Jackie and I knew way back what we were
doing was not sustainable we did a custom farming, custom haying, sheep, cattle operation and I felt like I was 60 years old when I was 25 I knew we couldn’t
keep doing it I knew the ranch wasn’t making money I wanted our kids to stay
here and be part of the operation and that we couldn’t afford to do that if we
kept doing the sheep and cattle thing my wife Jackie and son Brodie and
daughter-in-law Samantha top run the operation rotates the mat they have four
little kids as well seven on down to one and we hope to make them a big part of
the operation when they get a little older about 10 years ago we moved into
this rotational grazing practice and basically what we did is cross fence the
whole ranch into 30-some pastures other than our calving pasture we have one
calving pasture that’s about 5,000 acres and we turn our cows in there for the
months of April May and in the June and they calves there and then we start our
actual rotation or moving from pasture to pasture which our section size we run
the buffalo herd all in one large herd as opposed to splitting them up into
smaller groups we’ll hit these pastures hard for a few
days they’re only in a pasture five six seven days depending on the size of the
pasture we’ve seen tremendous improvements in
the ground by doing that you know before we cross fence the whole ranch you know
like I said we have 30 some pastures now and before we did that we essentially
had five or six seven pastures that were just huge and what we’re seeing now is
you know by cross fencing that and making those animals utilize every bit
at the ground you know they’re they’re utilizing the grasses that they wouldn’t
in a larger pasture you know Buffalo tend to like you know
native ground and warm cool season grasses and you know by doing what we
did we basically made them cover each pasture and you know graze all the grass
instead of what just what they liked you’ll come out of these pastures and
after a month they’ve regrown and you can’t hardly tell that they’ve been
grazed we see warm season grasses coming in that I haven’t seen for years so I
mean we’re onto something here I my only regret is that we didn’t do this 30
years ago you know before we had the ranch fenced like we do now we essentially had you know you know a fall past your summer past your spring
pasture and you know they would just really be intensive on certain areas of
ground and you know they were really working the perimeters of pastures and
wanting new ground all the time where when you’re moving them every you know
five six days or they’re happier you know they got fresh water fresh
grass we don’t have near the issues of them breaking out of pastures or you
know anything like that so I think the overall animal health and happiness
would be the the biggest thing that we’ve seen we started going to some
listed grains management classes and that really opened up a whole new world
to us on what we can achieve with our pasture management my mom and dad and
wife went to several of these classes years and years ago what it was a hard
thing to buy into you know it didn’t make sense that’s not what dad did it’s
not what grandpa did it’s that whole idealism of you know changing your train
of thought one of my favorite pickup lines that I ever remember from one of
those classes is if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always have
what you’ve always had so just that idea of changing and doing things different
and it’s worked well for us yeah part of the holistic management is
the theory of mob grazing so like here on the ranch we basically call it a
thousand animal units that we move past your pasture and it varies you know from
time of year but everything from there you know you put a thousand animal units
on five hundred acres you know depending on the year just everything from their
you know their feet action on the ground and you know they’re they’re urinating
and defecating and just the fertilizer and the hoof action that works up that
soil and it brings grasses on that otherwise if it wasn’t managed that way
it you know you see grasses that you wouldn’t see if it was managed other
ways one statistic that’s pretty interesting is for every one percent of
organic matter improvement in the soil will hold a gallon and a half more water
it doesn’t take much improvement to make a load of difference every section of
ground has at least one risk for dam and five tire tanks so the wildlife has a
tremendous amount of water resources and that’s what the main thing lacking here
in Harding County is we’ve seen the deer numbers increase we’ve seen the bird
population increase the grouse we’re actually seeing some elk moving in
through the ranch now we see them quite regularly so it’s a natural thing for
them to migrate to grass that’s being managed like this because it’s like a
free smorgasbord form it’s not every ranching operation that not only can
afford to have their kids home but have a tremendous future so with everything
we do the whole conservation side of it the development of pastures and water
and all the resources Brodie’s cement have been a big part of it as Jackie has
we couldn’t have done it without them we’re very fortunate to have them here
I mean I can’t wait till our grandkids or my age and they’ll they’ll see a
tremendous change in this ranch