The Texas Reunion was a grand celebration of those who have been practicing Holistic Management for many years and generously sharing their insights. The reunion began Oct. 28, 2016 at The Double T Ranch, with 50 participants, mainly long-time practitioners or Beginning Farmer and Rancher program alumni.
The day began with long-time Holistic Management Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist leading a discussion about the evolution of Holistic Management over the years. Alan Savory was acknowledged by many for his genius and insight back in the 70’s when he arrived in Texas and began to teach others.
Participants spoke about the advances in our understanding of the soil-food web and how that has been incorporated in the ecosystem processes training. The awareness that there are both large and small water cycles has changed how we plan. Broadening our scope on time management has saved time, money and burnout on many diversified farms. Grazing management has become more and more adaptive with the popularity of mob grazing as an intensive tool for both the land and the animals. Leadership and communication has become more important as we realize the power of human relationships in taking us toward our goal. Permaculture has become a part of Holistic Management land planning, serving to bond the old and the new practitioners as the awareness of the history and the ongoing adaptation to current knowledge was realized.
Host Art Roane, a long time Holistic Management practitioner, and manager of Double T led participants out on the ranch to see the nature of some of the decisions a manager must make towards the goal of the ranch owners. Another discussion ensued about assessing and estimating forage for sheep and cattle together. Along with Art Roane, master grazers Dr. Bob Steger, Robby Tuggle, Casey Wade, Betsy Ross, Joe Maddox, Joel Ham and others shared experience and wisdom on planning the grazing.
Joel Ham taught a wonderful seminar on animal handling as he demonstrated with a flock of about 25 sheep. Even with the teaching going on he moved the sheep calmly through the various pens.
The day ended with participants relaxing on bales of hay under the shade of the beautiful big trees, asking questions about the topics covered that day.
Results for Day 1 include the following:
- 100% of participants would recommend the event
- 100% of participants expanded their network
- 100% were satisfied with the event
- 92% of participants intend to change management practices
- 88% are interested in additional events
Day 2 of the Texas Reunion was an hour south of the Double T at Hudspeth River Ranch near Comstock, TX. Alice Ball Strunk and her husband Billy Bob Strunk inherited the ranch from Alice’s mother, Claudia Ball, one of the founders of Holistic Resource Management of Texas back in the mid 80’s.
Jessica Lee, Executive Director of Shumla, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and understanding rock art, gave a riveting presentation that opened the eyes of the audience to the treasures this landscape holds.
Sky Jones-Lewey, education director at the Nueces River Authority, and Betsy Ross of Sustainable Growth Texas followed with a presentation on riparian restoration. Riparian areas have their own management needs that differ from the desert landscape of southwest Texas in that they are far less brittle and therefore behave differently under the tools of management. This ranch has the beautiful and wild Devil’s River flowing just below headquarters, so participants piled into vehicles and went down to take a look. As the children present waded out to experience the river first hand, the adults stood on the banks of the river and learned about the plants most useful in stabilizing those banks.
Next stop was a sheep pasture where participants saw lovely hair sheep in their habitat. We leaned on pickups and discussed predators and protectors from the viewpoints of many in the group.
After lunch Alice and Billy Bob took us through some of the ins and outs of certifying and marketing grass-fed lamb and goat, with the goal of getting Texans eating Texas lamb and goat. Finally, Peggy Sechrist helped us understand how decisions are made—always toward the goal—in Holistic Management.
Results for Day 2 include the following:
- 100% of participants intend to start biological monitoring on their land
- 100% of participants would recommend the event
- 100% of participants were satisfied with the event
- 93% of participants intend to change management practices
- 86% are interested in additional events
HMI would like to thank The Dixon Water Foundation for funding this two-day event. We’d also like to thank our sponsors and collaborators; Twin Mountain Fence, Double T Ranch, Ozona Chamber of Commerce, Devils River Conservancy, Hudspeth River Ranch, Nueces River Authority, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, NRCS Texas, TX Sheep & Goat Raisers Assn., Steger Ranch Services, Sustainable Growth Texas, Ross Farm, and Centralia Livestock LLC