Monday, June 27, 2011

Back To My Roots

An Update: I've returned to the Green Mountains of Vermont to work on a farm that specializes in raising livestock. This includes cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and horses.

Expect regular updates, photos, and posts about the everyday and the interesting.

Monday, November 23, 2009


It's been a very long time since my last post - and much has happened in that time. To summarize: I went to an awesome music festival outside L.A., contracted walking pneumonia for 2 weeks and was unable to work, and stocker season officially began.

Stockers are cattle that come from another ranch to be fattened up on our pasture. Last week the first shipment of 120 cattle arrived from Hawaii. There are four more shipments that will be arriving in the next four weeks bringing a total of 500 cattle. T.O. Cattle Co. will raise the cattle through the winter and spring, when the grass is the most productive, and then ship the cattle somewhere else to get finished. T.O. is paid for each pound that the cattle gain.

For the season, the cattle will be over at the Hollister Hills Ranch - a state park in Hollister, CA. Last week the first shipment arrived - the cows were wild! Not literally but as Joe explained, they are very sensitive because they haven't been handled often, or well. We spent two days working with the cattle, using low stress handling techniques to acclimate the cattle to being handled.

I was also able to work on the grazing plan for the 2009-10 season at Hollister Hills. It was fun to sit over the huge piece of paper, planning every move that the cattle will make throughout the season. I like thinking about the logistics and planning aspect of running the cattle.

Last week was also the first time I've been to Hollister Hills. I was given the task of making the electric fence hot and spent the majority of the day running all over the ranch trying to understand how the fence system was set up and where the different fields are and how they are connected. It was stressful but I feel pretty confident I could get the fence hot real quick, with no problems.

I'm going to try to post more in the next few weeks. I only have three weeks left in California before I head home for the holidays. I'm looking forward to what the next few weeks have to bring!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Today Joe and I moved the cattle on horse back into the Tank Field. I spent yesterday afternoon subdividing the field into smaller paddocks where the cows will stay for 2 days each.

The Tank Field is interesting. At the bottom, along the flat, there is a riparian area that gets a lot of water in the rainy season. Each year Joe has documented the area and tells me that when he started managing the ranch, there was little growth relative the abundance there is now. The creek bed is field with perennial grasses and big willows. Just another example of how proper management in riparian areas can produce awesome effects.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Going Once...

This morning, Everett and I went to the auction yard to do a little market research on goats. We were trying to get an idea of how much different sized and gendered goats cost and sell for. The reason for our visit is because of the possibility of exploring a new enterprise in goats!

Goats are slowly becoming a popular alternative to expensive, oil driven machines used for brush clearing. In California, brush control is a big business because of the serious threat of wild fires throughout the state. For us, goats can also be incorporated into our land management so to have a greater impact on the rangelands we work on. Goats do not eat grass like cows but instead prefer a large variety of brush. By incorporating goats into Morris Grassfed, we would be able to manage an aspect of the land that we can't do with the cows.

So, Ev and I did a little research - speculating on potential business models and trying to judge if one goat looked better than another. It was a pretty cool experience but we are still a ways away from building a decent goat herd.