I cannot do justice to the sweet hospitality of this young family. Our Savory Institute journey group is here to learn about the improvements they have experienced using the holistic management techniques. The grass is thick, lush, and tender – rested paddocks are ready for consuming.
We all have people in our past who have helped us through the tough times and often we don’t recognise the impact they had until we are much older and those wiser ones are long past from our lives – perhaps even have died. I didn’t know it at the time, but reflecting on the years i had with my grandpa – i realize now – he was my hero.
Sure, he wasn’t talkative or a hugger, but showed by example, a work ethic of getting up early (and making me get up early by pulling my toes to wake up), he would already have some chores done before i dragged my laziness out and ready to go do the chores that were away from the house. The importance of finishing a job which included putting things away and cleaning up. But, i LOVED going with him. He’d let me drive the truck while he threw out small round bales to the cows to feed in the winter, taught me how to drive the old Farmall 460 and clip pastures with a 9 foot sickle bar mower AND how to change out a broken section. And even when i drove (i think i was about 10) the pickup into a deep wash out along a ditch (he was on foot looking for a calf), he was more concerned whether or not i was hurt rather than upset about any damage to the pickup or that we had to walk a mile to get the aforesaid 460 to pull it out. Additionally, he taught me how to ride and have a love for horses. That was my passion for years.
Back from chores, every morning we stopped in at Tolly’s Garage on the western edge of Purdin, MO which had a population of 236 at the time – less now. He would reach in for a Coca-Cola and I’d select my favorite – Chocolate Soldier. Then i could just sit and act like i was one of the guys in the office area. I was part of a small and important community even at age 8.
Today, my grandpa would have been 100, but he died August 9, 2008 and i continue to miss him though he corrected me a lot about how to raise cattle. I’m still learning and still need correcting, but thankfully, i don’t make the mistakes he chided me about.
How many people get to farm or ranch the very land and legacy that his or her grandparent’s built? Not many, but i do own and directly manage at least a portion of their legacy and i could not be more honored to carry on a tradition of land and livestock management. I call this farm Tannachton Farm to reflect our Scottish roots and the commitment to regenerative and sustainable stewardship.
Heritage, Legacy, Tradition, Family – cling to what is good
“Unsuccessful people make decisions based on current situations. Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.” ~ Benjamin Hardy
This kind of goes along with ‘don’t go to the grocery store when you are hungry’.
The weather has been so dismally cold, windy, frozen, snowy, icy, miserable here in north Missouri, i decided to head south a bit to seek sun and warmer temps under the guise of looking for new land for me cows. Sadly, i seemed to drag the cold weather around with me, although one day was warm enough for 3 hours of saddle time on a good mount with great friends. A little hiking and exploring, but by and large it was too cold. One cold afternoon in Eureka Springs, i managed 2 miles in this cute, but busy town, followed by expert mani/pedi before heading north to Ozark, MO.
Although, paradise wasn’t found anywhere on my 2 1/2 week sojourn, my time was better spent visiting and catching up with friends and family. It was a wonderful time to observe, think, share, reflect, and be lifted in spirit.
Okay, i know, in many parts of the world, including the United States, a foot of snow is hardly an event. But we haven’t had accumulation like this for at least a decade! I’m not a fan of snow, but soft, loose snow like this is useful for subsoil moisture and filling ponds.
Thankfully, with managed grazing protocols in place, one can largely avoid having to get out into the weather and on the bad roads. Today’s event is continuing, but the temps hovering around 30 degrees. The snow ploughs have been doing the best they can to keep highways open.
Mostly livestock have no problems grazing through this snow, though heavy cover of ice on top of a foot of snow is actually a really bad situation, which we haven’t had for many, many years.
Below are some photos from years past since i’m not driving up to my farm today on slick roads just to take a photo of my cows. In a few days, i’ll mosey on up in my JD Gator and check on them. If they need more grazing, i’ll roll up the polywire and let them have access to the next paddock already set up. In the next paddock are 5 big hay bales they will have access to as well as mostly grazing. However, i don’t expect them to need a new break.
The only livestock we have that refuses the snow are our small flock of laying hens!
Research results published November 30, 2017 by Sarah Kenyon, PhD, University of Missouri once again illustrate how grazing the non-native, invasive toxic-endophyte (E+) fescue plant causes health problems in cattle and other livestock, including horses. Other studies show the effects on the soil microbial populations and wildlife. E+ Fescue is pervasive, persistent, and poisonous.
Short grazing of E+ fescue in the last fall/early winter before a killing frost has been used by us and others to manage the spring growth of the plant by shortening the root system which slows spring growth, allowing more desirable grasses and legumes to get a foot hold. This is effective, but a relentless endeavor since it must be done every fall/winter to control the fescue and quite simply, there is no way to manage ALL the fescue at once everywhere on the farm.
I’m thankful for professors and agricultural leaders bucking the status quo and revealing this long-known information to a modern generation and offering solutions to not only mitigate the health issues associated with the toxin, but also ideas on eradicating it. Time will tell if changes will work – it’s expensive to renovate and manage pastures and fields – – and farming and ranching does not lend itself to wide margins of profits to plough back into improvements.
Stands filling up, quickly. The ‘pump up’ music playing. A bronc starts dancing in the chute. Fresh arena dirt and fresh livestock.
The excitement is felt, seen and heard. An electricity that is circulating throughout the stock, contestants, and spectators. And then, the announcer begins to speak…
He doesn’t begin by giving the statistics of the riders, or rant about the stock contractors, no. The announcer begins with “This is the home of the free and the land of the brave and because of that we want to honor those who give up their freedom so we can enjoy ours. Every Marine, Sailor, Airman, First responder, please stand up.” Some slower than others, stand. Stand in remembrance of their fellow men and women, stand in remembrance of the commitment they made to this country. Stand to be honored. And as each one stands up, the electricity of the building, changes, ever so slightly, as…