Friday, January 30, 2015

Grazing plans

I'm in the process of finalizing this year's grazing plan for the ranch. I could go into a great deal of detail and perhaps at some point I will, but for today, just the bare bones basic fundamentals.

It all starts with the sun. That big ball of fusing hydrogen provides every single bit of the energy required and used by the living organisms on this planet. All the energy, all the organisms, Homo sapiens included.

On the ranch, which is entirely dull, boring, flyover country prairie, something really cool happens. The plants (forbs, shrubs and trees, but mostly -- 99 percent -- grass) combine energy from the sun with carbon dioxide from the air, moisture from precipitation, and micro-nutrients from the soil to make, well, more plants. Nature does this all on her own. She needs no help from the likes of me.

As the land owner, I use cows to harvest nature's bounty. The cows eat the grass, which provides them with energy to grow and make new cows. The new cows (calves) become people food. The beef from my ranch provides people with energy to grow and make new people and build skyscrapers and deflate footballs and all kinds of wonderful stuff.

But whether carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, or badly confused human, all the energy used to exist, do things, and reproduce starts first in the sun when hydrogen fuses.

So. Grazing plan. My job as a rancher and steward of the land becomes more holistic and better for everyone when I manage my grass harvesting cows in such a way as to support the ecosystem. Overgrazing is bad. Undergrazing is bad. The trick is to strike the proper balance. So I plan, and execute, and monitor, and learn, and adapt, and improve, and grow.

Here's what some of the grass and some of the cows looked like on Saturday. The wind was blowing and I was lecturing, so I had youtube get rid of the noise and replace it with a catchy tune.

Here are cows and calves grazing the same pasture in July. They make pretty good music, at least to my ear.

And finally, cows grazing that grass. It's a sweet sound, and one most folks never hear. Enjoy!


  1. A grazing plan is something I have a hard time with and all I've got is 3 horses. But my wife loves them. So I've got to keep them fed while simultaneously leaving enough hay to harvest to maintain our AG exemption (owning horses doesn't fill the requirement). You did forget a key ingredient though (God/Weather gets a big vote in your grazing plan).
    I'm in agreement with you on the music especially the last couple. I can feel my BP lower, just sittin on my porch watching the Horses running around the fields and then slowing down and having a munch.

  2. You're right as rain about the weather! And the BP too...

  3. It's all a delicate balance. There are some mighty fine look'n bulls in there too. Thanks for the middle one especially, sounds like the girls are think'n you might have some protein blocks hiding in the pickup...LOL

  4. That's some gorgeous country. Fine music too.

    Thanks for sharing all that Shaun.

    Re: The beef from my ranch provides people with energy to grow and make new people and build skyscrapers and deflate footballs...

    Had to get a paper towel and wipe down the monitor. And make another cup of coffee. That was funny.