Live from the Ranch
This is the official Ranch Journal. It is a collection of short reports of what is happening on the ranch most days of the week for those who have visited the ranch and want to keep up with daily goings-on. Postings are made by all ranch personnel. Please don't hesitate to send us comments and suggestions to

Hardy Hunters
Every fall we open late season antelope hunting to a limited number of youth hunters who were unable to fill their tags during the regular rifle season.  This group is one of several that will take advantage of hunting over the next 9 days. It is great to see these kids enhusiasm despite temperatures hovering near zero.
Good luck and keep the pocket warmers handy!
Posted by Michael M. on 12/07/2013

Just Add Water
It was pretty amazing to see this Mesquite Vine Grass up to the horses knees at this Chico Creek Crossing  near Headquarters.  The highly palatable and nutritious Mesquite Vine Grass was a rarity until a couple years ago, but has been making a tremendous comeback under improved grazing management.  This years Chico Creek Floods didn't hurt anything either.  Vanessa's horse "Cocaine" could not stand the temptation and managed to sneak a bite.
Posted by Michael M. on 10/04/2013

Very First Light

The very first hint of dawn caught Cole filling his water bottles in the office while his steed for the day, "Killer", waited patiently outside.  A few minutes later we trotted west to move the big herd on what was a perfect fall day.
We are still moving the herd quickly to keep them in top condition, while trying to circle them closer to home as we prepare for preg checking only one week away.

Posted by Michael M. on 10/04/2013

Tuesday, Sep 03, 2013
Our cattle have nearly finished their rotation out on the eastern part of the ranch. During the breeding season it is crucial that they are on the best feed available and not having to look very hard for it. Because of this, we moved them through the sand at a fairly quick pace trying to utilize the fresh tender plants before they matured and became less palatable. It seems to be working as the entire herd looks healthy and happy. This is not the best photo to illustrate this point but it was the best that I could do at the tail end of the move. The cattle move very easily now after being moved so consistently throughout the summer. We give thanks to Nick for putting so much time and attention into the training, health and well-being of this herd. They are essentially on autopilot because of his efforts and when it comes time to move them, we merely open the gate and seemingly stand back as the find their way to it and move on to the next pasture.
Posted by Duke I. on 09/03/2013

Saturday, Aug 31, 2013
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
 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

Horse Update
This summer it has been my job to work alongside my sister, Grace and often to our delight, the whole ranch staff, on gentling and breaking our 5 years worth of colts. We were lucky to have the instruction of the incredible Cam Schryver and his talented daughter, Carol, for 6 whole weeks. Most recently, we have separated the ones with most promise and I have been working those on my own now that Grace has gone back to school (can't believe it's that time already!). Their curious faces and sneaky mouths searching my person for snacks bring so much joy to my days. I will write more on individual personalities this week, for now, I leave you with a picture of Billy, the little horse that has captured my heart. 
Posted by Julie P. on 08/21/2013

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013
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
 Looking south from my house during the rain.
Posted by Duke P. on 08/08/2013

Thursday, Aug 08, 2013
 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

Wednesday, Aug 07, 2013
While the cows are out east in the sands, Nick spends most of his time monitoring the water and fences in those pastures. This means he's gone most of the time and often doesn't return until nearly dark. There isn't cell service out east, so you mostly just have to trust that he'll come back.

That's what we were doing this afternoon at headquarters, as the rain gauges were filling to numbers I didn't think possible here (1.9" and counting right now). Then this decrepit-yet-stately figure ambles subtly into the office, having left a drowned motor bike over a mile away. 

In recounting his tale, Nick harkened back to the anime' movie Spirited Away that we watched at May Camp during the winter months, "There's a scene where the spirit world gets flooded, and everything is washed away; that's what this felt like." 

We're all glad he's alive. 
Posted by Kathryn B. on 08/07/2013

Branding Shots
The ground crew waits for the last few unbranded calves
Posted by Dan B. on 07/26/2013

Branding Shots
 Kate and Cody watching the action at Wednesday's branding
Posted by Dan B. on 07/26/2013

Making a Hand
We branded Tuesday and Wednesday, possibly for the last time this year. We were joined by a crew from the Zapata as well as friends and family from as far away as California, Texas, and Illinois. Many in our crew had never branded before this season, but it's always amazing how much skill, confidence, and competence each new team member picks up over the course of a year. The patience and teaching ability of the veterans is no small factor in that transformation. Above is a picture of Colt, a friend from Texas, learning how to hold calves, along with his sister, Cody, who administered the vaccinations. Their dad challenged them to "make a hand," or learn the ropes so that they can be contributing members of the team.  It looks like they're well on their way.
Posted by Dan B. on 07/26/2013

Saturday, Jul 13, 2013
It seems its all animals from me this week. I have been rebuilding a dirt overflow tank to store excess water from one of our pipelines in case something should happen to the system in the hot summer months to come. A desperate situation can quickly develop with livestock if something should happen to the water source. By repairing this old dirt tank, we should be able to store enough water to meet the needs of the entire herd for a few days, allowing us to identify and fix any potential problems, without the disaster of being without water. While I was moving dirt around I saw a few salamanders squirming through the damp sand, clearly irritated by the loud noise of the bulldozer. Upon each siting I dutifully idled down the tractor, got down and moved the salamanders to safer ground. Hopefully they are aware that I am working to build them a luxurious pond to replace the shallow mud hole that they were residing in before.
Posted by Duke I. on 07/13/2013

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