We hope you are enjoying a beautiful Fourth of July weekend with your friends and family. What a beautiful nation we live in!
Our Fourth of July celebrations are generally spent from the tractor putting up hay. I recall plenty of years where I have watched fireworks from the tractor if I was lucky enough to get a view of it!
June was filled with getting cattle out to summer pasture. Which means a lot of saddle time. We log a lot of hours in June, but they are some of my favorite hours. Ones I look forward to all year long! So, I apologize in advance for more photos than you probably care to see!
The cattle are always so happy to get out to their mountain pastures for the summer. It is also a huge relief to us. At this point in the year, a rancher feels as if they have made it as far as the cattle are concerned. The calves survived through the harsh spring months, have been branded, and are growing at a steady pace.
Now, we pray for rain. How well the calves grow is directly correlated to the quality of our summer pastures. The cattle thrive in cooler rainy days. And because we get paid for weight on our calves- weight means everything!
As a side note, the cow elk always come on our place to calve. My son and I rode up on these two little guys. We were just a couple of yards away from them! Their natural instinct is to stay hunched down and hide. The one calf got too nervous and hopped up, while the other acted like he was invisible. The mothers were not far away, and we didn't disturb them too much!
Unfortunately, a few drought related challenges have presented themselves so far this year. This is the second year in a row of pretty severe drought for our area. Last year, we had to graze our pastures quite a bit harder than we normally would have because of grass and hay shortage. This tends to stunt the growth of the grass the next year- especially if there is little moisture. Fast forward to this last winter and spring- we got very little snow and rain. As a result, we lost a lease for summer pasture (because the owner needed it for his own cattle), and we lost a couple summer pastures because there is no water in them this year. This has left us scrambling to figure out where to put cattle for the summer and puts us in a jam for fall and winter pastures as well.
To top it all off, our hayfields are dismal at best. Most of our hay ground we will not be going over, because with the price of diesel it would not even be worth haying. This puts us in a huge predicament for winter feed. Hay prices are looking like they are going to be high again this year. For reference, last year, hay was between $200-$250/ton. We feed about 15 tons per day during the winter. That cost is unsustainable for most ranches, as the cattle markets do not match the rising input costs.
But before you go feeling sorry for us- this is just ranching! There are always outside factors, which we cannot control. Ranchers plan for every scenario the best we can, and then roll with the punches. God is good, and he always provides even though it may not look like how we imagined.
This year, we will more than likely have to sell some cattle to ensure enough feed to go around. We may also end up using a portion of our hydroponic sprouts to feed our cow herd. And this is where the story changes for us a bit...
Over the last couple of years, my dad, husband, and neighbor (who happens to be a brilliant businessman and inventor/engineer), have been designing a revolutionary hydroponic feeding system. This last month we installed the very first system on our ranch. It is revolutionary because there is no other hydroponic system like it in the world. Compared to all other systems, it produces exponentially more sprouts in a smaller space, is completely automated, and is significantly more affordable.
We are beyond excited and passionate about this project. Passionate because these systems have the ability to change agriculture for the better (in our opinion :) ). It has already changed our ranch outlook for the better. With the feed shortage we currently have- our hydroponic plant is going to get us to the next year. Without it, we would be in extremely precarious position this year with quite literally no feed going into the winter. Now, because we have increased production potential with our new system, we can both fatten our beef herd, and feed sprouts to our main cattle herd if needed in the winter.
We started out feeding sprouts to our beef cattle, on a mission to produce the healthiest beef possible. Now, it has turned into something so much more than that. It has turned into a project, that we hope, will change agriculture for the better. These systems can give ranchers, farmers, dairies, and feed lots-feed efficiency, feed quality, and feed stability like never before. More feed can be produced in one building than hundreds to thousands of acres of land.
I could go on and on and on about this and will write a full post on it soon. But in the meantime, if you are interested in any details about these hydroponic systems- I am more than happy to talk with you! We are currently selling these systems and hope to have more information to give to the public on it soon.
Be on the lookout as I will be doing a beef restock this week and will be adding in some special offers! We are also working on producing some beef tallow products like soap, lotion, and leather conditioner as well. These are incredible products that are ultra clean and work so well- we cannot wait to have them available to you in August!