Archive for April, 2011

Earth Day, Every Day, On The Ranch

Every day is Earth Day on our ranch, that is part of the reason we do what we do. We take a holistic approach to management.

Riparian Zone

The Scott River flows through the middle of our ranch. Over the past several decades we have stabilized and fenced two miles of river and planted over 10 acres in mixed riparian vegetation. We then manage grazing to maintain the health of the zone and manage the weeds. The river has high quality salmon habitat and is frequented by bear, beaver, deer, ducks, elk and geese.

Fish Screen

Also, we have installed fish screens at each of the four diversions we operate to prevent fish from entering the irrigation ditches. At each of the diversions we have also installed fish friendly rock weirs so that we no longer have to utilize push up dams.


When it comes to managing the soil, we test regularly to insure that the soil remains healthy and productive. Fields and pastures only receive soil amendments when they start showing depletion. As nutrients are needed, we utilize a variety of replenishments including manure from our cattle, horses and sheep, as well as naturally occurring commercial additives. Most of our pastures maintain productivity solely on the natural deposition of manure from our livestock as we rotate from field to field during the summer and harrow after the critters leave a field to evenly distribute the manure so that it can be incorporated into the soil.


We utilize a variety of methods for irrigation. Early in the season, we predominately flood irrigate, which insures the aquifer is charged for summer pumping. We continue to flood irrigate throughout the summer in specific fields that allow surface water to quickly percolate and help maintain a balance with pumping so that water does not have to be lifted as far with the pumps. Additionally, flood irrigation applies water that will slowly flow subsurface to the river, returning cooler to the river than the existing surface water, creating quality habitat for salmonid fingerlings. We have also installed a central pivot irrigation system on our hay fields to be more efficient and utilize wheellines on pastures that are higher in clay. In the winter, we continue to flood irrigate part of one field to provide additional habitat for the Canada Geese that migrate through each year. It is not uncommon to see 10’s of thousands of geese during the winter months.

Animal Abuse, Video and Responsibility

I just read and article, “Iowa House Agrees To Prohibit Secret Animal Abuse Videos“. I did a post a few weeks ago on this subject, “Photos, Private Property and Politics” and have been thinking on the matter further. When thinking about current legislation being proposed in a number of states on the matter of video taping on farms, ranches and processing establishments I think there are four basic factors to consider when drafting legislation.

1. Trespassing – Plain and simple, if someone trespasses on private property, urban, rural, home, ranch or business, it should be a felony, period. As a misdemeanor, cases of trespass are often not even prosecuted and when they are, are more often than not plead out or dropped. People who trespass are directly violating another individuals personal rights and freedoms and should not be tolerated.

2. Biosecurity – Individuals who are working for groups with agendas that promote animal rights and would like to see the elimination of animal agriculture do not consider the health risks to animals which they claim to be in support of. No two farms or ranches are the same and individuals, sneaking from farm to farm, can easily carry viruses and bacteria on their clothing and place the health of animals at risk. It is especially concerning when individuals may go from an auction yard, which host a multitude of vectors for diseases and then enter a farm or ranch, carrying with them, that which was picked up at the yard. Not to mention, many of these so-called videographers have filmed over seas, in countries with diseases that we do not want re-introduced here.

3. Management – Individuals who are in charge of hiring and firing the workforce need to be diligent in two particular areas. First, be diligent in doing background checks and talking to references. Make certain the people you hire are of the proper disposition and integrity to work with animals. Second, be diligent in training employees in the proper handling techniques to ensure that all animals are treated with the proper care. Make sure all employees are familiar with the equipment and know how to handle situations in which animals can be stressed or in distress due to injury or illness.

4. Verification – In operations and facilities that have large workforces, install cameras so that all aspects can be monitored to ensure that proper handling techniques are being utilized and identify people, equipment and situations that can be improved on behalf of the welfare of the animal. Being able to monitor the day-to-day operations can be invaluable when it comes to reducing stress of both people and animals and identifying areas that are in need of upgrade, repair or re-design.

Finally, employees who see issues that are of concern, should have a clear understanding of how to report those concerns immediately, so they can be addressed and fixed. A clear chain of command should exist on all farms and ranches. Should the matter not be addressed, then the appropriate authorities should be notified.

Any operation that fails to do proper background checks, fails to properly train employees, fails to monitor day-to-day operations closely, fails to address issues of concern deserves any and all legal action afforded their actions as is pertinent for the state which they do business. Likewise, individuals who trespass, put the health and welfare of animals in jeopardy for the sole purpose of shooting a video to further the agenda of radical animal rights groups, should also be prosecuted to fullest extent of applicable law.

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