HOW WE DEFINE CONSERVATION
Ranching isn’t just about raising animals or managing the land. It also means engaging in a complex set of interrelationships. We are ultimately harvesting solar energy through plants and using that energy to nourish our bodies in the form of high quality, nutrient dense meat. The animals are the perfect natural design to harvest and digest the energy (plants) that we can’t.
The basis for this entire process is the soil and grass. If we're not working towards a system that improves these components through strategic management practices, we're essentially depleting our biological bank account over time. The soil building process takes time, patience, and hard work. Nature does not abide by a set schedule, but success is measured through seasonal cycles which take years and generations.
Ranching has been a part of our family history for five generations. We believe in a future where small to mid sized producers can compete in the market and get a fair price for their products. Working with the land and raising animals is not an easy path, and it's certainly not well represented in the price of "normal" meat you can find at most grocery stores. Cheap food ultimately comes at a cost to our collective health and land. We are a small family operation committed to continuing the agrarian lifestyle, and it is our hope to share this vision with our customers.
The sun provides energy that the grass converts and stores. The integrity of this energy depends on many factors, most importantly the living soil beneath the grass. One of the most crucial factors that makes this system possible is managing the impact of grazing herbivores. Consider the cow as nature’s finest tractor, fully equipped to mow, compost, and utilize this energy. The fertility of the land depends on this relationship, but like fire, it must be managed.
Just as they would be in nature, we keep our animals in herds and move them frequently to ensure that they are not overgrazing pastures. By doing so, we stimulate the growth of grass and allow for a subsequent resting and recovery period. This type of management can return nutrients and carbon to the soil, encouraging diverse microbiological life and increasing the ability of the land to retain water over time. The more common alternative is to let the animals have free rein over an entire property, but doing so means they will be selective in what they choose to eat. Given the opportunity, the cow will return over and over to a particular plant or grass, essentially cherry picking it until it will no longer grow back due to inadequate recovery time. This type of management is called continuous grazing, and can ultimately result in a loss of plant diversity and overgrazing. This is why rotating the animals in an appropriate amount of time and allowing that recovery period is crucial. This type of management takes a lot more energy and time. We've invested a lot of resources into infrastructure which makes these management practices feasible. Our goal is to increase productivity and fertility in a mutually beneficial way.
What does sustainability really mean? This word gets thrown around quite often. Maybe more than necessary, but in order to truly define sustainability, we've got to look at a variety of factors. What's our ranch and operation going to look like in 10 years? 100 years? Are the natural resources we're using being replenished as we take from them for our own sustenance? Are we investing time and energy into our ranching operation in a way that will inspire future generations to continue the lifestyle, or will our hardship encourage them to get as far away from the farm as possible?
These are the types of questions we think about when considering the overall concept of sustainability. As consumers, we also have a responsibility to learn more about where our food comes from. There's a very human component to the word sustainability. If we can't create a system of profitability which returns value to the land while providing a livable income, we're not going to have many future options. The average age of the rancher in Texas is 58 years old. How are we going to inspire younger generations to find a balance between agricultural pursuits, which require long, hard, often unpredictable days, and modern life which promotes convenience and individualism? We believe the agricultural path is a privilege that allows us to experience first hand the miracle of life. It's a job that, until fairly recently, everyone had some part in. We are dedicated to working towards a system that will reward and inspire future generations, while investing in our greatest natural resource: the land.