In an ever-changing world full of trials and tribulations, the James Ranch continues to provide an exceptional example of a truly holistic operation. There are many challenges that are inherent within a multi-generation operation, and the James family seems to have addressed many of these challenges with ease. They realize that if they didn’t make a continual effort to foster healthy relationships with each other, the rest of their operation would crumble.
Situated in the beautiful Animas River Valley just outside Durango Colorado, the James family has already begun incorporating the third generation into ranch operations. Welcoming children back to the ranch began fifteen years ago, and was not without its conditions. As Dave James said in a recent interview, “We told each of the children that they could come back to the ranch, but only if they could create their own sustainable enterprise.” Most of the children chose to leave high-paying corporate jobs in order to help achieve what was once a dream, and is now their reality.
The James Ranch is much diversified in their enterprises. Not only do they raise grass-fed beef but they will also serve you’re a James Ranch burger at their Harvest Grill. At the James Ranch Market you will find their beef, jerky, eggs, almond milk, artisan cheeses, vegetables, flowers and more. They use the whey from the cheese making process to soak grains that are then fed to their pigs – thus the creation of their “Whey-Good Pork”.
Although the diversity within their enterprises complements each other nicely, they felt there was still something missing. They felt that people wanted more than just a local place to stop and buy their groceries; they wanted to experience the James Ranch. The James Family then began taking customers out on Farm-Tours. They found that this was a way for those buying their products to see the pastures, and hear about how they rotated cattle and why. It was also a way for the kids to witness how bugs contribute to the big picture, and the role that water plays. In addition to all this, witnessing the wildlife that thrives on and around the 400-acre ranch is testament to their holistic land stewardship.
Overall, the James Ranch is a prime example of an incredibly successful and highly sustainable operation. When I complimented Kay James on how well she and Dave had done, she said, “Oh no it is not just us, it’s a family effort!” This is a perfect illustration of why they have been so successful. To recognize the power and importance of healthy relationships is one thing; to foster their health to the extent that the James Ranch has, that is the epitome of Holistic Management.