Tom and his wife, Michelle both grew up on ranches in Canada, but as young adults they pursued academic credentials and careers outside of ranching. As time went on both felt something was missing and began to long for a more meaningful and balanced life – where they could spend more time with their family. “At the end of the day, we want to give something to the world around us,” says Tom. In the early 2000’s, along with partners, they purchased a ranch in Manitoba and began building a cow-calf operation. “From a young age, I saw how beat up the pastures were and I knew that could not be sustainable.” So the desire for both a healthy lifestyle and healthy land drew Tom to Holistic Management. After starting with simple rotational grazing, Tom furthered his ranching education by taking courses from Holistic Management Certified Educator, Don Campbell. Tom and Michelle now practice intensive planned grazing and enjoy a triple bottom line of benefits – social, financial, and environmental.
Over the years, Tom and Michelle have faced more than their fair share of challenges including drought, extreme flooding, and a beef market devastated by export issues related to mad cow disease. Although about 50% of neighboring ranches disappeared during this time frame, Tom and Michelle have weathered the storm by utilizing the holistic decision making process. “We trimmed our overhead, reduced our equipment needs, and ran more cattle on fewer acres. We’ve also been able to purchase more land and grow our own feed. Now people ask us to manage their pastures,” says Tom.
“Holistic Management has made a huge difference to us. It gives us such a different insight into everything we do. I really don’t know if we could have succeeded without Holistic Management.”
Tom’s perspective on his life challenges really underscores the importance of farmers and ranchers and the long-term impact their training can have on the world. “Three times a day, every day, for their entire lives, we provide people food. It’s an honor to do that,” says Tom.