e50. Exploring the Power of Regenerative Ranching and Agro-tourism in California with Dana Wilson

In this episode, we dive into the world of rotational grazing, land management, and sustainable farming practices on a California ranch. We explore the journey of Dana Wilson and her family as they manage their forty-acre property with Highland cattle, meat goats, chickens, and ducks. We discuss the importance of water management and the challenges of managing different sized animals with electric fencing. We also talk about the benefits of goats and Highland cattle in browsing and land management, as well as the potential of agro-tourism as a way to diversify income streams and promote sustainable farming practices. Join us as we learn from Dana’s experiences and insights in land management and livestock care, and explore the opportunities and challenges faced in providing grass-finished vintage beef and goat meat to a diverse market in California.

Books/Resources Mentioned:


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

Dana, we wanna welcome you to the grazing grass podcast. We are excited you’re here today. I am thrilled to be here. Thank you. First of all, thank you for putting the pod guests out there because I have learned so much, and thank you for bringing me on. Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

Dana, can you tell us a little bit about you in your operation? Absolutely. I love to tell the story because for me it’s a dream come true. My parents myself and my partner and our four children are all working together to run this ranch. And that to me, that’s it. What else could you ask for? Yes.

My parents were able to purchased the property that we’re on, which is about forty acres, last May, so May twenty twenty two. And we are taking it kind of out of a continuous grazing situation where there was a herd of Highland cattle here. And we basically inherited those cattle and thought, well, okay, well, what are we gonna do with them? We didn’t really understand what to do with the cattle and realized though that they are a fantastic fire abatement process for us. So we left them, and I had researched a whole lot about rotational grazing even prior to this purchase. And so now we’ve got pilot cattle. We’ve got meat goats. We’ve got some chicken. We’ve got ducks. And my whole family is just really enjoying running the full process. Yes.

You have a beautiful place. You have a a YouTube video on your website. I watched earlier. It’s it’s just beautiful there. It really is. It’s it’s like paradise. You know, it’s a bonafide silver pasture. So we’ve got rolling grassy Knowles with Oak Forest kind of dotted throughout. And the high absolutely enjoyed being in the forest side of the goats.

Now you mentioned you had read about rotational grazing or adaptive grazing before purchasing the lands. So did you all purchase the land with some of this in mind? You know, we had originally searched for property for my daughter. There was seventy so that she could run her force training business. And we found a game down the dirt road, drawn the corner, and went, oh, the light didn’t it. We have to have it. And it didn’t actually fit what we wanted for her, but it’s working out. We she will be running her for training sincere in the future, she’s off to college now or soon to be off to college. And when she returns, be able to do a very horse business here. And in the meantime, now I am able to practice my rotation on grazing and turn out some what I think is going to be really high quality neat product. Oh, yes. Well, very good. That sounds really exciting for her as well as you. Yeah. She’s looking forward to it. And I can’t wait to build or, you know, kind of a legacy for her to come back to to be able to run her business And where are you located?

So we’re actually in, you know, Northern California a little bit. About the need hour and a half in Northeast Sacramento. Not quite to the foothills, but not down in the central valley. Either. So we’re about seven hundred foot elevation. And right now, it’s wintertime. And I mean, I understand that it’s a California winter. So we’re not really there’s no snow, but we’re definitely sealing, you know, the rain. It’s it’s a good winter this year. I’m looking forward to what spring and summer are gonna look like as far as grass, but we’re we’re definitely getting through this this winter mostly keeping everybody alive and here’s a note, don’t kid in the wintertime.

Oh, yeah. It’s not great. Even a California winner? You know, I mean, our goats are California goats. And so therefore, when it drops down to twenty eight, they say, hey, wait a minute. This is chili. Let’s not do this. The cattle on the other hand have no problem with it. They’ve been out here for years. I think they’re enjoying the the wet and the rain. Oh, yes.

So tell us a little bit more about your environment there. What kind of weather are you experiencing in early March? In early March. Right now, we’re getting down to a heavy low would be like twenty eight. That’s that’s pushing, you know, that’s really cold for us. And then our days are a really nice day is all the way up to sixty, sixty two. So it’s pretty ideal. I mean, I realize that. Yes. Our animals are they’re doing well. They really are. We had a doubt that kidded just a couple days ago. And so, you know, she’s a little bit cold, but she’ll make it. Oh, yes. Yes. And have you all been getting a lot of rain? We really have. Thank goodness. I mean, California is always you didn’t drop. Right? Oh, yes.

And now we are starting to get our reservoirs back and we’re starting to to see the kind of rain and we would need to see over a number of years to actually sustain situation. We’re not in a drought. However, one season is not gonna bring us all the way out, especially with all of the desertifying land that we I mean, the whole central valley is is it’s really hurting in terms of what it can sustain and what what sort of moisture it can actually hold and one season of rain is not gonna cover it. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It takes any type of drought just takes so long to recover from. We have not experienced the type of drought you all have had out there, but we’re we’re starting to get our water tables back in shape but our grasses will still take in that head and will take a while to recover from it. Yeah. It really does, especially when if your pasture land is not regenerated. If it’s not in good working order to begin with, you’re not going to see take all of the moisture that fall out of the sky, it’s just gonna run off. Right. That’s excellent point there. You know, the more ground cover you have, the more grass or more water you’re holding onto.

And as we look at your virtual tour of your ranch, you’ve got some slow there. We do, actually. We go from about seven hundred feet elevation to up to about nine hundred feet. And there’s couple plateaus in between, which is really nice. But, yeah, there’s it’s it’s constantly running downhill. And we do have a stream at the bottom, and so we try to stop it from running downhill into the stream and over to the neighbor. So you know, that’s what part of the the urgency for the rotational grazing that we’re doing with the cattle and also with goats. We move our goats around as well, is to to make that pasture, hold on. You know, hold on make the living route, grab that water, and really hold on to it.

Now I’m talking about your rotational grazing. You all got to place last May — Yeah. — and they had to highland cattle, and they were continuously grazed at that time. Yeah. So did you go ahead and start doing some rotational grazing last year? I sure did. I kinda have a big picture thinker, and then sometimes get stuck in the details at the same time. So it’s forty acres. And I said, okay. Well, we’re going to divide it into forty pastures, which is quite a a large task to take on concerning. Undertaking wasn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. It was does.

Now, luckily, the previous owner had quite a bit of material here that he was already working with. He did have some polybraid wire. He had a couple of chargers, solar chargers. I don’t even know what model they were, but they were here, and so I’m a big fan of use what you got. Yes. And especially if it was not something you had to buy, there was a whole bunch of t posts here. So I just started putting keepos down and kind of did kind of a wagon wheel. I put my put basically the ideas I put my daughter’s equine facility in the middle. And then I ran a wagon wheel all the way around it so that no matter where we were at, we could bring the cattle in, work them if we needed to, and the water is all right there kinda in the middle. Oh, okay.

The water situation is fantastic. We’ve got a couple of different wells here, and each one produces about sixty gallons per minute. And for those of us that didn’t know what that meant, that’s basically a fire hose everywhere we go on property. Oh, yes. So our our water is beautiful. So no matter where I go, I’ve got plenty. That is wonderful because you can get all the poly braid and fencing if you want use reels. Get that all going, but water’s a limiting factor so often. Well, it sure is.

I mean, you put your animals out in a pasture and they have nothing to drink. They’re not gonna stay there? Yeah. You’re right. Yes. So you’re able to water basically in the central area? It’s pretty easy for us to put kind of a a stock tank in every pasture — Oh, yes. — and just and just pipe water directly right to it even through a hose. So is that how you’ve been doing it? You do you have a watering trough you move with each move, or do you have permanent ones setup. I have a couple permanent ones. And then if we get our cows back out into a pasture, you know, if I’ve taken one of our pastures and I’ve divided it in half and put them in the back, I can drag a water trough out to them in a hose and we’re good to go.

Now you mentioned some of those materials were there when you all purchased it. So were the cows used to electric fence at that point? Kind ofs. They were used to being fenced out of areas. So they had all forty acres except the previous owner, he actually grew marijuana here. So cannabis, I guess, is what we’re calling it these days. And so he venced them out of those specific garden areas. So they were kind of broke, but they weren’t entirely broke to being fenced in. So that was a little bit of a learning process for them, and we had two different sized animals. We have the bowl in the cows, one bowl of four cows, and then we had four calves. And so the the calves are much smaller.

And I can’t just run one wire. Yes. I’ve gotta run at least at least two. And the ground out here, especially during the summertime, it gets very dry. You know, we’re in the summertime, we’re pushing a hundred and ten So we dry out kinda like a bone. And unless you have a gigantic ground rod system set up, then your fences are not very hot.

So I had to learn about positive negative fence, positive fence. And that’s something saved saved our our pastors because I could I could control my animals better depositing So so you’ve got some navy blinds ran as well as positive blinds? I do know. So hot blinds and a ground line? Yeah. So basically the way we set it up is your Energizer, you have a a positive line comes out and grabs onto one poly wire, and your negative return line rubs onto the other. And then instead of causing the animal to complete the circuit by standing on the ground, your animal such as both of those lines, and they they don’t wanna do that again. Right. Yeah. And it’s independent of the moisture in the ground. Which for us is it’s necessary. Right. So is that how you’re planning on doing all your fences? I think probably, yeah. Or do you have a ground rod for winter weather? I mean, I do I do have a ground rod in the ground.

Like I said, our animals are different sizes. So we we are kinda running a cow calf bull operation here. And so I think we’re going to maintain that positive negative. It just works really well and I have to run a couple lines anyway, so it works great. Oh, yeah. Very good. I’ve never used a fence like that, but I know especially when you’re considering sheep and goats, you come across that type of fencing more often. Definitely. And then for our goats, we use a net. Oh, yes. Which is it’s fantastic.

So on your your cattle, I’ve seen plenty of pictures of Highland cattle. And we’ve had past guest, Eli Mac, who’s on one of the early episodes. He’s beginning to highland cattle. They have more hair. So do you find they have a little bit more trouble getting shocked your Energizer has to be pretty hot for it to shock him? Or is that just a misnomer that I have in my mind? Typically, I’m trying to deliver a shock right to their nose? Yes. Which, of course, is clean wet. But if they do sideswipe it, then, yeah, I think I mean, if if I’m up above seven seven thousand then then we’re okay. If I had come down anywhere between three and four thousand, then then I they’re not feeling it quite as much. Yeah. In an ideal situation, they’re gonna explore defense with their nose, and then they’re not going to come back to it. Exactly. Although, you know, when their grays and they walk forward, they do sometimes hit it with kinda like their their withers area. Yes. So yeah. If they do have more hair it definitely could provide a little bit of a barrier for them.

I know with our our sheep, you know, they just have their hair sheep, but they’re their code is just a little fuller than maybe a goat. And my fence for them has to run really hot hot. And it has to run really hot for a goat too, but that’s just the goat’s personality. Oh, boy. Is it? Yes. They’re so they’re so much fun. Oh, I mean, I so I know so many people are very anti goat because of their personality and their their willingness to just get after whatever they’re doing. But their browsing capabilities are I mean, they’re amazing. As you look at your property with all your Oak Forest and other things, you have so much browse available for them. They’re an ideal animal for your site. They really are. And you know, it’s a little interesting. People I think maybe don’t know. Highland cattle will browse quite a bit as well. And they definitely what they won’t eat, they definitely will run over and use the horns.

We have a couple different type of pasture where we have oak forest. There’s big, tall, beautiful heritage looking like oak trees. And then we have this more of a bushy oak that comes through, and the highly cattle will go through. They won’t really necessarily browse leaves of the oak, although the goats will. But they will walk through it, stomp it down, rub their horns all over it, and they clear it out pretty well as well. I wonder, and this is me not knowing the answer to this. So it’s a wondering, you know, the Acorn Charma Oak has tannens in it. I wonder if the leaves have that as well because cattle are not a big fan of tannens. Yeah. They do a little bit goats love them. And we we have to be careful with the acorns. If we have a bumper year, then we have to be very careful that the cows are not bloating and because they love them. They’ll eat them.

And it can cause it can cause a prop and you mentioned earlier your wagon wheel setup, how often are you trying to move your cows through your paddocks? Oh, boy. Trying is the right word there, hon. There’s never a right answer. It changes for everything. Correct. So we haven’t yet experienced to full growing season. Mhmm. We’re just now into March. We’re starting to get green, but the weather’s still cold enough. We’re we’re not, you know, loading grasses aren’t going gangbusters right now. When that happens, we’ll be moving hopefully once a day. Right now, it’s probably more once every three is once every week. It just kinda depends.

As I said before, it’s a kind of a conglomeration of my parents helping and mom myself helping and our children. And so it really just depends on who’s here and who can monitor that those moves. And my parents love to do it, and I love for them to do it. But I also wanna make it easy for them. You know, they’re supposed to be retired. Yes. But they they’ve moved to the country, which, of course, is the that have been retired. And so I if I can get the paddocks set up in advance, then they can just open a line and then the cows move through who didn’t close the line and they’re they’re good to go. I understand that and I get that because like I wanna do daily rotations, but to be honest, most of the time I don’t get daily rotations done because the time constraints for me So I try to set up paddocks on the weekend, so it’s easy for me during the week.

And then that that depends upon the amount of time I have on the weekend as well. I usually have enough time, but it just takes some time to get all that going and then to make it easier for you when you’re rushed or someone else doing it? Exactly. And so during this non growing season, I’ve tried to put in some not permanent infrastructure. It’s kinda semi permanent. You know, I’ve got t post laid out in this wagon wheel, so I can just run polyibrate through it with the insulators And so that setup is a lot less time consuming than running, you know, actually slamming down your glucose and setting up your insulators and putting the Polyibrate on So we’ve got some semi permanent infrastructure. And, you know, I think that’s actually a really good point too is that until you know what you’re really doing, don’t put up permanent infrastructure. Right? It would have been terrible if I had come in the first month and spent thousands of dollars on real fences because I didn’t know where the real fences needed to be. Right. Right? Yes. That’s a very good point to and Polywire gives you that or Polybrig gives you that great opportunity to test out how you want things laid out.

One property I have that’s leased, that’s eighty acres. I went in and ran a high tensile wire down the middle of it to divide it lungways. And it makes it real easy for me to make breaks or paddocks in there and I can set up a whole bunch and then I’m just taking down fence and I usually don’t put a back fence because I’ve only got two watering points on there. So I need cattle to be able to go back to water. But I am strongly considering going in and changing my high tensile fence, which is not difficult. It’s just one wire on some fiberglass posts. But it’s still like I go in and do it. Had I gone in there and did a permanent fence, then I’d be like, that’s not getting changed? No. Absolutely not. Yeah. Yeah. And I and I like to think I know a little bit and I don’t, but I like to think so. Yeah. And and even with the high tensile, there is the ability to change and adapt. I mean, that’s the whole point to we’re trying to do here is adapt to — Yes. — the pasture to the animals, to the market, to to everything.

And I think that sometimes rantors in general get kind of this maybe not it’s not that we’re uneducated. It’s just maybe we’re not a high level of education as far as the the view. Right? But I I think that it’s important for us to educate the consumer about what it really takes to do it right. You know, there’s there’s a lot of education and thought process and knowledge of microbes and knowledge of macroflora and macro font, and it all has to come together. Just right. There is a huge amount of knowledge there.

And, you know, anytime I read something or gain a little bit of knowledge, I’m just reminded by how much I don’t know. But I grew up on a farm and of course I have some conventional knowledge behind me, but we have so many people not growing up on a farm and and we’re multiple generations away from that. No longer are the kids able to go, well, my grandparents have a farm. So the disconnect is great there and that requires education on to the public to understand what going on out here and what we’re doing? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I find that, especially in California, you know, we have such a major push for higher education, which is fantastic. And the Silicon Valley is booming and as much as it can be right now post pandemic.

But we are definitely removed as a group here as a, you know, from the San Francisco Bay area down to LA, were definitely removed from the country and what it takes to actually put food on your plate. So many don’t understand how the hamburger got there or how the piece of chicken got there. They just don’t know. And I think that people like you and I think it’s very important that we open our doors and we bring the public out and we give them an opportunity to understand that you know, yes, a hamburger is part of a cow, and it landed on your plate, but I cared about that cow. Yes. And and I took all of my knowledge and I made it so that the life that it lived was as happy as it could be. The environment that it lived on was as pristine as possible and that the connection between that cow and that person’s plate actually did some good.

And I think we get into this the area, especially out here in California. We are told that we have to do less bad. And I’m proposing that thought process puts us into a very anxiety driven state. And I would like to propose that we do more good. And voting with your, you know, your actual vote on politicians and whatnot that’s You can do that. Yes. But voting with your dollar, you really can understand where your products come from, where your nutrition comes from, and you can do more good with how you’re you’re purchasing that. And and that’s a great segue into we haven’t covered goats and stuff, but you are working towards some agro tourism. Definitely. I’m Obviously, you know all of us are trying to put multiple enterprises onto our programs so that we can be very profitable and leave a legacy for our kids. Right? And for the environment and for the community and for everybody.

Whenever I’m making a decision here on Chantelle Ranch, I try to cover this concept of a win win win win and no loser decision. So usually, Tham will obviously have to win. Right? I have to win. So it’s gotta be profitable. The consumer has to win. My local environment, my actual property has to win or wherever the animals are, and the greater community has to win. So there has to be a whole bunch of winners and there has to be no losers. So when I open my doors and I bring agro tourism here, it’s one of those enterprises that allows everybody to really really take inventory of where they’re at, what they’re doing, what sort of choices they’re able to make with their dollar and everybody gets to win. So when I bring someone out here, you know, the animals win, the environment, etcetera, etcetera, and nobody loses. And that’s one of the things as we add enterprises, that we are definitely putting into our holistic context. Very good.

And I’d like to talk a little bit more about what you have planned there, but I don’t wanna forget your goats, and I wanna talk about for you just a little bit. So let’s let’s go ahead and cover a little bit about your goats. We’ll talk about for ages and we’ll come back to agro tourism if you don’t mind. Sounds good. So your goats, you’ve got meat meat goats. Did you go with a certain breed, or how did you pick what you wanted? Kindas.

We have boars and we have alpines. And so now we have boar alpine crosses. Oh, yes. I really like boar for the arcus weight. Mhmm. And I really like alpine for their hardiness and their ability to just get up into wherever it is that they’re browsing. I mean, they will stamp their hindquarters without support and they will eat above my head. So, you know, if you’re thinking about clearing forest, if you’re thinking about clearing brambles, I mean, they’re they got it. Where the boars are a little bit more focused on grazing? Yes. Yeah. And I can see that. And you’re moving those with netting. Correct? Yeah.

Those guys stay in our net for two reasons. One, don’t jump out of it, which is great. But also, we need to protect them from predators. We have pretty pretty solid predator pressure here. We’re facing everything from Bobcat all the way to Coyote, to Hoover, to even bear. Now I don’t know if there will keep anybody out of anything, but definitely until this point we’ve got a lot of really good units with the netting.

Do you have any Guardian animals with the goats as well? We do not. Guardian animals and out I have cattle dog — Yes. — and he’s king over here. And so if I bring a guardian dog, I don’t know how gonna work out. Oh. And and because I don’t have any guardian dogs, I am unsure of bringing on a puppy and and spending the time that takes to train. And so at this moment, we’re just using the netting. And that’s worked fairly well for you? It’s worked great. I see how my dog responds to the net, and he likes he would love to put a lot of pressure on those goats and and herd them. And he is very respectful of that netting because it’s got him a couple times and he doesn’t want anything to do with it.

So a little bit on your netting, What type of netting are you using? How long is it? Are you using multiple pieces to build a paddock? Yeah. We usually do. It’s an electro stop. And I bought it at can you believe I have a local electric fence store? Oh, yes. It’s amazing, LiveWire. They’re right around the corner from us, and the people there are fantastic, so I can actually go and stand in a store. Talk to people and then purchase product there. It’s fantastic. So it’s electrostop net, and then we have a we have a couple different chargers. That we use for it. And I usually, what I’ll do is I’ll take up to four strings of net, which are a hundred and sixty four feet long and put them all together. Oh, yeah. So I can do big paddocks. I can do little paddocks. Our goats tend to, like, four of them together. Oh, yes. We’re good.

And you talked about earlier you’ve got goats kitting. So you also mentioned winter kitting. So are you thinking in the future, you may change that up some. Oh, definitely. Absolutely. This is one of those things. Oh, if I had only known when. Oh, yes. We we’ve got a buck that we would have pulled for sure about seven months ago. Because having kids, we had November kids, we had December kids, and now we’ve got March first kids.

And I didn’t like any of it. Oh, yeah. I would I would much have preferred them to be out in pasture with no concern of rain and no temperatures below. Fifty and but again, I realized we’re in California. So what am I complaining? No. Yes. But but I completely understand And I know everyone’s got a a cabin season or a landing season, a kitting season for whatever their market is, whatever their environment is. Not to pick on my neighbor right now, but we’re we’re in that transition from winter to to spring. I’m forty five days out from Kevin. So I am completely confident the weather will be really nice and lots of grass.

Right now, the grass is just getting started. It it’s green, but it’s it’s just barely getting started. We’re not quite warm enough for anything. We’re getting a fair amount of rain, so it’s kinda wet. And other night, I was home and they were out driving a Cali and that was Kevin. I was like, oh, I’m so glad I’m not doing this. It’s kinda chilly. I was just happy at that point. Of course, they have a different market to deny. So if they wanna cab right now, that’s that’s their choice. But I’m glad I wasn’t.

Howard Bauchner: Right. And, you know, I think that leads me to the concept of cascading decisions and outcomes. You’ve decided to calf when it’s appropriate for you. And that means that right now, you’re sitting inside where it’s nice and warm, your cows holding onto those babies, keeping them nice and toasty, and you’ve got lots of positives outcomes that came from that decision. Yes. I think that’s very important. Yes. And and I don’t wanna people believe I came to that decision very quickly. It took me a while. With my goats too and sheep because one year as as much as I’ve read and as many people as I’ve talked to, One year, I think it was the year before I started the podcast. I decided I was going to lamb right middle winner and We did that in a barn. It was way too much work, very unfavorable conditions, and that was the last time that’s gonna happen. Yeah.

I think it’s important to learn from those experiences and and to be checked in with yourself enough to say, okay, the way I’m feeling right now is not good. So let’s make decisions in the future that prevents me from feeling this way. You know, if I’m worried about the kids. Well, let’s fix it so that I don’t have to worry about them because it’s going to be a much better situation later. Howard Bauchner: Right. As we talked about earlier, we’re all busy. We’ve all got too much on our plate or even our platter. So we wanna minimize things that that are like that that causes you to to be so worried about that. You can’t focus on everything else. That’s right. I’m sure that could have been worded better, but that’s where I was going. No. I I like the platter wording. Right? Because it you’re right. It’s not just a play. It never is. It’s a platter. It’s an entire community. It’s an entire family.

So beyond the goats, you have chickens as well. Are they are they getting to free range? Are you moving them? Or do you have them in a in a set pen? They’re kind of just our personal chickens. There’s also three ducks. Don’t ask me how we got ducks. I don’t know. Yeah. I think I got them from my kids or something, but I did find out that I absolutely love duck egg. Oh, yes. Or duck eggs? Yes. Doolicious. If you’ve never had it, please try it. It’s fantastic.

Well, I just had a conversation about duck eggs this week. At a local farm stores, a couple in there were buying chips. And I tell them they need to buy more, and they said, oh, we have some. They’re like, we can’t afford I’ve got a few kids. We can’t afford by eggs, so this works. So we’ve got eggs, and we also eat duck eggs. I said, they said, we love duck eggs. I said, well, I’ve had duck eggs a few times, but I can’t quite convince my wife that it’d be fine. And I their suggestion was just mix a duck egg in every once in a while. So it’s very important that my wife does not edit this episode now. Oh, dear. Yep. Mix a duck egg in. It it really is I mean, you can you can do some research also on nutritional content.

Obviously what they eat is a factor. But I do think that there’s some information out there that suggests that duck eggs have a lot more calories and and potential for nutrient dense. Yeah. I I Plus, they they just are delicious. I mean, they they really are. And it and it happened for me. I I didn’t realize that my ducks were laying eggs and I made an egg and ate it what wait a minute. This is different. It was hard boiled egg, so I hadn’t cracked it open yet. So when I cracked it open, I ate it and it was absolutely delicious. I’m sold now.

I don’t even know why we have chickens anymore. And so as far as where they go, we do have a barn. Right? It’s not really barn it’s really just a cover. They can come in outside of the weather and get in, in the evenings, if they want. And, yeah, they’re actually out in the forest. They they have to go out. Both the chickens and the ducks, they all go in eat whatever they’re eating out there and bring it bring it back and put it in the eggs. It’s fantastic. I will say this though, are three ducks outlay are eleven laying hands. Oh, yes. Okay.

As a person that’s always interested in what breeds Do you know what breeds of chickens and ducks you have? The chickens are there’s some orpingtons. There’s cornish grass, I think. And then our ducks are peaking and Indian runner duck. Oh, okay. Very interesting. I’m not familiar with duck breeds except I want some magpie ducks because I think they’re pretty bad. Gorgeous. They they are and they’re really difficult to find eggs for. Yeah. They’re they’re not just available everywhere. So one of these days, I plan on getting some. It might be a good enterprise for you. There we go. Yes. And my wife would say, Ari, have too many, but we won’t question that. Yeah. We always have too many. Yes. Okay.

When we talk about your civil pastor and your forages there, are you planting or broadcasting any seeds, your just managing for the forages already in place? And what are you looking for there? Yeah. That was that’s something that is always on my mind. We have not planted anything.

At this moment, I’m just trying to see what’s coming up in the growing season. In May, I was able to recognize lots of different clovers. I’ve got red clover, crimson clover, white clover, all kinds of clovers. I’ve got some rye, I have some annual rye, but I also have some perennial rye. And there’s a bunch of different grasses that are come and do you know, they’re they’re turning green in all different seasons. So I kinda wanna just leave it alone. Oh, yeah. See what happens. We definitely do have some unnotables of things that we don’t want. You know, I’ve got star thistle and milk thistle. So hopefully, we can either stomp those out or graze them out with the goats. It remains to be seen whether any of our grazing animals will touch the thistle. And at what stage in its life. I’m I’m not sure yet. So we’ll see.

And always on those, your seed bank is going to provide you lots of different species. So — Yeah. — I think it’s great to kinda take a wait and see approach and see what you have. And then start learning about him to manage from that viewpoint rather than immediately coming in and overseating with. Right. Something.

If you’ve taken the tour, you can kind of tell that there’s really nowhere on the property where I could drill anything that that that I don’t have the past that I can actually run equipment in. And so I would have to broadcast and let, you know, flip and mouth put it onto the ground. And I may do that, but, like, I like to wait and see. One, I don’t have to buy seed. Right. Right. So that’s great. Yes. And two is if I can just encourage local, whatever’s here, whether it is native or improved, you know, quote unquote, improved, If I can just let it do its thing, then that would probably be the best. Yes. And my cows are very used to this flora. And so they they’re very comfortable eating without hair. So why would I change anything? Right. Right. If it’s working, let’s just continue with it. Yeah. I mean, I understand changing the the set stocking density and moving moving them through the pasture better, but let’s I think we’re gonna hold off on on seeding anything. Oh, yes. Yeah.

And what’s your plan with your goats and your cattle in that how are you planning on marketing them? Are you planning on carrying them? Until you can finish them and sell them as a processed meat or what’s what’s your overall goal with that? You know, that’s an interesting question as well because when we first arrived, here we had cows and they’re aged cows. They are probably anywhere from ten to fifteen years old. Now, Highland cattle produce a little longer in their life time that they can produce it all the way up to twenty, you know. So now in my mind, you know, in in every maybe not every, but most Cattle ranchers minds, you’re looking for steer and you’re looking for twenty months, you know, as a finished product.

So here I had not that — Yes. — and trying to figure out what to do about it. And and do I really want to maintain these counts? And I look at things, if something presents to me as a problem, I try to take that problem and make it the solution. So with my older cows, now I realize I have vintage beef. So I have aged cow, in in a lot of circles, that is brine. I mean, it’s just fanta as long as it’s finished correctly, it is fantastic meat. And now here we go with my win win win win and no loser solution. My cows live a beautiful long life on this property, which is fantastic. Amazing. Right? And they get to produce lots of calves for me. And at the end of their life, when they’re no longer producing then I can honor them by providing a beautiful steak, a beautiful product from a really, you know, quote unquote, happy cow, happy life in California. Yes. So really, it became what I thought was a problem to begin with. It has really become a beautiful solution.

So we will be offering grass finished vintage beasts. We will also have, you know, the our steer, we will offer them as grass finished as well. So with our improved pasture here, I’m thinking that we’ll be able to go ahead and finish them out somewhere in October and and how’s a good product? And with your meat goats, what are you thinking with those? Same thing. Right now, I am trying to build my herd. And so all the doze I’m keeping, all the bucklings unless they really look like a breeding prospect. They become wearers and they will be our product for the moment. I’ve got a couple that are coming and Now being in California, we have kind of a different demographic than most of the country.

We have very strong ethnic groups here that really want fresh goat meat. They don’t want it to be frozen? Well, that was my next question. Was how’s the market for goat meat there? Yeah. It’s actually quite good. I have connections to the Bay Area, and there is a large market solar fresh, not ever frozen goat meat. So it will be a it won’t be a a male delivery. I’ll actually take it and have pickup locations. And I already it it’ll start out as a grassroots marketing component. I already have people who are, like, wait, when are you ready? Let’s go And with that, you mentioned fresh, so you’re not freezing. They don’t that the groups that are interested in it are not wanting it frozen? They really do not want it frozen. There is a frozen goat meat on the market. And it’s not cheap. It’s it’s quite a bit per pound. Oh, yes. And and it is getting sold, but there are markets near my bay area locations where they they really are just hoping that someone can fill the fresh meat section.

I know for here are market for goat. At least here on my farm has increased of late a little bit. It’s mainly people not from here that’s interested in it. But, yeah, I’m seeing a small change in that, which is good. Yeah. I’m I’m very lucky to be so close to the Bay Area and, you know, the culture diversity is just astounding. Oh, yes. And so I there there’s ethic groups on all different fronts that are interested in something other than beef. But also, there’s lots and lots of people who are very interested in beef. And many of the consumers are very focused on climate change, you know, regardless of how we all feel about it. They are very interested and what we are doing is productive and positive. And so they’re able, you know, again, win win win net losers? Yes.

One thing I wanna bring up there, I expect that when I’m talking to someone from California, Sometimes whenever I’m talking to people locally in Oklahoma, I don’t expect to come across as frequently. But even on the land I lease, one property I have leased I have leased only because of the way I manage the land. And that’s that’s a change that has happened over time because years ago, that was never in the discussion how you managed it. You just put cattle out there and you let it be, but I have one property In fact, when I approached him originally, he’s like, no. I’m not interested in leasing. But then once we got to know each Aaron built relationship there. And he saw how I was managing pastors. He’s like, I would be interested in letting me at least it. So I see some changing viewpoints here even. Yeah. Absolutely. And, you know, that’s a combination of the consumer being more educated. But that that is not really a consumer. That is a landowner. You know? Right. Right. It’s not a consumer. It’s a landowner. Yeah. And and if the consumer is a little more educated, then hopefully that will translate over to landowner and then, you know, everybody is benefiting from this thought process that we’re headed down.

And before we go ahead and move to your agritourism, what’s your plans as you look towards the next five years any new species or just continuing holding your skills? What’s your thoughts on that? Yeah. Again, I’m a big picture thinker. So I really do. I want my hands in the entire supply chain. It has been very difficult for us to find USDA certified harvesters. That is not something that’s easy. I mean, I understand that’s true across the country. And for me, I want to know what’s happening at every single stage, and I wanna be able to put my name on every stage of this process. So from from kidding in the winter, which is a no go, to actually, you know, the the harvesting, the processing, the butchering, I want to be able to control all of that. So long long term vision, I really would like to develop an entire chain where we can allow other regenerative rangers to maybe coop a soldering facility, maybe be part of a you know, a hub where we can all work together.

Now, personally, for this specific property, I’ve got in my mind, I have a seventy five percent increase in herd year over year. That’s that’s my goal. And I would like to do it. Without adding inputs to property. So I don’t want to irrigate, although we do do some of that in in the heavy summer time. Hundred and ten degrees, there’s not a lot of grasses that can withstand that. So we do do irrigation in the summertime, but I would like to limit that as much as possible. So increase our herd sizes of goat and cattle and also decrease our inputs. Sounds like great goals there and a nice big picture for you to work towards. Yeah. I I definitely like the big picture.

And fifteen back to your agritories, and what’s your plans with that? So I would like to have a couple of very nice tents set up where people can come and stay, kind of like an Airbnb, stay in the tents, so like a farm stay. And Right now, I don’t have that set up, but people can come and see me. I have a workday ticket. You can come and pay twenty five dollars, and I will put you to work. Oh, that’s excellent. How about that? Right? And — Yes. — really what that means is that, you know, I’ll I’ll show you what our process is? How are we building pasture? How are we moving animals? Why are we doing it? You know, I’ll just tell you everything. So that’s the transparency that I would like for all of our producers, you know, all of people like us, you know, open up and let these let the consumer come in, let the people who are interested in this. And also feel like there’s it’s really important to be able to day or this beautiful life that we have with people who don’t have it? Oh, yes. You know, I would say ninety nine percent of my friends and family don’t have a ranch. So if I can open up my ranch and give them and their kids an opportunity come play with the baby goat, to come take a picture with the Highland cow, to, you know, watch my dog work the animals, and I have that horses here. And so Building that relationship will really help with long term customers and just the education of them. Absolutely. Dana, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation.

But it’s about time we move on to our famous four questions. Same four questions. We ask of all of our guests, fabulous. Our first question What is your favorite grazing grass related book or resource? Okay. So holistic management by Allan Avery, you know, the Doddfather. Again, with the big picture thinking, that book spoke to me on so many levels and really help me understand to define what is the full Who who am I managing here? Because I’m, you know, I’m stuck in the middle here where I’m the child but I’m also the parent and I’m the business owner and I’m in charge. And in order to be a good leader, I have to understand what it is that aren’t managing, whether it’s the animals or the pastor, the people, or the environment, or all of it. And sometimes I can get overwhelming? Yes. But that book really does a great job of helping you to get through all you, you know, read it. Fantastic. Excellent choice there.

What tool could you not live without on your farm? No. There’s a seo. So we’ll do this. My ATV, I, you know, can carry TBOS, but I’m just a little thing. So my ATB does most of the work for me. I use a really good pair of gloves. I like the heritage brand and Audible.

This is where I’ve learned so much and I drive to and from the property and I, you know, I’ve got a a bit of a commute here. So I have taken in lots of books, lots of podcasts, and I hadn’t I used all of the for that? You know, just continuing on that. I’m I’m a big proponent of podcast. I obviously, Great. I don’t listen to too many books, and I was actually I purchased a a book earlier today that I’d beta getting a audiobook on because I was thinking, Maybe I should try that. I don’t know why. I haven’t ever done a audiobook. I just haven’t. So I don’t know. I’m I’m considering audiobooks, and maybe I should try that angle as well.

I highly recommend it if you have any sort of commute and driving that you’re doing, let it be productive. Let it be a win win. And if you’re doing dishes, if you are whatever it is that you’re doing, if you can hear what’s happening, if you can dedicate your ears to something. I with, you know, three three and a half four kids and a business and I’ll you know, I I don’t often have time to sit down and read, but I do drive Yes. And I love for that time to be productive. So I I I definitely recommend it. Yeah.

I may have to add that to my toolbox because I know when I’m I commute between sites for my job, which they’re really short commutes, but I listen my podcast and I make it through I I have a weekly selection, but there’s days I’m like, I don’t wanna listen to that. Podcast today or that topic or something. So mixing some audio books in it might be a good change up once in a while. Yeah. It definitely provides, you know, you’ve got six to eight hours in an audiobook where a podcast that’s usually about an hour and — Yes. — you can kinda get really drawn in to a book. And your information that you’re receiving isn’t isn’t much deeper than that. It is. You know, holistic management is on audio book. Yeah. And so you can really listen to the whole book. And there’s so many others that are really, really the sectors for teaching you about this kind of regenerative agriculture lengths down? Yes. Very good.

Our third question, what do you know now that you wish you knew last year at this time. We kinda did touch on it already. The Bosnian Fence was huge. I was having cows were getting out, calves wouldn’t want that during because they would just, you know, just barely get touched by the electricity. So learning how to build a positing fence was fantastic. And and don’t get in in the winter. In the winter. Yes. And Dana, lastly, where can others find out more about you? I’m thinking that chantilly ranch dot com is probably the best location. You can reach me via an email there. You can watch videos. You can get through. I do a lot of videos on YouTube. And so if you go to YouTube and search for a Chantilly branch, you’ll find us. Wonderful. Wonderful. Dana, we wanna say thank you for coming on and sharing with us today. It’s always exciting to hear about someone’s journey, wherever they are, beginning decades in, wherever. So thank you. I appreciate it very much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *