Updated: Mar 12
I have before me a copy of The Stockman Grass Farmer, a newspaper that’s priority is grass first and livestock to follow. I have been subscribing to this paper for almost ten years. You will find articles with titillating headlines like "Water is our most important nutrient", "Are you an accomplished grazer" or "To burn or not to burn?". Each article addresses a portion of the whole. So what is this whole that I speak of? It’s all the life that I have influence over by the decision I make and how it affects their welfare. So are my actions good for all the critters that live on top of the ground and those living underneath it’s surface? Is it good for me financially? (I hope so). Is it good for my neighbors and our country and the world at large? Now that’s beginning to sound overwhelming but it’s not. For if my decisions are following Mother Natures laws then a healthy V6 ranch will be everybody’s reward. For myself and the family ranch, our New Year starts between October 15 and November 15 with the beginnings of our first winter storm and a hoped for wet year. I am what you call a Stocker Operator I own no mother cows that raise their calves for 7 to 9 months and then are sold as stockers. This is where I come into the picture, I buy these calves from the cow calf operator and with the beginning of our 6 months of rainy weather we will all marvel as we watch the hills of the central coast of California turn a verdant green. Then it’s my time to turn out my stocker cattle, to watch them grow as the grass grows. So here’s the closet I’m coming out of. I now call myself a Grass-man first and a Cattleman second. It may seem inconsequential just a game of semantics but it’s not. Because now my priority is to look at the condition of the land first and the condition of the cattle second. With my new priorities in place I spend more time making sure there’s as little bare ground on the ranch as possible. I’m now very conscious as to how my decisions affect the speed of water. I’ve got to make choices that slow water down. I want to make sure that as much rainfall as possible is going down into the soil and as little as possible is going horizontally to the nearest creek or river. That I provide well placed water troughs and stock ponds throughout the ranch for all critters big and small to get a good drink of water. I still need all my cowboy skills to care for the cattle but I have found that as I take care of the grass first and not take it for granted the cattle and wildlife do very well taking care of themselves.
See Ya Jack