late-model trucks filled with fast-food wrappers (I guess, actually, there are no new trucks, but that's not the point).  Above are a few more places where I saw this small deep attention happening. 

Posted by Harper K. on 04/09/2013

   
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