It has been three weeks since I have left the ranch to go back to school. I keep thinking back onto the wonderful times I had with the Perman family on the Rock Hills Ranch. It was hard and frankly sad to leave. I had a lot of fun and learned so much this past summer. The experiences, people, and new ways of thinking that I have gained are priceless. I am back in school now busier than ever with school, work and the engagement. I drive by fields in the famous white dodge looking at farmers plowing their fields and just shake my head and think only if they could have a conversation with the Permans.
I work at the beef lab here at Utah State University looking through the cows the other day I kept thinking to myself I wonder what her butterfat content is thank you Gerald Fry. I would suggest to anyone thinking of applying to an internship at RHR to go ahead and apply. It is not just knowledge about range, cows, or haying you gain knowledge and experience about. It is life lessons learned, people you meet, connections you make and ways of thinking you can incorporate. The Permans do such a wonderful job on incorporating learning into the work place. They are amazing employers very understanding and helping. They are just such a wonderful family. The portrait that they portray of their ranch is absolutely gorgeous.
There is something about South Dakota that gets to you I don’t know if it is the mosquito s or the beautiful sunsets. All I know is if the Perman family is ever in Utah you are always welcome around my camp fire.
Until we meet again “ Watch your top knot” readers
Recently I toured the Sand Ranch in Forbes North Dakota. I started the day by checking cows looking them over for any health problems. Then Melanie (the new August intern) and I took off for North Dakota. As we arrived we registered and paid our dues for the dinner that was going to be provided! We all piled on to flatbed trailers and fixed our keasters on some good ole hay benches. One of the first things I noticed was the use of permanent two strand high tensile wire fence. They used to have 16 pastures that encompassed 2300 acres. This high tensile wire plus poly wire have turned 16 into 65 pastures in just four years. This then allows them to experiment and have such a cushion of grass. For instance, if they wanted to try using grazing weed control in a certain pasture that has a lot of wormwood they can graze it heavily. If it does not work out then they have 64 other pastures to go into. Their average pasture size is forty acres. Then they use poly wire to make those into twenty acre paddocks. Another advantage to doing this is to use a high intensity stock grazing. They had three to four herds and combined them all into one herd. By doing this they have seen a large amount of native grasses come back into their pastures along with a vast amount of diversity.
Another thing I found very interesting is a twelve foot tire tank with a curb stop floatation device in it. They also had calf water fabricated to allow calves to water. They found that a problem created by this high intensity style of grazing was the capacity of the water tanks for the calves as well as the cows.
Cody and Deanna talked a lot on improving the quality of life, being able to spend time with their family and not letting the ranch run their lives. One of the things that they have done is to put up little to no hay for the winter. Instead they stock pile grass on pasture. They hit the corn fields in the winter and then in the early spring they have grass stockpiled to use before the growing season. Not having to spend so much time haying has allowed the growth of another business, a custom saddle making business.
On the tour we stopped by crop land that the family has owned for only four years. The ground was very mismanaged when they purchased it. The effects of tillage and no cover crop usage caused the top soil on these hills to sluff away, so they have been bale grazing the hills to try and return the top soil and allow grass to grow there.
It was a wonderful experience to me to see people thinking out side of the box that I feel a lot of people get stuck into. A special thanks to Cody and Deanna Sand for allowing the tour on their place. It gave me a lot of ideas and confidence to go out and try some of these practices out when I manage or own my own ranch.
In the past couple of weeks I have had the wonderful opportunity of attending a couple of workshops. The first one I attended was a range camp held near Fort Meade South Dakota. The camp is a workshop set up for the purpose of training Ag leaders in range and natural resource management. They covered topics such as range plant ID, soil health, production potential, stocking rates, range monitoring, USDA web soil survey training, and tours of local ranches and their practices.
I came away from this experience getting into the mindset of being able to think of all of the factors that go into an operation.
Looking at soil health (what types of soil you have), having a diverse plant community, controlling weeds with grazing, looking at your pastures and grazing them in range and natural resource management and stewardship of natural resources. These were just some of the things that were covered during the camp.
I ‘ve wondered as a young rancher what would be the best and most efficient way of getting into owning my own ranch. After asking around and listening to a lot of different opinions I have come to the conclusion that it is best to start small. Owning a couple of cows and running with another rancher. That way you can get the snowball rolling instead of just jumping into owning a ranch.
The second workshop was a lecture by Gerald Fry. He is a bovine engineering specialist. I would encourage anyone to go check out his website. He primarily focuses on hormone function, correlated linear measurements, and indicators of butter fat content. It is very interesting to now drive around on the ranch and look for these indicators of hormonal expression and indicators of a good cow. He emphasized line breeding and keeping a good line of genetics in your herd. Not to over cross your cattle. He was a pleasure to sit down with and pick his brain.
“Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.”― Coco Chane
The past couple of weeks have been very busy with moving cows, working calves, cutting hay and starting to get some bales on the ground. So busy I have not had a great opportunity to get emulsified into the stack of books and articles the family lent me
to read and pick through. There is always something new to learn and ways of improving. I would invite everyone to be keeping your eyes open for workshops and camps throughout the summer no matter where you are in the world. It is always a great idea to get off of your operation and your own mindset and either learn something new or look at problems you are having from a different point of view.