HMI Program Manager Peggy Cole, filed this report…
Marfa, Texas welcomed autumn with its first chilly winds on September 13, 2014. 39 people gathered at Dixon Ranches Mimms Unit for an Open Gate learning day. While the warmth inside the house kept everyone comfortable, a set of short talks gave everyone the background they needed for the afternoon’s lessons.
Peggy Cole oriented folks to the mission and programs of Holistic Management International and introduced the day’s speakers and agenda. Dixon Water Foundation president Robert Potts gave a little history of Dixon Water Foundation and its acquisition of Mimm’s Ranch so that they could ranch in a dry, brittle environment and thus prove the effectiveness of the Holistic Management Whole Farm/Ranch planning system they utilize on their Texas ranches.
Ranch manager Casey Wade talked about the goals of the ranch and the objectives of the grazing program in improving the soil and forage. He showed a large map of the ranch with the perimeter and the permanent fencing marked. Each of those 30 paddocks can be strip grazed with temporary electric fence to provide the cattle daily moves to fresh pasture. In response to a question about the time all that moving takes, Casey said he merely has to stand at the gate, blow a whistle and get out of their way.
Casey also explained that the cattle need to be trained to an electric fence. He does this by putting a strip of hot wire near the water so cows and calves need to walk around it to get to water. The cows know but the calves need to be in there a few days to be sure all have tested the wire and received their training.
Dr. Bonnie Warnock from Sul Ross had a fascinating report on the research done before and after the big “Rock House” fire that hit in the midst of 2011’s drought. Results show recovery is just now where it was before the fire.
Holistic Management Certified Educator, Dr. Lisa Bellows talked about Holistic Management practices on the Dixon Ranches.
After lunch by local eatery Food Shark, everyone loaded into pickups and went out on the land. Casey proved his whistle story by opening a gate to a large pasture of calving cows. He blew the whistle. Cows and calves loped in from every direction to go through the gate into fresh pasture. Everyone enjoyed watching the move with the curious calves and the sleek, healthy adults.
Lisa Bellows and Dixon Program Director, Melissa Bookhout showed the group how biological monitoring is done on the Dixon Ranches. Bonnie Warnock demonstrated some additional techniques for monitoring along a measuring tape transect and with a pvc square within which percentages of cover and bare ground are noted. Photo points were also discussed. Participants tried out the Holistic Management dart throwing method.
Assessing forage was discussed, with several ways to judge how long the available forage might support an animal unit. The Dixon method was briefly described and demonstrated. The group went back to the house for discussion, networking, and evaluation. Here’s what folks had to say about the day.
What a great educational opportunity and a worthy way to spend a Saturday.
Very well organized and informative
I learned more at this one-day event than I had any expectation of learning.
Enjoyed meeting other ranchers and learning more.
Great event and I learned a lot about how to manage ranch land. Never heard about this program before. Wish I would have known before now, however, plan to try to attend additional events.
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|Would you recommend this event to others?||100%|
|Did you expand your learning network of people and resources||100%|
|Do you intend to change management practices as a result of this training||92%|
|Do you intend to pursue biological monitoring on your land as a result of today's event?||77%|
|Overall Satisfaction of the Event (Rated Good to Excellent)||100%|
|Increased Knowledge Experienced||% Participants|
|How to estimate forage in Animal says/Acre||90%|
|Critical monitoring criteria to build biological wealth and mitigate drought||95%|
|Techniques for monitoring your land||95%|
|Understanding the Principles of Holistic Management||76%|
|Understanding how the use of grazing can influence animal health||76%|
|The role of biodiversity in managing livestock with wildlife||67%|
|Increased Confidence in Ability to...||% Participants|
|Assess forage needs and availability||81%|
|Analyze (monitor) ecosystem health||90%|
|Improve land health with biodiversity||76%|
We’d like to extend our thanks to the following organizations for their support:
Dixon Water Foundation
Marfa National Bank/Big Bend Banks, N.A.