A lone hunter weaves his way through the sagebrush islands pockmarking the sand of the San Luis Valley. He left at daybreak, just as he has on countless autumn mornings before this. His breath, suspended and frozen in the air, reflects the color of the fiery sunrise barely eclipsing the peaks of the Sangre De Cristos before him and wraps him in an ethereal halo against a background of blue shadows.
Bison Works, which takes place annually at the Medano-Zapata Ranch, is a photographer’s dream. Running bison kicking up clouds of dust, early fall light, and the chance to get up close and personal with one of our continent’s most iconic animals species. We’ve rounded up our all-time favorite photos from many years of photographers capturing this special time of year.
For six years, Nick Chambers, aka Chef Funghi, has managed Valley Roots Food Hub, a distributor of locally grown produce located in Mosca, Colorado. Besides supplying truly local produce to consumers across Southern Colorado, Nick’s operation supplies the majority of produce featured on Chef Chase Kelly’s menu at Ranchlands’ Zapata Ranch.
David Tønnessen has already made quite a name for himself in the Colorado birding community. He recorded the first sighting of a tropical king bird in the state of Colorado with his two younger brothers at the Chico Basin Ranch. Less than three months later, he recorded another first sighting.
“The Crane is wildness incarnate. High horns, low horns, silence, and finally a pandemonium of trumpets, rattles, croaks… a new day has begun on the crane marsh. A sense of time lies thick and heavy on such a place. Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
Over the last few years, Chico Basin Ranch has partnered with the Mile High Bug Club (Pikes Peak Region chapter) to make a casual assessment of the diversity of insects, arachnids, and other invertebrates that live on the 87,000 acre property. The ongoing results point to a healthy, stable prairie ecosystem which is due in large part to the size of the ranch.
I was first introduced to the term “self-selection” in a barefoot trimming clinic in Australia about a year ago. The couple that were hosting the clinic, a trimmer and a vet, were starting a holistic rehab center in New South Wales in which one of the main focus points would be a Paddock-Paradise-style track system with a wide variety of planted herbs to provide the natural process of self-selection to their rehab horses. The thought behind this being that in the wild, horses (and other grazing animals) will seek out and choose to eat specific plants with medicinal properties to benefit their unique health, a process that most domestic horses don’t have access to, and which most horse owners compensate for by feeding an excess of supplements that blanket a wide variety of needs as a “cover all the bases” strategy.
From epic novels about the “old West” to meditations on the natural world and humanity’s place in it, from horsemanship instructionals to our favorite cookbooks, a (non-comprehensive) list of titles recommended by the Ranchlands team.
Every year, bird migrate north to south following traditional migration routes, many of which pass straight through the heart of our ranches.
In the words of Willa Cather–at Ranchlands, we feel like the cottonwood is “bound up with our lives”.