e47. Turfgrass Manager turned Regenerative Farmer with Jared Kerst

In this episode of The Grazing Grass Podcast, Cal talks with Jared Kerst of Lazy K at Rivendell Farms. We discuss his journey from turfgrass manager to regenerative grass farmer. Among the topics discussed are grazing alfalfa, daytime moves, garlic, and selling beef.

Books/Resources Mentioned:

  • Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us about Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom by Fred Provenza (Amazon) (Bookshop.org)
  • Holistic Management by Allan Savory (Amazon) (Bookshop.org)


These transcriptions are automatically generated. Please excuse any errors in the text.

Welcome to The Grazing Grasss Podcast episode forty seven. I need to focus on what I want, not what I don’t want. You’re listening to the grazing grass podcast, upping grass farmers learn from grass farmers, and every episode features a grass farmer. And their operation. I’m your host, Cal Hardage. On today’s show, we have Jared Kerst, He is a turf grass farmer that is transitioning to being a regenerative Agriculturist. His journey has taken him through goats and now to cows. And I encourage you to stay on and listen to his episode a really good one. However, before we get to Jared, We’ll do the ten seconds about my farm.

It is spring here and we went through They drought last fall late summer into the winter. We are getting rain now. So that has really improved our conditions. While I think we’re still classified as a d two drought, We have been improving greatly, but a little bit more rain will get us out of that. I know there’s still a lot of others still suffering with the drought. For our grass, it’s turning green and growing, not quite enough to start rotating the cows on it yet. But it is getting close and I’m excited. Let’s talk to Jared. Jared, we wanna welcome you to the Grace and Grass podcast. We are excited you’ve joined us. Cal, thanks for having me. I listen to it every week when it’s on, and I’m glad to be part of it.

Jared, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation? Yeah, so I run a farm outside of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, which is in the mountains in between Vale and Aspen. And the farm’s about seven thousand feet and have been and moved to that farm as the office manager during nineteen ninety nine. And at the time, the farm only produced Kentucky Blue Esad. That was what I was hired as the SODFARM Manager. My wife joined me after she finished graduate school, Jenny, and If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t still be doing this even though she’s not a farmer. It has no interest really in it. So I have a little different paradigm with the family farm, if you will, than a lot of folks.

But what happened was we built Landscape Supply business on the side of that. This business was started by a lady MACI Berkeley and her orthopedic surgeon husband actually as a way to fund a nonprofit hospital in Mexico, which is how I contacted them. So that was they were the ownership and I was the management. Took over management of the whole operation in two thousand two. And, actually, in two thousand ten, which was posted with the depth of that recession. We were still running us on farm, but it actually became much less profitable. And our revenue had really moved over to landscape supplies. But to be honest, we also had extracted all of the value, I should say, but much of the value out of the soil.

A monocroping blue grass seed year out and year on. And turf grass farmers, if you’d known any, a little bit of an arrogant bunch that we think we can just fertilize and spray our way out of any problem. In two thousand and ten, the owners who had been in Mexico then for almost ten years, living there full time. Absent tea owners, they they were not comfortable owning it anymore, but with a lack of profits, but it made an opportunity for me to buy it. At that time, two thousand twelve, I agreed to buy it business, and the farm, put the farm under contract. And right then is when I also started recognizing if I was gonna purchase this, land based business, which had finally occurred to me, that’s what I was running, that I wanted the land to actually be getting better, not worse. And to be honest, The input costs were skyrocketing. It was taking we’d usually talk in a thousand square feet in a turf farm world, but six pounds of n per thousand spraying four times a year to just get fenned off weeds that were rampant. And so it was costing for every square foot aside just costing four or five times as much.

So that was where my journey started and it turns out me getting out of the business side of it. I had twenty some employees and trucks running and I had a business degree in fact. That’s what I ended up with at college, but I didn’t I didn’t realize how much I liked the farming side of it because I just had farm managers and I was a gentleman farmer just telling people how it worked with fertilizer and and NPK was something language I knew, the reductionist talk, about and I was the expert in the valley on growing turf grass. But to be honest, I had no concept to soil health or anything like it. So I started researching. And in fact, the old owner had actually given me a book by Joel Salton called You Could Farm. Oh, yes. And I set it on the shelf and said, oh, who needs this kind of garbage? Who would have known that in six or seven years after that, I’d be sitting in classroom with Joel Salatin for two, three days. Oh, yes.

But in that process, healing the soil, of course, I still stuck to my and a bunch of conventional roots and I planted a bunch of GMO alfalfa. Oh, okay. As my rotation, they can that would solve the problem. And it’s pretty amazing. That’s an incredible plant that can penetrate really bad soil and grow in our climate, so that part was great. But the first trial I did turning that back into sod. It was amazing. In the soil, it actually improved, but very temporarily.

But I smelled the smell of good soil for the first time to the back of the tractor and that was probably around, I don’t know, twenty fourteen. And I realized right then with that smell and you in my know it smelled of good soil. That was actually my goal because I needed to fix that. So I started going to things like Acres USA Conferences. Oh, yes.

I’m reading the Stockman Grass Farmer. My local, who is a farmer, cow calf guy in eastern Colorado, got me that publication, the Stockman grass farmer. And it turned out to be a paradigm shifting. We hear that term a lot, which was a buzzword in college and business school, but It’s a real word in the agriculture world now. But my paradigm shifted, and I picked back up that joseleton book. I went to a class. With Annabel Portomingo, which is part of that Sakhman grass farmer group because it became clear to me in these books that animals and animal integration was the only way to heal the soil? And I was a plant guy. Right? I grew a grass. That was my profession. It was a grass grower.

But I knew that I needed to change something, so we brought on goats first. Right? We thought it was gonna be a marketing thing. Total disaster. I got that herd after three years up to seventy five animals. And It was a struggle to market them because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was overgrazing with them and destroying things that I thought I was helping. And I eventually just sold the whole herd off.

And I got a question for you, Jared, there. When you got the goats, did you have prior experience with goats? As a kid, I had to milk goats, which I couldn’t stand. And the there was a Billy, and I’ll still call them Billy’s and Annie’s, by the way, regardless of the bucks and dolls that the highfalutin crowd do in the goat goat community, but I had a belly that would it would eat cans. That was that kind of billy. And I learned later, but when I bought a couple of registered Chico, New Zealand billies, I had this idea. That I was gonna have this herd of really hardy animals and I would use them for marketing and I’d sell them to local Hispanic folks that would use them for parties.

That was just slightly off. I mean, it all of that could happen, but I couldn’t keep Goldstein to save my life. I had netting, seven strands of electric. I couldn’t sleep. It was a disaster. And the first time we got them, we read them. I didn’t have a tight enough of a breeding window.

My wife was pregnant with my first child in February. She was due in February. And I was having goats coming out in the middle of the night. I was up. I didn’t sleep to two months because for two months, they were dropping babies on in the ice. And I would be feeding yeah. Baby goats had put in coffee in their mouths trying to resuscitate them and so we learned a lot of things.

It was in a the next year was much more compressed. We didn’t actually have them kitting out until May. And so everything survived, everything was healthy, but it didn’t make them any easier to keep in. And those billies that I bought just ended up being the pain of my existence, just disgusting creatures that I couldn’t. They say you can’t keep in a hungry goat, but a horny goat is impossible. So So why so the whole herd just liquidated it? And I I just backed off and said, okay, no more animals, which is what put me in such a like resistant mode when it came to cattle.

But that class with Annabel Portomingo, I thought he was just gonna tell me, Jared, you’re a farmer? You know how to grow grass, so plant this plant, and this grass, and this Forbes, and those cattle grow fat and taste good. It was way more complicated than that obviously. He’s an amazing guy, right, PhD, and he taught me all kinds of things and but that was in twenty fifteen. I took that class and it was supposed to be with Alination also, but he died two weeks two weeks before that class he died. I saw bunks and never got to meet him, but I met his wife, great lady in. So it was a really important class because it started me down there, but it took another four years for me to actually get cattle on the farm. And in that time frame, I also sold off landscape Supply business to somebody else to run it because I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to farm.

And so last year, we got some cattle from my cousin, Chris, who runs a meat business in Eastern Colorado called all about nature and he lined me up with some cattle because he was having drought. Problems, you know, they they struggle with that. My farm, by the way, is fed with a a year round spring, Northeastern spring. Oh, very nice. It’s an incredible resource and so blessed and so drought is less of an issue to me. So he knew I had the grass. And so he called me up and asked if I wanted to buy some, so I bought fifteen of those animals. They got dropped off.

And we were on our way to learning how to grass finish beef. I had plenty of training and I’ve been through classes with Jim Garish, management intensive guy, I’ve read so many books and did so many conferences. But at the end of the day, it had to we had to get them on the ground, and they had to start eating those pastures I’d been growing because I’ve been working on diverse pastures. The only thing craziness was Elkander. And so we got wait. I called right away for a processing slot last year and the first processing available was December twenty seven. So I was calling cattle in a blizzard on the day after Christmas for my first cat on, it was worth it that part. And so the we’re were back in it.

And I guess I should say that some of my first cattle I actually sold resold to one of my mentors, Jake and Molly Shipman, they run a farm here called Dewey Creek Farm, and they’re they’re doing grass fed beef and pork, but they needed more beef than their acreage would handle. So I sold them some which was a great collaboration really because he came over and gave me some confidence. I was afraid I was gonna kill my cattle because I have alfalf all over. You can imagine that my neighbor said I’m crazy. They think they’re all gonna die. But imagine so. So and I’ve learned a lot of tricks over the last year, grazed and cattle on on really heavy melts of alfalfa. And, anyway, it’s worked. And Jake came over and he said, I’ll give it a shot because Annabolic told me that in Argentina, they graze a lot of alfalfa, sometimes seventy percent stands. I’ve pushed that to ninety percent a couple of times, but it’s working.

And the meat gal, the key was. The meat came out really good, and it was it was all matching up what my mission statement is, which is renourishing Earth, having degraded the soils, personally been responsible for soil degradation for so many years. I was at one of those acres’ conferences and heard a guy In a classroom, I was walking by talking about taste buds and how that related to organic farming. I had no real idea, but it was Fred Provenza. If you’re familiar with him, he wrote a book called Nourishment. And that day, I stepped into that that class and listened to him, and then he and I became friends and listened before he wrote the book. And that conversation in his work is what gave me the why behind what I was doing, completely made the difference And why was I trying to heal this soil? Not just for my ego or for Posterry, although I do want my kids to inherit something better than said I found it or whoever farms it. But Fred totally changed my program.

When he came out with his book, nourishment, it just it took me a while even I’d already read all the papers he’d written to support that book ahead of time. It still took me forever to read just because of the depth of the the implications of that wisdom body the animals being so intelligent, although in a in an operation like mine where I’m buying earlings who’ve been on a farm eating cornstalks and oat hay and things. They didn’t learn a lot from their moms about grazing. That’s one of those things that there’s a balance to letting the animal pick and choose what they want because they still have that innate wisdom, but also not letting them just eat pure alfalfa and die from it is the trick, I guess. Nourishment, that that book I have. I haven’t read it yet. I actually, I hate to show you my bookshelf because right now my bookshelf has more books to read than it does have read. And I’m a avid reader, not so much lately, but I’m about to get started again. So that’s right up there for me to get started on. I’m looking forward to it.

Jared, let’s jump back in your journey just a little bit. So you mentioned you went to some conferences, some classes with different individuals. How how valuable did you find those conferences? Because I know a lot of people’s like, well, we gotta leave the farm because oftentimes those conferences aren’t nearby, sometimes we get lucky in there close. But how valuable were those conferences for you and classes? Gail, they were invaluable. I recognized that there was a lot, if that was a three day conference. It could have been twenty minutes of those three days that made the difference, but I wasn’t going to experience that without being there.

And to be honest, be because we’re so seasonal at seven thousand feet, it’s a blizzard up here. Penn, there’s really nothing to do on the farm except for plow snow. So in my context, it’s worth traveling. And you’re right, they’re all back east mostly. There are some California, but really anything in Colorado. But those classes you get, you just get sometimes an epiphany of something. And to be honest, I’ve had those, I’ve learned things from my employees before. I believe you can actually learn something from anybody. Yes. Yeah. Older I get, I realize that everybody has something to teach me even about my own farm. Obviously, when you sit in a class with somebody like Jim Garish or ranching for profit school. Right? These guys, they know a lot and they’re aware of that. But at the end of the day, some of the people in the classes or just talking to other farmers, it’s amazing what you can learn. So For me, it’s been invaluable.

I wish they were sometimes in like warmer places where I could take my wife and kids on dual purpose vacation, but that doesn’t quite work. Well, you have to be careful about that because I went to the Sao Paulo conference, filled day, and sell. And I tried my best to sell it to my wife as a vacation. She never quite bid on that. He kept saying it’s a foreign trip. I said, that’s what that’s why we can afford it. I hear you. But it’s a vacation. Now granted, I’m not the smartest because it’s hot in in the summer in Oklahoma? Well, they had the last filled day for Sao Paulo in Louisiana. So in Louisiana, it’s a little warmness when it was. So I went from hot to really hot.

I’ve got to work on my planning. I am looking forward to just on a side note there, the south pole filled day next year is going to be in the autumn. They’re not they’re gonna go and get away from that hot weather. And so I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s worth going. And I there’s a lot of my like to try to go too, but it’s just a matter of time and it’s like everything. If I can listen to it on a podcast or a recording, I’ll try that too. There’s there’s a lot of conferences and things I’d like to attend. But I can’t attend too many just because my w two job. I’ve got to be able to be there and do my work. So so that causes some limitations there.

But like you said, I think I love podcasts, obviously. I loved it enough to start one, but there’s some valuable resources out there. This podcast has a niche, for those getting started and learning from others, but you’ve got the hard quitter podcast, you’ve got the Pennsylvania Razor, get the Shepard to South Texas. You’ve got in fact, I listened to a new podcast. I’m trying to think of the name head shepherd. And it’s from Australia. And I actually got to it because they were talking about twinning in cattle, which I think is an interesting subject. And I I’d got over there.

But there’s lots of podcasts out there and lots of niches if this one doesn’t fit you. I hope it I hope our listeners like it, but if you don’t, that’s fine. There’s others. Go find one that you like. And to maybe come back and try mine later on, maybe I won’t be. So bad. But find what’s beneficial to you because I think podcasts are such a wonderful that applies for learning from others. I agree with you, and I appreciate you starting it. I you know, sometimes it’s a little odd listening to people in a conversation. But I’ve gotten really into it. The more I’ve done it, the more I like it because it’s like I can sit and hear what people are chatting about and it’s real low pressure. I mean, there’s There’s any matter of podcast out there I realize, but that’s why I appreciate yours that it’s unpretentious and it’s really just a sincere way to get grass people talking about grazing animals, and they’ll, I appreciate it. I appreciate you saying that.

So you got your yearlings and grass finished them in middle of December. I’m actually gonna finish some next week. At eighteen months. I have ten slots open at the processor, but I think I’m only six to seven seem ready to me. And I’m I’m new at this cal judging the readiness scene. I’ve listened as many guys as I get in my own call talking about the brisket. I’ve had a couple of those cattle that I can get close enough to squeeze on that brisket under there, and to see if it feels like a football, but you know, the fat ripples in front of the tail head. I’m doing what I can to judge that, but the reality is that I won’t have finished, you know. And one of the complaints that people and my life have had of grass finish beef is that it’s not really finished. It’s just processed. So I’m trying my best. And last year, there was pretty decent marbling. I didn’t get it graded, but everybody was enthused about the amount of marbling. So we’re gonna we’re gonna keep pushing that and I’m gonna keep learning, you know. I mean, I I’m gonna see if I can track it a little better is The data would be helpful, but we’ll see us. I got four slaughter dates this year, one each month. So that’ll tie up with my marketing, and we’ll see if I can get it all sold.

Or your cattle, what breed are you using? So these are black Baldy and some just straight angus. When I started researching what I wanted, you know, originally I thought I wanted Scottish Highland cattle are something ridiculous. And I’m not saying that for everybody it’s ridiculous, but for me it doesn’t fit my context. I need them I I don’t want them in the winter. They would live great here, but so my cousin found a cow calf guy who’s using a lot of those is it PCC genetics? Kit Farrell? And so a lot of these ear tags have bull names. Yeah. A lot of ear tags have bull names from the feral cow company, you know.

A lot of those moderate framed Angus genetics. And to be honest, I love the way they are mussely. And the Hereford influence, the ones that are more Hereford, the ballies, I can tell they’re a little more docile, their frames, little So I’m seeing the differences come out in them, but generally speaking, these cattle, these black cattle white faces or not. They just seem to be doing really well on my forage bass, which like I said, we talked to as a lot about alfalfa, but I’ve been trying to really diversify that over the last couple of years. And, again, it’s a move in target, and I’m not an expert gal. That’s why I appreciate you’re having on non experts, but I’m learning a lot of things about moving cattle on my landscape.

In favor of cattle company there that you mentioned, they sponsored the herd quitter podcast, They also have kit puts out a weekly — Yep. — it may be more than it may be a couple days a week. Email newsletter, which is always really good too. So if you’re not subscribed to it or not familiar with it, I suggest you look those up because Interesting. I just learned about him.

It’s been a few years ago now, so I’ve been following much closer and looking for some peace CC genetics in my area. I’m more on the the south pole, but I have no issue introducing some PC the genetics in. It just looks they’re doing phenomenal work out there. But I say out there, they’ve got ranches all over that’s working with them. Sure. I just like that he started in Colorado. I’m assuming our source ranch is in eastern Colorado, not far from it’s original place. So, you know, both of my grandfather’s actually rent feed lots in Eastern Colorado. So it’s a little little bit ironic now to me that I’m I’m in this grass finishing thing, and I think they would be supportive of it even if I’m not gonna feed grain to them. And I think they probably knew kit Fair off, I had to guess.

So so one thing you mentioned on finishing your beef is raising alfalfa. You brought it up earlier. We gotta be careful about Bloat with gross grazing alfalfa. In our area of Oklahoma. We have some legumes, but alfalfa is not a a predominant one or even a a very valuable one in our ecosystem. But of course, as you go west, there’s some great ground for growing alfalfa.

What are some things that you’ve learned to decrease the risk of bloating your cattle. From the books, I’ve learned, but from Annabel Portomingo, we we talked a lot about timing, both seasonally and daily. The clearly, the young lush alfalfa is pretty dangerous. And I did have one One of my steers last year when the l curves came through and destroyed all the paddocks. One time, the cattle were running crazy in a frosty morning. And one of them must have got into some of that frozen lush alfalfa and was heels up in twenty minutes. I left him to settle down and just so they’re not lying about how quick that could happen. So that the timing on that is one of the things I paid attention to a lot, not getting them on young Alfalfa meeting, if there’s a lot of bloom happening, it seems to be better. Now how deeply in the bloom we can go? I’m dealing with that right now. I’ve got some that pretty it’s pretty far along.

I can see some bloke pressures in my cattle, but again, it’s also draining the cattle. Their rumin have to adjust. I’ve been told that, so it wasn’t that I just dropped it on alfalfa. I eased them into late afternoon There is Bar South Alpha forcing them. So in my moves, you have to tie with this.

I move cattle every day, sometimes a couple times a day, but that’s mostly to try to adjust what their rumin is absorbing early. I try to get them on some more fibrous grasses early. When it was late in the fall, I even did that with some dry hay. In front of the alfalfa slide, make a meet that in the morning, and then which is a trick that Annabolic taught me about that. And and then I started interceding and this is another technique, some sandfine and some a burst of trefoil. Apparently, Very neat plants, beautiful plants. I like the diversity. And as a legume, they’re non bloating and that cattle can eat them without bloating, but more importantly, they can eat percentage of that and then eat alfalfa also and the tannins apparently in that non bloated lagoon will tie up those proteins. To cause the bloat and help them pass through the rumin.

What I’ve read is just in online stuff is about thirty percent sand foil or burst with trefoil, I have some stands that are ninety percent sand foil and burst with trefoil. So what I’ve been doing, I sort of call it a pulse grazing or like a meal planning. I forced him onto that in the mid morning. I still wanna get my sugars up. I hear the bricks levels, you know. That makes sense. They get higher as the sun comes up, but So I’ll move them midmorning onto some of those legumes, and then I’ll have some areas adjacent to that paddock that’ll be pure alfalfa almost. And I’ll just let them onto that at three or four in the afternoon when they’re as dry and hot as they can be. And up to this point, we’ve watched them very closely I also put a bloke block out there with them by the label they’re supposed to eat a bunch of that.

To be honest, they’re eating small fraction of what it says, but when they get into luscious alfalfa, they will eat it more and I’m sort of relying on the animal wisdom that that Fred talks about. So you’re just putting it out there free choice for them. I put it next to their mineral salts. You know, I keep trying to have a balanced I’ve used a lot of c ninety product.

My cattle really seem to like that. I like the theory of it. We’ve used some Redman. I still have Redman out there with with garlic. I’ve been mixing my own garlic in for trying to Not that the flies are bad at this elevation, but I just don’t like them. So Keep putting the garlic to him.

I also from listening to podcasts and Will Winners, he’s like a vet that wrote a book about Natural animal care. I use a lot of apple cider vinegar. Put it in the water. I guess that helps with the blow. I have no nothing but anecdotal evidence at this point, gal, to say it works, but we’ve watched him and I’ve watched some of my animals, particularly late June, early July. I saw some bloke pressure happening in them. So I’d watch them like a hawk ready to intervene if I had to do a trocar or something, which I haven’t had to do. Thank God. But they seem to work it through. And these days, I watch them and they they’ll get tired and a tick, but they won’t blow it and no discomfort. They just keep on it going.

So with that being said, I’ve been trying to put low of, like, thestoleum, regrasses, and things in with the alfalfa stand is just drilling it in with a no till drill and that seems to help also just to keep them getting some of that sugar and fiber next to that protein. So that’s my my techniques up to this point. And that thing about moving up during the day, Seems to be really the key. If something happens, if if a deer tear out a fence reel and they squirt into the next paddock, that they’re not supposed to be in and the alfalfa’s fresh and lush. You can see it start to, like, fill up that room in a little bit, but I very calmly and gently put them back into the right paddock and try to push them somewhere with some of the the more fiber and and that we so far we’ve been really good this year. So I I know it’s a bit of a risk, but I feel like given that’s my forage base and, man, it seems to make meat taste really good. And then the end of the day, that’s our our mission. And I would think you’d get some nice gain by grazing that alfalfa.

Cal, I wish I have a cattle scale and I have not I have yet to get a a steer across it. To actually weigh them, you know. My my farm is a sod farm, and so I don’t have chorales. We every time we had to sort them to get into trailers, We have to put up temporary panels, make our own little bud box of sorts, and that’s something I would really like to do is is get something more substantial where I could every once in a while work these cattle. You know? And that’s one of the things my my uncle and my neighbors are like, well, how are you gonna treat one if sick. How are you gonna doctor it? I’m gonna just get it by itself with a call event. But they got so far just Making sure they’re having fresh everything, fresh water, fresh pasture. We’ve had zero health problems, so we’ll just try to keep it that way. And then if something arises, I’ll call up some of my mentors like Jake and Molly or My friends, Bill and Kelly Parker. They they have Grass finishing operation and Gunnison, they’re really good at it. And so he’s been doing a long time, so now very good. Yes.

And what age are you finishing your tears at? Or have heard that I didn’t even ask? Well, it was all tears last year. And they finished between twenty and oh, okay. Twenty two months, I guess it would be. This batch, the these first ones to go are gonna be they’re only sixteen months, I guess, and maybe seventeen and like I said, they’re already hitting because they’ve been on my farm longer. And Annabel tells me his number one rule for finishing is ninety days continuous gains above one point seven pounds a day.

And again, I’d like to measure that, but I’m just watching them buy fat content. And watching them fill out and several, not all of them, not across the board, but I have one or two heffers and then four or five steers that you could just tell. They outperformed all the rest and they’re a little bit of the stockier ones just from standpoint of looking at how they’re built. And then some of the larger framelands are getting bigger, but they’re not putting on that same fat So I’m guessing those are gonna be the ones that we push towards that harvest closer to twenty twenty two months. It’s possible that some of them aren’t gonna make it to to what I feels finished.

And so one of my questions that I’m going through in my head is whether I still try to put them through some kind of a meat program is grind. Or whether I just offload them somewhere. And if I understand this correctly, you’re you’re gonna try and get them all processed before you’re in deep winter and then then you have winter to recover and then get a new set in. Gail, at this point, that is my That’s what’s fallen into what works for me because what I’m talented at at the moment is just growing stuff out there. The wintertime pay feeding, it’s gonna require a scale and some infrastructure that doesn’t fit what I’ve got on the farm. So right now, it just makes sense.

And because my primary objective was soil health. I’m not getting a whole lot of soil benefits in the winter. I can’t imagine. I know I’m some bail brazing. You’re getting some localized areas. And I did some of that in late December last year, but the effect wasn’t as much as when it’s when it’s growing. If those animals are on that growing grass, you see that soil wake up. So that is that’s right now my program. It’s a little different than I had envisioned because I envisioned the whole like cow calf and multigenerational trying to get their genetic alleles all tuned up, but the reality is these guys that we get our steers from are really good at cow calf. And so I’m gonna let them the experts at that, and I’m gonna focus on what I’m doing well, which is finishing right now. And it it it fits with my equipment. I have grass ceding and irrigation. So I can plant whatever I wanna plant. I’ve got some sedans sorghum, brown myth, rib drone out there, along with some buckwheat and some things trying to So we’ll graze whatever it is to that’ll help with animal health and with soil health. And that’s because sort of the the cycle we’re trying to push. Well, very good, Jared.

Let’s switch gears just a little bit and talk about your marketing of your grass finish beef. How are you marketing it? Are you selling haves or hoes on it by the piece? Well, the first batches that came out were all by the quarters. A lot of the reason people do that obviously is to avoid the USDA by doing shares and those kind of things, but the processor I work with, they have USDA capacity, and I just wanted to go that route anyway. So it was much more about simplicity.

But this year, we’ve moved and we we were marketing them just through some email and I had a Google form where people could order. Decide whether they wanted a a grilling focused quarter I called it or a slow roast and just really focusing on whether it was steaks or roast, you know, that sort of decision get to make. But this year and it was successful. But a lot of those folks, they without exception, the ones that gave me feedback loved the the meat. But a lot of those folks didn’t want all the weird pieces that they didn’t like. I’ve encouraged them to try to get creative and use them But the reality is that all they want is steaks in hamburger, I think I might wanna be able to provide that to them because there’s other people who love getting soup bones and shake and Liver for that matter.

So we are moved on to Grey’s Court. That’s Seven Sons online platform. And I’m working on it, Cal. It’s up, and it exists, but it is not quite functional. And the the meat is gonna be ready The first meet’s gonna be ready mid September, so I need to get my act together. But this is one of the things. It’s not my skill set. In general, the computer and the marketing and So I’m I’m actually working hard now and building a team of people that wanna help me in that space.

And I have a gal, a submission, vanessa, she works with me and she runs a edible forest, she calls it tree farm on my farm. And she does edible heritage fruit trees from our valley, the roaring Fork Valley, and she has been instrumental in getting this going. Like, when I can’t do something, she hops on even though it’s not her That’s not really her job description. And she gets my Google form ready or she helps me with those things. So But this year, we’re gonna like I said, we’ve got the Grace Court built. We’re just trying to get pictures, which is not my skill set either. I’m getting pictures of me.

But I’m working on it. I cooked up a beautiful brisket last week. We’re getting pictures and we’re gonna try kale selling. This is an experiment, but We’re gonna do some quarters and some quote unquote eighth boxes. Even though when you get to an eighth, right, it’s a little funky what they actually get, but that’ll just roughly be forty pounds of some mix, and then I’m gonna try specialty boxes, where somebody can just order if they want some steaks. And What we’ll have to figure out is whether then inventory control, which I used to do a lot in landscape supply business, But whether I could do that on a meat level and try to move it, whether it’s a little bit through wholesale, I’m intimidated by that.

I’m not the guy who just jumps on the phone and calls a chef, but I’m also not the kind of guy who does a podcast. So maybe I can call a chef We’ll get after it. I’m doing my best to try to challenge myself to This is all sort of new. It’s new to my land. It’s a new paradigm like I said for me. Changing location, if you will. And so we’re gonna keep pushing. And that marketing is a it’s a growth place, you know.

And I’ve read books, and got more to read. Like, Cal, I’ve gotta stack them still to go through. And they’re not really the kind I can get on Audible. Never ending stat. Exactly. So that’s where we’re going for marketing, you know, and we’re gonna we’re gonna try to reach out maybe even do an on farm event is something I’m exploring. I got some people trying to help me with that. We might do that in September. And again, it’s gonna take me getting out of my antisocial and it’s not really antisocial. It’s just antisocial. Farmer mode, and I’m gonna have to shake hands and answer questions, which I’m more than hell willing to do. I love sharing with people. You know, I fully understand that.

Now, as you look towards the future in continuing down this path, you think you might add some other species or you good with just focusing on the beef, where we need to. Honestly, I I have some chickens. We’ve done chickens here and there. Small batch should do a hundred egg layers or fifty broilers. I have not done it sufficiently, which is mostly give away eggs to employees and friends and neighbors, but it was a it’s a learning about how to grow them and how to raise them because that interaction behind the cattle that Joel always talks about three days later, following I think that makes a lot of sense.

Pork, I love the idea. Of getting pigs. I’ve sat through a couple classes. The Rodale Institute talked about their method of pastured pork and Jake and Molly at Duly Creek do a good job on their pork, but they sell out all the time. There’s plenty of room in the market for me.

It’s just I wanna make sure I’m good at what I’m doing before I jump into that next enterprise, but there are things that may force it. My cousins who sold a lot of pork. They they didn’t do it this year because of the severe drought in the Eastern Colorado. So I’d really like to team up with them to go brand or something and maybe I raise support for them because I I have water and they have skills. And so if we can trade that out, then I can I’d like to use them as a tool on my landscape because I think they they play a phenomenal role in oncology. If used properly, And I know there’ll be some learning curves there. Probably the last one I’ll ever read back in will be goats. And, you know, same thing was sheep. I’m not I’m not prepared because of the a predator load around here. I’m just not prepared to deal with that dogs and stuff. So we’ll just take it as it comes.

Most important is gonna be focusing on the matching the stocking rate of my grass finishing beef, cattle to my forage base. I’m well away under stocked right now. Dallas Mount and I sat down because they’re willing to do that with you at the ranch for profit. I have the capacity to run a number of animals. On this farm and I just Where is that economy of scale? Where does it match up properly with my pasture paddock sizes? That’s what we’re gonna see, but we doubled our numbers from last year and I suspect we’ll probably do that next year. We’ll just double it and we’ll just keep seeing how that goes. But very good, Jared. I’m I’m side about your journey there and what you have happening.

And Jared, it’s time for us to transition into our famous four questions Four, same four questions we ask of all of our guests. I hope you’ve studied. A little, I’ve heard all your podcasts. The first question, what’s your favorite grazing grass related book or resource? And you’ve mentioned a ton already. You know, that the book nourishment and more importantly just Fred himself and what he represents as a research. He’s an amazing guy. If you ever get a chance to meet him, he’s one of those people in this industry who’s got every reason to be an egotistical guy, and he’s not. He’s just the opposite. Oh, weird. And there’s there are plenty of egos in our in our deal. But I had to say that one of the first books that got me to where I am is the holistic management, Allen Savory, stuff. Yes. Just completely shook my program about what I was doing and how I went about it. So I think somebody should read that book probably first.

Holistic measurements kind of a deep deep subject that it is. It’s been around for a long time, controversial in some circles, but just people let down their resistance, their pride a little bit, and just think about it. It’s it definitely can help you, I think, access all the other information you’re gonna get and put it in the right place. Oh, very good. Very good. What tool could you not live without on your form? This pair of pliers is a wild number seven. Well, channel lock. My cousin got me this pair of pliers, I don’t know, two thousand tandy work for me? I use those things more than the there’s only one other tool that I use probably more often. That’s myself. Oh, yeah. Okay. I’ll so those Those are my two tools, one real tool, and one, I’m not sure whether it’s a curse or a blessing. But that cellphone is probably number two.

And I totally get that, you know, in in some ways it’s so wonderful and other ways it’s distracting from your overall goal. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were getting started? Or what would you tell someone just getting started? Primarily something my wife tells me all the time is that perfect is the enemy of good. I have put off doing so many things in life in farming because I didn’t think I could do it well enough And Joel Salison always, I guess, he learned from his dad or something that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing wrong at first or something like that And that’s so contrarian to my instinct, but it’s so right. When I make mistakes, they are just learning processes.

So If somebody started out, they’d you know, some people probably are need the opposite advice they need to think about a few things. Before they jump in. Right. I somebody like me, these are the opposite advice. They need to get after it, take some chances. Don’t wait until your getting gray hair to do it. So that’s one of the things in another philosophy that’s just been something I wish I had told myself from the beginning was that I need to focus on what I want, not what I don’t want.

Dave Brown talks about this. Getting out there and trying to think every morning about what I’m gonna kill in my farm, which has been many times. What I’m out there doing. What am I gonna spray off today? Instead, I need to focus on what I want. And because I never won those world those war on the weeds. I might wanna battle it. It was winning. So when I started focusing on just forget about it, Heel will just go forward on what you want on the land. It’s healing itself, and I just need to get out of the way. So that is that’s what I would tell a young me. Excellent advice, Jared.

And lastly, Jared, where can others find out more about you? My brand is plus lazy k. And so we have a website pluslazyk.com. One of my poor marketing things. I have an Instagram even plus lazy k and I’ve been told gotta get on the social media. I’m terrible at it. It’s not that I don’t mind I like sharing stuff, but I don’t get into that too much. But I I’m trying And so we have that Brayskart website that’s gonna be coming up that you can link through plus lazy k. I think it’s called Rivendell Beef. And my bigger farm business is called Rivendell Farms. Rivendell Farms dot c o, which is the address we were left with. So Those are the probably the ways and people can and reach out to my email address. It’s just jared at plus lazy k dot com. And so that’s probably how people can reach out to me. I’m not Not sure they’d have any reason to. Maybe if they have some advice for me, but I’m always willing to listen.

So well, Jared, we really appreciate you coming on. And sharing about your journey and what you’re doing. I’ve enjoyed it, and I know our listeners will enjoy it and find value in it. So thank you. Kail, I appreciate you having me on. I’ve been I’ve listened to you as good to meet you at digitally if if nothing else and hopefully down the road, I’ll get to meet you in person sometime. You’re listening to the grazing grass podcast, helping grass farmers learn from grass farmers. And every episode features a grass farmer. And their operation. You can find a grazing grass podcast on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And we encourage you to share our post. Are you a grass farmer? Would you like to share on the podcast about your journey? And what you’re doing on your farm? Go to grazinggrass.com and click on the b r guest link. We are looking for grass farmers. Until next time, keep on grazing grass.

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