James Ranch Open Gate in Colorado – Results
By Kathy Harris, Holistic Management Certified Educator & HMI Program Manager
Participants couldn’t have ordered more idyllic weather, or a more delicious, nutritious lunch than what was served up at HMI’s Open Gate: James Ranch Day on Monday, July 20th. More than 40 attendees spent the day enjoying this beautiful ranch that’s nestled in the Animas River Valley just north of Durango, Colorado.
Following an introduction to the day’s event by HMI Program Manager Kathy Harris, the James family provided an introduction to James Ranch, its history and the importance of the holistic goal in creating a successful multi-generational family ranch. The group then started a walking tour of the ranch with a visit to the raw milk dairy. Dave James, patriarch of the ranch, entertained and educated participants with his stories and experiences. Highlights of the tour included:
- Visiting the Jersey dairy herd, including a discussion of breeding to optimize for 100% grass dairying, the value of once-a-day and seasonal milking, and explanation of the enterprises that flow from the raw milk dairy: artisan cheese, and whey-fed pork
- Learning how to look through the window of ecosystem processes in a small group exercise to evaluate the health of the land
- Watching the beef herd move to new pasture
- Seeing the grazing impact of the cattle, and dung beetles attacking fresh cow dung pats
- Looking for the flock of sheep among tall native grasses
After a delicious lunch featuring James Ranch grassfed beef burgers topped with raw milk cheese, participants trooped back out to the thick, biodiverse pasture below to learn about irrigation strategies, how to evaluate soil moisture and forage assessment from retired NRCS agent Mike Rich.
Jerry Zink and Amy Schwarzbach of the La Plata Open Space Conservancy talked about the process and benefits of protecting farms and ranches with a conservation easement, something that James Ranch has done with a portion of their land. Holistic Management Certified Educator Cindy Dvergsten led a short discussion on Holistic Management Enterprise Analysis, planning for profit and key concepts of creating a Gross Profit Analysis on a farm enterprise.
Thanks to the Thornburg Foundation for making this event possible, and to our sponsor, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. Thanks also to the Weston Price Foundation for their support and to all the folks at the James Ranch.
What participants had to say:
“Very informative & beneficial.”
“Great to see/witness a successful biz.”
“Professional, informative, great community building event.”
“Awesome, very informative.”
“Very nice one day overview! For those of us who cannot devote more blocks of time for learning.”
“Very well done – very interesting. A delicious lunch!”
“Incredible place, well planned, receptive.”
Here are some of the specific results we collected from our post-program evaluations from the participants who are managing a total of 238,385 acres.
|Overall Satisfaction of this event (Rated good to excellent):||100%|
|Overall Satisfaction with the facilitator and presenters:||100%|
|Would recommend this event to others?||100%|
|Expanded network by meeting new people or learning about resources available:||95%|
|Have intent to complete biological monitoring on your land as a result of today’s event:||85%|
|Have intent to evaluate an enterprise using Gross Profit Analysis as a result of today’s event:||81%|
|Have intent to change any management practices/apply ideas you learned at this event:||75%|