It was a cool and cloudy spring day at TomKat Ranch where participants gathered for coffee and conversation as they prepared for an interactive day of learning. After an introduction and orientation to TomKat Ranch, Holistic Management and our organization, the 50+ participants divided themselves into 3 groups based on interest. Holistic Management Certified Educator Richard King led his bunch in a discussion on building profit, productivity and biodiversity with livestock. Holistic Management Certified Educator Rob Rutherford led a discussion about the costs and effectiveness of Holistic Management, and Holistic Management Certified Educator Kelly Mulville’s group discussed the role of livestock in farming and research showing the increase in productivity in vineyards when livestock are added. Each of these discussion groups took the time to let all participants introduce themselves and their interests.
After some networking time, the groups formed to either experience stockmanship with Kent Reeves, hear the latest scientific research on carbon sequestration with John Wick, or to practice forage assessment with TomKat’s grazier Mike Giannini and Richard King. The folks had a chance to ask questions and apply techniques discussed.
This was a particularly savvy crowd with a diversity of interests and experiences expressed during discussion. Lunch was delicious and varied with pulled pork sandwiches and lots of fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables. After lunch, Jeremiah Stent and Carlie Henneman led a walking tour of the valley section of the ranch, which is set in a lovely bowl surrounded by steeper uplands. We discussed grazing strategies for both the cattle and the horses, looked at the differences in pastures grazed at higher stock densities for shorter time vs. lower stock density (more space to graze) for longer time. Patch grazing was beginning to be apparent in the larger pasture. We climbed into one of the higher meadows to look at the biodiversity of grasses and listen to Carlie talk about the increasing diversity in her bird census.
Back at headquarters, Carlie and Richard talked about the importance of monitoring and demonstrated a simple way to look at the land and record the results for future comparison. Questions and comments took us through the experiential section of the monitoring talk and into the wrap-up time. Evaluations were completed and rewarded by cowboy poetry from Kent Reeves. Tired bodies and full minds ended the day with more networking, relaxing or heading straight home to apply the lessons learned.
After surveying the participants who attended the TomKat Ranch Day Open Gate, a high number of participants experienced knowledge and behavior changes and had this to say…
“Very helpful and easily to manage as long as you apply it.”
“Fun, intimate, good vibes, generally people excited about doing good for the land.”
“Very impressed, both with what’s being done at the ranch here & with the variety of people engaged in related pursuits.”
“Loved the place and the people-good management strategies.”
“Excellent networking and info sharing, many useful insights”
“Fantastic, inspiring, intellectually stimulating”
Participant Evaluation Results
|Knowledge/Confidence Increase||% Increase|
|Critical monitoring criteria to build biological wealth||82%|
|How to assess forage quantity and quality||76%|
|How to plan grazing based on plant recovery needs||73%|
|Grazing strategies to build regenerative and resilient soil||68%|
|Behavior Change||% of Participants|
|Confidence in ability to analyze ecosystem health||68%|
|Confidence in ability to improve land health||68%|
|Confidence in ability to determine plant recovery||64%|
|Intend to complete a biological monitoring on their land as a result of today’s event||80%|
|Intend to change any management practices/apply ideas they learned in this event||90%|
|Expanded network today by meeting new people or learning about resources available||100%|
|Would recommend this event to others||100%|
|Overall Satisfaction of the event||100%|
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