by Kathy Harris
Ranch by Design
Practical Planning for Productivity and Profits
May 2-3, 2019 at Moore County Community Building and Blue Ranch
On May 2 and 3, 2019, a sold-out crowd gathered in Dumas, Texas to learn about planning water and fencing infrastructure to facilitate more effective land and livestock management. Professional Certified Educator Deborah Clark, of Birdwell & Clark Ranch, led the workshop covering the following topics:
- Holistic Management principles and the importance of the 4 ecosystem processes
- Envisioning your future landscape to include as part of your holistic goal
- How to use the Holistic Management decision testing framework
- Step by step Holistic Land Planning with individual and group work on land maps
In spite of the weather change bringing colder temperatures and some welcome rain, the group spent both afternoons at Blue Ranch, with ranch manager Mike Turner leading a tour so participants could see first-hand the water and fencing infrastructure, historical sites on the ranch, and forage improvements achieved by their grazing management. Craig McCloy, son of Blue Ranch owners Rex and Susan McCloy, led a highly informative “show and tell” session on the materials and equipment he used and the successes and challenges he experienced while installing the water infrastructure at Blue Ranch.
Clint Rollins, NRCS/GLCI Grazing Lands Specialist, talked about the services his agency offers and did a brief explanation of forage assessment. Later Thursday afternoon, a panel took questions from the group on topics as diverse as quail habitat, managing sheep and goats, the usefulness of ‘weeds’, and including horses in your grazing plans.
Friday afternoon included demos of fencing and water products from Punchy Cattle Company and Tank Supply, Twin Mountain Fence, United Fiberglass, and Justin Rader’s home-made portable water trough. Twin Mountain Fence had a drawing to give away a fence energizer.
Some of the key learnings that participants reported:
“It’s valuable to see your land with a new perspective and get input from others who can help you to see it in a new way.”
“Be sure to document your progress – establish a baseline first.”
“Hone your skills of observation, put your data to work – and don’t bother gathering a bunch of data if you aren’t going to use it!”
“Don’t get bogged down in decision making – the HMI decision-making framework is a series of 7 quick questions”
“Simple tools — reduced inputs.”
“You can add 1 sheep and 1 goat for every cow without reducing stocking rate”
“New management shouldn’t be labor intensive. Set up the infrastructure to EASE management.”
“Don’t be in a hurry to get animals on your land. Do the planning first. Practice moving animals and improving forage productivity, THEN increase stocking rate”
“Get help (NRCS/GLCI) to assess forage.”
Participants reported increased knowledge on how to prioritize land/infrastructure developments/investments: 83%
Participants reported increased knowledge on design strategies that can build resilient, diversified ranches: 80%
Participants reported increased knowledge on how to assess management considerations to guide your land planning: 80%
Participants reported increased knowledge on how permaculture methods fit into Holistic Land Planning: 83%
Participants that intend to change management practices as a result of this course: 73%
Overall satisfaction of the course: 90%
Thank you to our Funder for this workshop.
Moore County Agri-Life Extension Service
Moore County Community Center
USDA-NRCS Moore County
Texas Parks & Wildlife
West Texas A& M
100th Meridian Ranching
NRCS/Grazing Lands Coalition Initiative
Thank you to our Sponsors.
A special thanks to Rex and Susan McCloy for allowing access to their beautiful Blue Ranch, and to Craig McCloy for his informative presentation.
Would you like to sponsor one of our training events?
Take a look at our Sponsorship flyer and contact Carrie Stearns at [email protected] for details.