e52. Adapting Ranching Practices for a Sustainable Future with Brian Alexander

In this episode, we dive deep into the world of ranching, exploring topics such as the evolution of ranching practices, managing drought risk, custom grazing, adapting cattle to changing environments, and marketing cow-calf operations direct to consumers. I speak with Brian, a rancher from South Central Kansas, about his journey and experiences in the industry. We touch upon the importance of preserving water resources, the use of solar wells, the benefits of Corriente cattle, and the value of connecting directly with consumers. We also discuss the potential of using platforms like Hipcamp and LandTrust to generate income from ranch properties and the importance of rural community outreach. Join us as we explore the ins and outs of ranching and the creative solutions ranchers must implement to ensure their business remains viable during difficult times.

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Welcome to The Grazing Grass podcast episode fifty two, make sure that they understand their market and who they’re selling to. 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. I’m your host, Cal Hardich. On today’s episode, we have Brian Alexander, The Red Hills rancher from the Ranting Reboot Podcast. We talk about his cattle, his land, what they’re doing there. And we go on a few tangents, I think you’ll enjoy. Then we also talk about hip, camp, and land trust. Before we end with the final four. So I think you’ll enjoy it.

Before we talk to Brian, let’s do ten seconds about my farm. And this weekend, I have a favorite task of you. We are in the middle. More towards the end of limey. We still have about twenty used to lamp. Otherwise, we’re wrapping it up.

But my question for you is how do you manage your use in lambs? During laming, we’ve done it a variety of ways. However, this year, I felt like we’ve had more orphan lambs than we usually do. So could you hop over to the grazing grass community and let me know how you manage your limbs and use. During landing. I’ll post more information about what we’re doing, and I’m open to suggestions as well as hearing about what you’re doing. But enough about me, let’s talk to Brian. Brian, we won’t welcome you to the grazing grass podcast. We’re excited you’re joining us. Well, thanks for having me here, Cal. It’s a, you know, unexpected pleasure to meet another podcaster and be invited to another show. It always is, I I enjoy talking to other podcasters find out where their their pain points are and their successes. You know, we’re all in this with a common goal Brian tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation?

Well, I’m forty four. I live in South Central Kansas, Southwest Kansas, a little place called Sun City. The ranch is about six miles south then by Deerhead. Been here pretty much my whole life. Dad got a hold of the upper Dad got a hold of the ranch and and took over operations in nineteen eighty four. So I kinda grew up out there on the ranch. I came I joined the Navy after high school and spent about eight and a half years in the Navy, moved back and decided that ranchiness kind of what I wanted to do. And that was in two thousand six, and I started I kinda went out on my own and started my grazing business in two thousand and eight and took over one cell of the ranch and ever since then just been taken over more and doing more and adding to what dad has done. Very good when we jumped back to your dad in nineteen year four and taking that over. Are you using the same practices he used? No. It’s it’s been a long evolution of practices.

So When he took it over in eighty four, he would describe it as a an overgraded under watered cedar forest with out any water, basically. And he he came into, let’s just say, operator ship of the ranch through a complex system of family estates. My grandmother was still alive at that time and that’s you know, through my grandmother, his mother is who he had kind of the the tide of land. And she had a little bit of money from maybe some oil or some, you know, the the estate settlement. And Instead of buying cows, he decided that he was gonna buy a cedar saw and cut all the trees on the ranch. Because he he figured he’d be wanted to see what he had so we could understand it. So he got this Cedarsoft from down gentleman named John Myers on Oakland, Oklahoma. And this was, like, nineteen eighty five, eighty six. I mean, not a very I mean, it was advanced for the time, but it was something a guy built in his shed. Okay. So there was a lot of development work on that machine, a lot of hours, lots and lots of hours on that machine, and they cut all the trees off the ridge tops off all the hillsides that they could reach. And from nineteen let’s just say nineteen eighty six to two thousand and six, the entire ranch had been burned at least seven times. So we here on the plains, we also recognize that there’s a need for need for fire, not only to reset the grass, but also to control these, you know, invasive trees and vegetation that’s coming in. And my dad and several other folks around were some of the first people around to practice prescribed fire in this area. So dealing with the trees.

After he dealt with the trees, he kinda, you know, understood a little more what he had. Started learning about grasses, went to ranching for profit a couple times, took advantage of some government programs to start doing some cross fencing on the ranch because at the time it was it was basically three big basters. So we had a, you know, a west cell, a currell cell, and the south cell, a narrow pool. Fairly similar size. And it was in the late eighties, early nineties, I think. He got a contract through I think it was called a great planes contract through the soil conservation service in. To do some cross fencing and everything was broken up. Like, the two big ones on the north side of the highway were broken up into four and I forget how many broke the south side up into, maybe it was like six. But that was that was the start. And then for a while, you know, he just did some rotation, grazing, which is, you know, well, there are here a month that are there a month, then — Oh, yes. — then they’re kinda gone.

And as the years went through, he’s been erasing for profit a total of three times and he has spent a lot of time involved with grades in groups and and do an advocacy, and he he learned that well, the paddocks need to be smaller. We need to do water, so he’s taken advantage of you know, in our CS programs, e equip, and CSP, and things like that, to develop water sources under inch. We pump a lot of water with solar wells because it’s not practical to run a power line, you know, half a mile across country just to run a water pump, you know, power company wants you to pay for all those new polls, which is it’s really, really expensive. Yes. So it it was a lot cheaper even even in early two thousands to come in and like build a solar system that’s just gonna pump water during the day and learned a lot through the course of that about all the difference between storage and and stock tank and the size ratio and what things need to be. So when I showed up in two thousand and six, you know, it was it was kind of a fairly well tuned operation I mean, there was, like, oh, fourteen paddocks on the south side of the ranch, eighteen in eighteen in the Carell cell, and, you know, several over on the west cell, and since then we’ve, you know, there’s been things that have adjusted. We we put in a new watering system, two new watering systems in two thousand and eight.

We’ve done some work down on the south side, expanding capacity down there, converted an old windmill, an old windmill that was just at end of life and needed either either major repairs or overhaul or we just decided, well, we’ll just pull that windmill out, lay the tower down, and drop a solar pump down there, and throw a couple panels up and be done with it forever. So that’s what we did. We have that tied in kind of a creative way on pressure switches where we’ve got a dual system When the sun’s shining, we’re gonna be riding on solar. And when the sun’s not shining, there’s a grid type pump, a mile away from that solar pump gonna kick in and and carry the load. But it’s it’s kinda inconvenient when we have a leak because when we have a leak, both pumps are on and thicker water out of here.

Just about your your area there. I’m I’m not sure I’ve been through your part of Kansas where you are. We typically go. I’m in Northeast Oklahoma. But my grandparents moved to this area from the Texas Panhandle. So we go out there for family reunions and stuff. So I’m assuming Some are the same with maybe a little bit more water than they have out there, but maybe not much more. Well, with with the weather we’ve had for the last, I don’t know, basically three years, there’s not a whole lot of water anywhere here or in the Texas paint handle. That is true. Yes. Never really haven’t spent a lot of time in the Texas Pain Hail, which, you know, it’s it’s just right there.

I would think that it’s it’s a fairly similar, fairly similar topography, geography, you know, and and makeup in the native range. If you ask Kansas State, it’s short grass prairie. If you ask me, it’s mixed to tall grass prairie because — Yeah. — when you can grow six foot tall big blue stem in Indian grass, I I I would hesitate to call that short grass. Right. Yes. You know? But it it’s also kinda fair to say that where I am in Kansas has a lot more in common with Northwest Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle than any than any other part of the world. Oh, yes. Yes. We call it the Red Hills, which is why I go by Red Hills rancher on social media because it’s, you know, kinda called back my heritage to this area.

Rolling Hills, I mean, fairly steep terrain, some of our hillsides are, you know, thirty to thirty five degrees. Very difficult to walk up. I mean, almost as steep as you’ll find anything in Colorado. They’re just not very tall. Oh, yes. Yeah. We’ll have places. There are places on the ranch where, you know, I could throw you a can of Coke or a baseball back and forth, but if I wanted to shake your hand, we’d have to walk about a half a mile all the way down and around a a canyon. Hell, yes. Yeah. And that and that reminds me of my my second cousin’s back porch you looking out there you could toss things back and forth, but there’s no way you’re walking straight across to them. Sounds pretty familiar. Yeah. Yeah. And sorry, I just wanted to get that placement there just a little bit.

When you talk about you’re talking about your wells. Do you have a good pretty good water table out there for your wells to work consistently? Yes. We do. It’s just not an incredibly productive water layer. Like, a good water well here on the ranch would be somewhere between ten and fifteen gallons a water a minute. That would be that would be a really good well for me. We’ve bailed a couple of them, you know, close to twenty, twenty five gallons a minute in that range. How long they’d sustain that? I don’t know. But, you know, we can at least the last couple that we’ve developed on the ranch, we’ve bailed at twenty plus gallons a minute. Oh, yes. Yeah. But, you know, we try to throttle that down. I mean, it’s it’s a resource that’s not gonna be here forever unless we take care of it. Very true. Yeah. And you you guys are pretty dry right now. I was looking at the drought mount map for Oklahoma just this morning and that I forty four quarter door going through Oklahoma’s the dividing line between wet and dry basically right now and you’re you’re on the dry side. Yeah. Like I kind of alluded to a few minutes ago, it really we’ve been a reigned deficit for thirty months.

And it’s not just that, you know, rain through the year. You know, for us in the grass business, where I am rain in June July or I’m sorry, April May June, April, May, June, that’s gonna grow the bulk of my grass. And I have thirty years of rain record My dad has thirty years of rain records all on one sheet of paper that I can look at month by month, year by year. Oh, yes. And you know, if you just kinda go down to the bottom and look at the, you know, the averages, the min, the max, the average. Okay? I’m gonna have to do this off memory because I don’t have this I don’t have these notes in front of me.

The least amount of rain that we’ve ever gotten in that thirty year period from nineteen eighty six to two thousand sixteen during April, May, June, was two point four two inches. Normal. Okay? Well, normal is a setting on a dryer. Average. Let’s just say that the thirty average of rain during that ninety days is gonna be ten inches.

Now, I will grow something like two hundred pounds of grass per acre per inch fall of rain. K? If I could get ten inches of rain, I’ll be fine. Oh, yeah. Then I can raise half of that. Then I can raise a thousand pounds per acre, which sets me up great. If I get something like two and a half inches of rain, which is the least amount that has ever been recorded in a consecutive ninety day period April one to to June thirtieth.

Two point four two inches of rain is kinda like the low horrible worst case scenario. Two and a half inches of rain is only gonna grow up. Five hundred pounds of grass per acre. And that means that there’s that that means I don’t have enough grass. That means I’m over stocked for like two hundred and twenty animal units. So it’s we’re at the point now where all the cuts that I’ve made in stocking rate and strategies I’ve used over the last two and a half, three years to minimize, you know, drought and stockpile grass. That’s all I’ve got to eat for the next couple of months. I’m just we’re just we’re kinda in a situation where it’s getting I’m having to make I’m having to get creative to try to figure out how to graze grass with enough cows this year to stay in business. Let’s put it that way. Which is not a fun place to be. If it was easy Cal everybody’d be doing it. Yes. You’re exactly right.

So what are some things you’ve done to negate that drought issue or the lack of forage? Well, minimizing drought risk it’s got to be part of your long term ranch management plan. Continuing to develop water sources, making sure that I’ve got great water sources and not have to depend on creaks and ponds. K? Dad said for a lot of years that he probably wouldn’t go back and build, but maybe two or three of the fourteen pawns that are on the ranch. And those would just be for access and you might build one or two in a different spot. Any would any would rather have the money that was spent on all the ponds been invested into more pumps, pipes, and tanks. So Oh, yes. You know, and I get that that might not work for everybody, but here, you know, those of us on the southern plains where we don’t have to dig eight feet deep to put in a frost free water line? Yeah. You know, that’s probably a better solution. You know, out farther west or in the front range or out in the desert? Where you gotta have a hundred acres to run one cow, five miles a waterline might not be cost effective. I get it. So developing water, drought proofing water sources, making sure there’s water available for cows even in the worst times of the year. That’s important.

Subdividing the paddocks, Now, continue your subdivide paddocks, try to drive paddocks size smaller so you can maximize your harvest efficiency when you put the cattle in that paddock. And that that’s kind of the curve we’re at right now is we’re trying to get we’re trying to put, you know, get the cattle to perform the best that they can on the least amount of ground. So the rest of the ranch can rest and have and have time to recover it and hopefully catch a rainfall. So continue to drive paddock size down, you know, then there’s there’s a lot other strategies. Go to one herd. Go to one big herd. Instead of trying to, you know, scatter out, you know, three, four different ones. And that that’s a paradigm that I’m really working on this year. So I’m trying to try to figure out how to make that work with with basically three different herds of cattle, three different owners trying to get everybody on the same page where we can co mingle as early as possible. And get everybody on the same page with, alright, these are the bowls we’re gonna use, these are how we’re gonna share cost, and this is how we’re gonna share work, and this is what we’re gonna do. That’s I’m just starting to get my toe in that, and probably hopefully, by the time this comes out, I’ll be a little further down that road. Oh, yes. Yeah. But that’s that’s just one plan that I’m trying to put together right now to, you know, to try to make sure I can to try to stick around another year, try to fight again another year.

So one thing you mentioned there, multiple hards, different owners, tell us about the livestock on your ranch. So just over three years ago, I bought a I bought a herbivirus, first herbivirus that’s been owned by my family for probably since the sixties, at least in Barber County. I’ve got some reasons for that. We can get into what I’m doing with those cows a little bit later. But ever since dad started on the ranch, like I mentioned, You know, the startup capital that he had in the choice that he made, he didn’t he didn’t make the choice to buy cows, he made the choice to develop the resource that he had. Which in hindsight, you know, was probably a correct decision. But on the other hand, he had to learn how to make a business on land without owning livestock. So he developed a a really good robust custom grazing business, which he taught me and turned over to me.

So I did custom grazing for other people for a lot of years. And that gave me some good opportunities, you know, namely to not work all winter and have feed cows or winter, you’ll break ice all winter, you know, that but it it it gave me opportunities to observe other people’s cattle. And I was fortunate to have several clients that have been willing to let me try things and be brave. You know, things like strip grazing and ultra high stock densities. You know, convince somebody like, let me take these cows in. Since you don’t have anywhere for them to stand, let me take them. I’ll put them behind a hot wire. And I’m gonna move them every day. And they’re basically gonna be standing shoulder to shoulder and he goes, well, they’ve never seen a hot fence. And I said, can I do it? And he says, you’re welcome to try. If it doesn’t work, we’ll come get them. Okay. Fine. Alright. It it was a week of pain getting Ed’s Coriante’s accustomed to hot wire and making the screen behind and But man, once taking a group of cattle that had never been behind a hot wire that had been literally in a six hundred acre pasture, for six months and been looked at three times.

They were gathered, brought to my place, and turned out onto basically two and a half acres at a time. Every day we were getting like I was getting like two and a half acres. Was it painful? Yeah. Some people call it painful. I at the time, it was a great learning experience and even looking back, it was a great learning experience. I had a lot of fun doing it. So When I took over the custom grazing business from my dad, he basically had one client.

And I didn’t think that that was the greatest idea in the world. Because, you know, then you’re dependent on them. And they had a great relationship. They worked together for a lot of years. I worked with the same folks. For quite a few years afterwards, but I I think it was somewhere around twenty ten, twenty eleven. I decided we’re not gonna have one client. We’re gonna have at least we’re gonna have two. Two or three, depending because that gives me more flexibility, that gives me more resilience, that gives me more diversification. Right?

So the situation I find myself in now is I don’t have enough cows to fully stock any one of my grazing systems. And they’ve outgrown to where I can just stash them in a corner and strip grays them all here. So I kind of end the point where in order effectively grace parts of their ranch, I’ve had to bring in somebody else to bring their cows and to combine with mine, grace started growing season. And now we’re in a position where I think I need to combine two customer herds with my cows in order to make it through the year. So on those custom grades cows, are they just coming to you for the growing season? Some are. I’ve been mostly at a growing season operation. But when I had the first one or I had my or the second one I had my cows, would have been the winner in twenty twenty one and twenty twenty two.

So just over, like, a year and a half ago. Yes. A friend of mine called me up, and I’d just kinda gone through grass inventories and cash flow and which other work? And I was just wanting to maybe make a little bit more money that winter. And just and it just so happened, a friend called me. He’s like, hey, You got any grass? Like, Glad you called Buddy, do I have an opportunity for you? And a week later, he shipped up couple loads of cows. And other than other than colon at prepped check, that group of cows has been here for about a year and a half now. So are you running those with your herd? The ones I just talked about, no.

My herd is is by itself right now because my my co mingle partner, he takes his home during the winter. He takes his home kind of in mid fall. Because he likes to feed his a little harder and I like to feed mine. I don’t like to feed mine a whole lot. I I get that. Yes. He’ll come back probably probably in about another month.

We’ve been talking about that’ll be first to May. Is Firstimate is generally when when everybody tries to go to grass here in the Red Hills. Oh, okay. You know, like, April twenty fourth to May eighth is generally when almost everybody’s turning out here. Hopefully, hopefully, we’ve done enough grass to turn out, you know, turn out on. I say turn out, like like mine haven’t, like, month like mine haven’t. Right? They’ve been logged in a lot. Yeah. Like, mine have been locked in a lot. I’m gonna feed in bales all the way here. Right? Right. No. It’s just like, it right now it’s kind of a day by day.

I’ve been rotating really, really slow and — Yes. — rotate really, really slow. And as soon as I start seeing the right signals from the forage, it’s got sixth gear to mash the gas, and we’re just gonna try to make a quick lap so they can clip off you know, just a couple hundred pounds out of each paddock, just the best couple hundred pounds of cool season. And then as soon as the warm season, grass starts to starts to come in, you know, around the first of June, first of the fifteenth of June, we slam the brakes on and, you know, get down to more like a sixty sixty to ninety day rest period rotation cycle. What are some of those signals you’re looking for in your grasses to spring into that fast rotation.

I’d like to see I’d like to see at least fifty to seventy five percent of my cool season grass wake and two to three inches of leaf on it. And we’re we’re just not there yet. I don’t know if we’re waiting on temperature or if we’re waiting on moisture right now, but we could use a little bit of both. I will have to concur there. We’re in need of it as well, even though we’re on the wetter side of well, we’re on the the wet portion, we’re right near I forty four. We’re the same side of as you, but we’re still wet before it starts really drying up. But we missed the last rain that went by, and my grandpa always says, you never won’t miss a rain. And I agree, we we can always use the water. But our grass is just a little behind where we normally are. And I was hoping to be a little further along than we are. In fact, I’ve not got the growth so that I can start that faster rotation around the place. I’m still doing pretty slow trying to peek more time out.

Do you think it’s a temperature thing for you or is it a rainfall? I I I think it’s more of a rainfall. And we have had our temperature’s been pretty good this coming week. Temperatures look beautiful. We ought to have some nice growth jump up. But last it. And I say, it’s somewhat temperature but not too much. Somewhat rain, not too much. It’s a lot of management.

We got really short last year, shorter than what I want to be going into winter. We had a dry fall. We destock quite a bit, but we got drier than we had been in a long time and it’s taken a while to recoup that soil moisture and get it to the point we want it. And we took our grass lower than what we normally do during winter. So that’s the or that’s increasing the time it takes for it to to grow for us? Yeah. I mean, there’s definitely something to that. I’m also a lot less scared of over grazing during the dormant season and taking off that plant matter from last season. I’m not afraid. Right. I’m not afraid to do that because there’s there’s not a whole lot of difference between that and a complete defoliation with like a fire or something. Right. Yes. You know, the plant’s gonna still get the same signal. It’s gonna say, hey, there’s nothing up top. I need to put up solar panels and it’s gonna try, like, hell to put up solar panels. Yes. So the weather’s improving just a little bit.

I would love to get a little bit more rain on my town friends are like no more rain, but we could use some. Well, they can stay in town on their paved roads then. Yes. Yes. It’s it’s my vehicles that are covered in mud when we have rain. I’ve forgotten what mud looks like. Well, it’s a different shade of red here. We have a nice dark mud. I take that back with all the dust storms, with all the dust and dirt that’s been in the air for the last couple of months. We we’ve got, like, a couple showers, like, if we get anything less than a half an inch, it doesn’t wash dirt off of anything. It just turns it to mud and everything just coated in mud. Oh, yes. Yeah. Yeah.

So when we jump back to your cows just a little bit when you decide to buy some cows? What kind of cows did you buy? Well, I went out and I bought Coriantease, specifically Coriantease. And I’ve talked about this a lot and there’s several reasons why. A, they’re smaller, B, they haven’t been messed with. And by messed with, I mean, they haven’t really as a breed. They haven’t been pushed hard on corn. They haven’t been bred for feedlot performance on high energy feed. K?

Now, something else about the Coriante breed that your your listers may or may not know The quarantes are descended from the creole cattle that Spanish brought over in the early fifteen hundreds. So this breed has about four hundred years of adaptation and natural selection in the desert Southwest. And in Mexico, to get adapted to this continent, to the climate that we’re in, to the types of forage and types of grasses that we have. And I look at the the kind of environment that those cattle have been in for the last three to four hundred years. That’s the kind of environment that that the climate trend is gonna make in my part of the world. It’s gonna be hotter, it’s gonna be drier, it’s gonna be less productive. I need animals that are heat tolerant. I need animals that can thrive on the forage that grows naturally on the range.

And after after ten years of watching everybody else as black cattle, and how they performed on the native range. Keeping some over the winter, watching the neighbors over the winter, how much they had to feed your most twelve, fourteen hundred pound cows to get them through the winter. And then I I I met a good friend. He used to own a ranch here just up the river from me. He since moved back to Texas. And he really he mentored me he introduced me to Coriantes. Because he had some. He’s from Arizona. He had some, and he really liked them. And, you know, we talked about them a lot. And The the strip raising experiment I mentioned earlier, that that’s this guy’s Korean taste. Oh, yes.

I got to have, you know, really close first hand experience with him for over six months before I bought mine, you know, going out there everyday moving fans watching how they responded the grass watching how they acted. And every fear that I had about Mexican roping cattle being wild, went away. Like, we started that project first of end of April first to May. And by by the middle of June, I was like, yeah, these I mean, I had several of them eating out of my hand. There’s there’s some more that I could just walk up to scratch their back while they were eating and they wouldn’t even react. You know, they got so used to me being out there every day. It was really If you’ve never been out and moved cattle every day for a month at a time, it’s something that everybody should go do. I they get so used to you. Oh, they do. Yes. They get so used to you and you get so in tune not just with the animals, but also with what’s going on to land with your grasses and your plants, and and you’re seeing that plant response every day. So, you know, I I got some firsthand experience with them, learned some more and said, this is what I’m gonna do. So I bought Coriante’s. They’re cheap and they’re small. I can run five, six to eight hundred pound quarantes. In the on the same grass that I could run three thousand to twelve hundred pound Angus cows. And at the time, I could probably buy like three or four Korean day gals for what I could buy a decent Angus gal.

Now, I’ve heard from some really really smart guys that there’s two ways to get good cows. You can build your own or you can buy the ranch they’re standing on. Oh, yes. Okay? I hadn’t heard that, but I I have to say that that’s pretty good advice the way I see it most most of the time. I mean, yeah, you can go to the you can go buy good cows off another ranch and bring them to your place. You can feed condition and fertility into anything as well, okay? Mhmm. It’s finding good cows.

Now what is a good cow? A good cow is a cow that can have a calf on a row of rebreeds every year and doesn’t need any medicine doesn’t need me to mess with her, doesn’t get ticks, mice, and doesn’t even and doesn’t chase the cake truck in the winter. Okay? That’s a good count. Yes. Can you go buy those? Yes, you can. But you can also keep feeding condition and fertility into anything to make up for deficiencies in your management. Yes. And I agree with that. And, the the same token you can’t starve a profit into your cow herd either.

My my heffers brought up my my two year old heffers, my replacements. They brought up really well. And I told somebody the number and he just laughed and he said he fed him too much. Like, I didn’t feed him. Like, that’s kind of a point. Like, if they had protein tubs, and they got an alfalfa bail every five days. Like, that’s that’s a program we’ve been on. Okay. I’ll take that breed up number. That’ll work for me. You know, even if even if somebody would say you feed him too hard as a joke, for a ninety plus percent conception rate? I I’m I’m not gonna be upset with that with what I’m feeding. So building your own good cows is expensive, and it’s not a it’s not a quick process. And it won’t go like you think it does. No, it doesn’t. So listening to you to August horsemen, he’s he’s a big fan of Coriantes.

And a few other orientates of interest me for a long time, partly because of the price, a little bit smaller cattle, they should be able to handle the environment that usually come from an environment worse than mine. I guess, Two years ago, I bought a small number of Korean tastes to to to try. I was worried about how wild they would be. I didn’t know if they would handle my electric fences. I just I just didn’t know I’d never been around them. I love those cows and I did sell a couple because they couldn’t figure out how to not jump my fence. But for the most part, they have done wonderful and I’m really impressed with them. This will be my first calf crop with them out of my bulls because I purchased them bread. So I had some Coriant sized calves on the ground last year, but this year they’ll be bred to my south pole bull. So I’m in I’m excited to see how those calves and how they grow. How they perform. There’s a decent variation across my three calf crops.

I haven’t been necessarily the most consistent guy with full selection. I think the the really cold winter that we had, the polar vortex of February twenty one, Yes. I think that really set a lot of animals back. And maybe maybe it hit my calf crop a little harder than some of the neighbors because because I didn’t really feed. I mean, yeah, for that two weeks I went out and I rolled out bales every day. I rolled out about about a sixty to seventy percent ration every day for that that two weeks. Because I was we were covered with no one ice and it was — No. — zero. I mean, that was kind of my worst case scenario, and I planned on that, and I planned to be able to feed through something like that. So but I think the last February twenty one and February twenty two were both abnormally cold. And I I definitely think that kinda maybe set the calves back a little bit. They seem to be doing okay now though. Oh, yes.

And what are you bringing your quarantes to? The first couple years, we breaded to Angus. Spreaded to some Angus Bulls. You know, like you, I bought I bought a bunch of them that were bread or head calf at side just because that was that was the timing of when I was ready to buy and what fit the program. Right. And it’s those right now that it’s those heffers that are retained that were someone else’s breeding decision I bought bread, whatever. It’s those heffers right now. They’re ranch raised. I mean, I have no problem calling them ranch raised because they’ve been here their whole life, but I didn’t breathe in. Right. The crop that I’ve bred those are all looking good. So, Brian, you were saying about your cap Coriantes you brought him to Angus how those calves turn out? Well, like I was saying, there’s some variation in the calf crop, and you know, study them a little more. I I I could figure out what went wrong, but, you know, that was decision that was made years ago. So I’ve kinda got to live with it, work around it.

Lately, we’ve been I we’ve got some calves that are bred to like, the influence Seminole Bulls that we got out of Georgia. My buddy got him. Friend of mine offered him to be for sale, and I wasn’t in a position where I could buy him I was like, hey, hey, friend, you should buy these bowls. If we’re gonna be running cans together, you should buy these bowls because they’re great bowls and I think they’d be a great your program. And by the way, maybe can I use one of them every once in a while? Oh, there you go. Yeah. He he’s been really good to me about about me use bulls. We I mean, we run cattle together too. So it’s his cows. They’re gonna be covering some of his cattle. They’re covering too. So We’ve got we’ve got these four really nice Seminole bowls that are grass developed, one hundred percent forage developed, never been pushed on grain, I turn out a black bowl and I watch them, you know, they they go out and they’re interested for two weeks and it seems like they work for two weeks and then they just fall down in condition and go hide in the trees and don’t do anything for you know, two months.

These Rocco faced cemetery bulls, we put them out and they went to work. And they stayed checked in a tenant with cows the whole season. Oh, yeah. Didn’t get hurt. Like, they they were checked in. We could I tell they were doing their job. So about two weeks after we turned out, those bulls. I got a hold of a half Michelle to half south pole, yearly bull. Oh, okay. It turned him out. So his name is Carlos and he’s the standing he’s my bull now. He’s my my standing bull here and he’s just been kinda hanging out and trying to keep him alive all winter. No. This year, we’re looking to we’re looking to go back with with the same with the same Simetals and Carlos. My I’m showing a South Polebell.

Now on those Simetables, are they a high percentage flex me? Or are they just general symmetry? Gosh. I I wouldn’t know off the top of my head. I’d probably have to go back and look at papers.

I remember, quote, FlexV influenced Sumitall. And oh, yeah. You know, everybody thinks Sumitall and I think you’ll this big giant, monstrous thing. Well, right. That’s not what these are. These are very moderate frames. In fact, I’d say they were they were smaller than the typical Angus Bull used in this area. Now we have a frame smaller but a condition higher Right? Like seven pounds of sugar to five pounds sack. I mean, they Right. They were beefy, they’re musley, they had great structure, and they were short and stature, which is which is the direction to go. And the reason I asked about FlexV is I saw I’ve seen Flex v’s always interest me, and I see a lot more grass based or grass developed. Flex v as opposed to Seminole, which doesn’t mean I mean, FlexV is a subset of Seminole. So when I say FlexV, we’re still talking Seminole. But just a subset. So that’s the reason I had asked about the FlexV influence there. Right.

It the goal is to is to have a little bit bigger frame and hang a little bit more mass on it. You know, without without getting the influence from something that’s really been driven hard on high energy feed. And so you’ve used them last year. Do you have Kevs on the ground out of them? Ask me again in a week. Oh, okay. Caving season for me starts next week. I do. Well, mind does too next week.

I did I did use them on a set of cows that are with the main herd that were a fall breed. So I did a forty five day fall breed, so I do have some calves out of those Sumitall Bulls. They’re just they’re six months out of sync with everything else. Oh, yeah. Three months out of sync with everything else, but feel like and I I don’t think that’s gonna be you know, that’s not really a bad thing. You know, I might I might even shift towards more of a later in the summer or fall breeding, honestly, just to just to keep that just to get that calving season a little bit later. Now. Yes. And why why would you push it back later?

The gurus that I’ve learned from and listened to that I consider to be excellent, excellent stockman. They all say to cav on green grass. Well, that’s also, you know, the first three or four months of lactation. That’s when your cows nutritional requirements gonna be the highest. K? When do I have the best grass? Let’s match up the cow’s nutritional requirements. To when my resource is at its best. Like, that’s the that’s the driver right there because — Yeah. — any other time of year, I’m gonna be leaving if I have anywhere else, but when I’m on my best forage, then I’m gonna be having to supplement that nutritional deficiency in my cows. And when you don’t grow it, you gotta buy it. And that cost money.

I am thinking about pushing my cows a little bit later And partly for the same reasons, I’m Kevin, I’ve got green grass out there just not quite as tall as I want. And I was hoping to get I was hoping to be in that fast rotation, good growth out there in the pastures, let my cows recover from winter just a little bit And so my timing was April fifteenth. However, this year, we’re running a little bit behind and a little bit behind in my mind. But I can think back to other years and we were kinda in the same position. So now I’m thinking, maybe I need to push my cows more into me to Kev.

I think looking at, you know, April make having the way we’re looking at it, maybe we’re basing it on outdated climate information. Because it does seem like it does seem like spring is coming later. Yes. And it seems like summer and fall summer and fall are lasting longer. It’s almost like the seasons are kinda shifting on the calendar a little bit. If we are, if the climate is changing the way the majority of scientists say it’s changing. K? We both need to be looking at our operations and thinking about how things would look if we were two hundred miles south and west? Two hundred miles southwest and drier and hotter? Yes. It is. Yeah. Because I think they look, thirty year data thirty years a day that my dad’s gathered on a ranch. B, you can go on Oklahoma mezzanette and look at data. You can go to the climate There’s national climate center. Forget the name right now. The trend is pretty clear. It’s getting warmer and getting drier in the plains. And that line of dry hot is moving east, unfortunately. Yes. Sadly, it is.

Jumping back to your your calves just a little bit. How do you market your stair calves or your bull calves? How do you manage that? The goal is to be You’re holding consumer — Yes. — with with the beef with beef. Okay? What I was running all the numbers and burned up a couple legal pads and maybe even melted down a tablet, trying to run all the numbers in a stock flow for this this project, this operation, whatever the hell I’m doing.

In twenty nineteen, I realized that there’s basically two value points for a cow calf operator to exit the cattle business with that animal. Okay? Somewhere around four hundred pounds, sixty days waiting to two rounds of shots. That’s gonna get you two bucks. Any day, any bar, anywhere in the country. Right now, it’s bringing close to three dollars. I mean, there’s good money — Yeah. — there’s good money in that. You go past that four hundred pound mark. K?

Now as a cow calf guy, you’re competing against the backgrounders. They’re feeding subsidized corn or they’re getting waste hay or they’re getting cheap distillers grains from a distillery or ethanol plant. K? That’s what you’re competing against. You’re competing against their cost of gain that they have commoditized. And they know what it is to the fraction of a penny. Cal Cap Guy on grass, are you gonna compete with him? Probably not. So four hundred pounds before you have to compete in that market against the subsidized cost of gain animal. That’s a value point to exit. The other value point to exit is direct to consumer. Anywhere else along that line you’re either gonna give you’re gonna give it away to the pack or if you raise it to eight hundred pounds. Anywhere else, but over four hundred pounds, you’re competing against subsidized cost of gain. And if you take it and if and if you’re benefiting from that, fine. If that fits your business model, fine. I’m not gonna I’m not gonna talk bad on you. I’m just saying that the model that works for me is to not compete against that. Right. And you gotta figure out the model that works for your operation. But, yeah, I I can see both of those. So you’re attempting to market all your Steer calves direct to consumer? Yes. And that’s a year behind my replacement heparin program.

I made the decision real early on that the steers that I did not breed. I got rid of. Yes. So all the steers that have been born on the ranch that I didn’t breed are gone. The only steers that are left on the ranch are ones that I bread. Because I I have in mind and I haven’t talked about this publicly. I have in mind that I have two lines of beef. I have the lower line which is the cold cows. Yes. And that line eventually goes away or maybe I have to bring it back later because I have to buy in some replacements. Then the stuff that I bread and raised and packaged, that’s gonna be the higher label. Oh, yeah. Because, you know, again, we’re back to, you know, some of this hearsay stuff. I feel like the agricultural businesses that will be successful For the next ten to twenty years, are the businesses that are doing a good job of telling their story? They’re the businesses that are gonna be connecting directly with consumer.

Know that there’s something that I love to say all the time you’ve probably heard it at least once in your life. Shake the hand that feeds you. And doesn’t matter if you’re a beef eater or a vegan. It’s an applicable statement. K? If you will if people out there wanna be vegan, fine. Great. I support your right to choose. I would just really really encourage you to look into your food chain, to look into your food supply chain, and go backwards through it. And go shake the hand of the guy that’s raising your vegan food and understand the steps between you and him. I think that’s really good advice for whoever.

And it it’s a it sounds simple. Right? It’s pretty elegant. It’s pretty simple. It it it does. It’s a nice deep statement and a very simple statement. And it should stay simple because if the supply chain to put that food in front of you is too complicated for you to understand it. You shouldn’t be eating that product. Like — Right. — that’s kind of a mic drop moment right there. It is. Yeah. Yeah.

And you know, I mentioned earlier when we were talking off the recording was about processed foods. I’d love to I eat consume too much of it, but Yeah. That that gets you going back to where you should be about all your food. I can feel a difference in my body. Right? Maybe half of the food I eat is clean food not processed. When I’m eating good, clean food, I feel good. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I need a handful of cheeses. Slice of processed cheese. My body knows that. My brain wants it. My brain really wants it on bodies kinda like those. You know, this isn’t the best thing for you to be putting in me, but I know it tastes great, so I’m gonna accept it anyway.

Like, The pleasure centers in our brain are just so overloaded with sugar that that’s all they’re craving and you start kicking a lot of that out of your diet like especially sugar. Sugars, I try to absolutely minimize my intake of refined white sugar. Molasses, okay, maybe a little bit less honey. Honey, I think is kind of okay. Honey doesn’t mess with me like refined white sugar does. Oh, yes. That that is one thing my wife and I’ve been talking about is reducing that sugar in our diet, we have way too much.

They put it in everything. Like, oh, they do. Yes. They there’s almost there’s Three ingredients that are in most food and you could get down to like two ingredients that are in every food. Salt and sugar. Why is salt and sugar in every food? Well, because What are just these dumb apes that are hardwired to want salt salty sweet flavor? Food scientists know that. Like, and it’s like every year they just keep upping that threshold of of what’s acceptable for salt and sugar in a food because we just keep getting that much more more used to it. Like, average purchasing — Oh, yes. — eats probably three times the amount of sodium they should a day. And nobody puts salt on their food. Because it’s already in the food. It’s already there. Yeah.

So what do you do? Unprocessed food. Or minimally processed food, clean food, it won’t have a bunch of salt in it, and you may need to actually put a little bit of salt on it, which isn’t a bad thing. Now, I I totally agree with you there. I’m not doing a very good job. I’m working on it, but and I and I say that and and I probably have a better diet than most of my coworkers because I am eating beef we raised here, lamb we raised here, My garden’s kinda in a state of flux right now, but hopefully we get some stuff growing out there this year. You know, I appreciate I appreciate that point because, you know, yeah, I do talk a lot. Check the hand that feeds you. Don’t eat processed food. Eat grass fed beef. I still been to McDonald’s in the last month. Yes. I mean, I’m not ashamed to say that. Like, There’s certain parts of the world that, yeah, we can take advantage of some conveniences, but as long as we’re working to do better, I’m gonna do a little bit better than I did last month with eating processed food, and eating sugar, and eating carbs. I’m gonna do a little bit better next month, and the month after that, and the month after that.

And You don’t change a river by dumping rocks in it. You change a river by dumping small rocks in it. You throw enough pebbles in the river, you get to change the course of the river over time. Yes. I like that Justin Rhodes on his videos. He’s always talking about one percent better today. Just do a little bit better each day. If you do one percent, it’s my goal. Feet to one percent better every day in three months, you’ll be a hundred percent better. Yes. Yeah. So obviously, you know right off, I’ve failed on that one percent better each day, but I’m working on it. Forward progress. Yes. Yes.

So jumping back to your cattle, so working on direct consumer with your steers until you’re raising your heifers. What what are your goals as you’re going forward? You’ve said some of them because you wanna process them or get them all direct to consumer. But what are your some of your goals for the future with your breeding and your program? The the direction of goal with the cattle program in the breeding is to develop. I like to have a cow size of right at a thousand pounds. So we need to bring that we need to bring the cow size up a little bit, which is what I’ve been hoping to do with you know, the angus genetics, which I think some might have worked. Some maybe didn’t hopefully, the Seminole will will bring the frame that I’m looking for, you know, it’ll be watching those, you know, some some of the Sumitel calves that I have this grow this summer. And see how they do and, you know, see the babies, see how they’re gonna how they’re gonna look when they start coming out. Let’s add add a little bit more frame wanna keep, you know, the disease pest resistance.

I did bring him in and I did give him a pour on for lice. And ticks back in back to February, middle of end of February. I think that’s more of a comfort thing. You know, yeah. Okay. Ticks can cost gain, enough Ticks, drink blood, cost gain, whatever I get that. Lice, I think Lice is more of a cosmetic issue.

I didn’t treat last year, and I just watched them. And there were there’s a bunch that weren’t even affected by the lice. Of course, I recorded all those numbers. Hell, yes. And this year, we could have pre checked the older cows. On who had lice and who didn’t. Oh, yes. The cattle with lice were not pregnant. The cows without — Mhmm. We’re generally we’re generally bread. I mean, there’s like a ninety ninety five percent correlation there. But we went ahead and would, you know, treat it anyway. Just because we had them there.

But I want an animal that I don’t have to treat. Like, none of the none of the Now that young stock showed any signs of having any life pressure on them at all. We didn’t see any ticks when we had them in the shoot. So pretty happy with that. You know, it’s just a just a few cow cows that we’ll we’ll get cold out over the next couple of years and, hopefully, eventually, just have a program where we don’t have to do or I can just get rid of the forearms. That would be ideal. Oh, yes. Yo. I’m I’m shooting for a herd fertility of around eighty five percent. You don’t more than that might have fed them a little too much, less than that? Well, you’re not feeding them enough. So somewhere around eighty five, ninety percent fertility is is kind of what I wanna look for going down the line. Hopefully, we can do better than that, but I think as long as we can do eighty five percent, I’ll feel pretty good about the program. Sounds like excellent builds there with your breeding objectives going forward. And I I think also at some point you know, maybe out of markets, some replacement heffers, or maybe even some bulls, you know, some just some composite bulls that, you know, out of my ranch raised genetics. Right. That’s that’s working for that environment. Yeah. Yep. I totally get that.

I feel like people get really hung up on breed. A lot. And oh, yes. You know, when you get hung up on a breed, you start to overlook things like heterosis and hybrid vigor. And, you know, so how long do you have to work with a with a closed gene pool before it becomes its own unique breed? You know, we’ve got all these different breeds of cattle in the United States. How many of them have we developed here? I mean, okay, We don’t necessarily need to go down the list, but, you know, over time, we’ve been pretty prolific with breeds being named. What I’m thinking of is, you know, like, the herders come from the Hereford area of England. Oh, but the breeze are generally named after where they’re from geographically. Because over time, the cattlemen of those areas, bread cattle that worked in those areas. Yes. And so different genetics, different bloodlines can metabolize certain forages and survive in certain environments. Better or worse than others. And maybe it just so happened that Angus happened to be the breed that did kind of okay everywhere, but did great when you fed it corn and soybeans. And that’s why we see Angus everywhere.

And I think as as As people start to change their farming practices, we start farming more food instead of feed returning animals to the land. Give up some of the corn, soybean, wheat, cotton, oscillations that we have and go back to more native grass, we’re gonna need different cattle for the future. We’re gonna need cattle that can work on grass. And I’m not saying that I’m trying to be, you know, be the be the guy that’s gonna have the best bowl. Maybe I’ll have one that’s okay that somebody will want to give me some money for. Maybe I’ll end up in that seed stock business. It’s a direction that I’m not gonna close off, but it’s not something that I’m like driving everything towards. Because I’m just a little guy. Ryan? Yes.

And and on those breeds, I love breeds of animals. I love their history. It’s interesting how much variation in some of the breeds and how we’ve made all the breeds look just alike and there’s If we’re making them all perform and look just alike, then why do we need different breeds? And to jump over into another tangent that on my hair sheep flock. I’ve mainly been breeding cuddleings I’ve used some registered sires, but then we went to a closed flock basically just because I thought it was more cost effective for what I was doing. And I’m not opposed to bringing some outside genetics in there, and I’m thinking about maybe some doreper genetics in there to get a little bit more meat on those lambs. And I and I struggle a little bit with that because I love breed so much that I’m like, oh, I like having this breed. But really as a commercial producer, we want that heterosis from unrelated breeds in there and and maximize it with the three breed rotation or something along that line. And and to be honest, that’s tough for me because I’m like, oh, I like having this breed even if I’m not a seed stock producer. I like I like that.

So That’s a discussion I’m having in my head right now about the direction of our hair sheet. I can keep brands again this year and continue or bring in some. And if I bring in some, what am I bringing in to my flock? Well, I’d like to have some bigger some more meat on those lambs. Those those pounds always come at a cost. You know, what do you What else? What are you gonna give up in the animal? What are you gonna give up in performance to get that? Yes. Yeah. Well, I think doepers, when you consider where they come from, you’re giving up some parasite resistance. When if you’re just talking about those sheep, but, yeah, there’s a trade off in everything we’re doing. We have to figure out what works best for us. Yep. Brian really have enjoyed the conversation thus far, but we’re gonna go ahead and move into the overgrazing section.

For the overgrazing section today, we’re gonna talk a little bit about your nontraditional revenue streams that you’re I don’t know if they’re established or you’re working on establishing. But I know from your website you’ve got the land trust dot com and the hipcamp dot com. Can you tell us a little bit about those? Well, yeah. I’ve been I’ve been on a hip camp for a couple years now and I don’t really push that just kinda let it grow organically. I’ve I’ve met some really interesting people, but it’s been difficult to really see that as an income source. It’s probably cost me more money to go over there and maintain that site in diesel fuel just probably won it twice a year than I’ve collected off the rent fees. For the last two years. So there’s that. But, you know, I’ve met some really interesting people and it’s it’s not something I’m gonna quit doing.

It’s something I might like to do a little bit more of if I get some funds available to, like, improve a few roads here and there so I can open up a few more sites because that’s kind of the issue. Like, you know, you wanna open up a place to the public? Well, just about anybody who needs to be able to get there. Well, I’m sorry. Your Honda Civic is gonna make it two miles back in the spot where it really got an awesome pond. You know? Right. So it that’s kind of a thing. I I think they’ve got some new controls out to where, like, you know, you can restrict it to high clearance four by fours or whatever So it’s just not something I’ve I’ve really looked at a lot. I know there are some people that have had great success with it that are doing really well with their listings on Hipcamp, but they’re also kinda either they’re they’re right off a major travel route. Yes. I mean, the Red Hills should be known for their scenic beauty, but the interstates are two hundred miles north or two hundred miles south. Rye comes here. Yeah.

With the land trust thing, So the deer hunting on the property, I’m I managed separately. Like, I’ve got oh, okay. I I got several different deals going on with Deer Hunter’s. When the land trust folks approached me, they’re like, yo, with their pitch, that was the first thing I told them, like, you know, dear hands off the table because that’s already managed, you know, in another way with long term arrangements with, you know, people that I that I vetted personally, that I trust. Or I’ve known for, like, forty some years. Anyway, so they’re like, well, what about everything else? I said, Okay. Well, let’s talk about everything else and and Tom came down and rode around with me for a day, looked at it, made it made my land trust site and sent it to me this is what we can offer you. Would you like us to go live with this? Like, that looks good.

So I’ve only actually had one booking through Land Trust. And it was also coincidentally my guests first time booking through land trust. It was awkward but not uncomfortable. It was just kinda like, okay. I this is my first time. It’s your first time. Let’s just kinda kinda head away through this. So it wasn’t a bad experience. Put a little put a few bucks in my pocket. I’d already they wanna rebook for next year, and I have I have two hunts already booked for next January.

Oh, yes. For bird hunting. Yes. I’ve had some people we have we also have, like, we’ve got camping listed on land trust. We’ve got backpacking, we’ve got hiking, we’ve got biking, stargazing, beaver viewing, bird viewing, all kinds of stuff on there just haven’t really had very many takers on it yet. Yeah. I saw that beaver viewing. I thought, interesting. That’s For us, the beavers are nuisance, but that would be a way to to make it more valuable. But our beavers don’t. The way our land is, they’re not doing anything that looks real pretty. Well, the creek that’s quote infested with beavers and I say that with the feet pedal on my face. Yes. I like having it infested with Beavers. Yes. We’re three years into the worst drought that’s ever been recorded since they’ve been keeping weather records here. I have more water. There is more water in that creek than there has ever been. Aahoe, yes. Water level is higher and is flowing more gallon per minute or more, you know, CFS than it ever has. I’ll take that. That’s yeah. That’s some pretty good work by beavers.

My buddy my buddy was just out last weekend, and he threw he he loves the fish. Like, he’ll just get on his four really efficient pole and a cooler of beer and be gone all day on the ranch. And I’ll just get pictures all day of all the fish that he catches in these weird little holes on the creek or this little thing behind the pond or, you know, this other part of the pond that I haven’t been to in two years. Like, he’s he’s nuts. So he went to this like beaver pond and he pulled out a bath that was probably two and a half pounds. Uh-oh, yes. Out of a beaver pond. Yeah. On the kind of yeah. I mean, well, that’s not a trophy fish, but very notable for where it was. Well, yeah. Yeah.

We are having or I’m seeing more beaver evidence. In our general area. We have some deeper traffic up in one of our ponds. Now half mile over, I’m seeing seeing some damage they’re doing on some trees there. They’re they’re gonna block the road one day because that tree’s gonna fall across the road. But we’re seeing more beavers which I like seeing more beavers if they don’t cut down the trees I like. You know? Unfortunately, you can’t go out and put a yellow ribbon on it and say don’t cut this one down. It doesn’t work that way. Does it? No. No. You pretty much have to build Fort Knox around a tree to keep them out of there. They don’t want to add a tree. Yes. Yes. They are persistent.

So do you see your land trust or your hip camp? You mentioned a little bit about your hip hip camp, kneeing a little bit better roads or restrictions? But how do you see that going in the future? Do you see it growing into anything that you could hang your hat on and say, hey, here’s some income coming in or is it just gonna be just something side, something you can enjoy a little bit. I think maybe, you know, land trust might be kinda like some piggy banks, some rainy day, vacation money. Yes. I don’t ever necessarily see land trust as being something that I can that’ll allow me to quit my day job, so to speak. Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know, like like everybody else podcasting, hopefully, at least I wanna catch enough sponsors and get enough, you know, supporters that wanna subscribe either, you know, through through my hosting service or through Patreon that, you know, that that maybe helps pay a bill or two. But for the most part, custom grazing pays the bills and I kinda subsidized my cow herd a little bit and hopefully soon, the ground the beef pipeline, my beef supply pipeline will be starting to open up and be jamful product, and that will start generating income as well.

I’m very good. Yes. I’m in a very low population density area. And I’m off the beaten track. I mean, if the interstate isn’t very far away or you you know, Oklahoma City or Tulsa or Dallas or Shreveport, if you’re not far for a big major metro area, yeah, look at land trust. Look at some of these hip camp programs. You know, there’s all kinds of, like, harvest host is another one.

Airbnb. Well, there’s tremendous demand for Airbnb. Especially if you don’t put a camera inside. There’s there’s tons of opportunities out there. That are enabled by the Internet to allow those of us in rural areas with resources, with a spare cabin, with a camp site with a cool spot down by a creek with pretty birds to look at with a spot way out in the country away from city lights. That we can offer to these people, that they can come out, and we can share it with them.

And it’s a way to help help us connect with the public. Maybe they’re not necessarily a consumer of my beef, but almost everybody in this country is a consumer of beef through the year. So if I can show them a little bit about, hey, maybe you don’t buy my product, but this is what I do and this is where this is where I feel cows should rage, should live. Cows should stand on grass and eat grass, not stand on dirt and eat corn out of concrete. Every little bit of that I that we can do, I think we should be taking those opportunities to do it. Whether or not it’s, you know, whether it’s a thing that’s really gonna show up on the balance sheet here in the bank balance. You know, probably not, but there’s there’s benefits that that kind of public outreach has. You know, we’ve we’ve done very much so. We gotta have it coming up here at the end of the month. Kinda it’s a strangest thing you’ve probably ever heard of.

So I opened up the ranch, crossed about seven and a half miles of my trails and roads to a group of bicycles, cyclists. Oh, yes? So there’s a it’s it’s about a little over two hundred kilometers they up in a town called Pratt, and they ride down on Country Roads. They they cut across another friends ranch north and west of me, came down through Sun City, They come out through seven and a half miles of my ranch, then they head off towards town, they go through another friend’s ranch, hit town, and then back up to Pratt on on back roads. Highly five miles.

Every year, I get asked, why do you do that? Why do you want those people here? This year, they’ve got three hundred twenty five people signed up for this ride. It’s three hundred twenty five people that are health conscious. They’re very aware of what they’re putting their bodies and how and how their bodies perform. These are people that are out of I mean, yeah, there’s the group of guys that are head down that come by in the first hour, and they’re just flying. And then you have the guys that are having fun. And So what I’m getting at is there’s a lot of folks that probably have no idea where their food comes from.

They have no idea what we do out here. And it’s just a little bit of education, a little bit of sharing that. Like, I make them come down to ride right past the beaver ponds, and they have to get off their pond vehicles and cross the creek. Like, oh, yeah. It’s pretty cool to see. But being able to connect with some of those people. And just show them like, hey, you know, these are my cows. This is how I grow cows. This is what this is what should be this is what could be going on when you drive past that pasture and you don’t see account. This is why.

So every chance we get to educate somebody on our our land management ethic or ecological ethic or just you know, our our our principles of good stockmanship and build those bridges, it’s it’s important to do. I agree. We’re, you know, you you said about shake the hand that feed you. It’s, you know, each generations I I work in education and I work in a rural community. So So it’s a little bit different than if you’re going to Tulsa. But still yet, we have kids that no longer can say that they go to their grandparents farm. They’re they’re just so far removed from it.

So any of that outreach I think is great And that’s one area we have not done much about, but I I really would like to advance on and get more people out here. Not the easiest thing in the world to do either. Now you mentioned earlier, you know, as we look towards the future, the the people that tell their story and get their story out to the consumer, builds those relationships will be successful. You know, not all of us. Sometimes we struggle with that marketing story portion and I know I’ve got the podcast and online presence, but that’s that’s not one of my strengths.

I have to to work for that and and I’m I’m attempting to get better and I I will improve, but, you know, that’s just another one of those legs on the stool as a rancher that you’ve got to develop, and you don’t have to be good about it, but you’ve got to be out there doing it. Don’t have to be good. You don’t have to be great. You just have to try. And not give Yes. And that’s kind of my motto with the podcast. I’m not very good at this, but I get people on here that’s very knowledgeable. Don’t listen to listen to me, listen to my guest. So I just jumped in and said, here we go. That’s kinda how I do it. Great try anyway. Yeah. Yeah.

Well, Brian, it’s time for our famous four questions. Same four questions we ask about of our guests. And I stole that off of bigger pockets podcast. Our very first question, what is your favorite grazing grass related book or resource? Oh, that’s a good one. I’m gonna go with holistic management third edition. I think you’re the third week in a row we’ve had that answer, the holistic management. Really? Yes. We we get that one. You know, we can’t go in spurts. It’s kinda interesting with the podcast. I’ll have on a few people, and in a row, we’ll get Greg Judy books, or we’ll get quality pastors. Or some of these others. But like right now, we’re in this holistic management phase. I’m I think you’re the third one in a row. I’d have to check for sure, but I’m pretty sure. It’s I mean, if I was gonna say that there was one book to read, that would that would help somebody, like, get on a path to to be where I’m at. It would be holistic management, third edition. Whatever the current whatever the current one is. And whatever the current is, the whole thing, not just the part about how to manage grass, but the whole thing about, you know, holistic planning and you know, having a goal and a mission and a vision and understanding the why of doing what you’re doing. That’s just as important as understanding how many pounds of grass you have per acre. Oh, yes. Yeah. Definitely a excellent choice there.

Our second question, what’s your favorite tool on your ranch? Now, this is a tough one. Maybe we’ll see. Man, it’s kind of a tall set between my fence tester and my grazing stick. I can see both. It’s it’s always interesting to hear answers. Tell us just a little bit why you your fenced tester. Make sure the fence is good and hot. That’s just you know, that’s And the way and disease is simple.

The grazing stick, you know, when you’ve been kinda doing it for fifteen years, you develop an eye. I don’t do a whole lot of clipping and weighing of grass anymore. Maybe I should I I haven’t done it in a couple years. And I do it as as kind of a truth. Like, am I telling the truth to myself? Am I lying to myself? Most of the time now, I just kinda calibrate myself off the grazing stick. And that hasn’t failed me for the last several years. So it’s been working for — No. Yes. — you know, So the grazing stat grazing stick is the first verification on the eyeball. And in the cut and weigh and measure, that’s the truth. That’s the real truth. Oh, yes. Am I interpreting the grazing stick and my eyeballs correctly? We’re gonna go clip it away and dry some down and see what it does. Very good. Very good.

Our third question, what would you tell someone just getting started? You know, that’s one of the ones I ask all the time. And I never I never think about answering it. What would I tell somebody starting out? Probably don’t, but that’s that’s I mean, that’s obviously kind of a flippant sarcastic answer. Yes. I would tell somebody to make sure that they understand their market. And who they’re selling to.

I feel like somebody trying to get into the cattle business in twenty twenty three that doesn’t have a good understanding in the market and who’s buying and they’re and they’re gonna play the commodity game. I feel like they’re setting themselves up for long term failure. I I just feel like the commodity game is so rigged now that the barrier to entry is so large, you’re either gonna overleverage everything you have and work for free for twenty years to try to pay it off or you’re just gonna go broke in five years. You know, the next cattle cycle, the next drought cycle, you’re not gonna make it through. Yeah. Begin with the end in mind.

So you consider where you’re going what you’re going to do other than that commodity market. I mean, I’m sure there’s tons of guys out there that are like, yeah, I want to be a farmer. Okay? Well, don’t spend a couple of million bucks. To buy four hundred acres in Iowa, a John Deere x nine, a five hundred horsepower tillage tractor, and some new tools, and go for it. Get right after it. If you really wanna be thinking about starting up a farm in twenty twenty three, maybe thinking about what can I grow and add value to on farm and sell as a product? You know, and whatever whatever means Yeah. And whatever makes sense for for whatever makes sense for you. I mean, right. Right. You know, I I have a friend up here that’s a weak farmer.

I was up northwest up, and he called me like a once ago and I said, hey, if I had some wheat flour, would you buy it from me? They said, well, we’re just gonna maybe sell it in in like court jars. I’m like, dude, I’ll buy it if you put it in a plastic bag. I will buy it because you’re selling it to me. I will buy it from you because you will tell me everything you spray on it and why. Oh, yes. And I will pay the same price per pound for your flour that I would pay at the grocery store. I would pay more. I would pay more for flour if I could go shake the hand of the person that grew it and he would tell me everything he sprayed on it and why he sprayed that shit on it. And he milled out his kitchen, I’ll go buy flower from that man for twice the price that it’s on a store shelf for and be happy doing it. Something like that.

Like, here in Southern Kansas, we can grow wheat, we can grow barley, we can grow hops. How come there aren’t more guys growing making their own beer? Like, the whole reason we started a brew beer is because that was a way to preserve the nutritional the the nutrition in the grain for a longer time than the grain would stay in a silo. And you leave grain in a silo long enough at rock? Yes. Let’s make it into beer. Beer is liquid bread. Right? Have you there’s a reason why it’s called liquid bread.

So I I wonder why more more guys aren’t looking at stuff like, you know, hey, maybe I’ll buy a five hundred dollar flour mill that’s, you know, just homeowner grade. And plant one acre to wheat or treat one acre differently and that’s the acre that I’m gonna cut and I’m gonna bag and I’m gonna mill in a kitchen and I’m gonna sell to people in a plastic bag or in a mason jar. Are you? Oh, yes. Yeah. We need more of that. We need less people selling soap at the farmers market and more people selling stuff. They actually grew and added value to. I agree with you. I would I would pay extra for the flour Like you said, I can shake the hand of the person who grew it, can tell me what was put on it, and why?

Because I don’t want any extra pesticides, etcetera, put on it. And you’re right. We don’t see that at farmers markets, but it looks like to me, there’d be a market for it. And it it’s kinda like what’s happened in beef. You know, the guys that grow that stuff, a lot of them went to college, a lot of them listen to their co op. They listen to the wheat board. Like, The wheat board’s not gonna tell them to go buy a mill and mill wheat in their kitchen and sell it in mason jars. They’re not gonna do that. You know, and granted it will it work if every wheat farmer does it? No. Well, that’s not the point. But, I mean, by the time everybody was doing it, the early adopters need to be doing something else. Yes.

And lastly, Brian, where can others find out more about you? Oh, well, red hills rancher dot com? I’m also on all social media as Red Hills rancher. You can find my podcast, which is called ranching Reboot. Whatever podcast platform you’re listening to this podcast on. We don’t need to say where it’s available. Somebody can listen to this one, they can find mine. So I’m Cobre Anjali boot. I’m Red Hills rancher, otherwise known as Brian Alexander. If you want your Facebook feed to be filled with libertarian propaganda, send me a friend request if you wanna see what’s going on in the ranch and follow the podcast, follow Red Hills Ranch. Right. Thank you, Brian.

We’ve enjoyed it. I think Our listeners will enjoy it, and thank you for coming on and spending a little bit of time with us. Well, it was a pleasure, Cal, and I’ve appreciate you giving me the opportunity. It’s been a lot of fun today. 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. I’ve enjoyed today’s conversation. Hope you’ve enjoyed it as well.

If you would like to continue on the conversation, visit the grazinggrass community at community dot grazinggrass dot com or go to the grazing grass dot com and click on the community link. You can find the grazing grass podcast on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. So if you haven’t subscribed to us on YouTube, we encourage you to go over and subscribe. We will be releasing episodes over there. We also have a lot of episodes we haven’t released that we’re gonna get over there as well. If you find something valuable, please share it. We appreciate you sharing about our podcast and getting the word out. Are you a grass farmer? Would you be interested in sharing about your journey? If so, go to gracing grass dot com and click on be our guest. There’s a short form you fill out and we’ll be in touch until next time. Keep on grazing grass.

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