e53. Racing to Greener Pastures with Taylor Moyer

In this episode, Taylor Moyer, owner of Ridgeview Land and Cattle, shares his journey in agriculture and innovative cattle management while balancing his career in NASCAR. From observing the land before making changes to utilizing technology for automation and monitoring, Taylor discusses his approach to rotational grazing, cattle herd development, and artificial insemination. They also explore the benefits of bale grazing for regenerating farm ground and the importance of networking and advocating for agriculture through social media. Tune in for a fascinating conversation on farming, business, and the passion for a rural lifestyle.

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

Well, Taylor, we wanna welcome you to the grazing grass podcast. We’re excited you’re here. Thank you, Cal. I’m excited to be here. Excellent. Taylor, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation? Sure. My name is Taylor Moyer. Thirty five years old. I bought my operation. I bought my own farm when I in two thousand eighteen.

My farm I should say our farm, my wife, and mine farm is called Ridgeview Land and cattle, and that’s kinda homage to Ridgeview cattle company, where I grew up in Vermont. Actually, my parents, they owned a a beef cattle operation and apple orchards, which is kind of the culmination of the agriculture on both sides of my family. My mom’s side of the family owns a Orchard called Battle View Orchards in New Jersey, which has been in our family since nineteen hundred and five, I believe. It’s on the fifth generation of my aunt and uncle and cousin and his wife own and operate it. It’s very successful. And my dad’s side of the family owns Okamoto dairy, which is the oldest dairy farm in the state of Virginia. It’s been in the family since eighteen ninety five and it is as well as on fifth generation, which is my cousins operating. I have a long lineage of agriculture in my family, my great grandfather, Leslie Norman Applegate was the first ever national president of FAA. So it’s it’s in me for sure. My parents met at Virginia Tech, both at getting out your college degrees and moved Vermont had had me and my little brother and raised us on apples and beef cattle. The apple orchard kind of phased out when I was in fourth grade. So most of my his most of my memory of growing up with showing cows, playing sports, and growing up on our beef cattle operation, which was like a a brewed herd. We’d get anywhere from four to six hundred yearling or stock or cattle in. Through the growing season, and then we had some direct to consumer meat sales as well. My farm is in North Carolina outside of Charlotte where I reside. And we pre we are primarily at the moment, cow calf. And I say at the moment because we are We try. We are trying to keep some of our herd very liquid and match it to our carrying capacity of our lands and our our our farm. So we I do believe in a certain type of genetics and we work on that hard, but we we’ve we’ve had as many cows as eighty at our place and all the way down to, you know, less than twenty at times when Forge wasn’t available. So I could go in as deep into our operation as you would like, but that’s the gist of it and that’s that’s the gist of me. Oh, very good. We will we will dive into that a little bit deeper anytime someone says genetics, my ears perk up. So we’ll we’ll have to get there.

Now, interesting enough, I think you said your parents mad at Virginia Tech — Yep. — and then they they went back to Vermont So it wasn’t a back to Vermont. Nobody nobody in my family had ever lived in Vermont. Vermont’s got a very they’re ahead of its time with with selling conservation easements on land. So for my whole life, I remember big pieces of farmland having the development rights sold, which kept the to my to my childhood memory kept the land values at a price in which agriculture could compete. And I know that’s a — Oh, yeah. — yeah. So I actually have friends of mine younger than me from high school who were able to add a college, work hard and buy by farms and not have to compete with development prices and real estate prices. So I think my parents just found an opportunity in a place where they had probably only ever skied before. But — Yes. — it was a great place to grow up.

The west side of Vermont, the Champlain Valley where I grew up is nothing but big It’s it’s it’s just apple orchards and dairy farms, really. It’s gorgeous. It’s where the ski mountains roll for a couple, like, say, twenty miles to the edge of lake Champaign, which divides Vermont, New York, and it’s it is a gorgeous place and a great place to grow up and I’m very blessed to grow up there. I’m I’m sure it is and That sounds pretty great. Yeah. Now, so you ended up in North Carolina. How did you get there? Well, that’s the other side of me. I’m I’m actually a group chief in NASCAR and I race professionally every weekend. So this is the place to be if you go into race when I left the day after I graduated high school, I thought I’d never Chevrolet Calminumer again, and I drove my truck down to Charlotte, North Carolina. I got my mechanical engineering engineering degree from UNC Charlotte and worked for race teams through college.

But I realized very quickly that a rural lifestyle and cattle in general were kind of part of me and what it’s what I like to do in my spare time and kinda what soothes me. My nine to five job is not a nine to five. It’s more of a five to nine, and it’s at an extreme rapid pace. And what started as just saving up to have some land turned into a, how do I best utilize this land? And I kinda got to relearn agriculture in my own time and space, you know, since I own the farm and there’s no pressure from my family. There I know there’s all the guidance I could ever want, but there’s nobody pressuring me to do it a certain way.

I dove back in and I dove back in pretty hard with my pencil and calculator. And I firmly believe I’m doing a disservice to my own family and friends in the farming industry. If I’m willing to lose money doing it, I think I’m just driving the market down. So I very diligently, make sure that I know where all my numbers are and run the business as a business. And don’t willingly just lose money in a hobby just because I think it hurts as much as it could be a hobby for sure, and I could see spending a bunch of unnecessary money on it. But at the end of the day, I have a lot of friends in this industry. It’s where I feel most comfortable. It’s the people I feel most comfortable around. And I’m only doing them a disservice if I don’t don’t try to do it legitimately.

So my other job certainly is what paid for the land, but charge my I I run my enterprises separately. I have a land holding enterprise, and then I have a a livestock enterprise. And I I charge my livestock enterprise you know, fair market rent for this area to my land enterprise to make sure everything is on the up and up. Very good. And you’re covering that sustainability point right there. If you’re not making a profit, your farm’s not sustainable. And it’s only gonna be here as long as you can fund it some other way. So excellent on on doing that. And that’s interesting. Viewpoint on your land management.

You’ve got that separate in your enterprises, which I think is great, but what brought you to that decision? I think I think all those decisions I’d have to back up my mom’s an accountant. And even even even through four h, and and showing cows, my parents were for it’s probably the best it was a pain in the butt when I was young, but it’s probably the best lesson I had for finance growing up and as well as my grandpa. My grandfather’s, both are their the farms don’t last that long, you know, and go to that many generations. Without being good business people, and those were those kind of instilled in me.

I did attend ranching for profit. And oh, yes. I’ve been of that mindset and I got to attend last year, which was was great. And it gave me a structure to really put numbers to paper. But I think I mean, I I am frugal by nature. Maybe that’s just the farmer in me. Right? Like, I know so. Yeah. Sure. You know, we could So I don’t know. That that tactic I use just to evaluate really whether or not I should be running my own cows on my land or I’d better suited to rent it all out to somebody else or or rent it to somebody to row crop. And those are all things I, you know, I put in my equation to to think about Well, it’s excellent. You have it set up and yeah. My my dad, while he wasn’t an accountant, he has a degree in accounting, and all those things I heard all my life, I should do a better job. But I I do have a foundation there where I understand a few things.

Now when you you purchased that land in twenty eighteen, What was your first thing to do on on your new newly purchased land? So luckily, even though it was newly purchased and would It’s funny I actually had this in my advice because it was advice I’d gained from somebody. I wanna say kinda what led me back to farming was that I grew up on a big farm with a very agrarian lifestyle and knew no different. As far as even what we ate in the house, you know, we ate beef that we had butchered and my mom grew a big garden and put vegetables by and stuff. And then I moved to a more metropolitan area and started probably living a more standard American lifestyle and I found myself just kinda unhealthy gaining weight. You know, I’m also becoming an adult and going from being a teenager who’s got endless metabolism to whatever and I started down kinda healthy food paths and it led me right back to farming, which is where I I believe healthy food starts. With that, you know, I was introduced to Will Harrison, to Joel Salatin, to Greg Judy, to all of those guys. But one thing that Joe Salatin has always said, that I took the heart, and I’m glad I did when I first purchased that piece of land.

Well, first and foremost, I purchased the piece of land because it’s proximity to Charlotte, North Carolina. It was probably a good real estate investment. And I had been in that community for nine years before somebody even told me that piece of land was for sale. It’s very tight knit community. And, you know, that’s the great thing about the community I’m in. There is a little bit of guardedness against housing developments and and and Charlotte’s So we’ve done it. Been a growing city for years. So I thought it was a good investment no matter whether I were in cows or not. It would be a place to hunt and recreate But I do remember somebody I I I pretty sure yourself and said just observe the land, you know, before you start sticking fences everywhere just observe and see what the land gives you for free.

And it’s funny because I did just recently last year, do a large fencing infrastructure project fencing and water. And had I put some stuff where I would have initially it would have been washed away by I have three Creeks on the farm. It would have been gone by now. You know, I had to stand back, see what nature gave me for free. See how the land worked, I would guess, how water flowed, what places had grass year round, which places didn’t have, and and just do a lot of observation And that is what I did.

I got to observe a lot, and I initially had income from the lands because there was already cows there from from some people I knew and I didn’t kick I didn’t kick them out. I just took them on almost as partners and that allowed me to grow my herd along with their herd, be randomized, one herd and and share responsibilities. I was the land owner probably and the herd manager and the day labor. But they would they would help me out a lot and that they would feed up, like, that was my hay source for the winter when we were feeding hay. They would feed that hay. Obviously, with my my other job and gone every weekend, they were always there if needed something. So that’s how we operated for the beginning. It allowed me to not rush into anything. So I didn’t have to make any huge huge mistakes I could kinda learn as I went, and I’m very grateful for that but that’s kinda what we started with with the land and and and we’ve always taken a lot of photos, which is interesting. I have a photo of the first day I bought it and I look back at that photo a lot because you wouldn’t even be able to tell it’s the same. So it’s how it started. That is great.

And to jump on that photos bit, I’ve often thought, I think, wrenching for profit, they talk about some how to do some photos so you can see progress over time. Absolutely. And and I think that so good, I haven’t figured out a system for here. I haven’t done it. I haven’t gone to wrenching for profit yet. I was wanting to this year because there’s a school fairly close to me, but I’ve kind of committed to too much else. So I’m gonna have to put that on the back burner. Yeah. So hopefully, I get to one soon. But getting pictures of your land so you can see that progress because you think, oh, I’ll remember this. I can’t remember what I had for supper last night. How am I gonna remember how the pastor looked? So getting those pictures, I think that document that journey your own is so wonderful.

The the the soil health and the land health part of it for me is just as big as the cattle. I I enjoy recreating in the outdoors. I love to hunt. And it’s funny. It’s I use the pictures the most in times when I’m frustrated where I don’t feel like I’m making progress. I’m very much a player — Yes. — and a progress guy. I can always go back through my pictures and be like, actually, no. Never mind. I forgot to look this bad up. I’m doing okay. Like, you know, it’s a bad way back. Absolutely. Yeah. You have to have some pause of affirmation in your life in some form? You do. So you got the land, you you got the cat on, you kinda observed.

Now, you mentioned earlier that you had the cattle owners or y’all formed a partnership and they helped tend to your animals when you’re gone with the races. But you said that’s the way you used to be. Are you still having help on the weekends when you’re gone? Or how are you managing that? So we finally got to the point where my portion of the herd was large enough that economically didn’t make sense for either of us anymore. And we probably had a little different goals. And they’re still very good friends of mine. You know, it was a good partnership all the way around. We were always very open with each other. At the end of the day, after I got to a certain amount of cattle, it just it didn’t make You know, if I was increasing my size, the land can only hold too much, so we were decreasing their size. Economically didn’t make sense anymore. But they’re still very helpful if I ever need anything. But no. So we operate We have some part time hope.

A big part of our vision and mission is we really believe in community, and I have a a younger gentleman across the road. I have two little I wouldn’t say little boys. I have two teenage boys that work for me. One’s a cow and water checker. One’s a lawn mower. Yes. They’re kinda like little brothers to me. We actually put some automation in the farm. I can tell at any time that the cows make sure they have water. We have some pretty cheap off the shelf cell cameras for deer that shine on all the water troughs. Now we did rotationally great, so it’s only one trough at a time. So I get a picture on my phone every twelve hours have all part of my infrastructure project was putting in some ball water, so I can tell if the balls are floating. Got pressure in my system. I have a little bit of automation. We have a farm a farm office there, and so it’s got WiFi. So I have some automation to make sure the fence is on electric fence is on. So I’ve used the I’ve used technology in my mind in the right way to make sure that those cows, you know, have everything that I feel that I should provide.

I do not prop my cows up at all. They get clean water, mineral and good grass, and the rest they better do themselves or they can find another farm to live on. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I agree with you with that. And I’m kinda we may cover that. I’ll mention a little bit more in a minute. But let’s talk about you mentioned your waters last year. And you said you had a big infrastructure that you project last year with fencing water. What did you do last year? Sure.

So when I bought the place, the whole thing was perimeter fenced in barbed wire, which is is fine, but I I lacked a little flexibility. And it was my goal. I actually grew up rotationally grazing soccer cattle with my dad and it just — Oh, yes. That was the norm to me. It wasn’t any There’s nothing abnormal about that. I didn’t know any difference. So my dad was probably a kind of ahead of his time in that and I knew I knew the benefits that it could give the land kind of first hand, so I wanted to get back to that in a way.

So to do that, I needed to bring some electricity onto the farm. And I have a I have two Creeks run into the farm and they run into one creek and they make a pretty big main artery. And in the southeast, we do fight some heat in the summer and I didn’t love the cows being in those creek it just turned it into, you know, they would get sore feet. The the the creeks would just become a cesspool. I the they they were eroding the banks pretty bad. So I did use some cost share money with the state to fence the cows out of the creeks and along with that came, you know, having to put in some pressurized waters to, you know, get use a different water source. I went through all those steps. I had very mixed emotions about about using cost share money, but I went through a lot of I I really wrote a lot of pros and cons down, and I could tell the people in my county were really excited to help you get somebody younger in agriculture and not just see all the money go to the big row crappers. But that’s what I did.

So it’s it’s three pressurized water pads. I’m an engineer. They seem a little overbuilt. You know, I’ve got twenty by twenty concrete pads. And then I have some really nice high tensile fence that fence the main creek right up the center of the farm. Tense the cows out of that creek, but that really allows me to use you know, we just use O’Brien, Reels, Nine Strand, Polyibrate, and I have basically have a main electrical artery right up the middle of the farm to to subdivide the farm and and any type of way I want. So that’s that’s really what we use. Another portion of that is, you know, we use O’Brien Steppins and some Reels and then Reese just recently we got some bat latches, not not by the bat latch brand. There’s a newer brand. I don’t mind giving the guy’s name because the product works really well, but Teeter FarmTech is a guy that did some cool engineering and used, I think, a long sprinkler timer and some SLA to make very affordable bat latches so the cows can move themselves when I’m not there if I set them right. I’ve looked at all my gate openers before. I’ve never strongly considered them. And we’ve have had past gaston, maybe Jose in, like, episode five, I think he was using them quite a bit, and we’ve had a couple others.

But as sitting here talking to you, you know, you make a very good point about your labor and stuff. I have a farm that’s, like, five miles from me that I’ve got to drive out there and pick up the fence or or I try and build the paddocks on the weekend. So I gotta go over and open a gate and move him through. And and I I enjoy that time to see him. But, you know, once in a while, I’m rushed tonight. I got home from work. And check cattle, tended to sheep, and we’re in the middle of landing right now. So that took longer. I grabbed the bite to eat and hopped on here with you. So you know some days, those hours get kind of thin. Yeah. Absolutely.

I try to keep accurate records of how much I spend a lot of time on my cows free time because it’s what I do and enjoy. But — Right. — to scale the business and making making it a real business, I wanna know what does it actually take? Like, I keep this as enjoyment time and this is what the job actually takes — Oh, yes. — just to know, you know, just to know because a lot of those overheads if I open that gate for ten cows versus a thousand cows, it’s no different. It’s the same amount of time. Right? So that that factors into the scaling of it all. It it does.

And talking about your records there, are you using a spreadsheet? That’s what my First assumption is, but or what are you using to keep track of this information? Different records. So I do use Google sheets for about everything with my other job, I can be on the go all the time and keep track. We keep a big grazing chart on the wall of the farm office so everybody can use it But, yeah, generally, I use Google sheets and spreadsheets. I’m pretty skilled in Excel just by the nature of my other job. So It’s very familiar to me. And I like to I like to do calculations once and make it so it’s worksheet so I can just go back and fill in numbers. So a humorous side story on that. I love spreadsheets. I can I can get lost in a spreadsheet, so that tells you a lot about me? But I’m I’m gaining some more responsibilities at work.

And the guy who retired, he gave me these spreadsheets. So I I looked at him. I thought, oh, I gotta automate a lot of this. And I’ll get that automate, but I was going through his calculations and stuff. He was hand cocked calating everything on his spreadsheet. Oh, he didn’t know he could put in functions. I guess, I guess, I did a poor job of showing him that he could do that, but because I’m like, oh, man, I should’ve helped him with that. I should’ve known. I should’ve got in there and said, hey, you can do this. It’ll save you some time, but that’s that’s k. Interesting. Yeah.

So your your grazing chart. Tell us a little bit about your grazing chart on the the wall. So sure. So I am I’m using a grazing chart I bought straight from Ranching for profit. I’ve used some I’ve had some excel templates as well and used them in the past. I like the big one on the wall with the Sharpie because my wife can see it as well.

And anybody that comes to the farm, it’s you have your theoretical on the top, but a grazing chart is the year the the days of the month and all the months and columns, yeah, columns and all your pastures or paddocks and rows. You know, I forward projected where I think I’ll be based off, you know, last year’s weather patterns or whatever. And then I keep track of where I actually go. And I started doing it last year because it’s how I really can track improvements on the land. And when I say improvements, Some of them aren’t on the grazing chart. Right? Your actual soil health of what what you see when you take a shovel and the ground wouldn’t be on there. But I can certainly track if I’m getting more stock days per acre out of my ground, which could be an improvement as long as I’m not overgrazing. Another improvement could be we track a lot of things all the way down to how many stock days per acre per one inch rainfall that we get to really — Oh, yeah. — yeah, to really nail down.

Now I don’t have a long enough history of this, but we do get a pretty good we we get a pretty good it’s been a pattern since I’ve owned the farm that we get a pretty good micro drought. And I say a micro drought because what the people throughout the west and a lot of my friends in Nebraska and Montana and why only went through the last two years, that was a drought. With the high clay content of our soil, we’re always two weeks away from a drought where the soil just hardens off and and you’re done. Where a lot of people’s grass grows dormant in the winter, our grass really goes dormant in that in the summer. Like, it just gets so hot. So Oh, yes. That kinda helps me plan for those drought periods and make sure I have enough forage stockpiled or I need to liquidate some of the herd if I wanna match or bring in some hay.

Just helps me forward project and plan, but it’s it’s literally just a big laminated chart on the wall with the months and days in rows or sorry columns and then your pastures in rows. And I I really feel like and I use this and use this term a lot, my other career that she can’t manage what she don’t measure. So last year, it was just a measuring tool. And now I get to now I get to manage or look at this year against last here and really look back and see if I made things better or worse. And, you know, it’s just it’s not so much subjective. It’s pretty objective. Those numbers don’t lie. So you know, and that’s an area I need to improve.

I keep a grazing record on a spreadsheet, which is pretty simple. But so I can monitor cow days per land. And this is a question. Maybe maybe you have an answer for this, but Okay. So one property I’ve had is eighty acres. I’ve just got it split down the middle with a high tensile wire and I move my paddocks off there. And what I struggle with is how to keep track of each of those paddocks. I move because those paddocks change every time I do it. Because I just do it by whatever I think they need at the time. I struggle with that a lot too.

The grazing charge definitely probably more aimed at people in more brutal environments or arid environments where they have one short growing season, and they usually only hit a place once or twice. So, like, my pastures are labeled with my big pastures are labeled, like, one, two, three, through nine. And then within those, they’re subsets, so I have one, eight, two a three a four a. And what I found was that I also believe in randomness. I try not to subdivide them the same way every time just to mix up the timing. I don’t think nature is very, very pattern like that. So I I do struggle. What I try to do is just make sure not get two tore up in the nitty gritty, and make sure that as long as your total days on one half versus the other half are pretty darn close, don’t think it matters if you gave him a hundred extra yards up one side, the first one, and a hundred extra back the second. Because I’m I’m detail oriented like that. Too. And I was trying to think of a way, you know, my pastures I could’ve I could’ve subdivided my whole little place up into a million pastures for all the all the ways we cut it. But I just I tried to not get bogged down. I spent about a day thinking about the same thing, though. That’s where I get bogged down in that. So I I need to do a little bit better job on on myself keeping track of all that. So that’s really interesting.

When you said you you put a fence down it, you just put one high tensile wire along the creek, or do you do multi node strands? So it’s funny is that’s why I say it’s overbuilt. I grew up with high tensile. That’s all we had. We kept everything in with just two strands. Since it was a state project, I think I have on the creek, I have three strands and I have way too many wooden line posts and I have — Oh, yeah. — attention indicators along the thing So it’s funny the same guy that did the state project portion, defense some other stuff for me like property divisions. And on that, it’s offense to how I wanted, so I spaced my post out. Still did three strands, left attention indicators out. But, yeah, that’s why I say the state’s a little overbuilt. And even the fencing guy was like, Yeah. You know, they don’t want it. They don’t wanna see their money invested poorly. So, yeah, it’s three strand high ton, so but it’s built for Buffalo for sure. Well, well, good. That should alleviate problems in the future. Absolutely.

And you put in pressurized three watering points. Is that what you said? I put in three four ball waters along to strategic points in the farm that are usually my division points. So whenever I divide paddocks, I usually give them all four balls, but just for the herd size and I made sure I have enough pressure to get to all of them, but I could very well fence right over the top of them and and, you know, put two on one out of defense too on the other two. Yeah. Pretty much run everything as one heard. So, generally, they just get all four and good to go.

I thought I’d saw and I looked over here real quick at my other computer and I thought you had put a picture of your waters on media, social media, or on your website. But when I look through here, I’m not seeing that. So There is one on my website, I think, under the conservation tab. There you you have the the water and your concrete pad. Looks very nice. Lots of concrete there. Very nice. You’re not kidding. So the funny part about that is none of those cows had ever stepped on concrete. So the calves were actually the that that season’s calves were the first ones to venture out there. And then to train them to drink, we had to, for sure, take the balls out up there and it even Oh, yeah. There’s water. Water in there. But it was it was a learning curve for sure. Oh, yeah. Yeah. It looks great.

For your cattle, you mentioned you’ve kept the cows that were on the place when you bought it, but you have some very defined goals with your cattle and what you want them to do. So tell us a little bit about your your base herd, what then your journey with that. Okay. So my base head, the start of my base head would have been I bought six heffers, just six out of the herd that was there. And they were raised there with that herd I do believe in epigenetics, and I do believe that the herd probably passes down some traits about what’s on that piece particular piece of land. And I very much You could say my heffrey development plan is right along the lines of cut copy and paste from Bert Tiger. And that I don’t prop my heffers up either. There’s no special ration. I believe they should give give me my first calf at twenty four months and then read back on time and through that.

That was the start of my base herd. And and that that worked with some good success. I knew the herd that was there before it had been in a similar in a similar way. So I wasn’t setting myself up for too much failure. But that was the start of my base here that I brought in some more mama cows from some very good friends of mine that have a a really nice beef operation in the state of North Carolina. They’re similar age both husband and wife work full time in the operation. That’s pretty impressive. Anyway, similar very similar mindset. So I brought in light cattle from them and then as well. Recently, we brought in some more pairs from another gentleman in North Carolina. These are actually red Angus pairs, which are kinda uncommon in the in the on the East Coast. But they all stem back from some Tim Oldie cows, you know, Oldie OCC cattle.

So I try to I try to really keep up with you know, how people operate and how people run their cows, I think. You know, you gotta have cows that are similar, like braised in similar situations to the way you rate. So that’s really the foundation here that we have. So you’ve got some black Angus as well as some red Angus in there. Yeah. Yep. Black Angus as well as red Angus.

And we do have a mix of commercial and registered cows. I don’t I’m a stats guy, so I I like to have the records and the and the lineage on the registered side. And I do like some of the EPDs. I I work very hard to understand all the math behind them. There’s some that sure I look at and there’s some that sure I don’t look at. But on the even on the commercial cattle side, I just try to make sure they come from her roots in their bread, the bulls that I believe I run the same way I would run my cows. Which the way I were the way I run my cows, which is probably your next question is, I don’t think I run my cows hard that they’re not under conditioned by any means, but I do expect the cow to work for me, not me to work for the cows. So And I try to not be I’m not necessarily a a low input producer. I I believe I’m a smart input producer. You know, I need I know that I need to have enough protein in their diet for them to actually, you know, be able to process the forage. You know, there is there is trade off and I do pencil that protein on a per pound basis and and pencil in convenience, stuff like that. So the cows do primarily forage themselves.

I think the great thing about North Kalana is that we can grow grass for about ten months of the year. Pretty darn good grass. And we can grow forage for twelve months out of the air free pre plan and that’s what I’ve tried to do. There’s some uses of some annual to be grazing as much as we can and we’re moving forward even more in that and trying to reduce our hay that we do feed. And the main reason we’re trying to reduce that’s not because I don’t believe in feeding hay, I like bringing in my fertility in that manner, but just with the price of chemical fertilizer and diesel fuel, it’s it’s hard to pencil in, you know, two hundred dollars a ton hay or or whatever you’re paying. So Yeah. And and, hey, we we went through a a drought last fall into winter. I guess, started mid summer. Not quite like, two hours west of me, they’re in a pretty good drought. But hay prices just shot through the roof. Luckily, we had enough in the barn, but man, I know a lot of people went out and bought some expensive pay. Yep.

Now before we jump into your forages just a little bit, Are you buying bulls and bringing them in or are you AI? Because I’ve heard some conversation that sounds like you may be a person that’s AI. It’s funny you say that. I’m actually kind of a mix. The main reason I don’t own any bulls is because I believe in a pretty closed up breeding period, and I don’t really wanna have to carry the expensive carry in that bowl the other ten months of the year. So I do I do I do lease pools. And the leasing of pools, it works out well for me. Or it’s going to work out for well for me. This will be our first year leasing before the partnership heard had bulls that they would bring in. But I actually just penciled out leasing bulls today And luckily, I am friends with a tight enough group of people that have a pretty good assortment of genetics. I can’t kind of pick and choose what I want. We’re all like minded producers, so it works out well. You know, you gotta have some networking. So that’s a new that’s a new thing we’re gonna try this year is bringing in a lease pool.

But on the AI side, some of the cows that I have purchased, I’ve purchased as unbred females and made a deal to keep the cows at the whatever respective farm they’re at and have them AI to a bull of my choosing. That’s one way we do — Of course. — you know, and just everything comes with a convenience factor. I’m not a, you know, I have another job. I’m not a full time farmer or rancher yet. So purchased a cow, you know, purchased cows at a at an open heifer price and then pay a, you know, a custom cattle fee, like, purchased them paid a yardage fee for them to stay where they’re at and then be delivered to me as bread, females, and that’s that’s the way we’ve done it before. That was through a friend who, you know, he AI is a lot of cows and he has a it we just worked out well. He was gonna do a bunch anyway, so it was a way to get it done. Yeah. Excellent. Excellent. I don’t talk to too many people who AI.

I grew up in the dairy industry where we AI everything. Yep. And so so it’s a little bit different. Now I’ve got some neighbors that are registered breeders and they they do quote quite a bit of AI, you know, at least they used to. I I had a few heifers. Was it last year or the year before after not doing it for a couple of decades? So so I’m easing back in. I plan on AI and some again this year. I I like AI because I do really enjoy the genetic side of it. But on the same sense, I don’t think there’s any more breed better breeding machine than a bull. So if he can get it if he can get it done, you know, out there without me putting up too much effort. It’s not a bad deal either.

You did ask me about the goal goals of my herd, and I I do. Yeah. I do feel like at some point I could see myself closing my head or or kinda closing it more. I need to have a bigger foundation before I can do that. But I do believe eventually my herd will be the best herd for my piece of land. And I kinda think that’s a oh, yes. You know, that’s not gonna be the best shirt for a piece of land in Kansas, but with my forage base. Right. And in my topography, I’ll have a herd that’s it’s pretty good. And I think I’ll bring I’ll bring maybe on the bull’s side some small pieces of other genetics and when I want them to accomplish goals. But my goal would be to get my herd pretty uniform pretty low maintenance cattle. Excellent goes there.

Jumping to your forages. Tell us what your forages are there what you have in place? Sure. So we actually the project this year was we reseated a lot of stuff. I did take some take some fields gave them very long risk periods to see what was in the native seed bank. And I may have maybe I needed to give them more years, but I just couldn’t economically make that happen. So I put in a blend of some end of fight free rescue, some Orchard grass, Now it’s about seventy percent of the makeup and then twenty percent red clover and ten percent white or Latino clover. And that’s the basis of our forage. And when we put a lot of that in, we put it in with a handful of cheap annuals, when I say cheap winter annuals, throw in some barley or some wheat just to break this oil crust when we drilled it. That’s the majority of what we’re grazing now. And that’s that is handled with kit gloves.

I very much have been babying that grass to not overgraze it, make sure the roots get established. You know, when I pencil my perennials that I seed, it’s not my goal to seed grass every year by any means. I hope to never have to see this if I treat it correctly. I think that is an advantage of rescues. You can beat it up pretty hard. I know it comes with those disadvantages, but that stuff will grow all through the winter here. We don’t get real hard winter, so I can graze a lot of the winter, which is definitely a competitive advantage.

We do have a lot of annual rye grass that’s just kinda native. You know, there’s some there is a little bit of native grasses on a place. I really am working hard to see what comes back on its own, but that’s the that’s the mostly what we have for perennial animals. We do like to do A warm season. Sorry. That’s what we have for perennial grasses. We do like to do some warm season annuals. To make it through what I call summer slump, which is my August September time.

And we’ve had some really good success with grazing some sorghumstood ingress. And we’ve just drilled that straight into the Fescue. That Fescue goes dormant and that sorghum sudang grass It just takes off. It harvests a lot of sunlight, and it just seems to take off with no rain at all. And we’ll graze it you know, we try not to grace to the stock, and we’ve got anywhere from six grazings this summer to three grazings. The cows seem to love it. I don’t see any performance. Issues with it. But we’ve we’ve had good luck getting through that as well as we’ve had some fields that we’ve planted, what I would just call, thin run wheat, you know, just cheap wheat, around me is a lot of real cropping operations and you can pull wheat right out of the grain bin and drill it. I’m not looking for you know, small grain production. I’m just grazing the wheat, but that’s actually what we carved on this winter spring was We kept on green grass in February by calving on our wheat pastures.

So — Oh, yes. — it made it much more pleasurable to not have to fight my entire ground as unfreeze. So That’s what we’ve done. Traditionally, we’ve done that to get through February and March and really get the grass ahead start. To put them on that wheat. It’s tough to get enough ruffage in them for them not to be so loose, but the cows seem really happy and it puts any condition you lost throughout the winter on them really quick. And I say winter, it’s still, I guess, winter, but February in North Carolina is pretty mild compared to February in most places.

Do you think as you look forward to the coming winter, I know we’re months off, but it’ll be here. How do you think that’s gonna affect your hay needs. So we do plan on stockpiling a couple of pastures to have winter grazing. As well as and we’ll get to it on the overgrazing section. But when I did feed some hay last year, I fed it in a kind of a atypical manner for the East Coast, and that’s a tool that man I’ve had It might just be a anomaly, but I’ve had so much success with that when I do feed hay, I may be feeding hay very early in the fall when it’s nice and dry. And my hay feeding might be to let a bunch of pastures really take off in the fall. We kinda have a dual growing season. To to stockpile enough for the winter. So when it is kinda rainy and dreary and you would normally run up your place, I can just be outgrazing. So my timing might be I I I’m thinking my timing is gonna be very atypical. I think I’ll be feeding hay when the grass is really turning on in the fall. So I can stockpile enough forages to get me through December January to then hit my winter annuals February, March. And there’s just a lot of advantage to me in feeding hay in that manner. But my goal is to feed less and less hay every year.

What do you how do you see the future going for your farm? Or what are your plans as you move forward? And I know you’ve covered some. More or less hay, more grazing, getting your cattle genetics. But when you look at your farm just overall, do you What’s some goals in mind?

I have two two major goals. Part of the seating of my place and getting the grass space up is I really wanna figure out what my shoe carrying capacity and potential is on well managed land in North Carolina. I wanna do that because I wanna maximize without hurting the land, it while regenerating land, I wanna maximize everything I can get out of that piece of land and have a very scalable model that I can then before I ever go try to expand or scale up. Is my goal. Because the second part of my goal is to scale up to the portion that the farm can support one labor unit full time. I know that we operate on about, oh, okay. I would say, one seventh of the labor unit, two seventh. So when I really keep track of how many hours it takes to manage our cattle herd. But I wanna scale to one labor unit because at that point, there’s some enterprise other enterprises I would like to bring in and stack on top of that to get even more out of land.

I do think sheep are a very good fit for this climate and there is a large market for land and mud in the Charlotte metro area, believe it or not. You know, I I do. I feel like if I could if if the farm get to the point where it could support a full labor unit and you had somebody there at all times that could support some other enterprises that are a little more hands on, whether it be some pass through poultry or some sheep or just the logistics of taking those things to market It’s at least an avenue I wanna explore. Just as you look towards the future, you know, we added hair sheep to to our operation has been a number of years ago. I guess almost ten years ago, we added sheep to it. And we wish we’d done it a lot sooner. Yeah. We’ve we’ve been really happy with how we’re doing with the sheep enterprise. One thing we’re not doing is doing direct to consumer yet. Yep. We’ve been selling them just on the commodity market.

So a tailor, let’s get back to that bell or feeding hay. So for our overgrazing section, we’re gonna take a deeper dive into to subures. And you alluded to a while ago, but what is our practice today that we’re gonna talk about? Yeah. So I guess I probably first heard about this practice. I’m I’m a very avid reader. I spend a lot of time in airplanes and I do a lot of reading And I don’t know if it was a book or a podcast or out west or or what it was if it was rented for profit for profit school, but the whole bale grazing concept, which for people that aren’t familiar would be setting out a set of bales. So in my case, it was forty bales. Out in the field and then basically letting the cows into those bales incrementally. So it’s kinda putting your hay out for a period of time.

So I got married just recently in November, and my wife and I got married at our farm. And there was one field, oh, that is exciting. Yeah. There is one field I wanted to look particularly nice for the wedding because we were getting married in the field. So it was really gonna mess up my rotation, so I had to figure out how to get through that. You know, keep keep the message happy and everybody’s happy. Yes. There’s priorities and you have to make sure you get those right. Exactly. So I had some ground that when we cleared for the water pads, I could tell the round the ground was just different than my other ground. It never grew great grass. It seemed very Seemed very fungal dominant, not bacteria dominant, had a lot of rocks when we cleared. And I thought this is a great this is a great place. It was near a water trough. So simultaneous, I could tell we were headed towards that microdrowdy area. So I needed five weeks. I was I knew I was gonna be out of grass unless I went and grazed the the wedding field.

So we set out twenty four tons a hay, which was forty barrels for us. I set it in a pattern, I use Google Earth to kinda plan out how I’d even set it. And then we we let the cows in basically two times a week, they got four bales, which was different than how we had traditionally fed hay. When we had fed it it had been three times a week, they got three bales. I had listened to a lot of stuff about pale glazing about. You really kinda have to let the cows you kinda have to force the cows to clean up all the hay, or they’ll waste a lot of it. Which they did. I was I was very happy. I know I don’t think it’s necessarily wasted. It just goes as fertility into the ground. But yeah. Right. We kinda had to teach them So we worked away from the water trough, so we never back fence, and we set the set the bales out in strips, basically.

We set one main line to pull poly wire lines off of. And then every time we would take one down, we would just put the next one up. So it was very easy. It would take Oh, yeah. Take longer to drive out there on the four wheeler than it would to pull up the next fence. We did we set all the bales as you would pick them up with a skid steer, so round side you know, so they wouldn’t shed any water. But we would push them over. We just push them over and then pull the net wrap off. When we would feed. Oh, okay. Yeah. And it worked pretty well.

We did in a really small area. The total area was only five acres. So five acres five weeks, that was like four point eight tons per acre. Mhmm. The university that can tell has some really good information on their YouTube channel about bailgazing on the East Coast because it’s not a super common thing in that, hey, you know, we have a much more humid environment. And looking back, what I did would be considered very ultra high density and I probably only got away with it because we were in such a drought. I probably would have mucked up, you know, pugged my pastures and mucked them up pretty bad. Oh, yeah.

But I knew there had to be some cost savings because we we ran the tractor one time in five weeks and all that was was I don’t make hay at my at my farm. We get hay delivered So rather than every time bringing hay out to the field and running a tractor for an hour, we then ran a tractor once for two hours to set all the bales We just rather than bring the semi to the barnyard, we just drove it straight into the field. I ran all the numbers and basically over five weeks time, I saved two hundred and forty bucks, you know, that’s including now I included, like, going out in my my labor and what it cost to operate the four wheeler versus what it cost operate the tractor, and I have about the smallest tractor you can use to handle bales. But I saved about two hundred and forty bucks over five weeks. I saved six bucks a bail feeding that way, which is is real savings money not spent. And and that did not include I, you know, I can I can I can get way off in the weeds calculating how much I probably saved in manure and manure redistribution of not feeding in bail rings and spreading manure, but I didn’t I didn’t even include that in that calculation?

What I was expecting was that maybe this, you know, this fall, I might start seeing the benefits and I actually started seeing the benefits almost instantaneously where all the bales were sent you know, the bales were a mix of Fescue and some rye grass, but I pretty immediately got crazy some really crazy growth of of grass seed and that’s some of my, you know, I was really trying to get as much fertility into that ground through through the fertility out of the bales, through the fertility out of the bales passing through the cow and just their urine and manure in general. And that whole little section of my farm has just taken off. So now I just Now I feel like if I have to feed hay, if the weather will allow and I say that be I say that because I I do think you can’t put that type of density on your land if it’s super muddy. But I I will use this as a tool to kind of regenerate different little portions of the of the farm that may not be up to snuff on the fertility side, so it worked great for me. And I know you’ll ask me about my social media accounts, but we did work hard to document all that on Instagram. We kind of are continually documenting that.

Every time I happen to shoot video or do a story of that area, I try to show people I was playing hide and seek. The grass was so tall of the day. I was playing hide and seek with a puppy out there. Like, it it took off. It’s it’s quite amazing. I know where we’ve fed and not really doing bell grazing a little bit different environment, obviously. But, you know, you get that seed from that hay and you get some species out there that it’s not in your pasture and you’re like, oh, that came from the hay and then the dark green of that future growth, you’ll have to put a drone up so you can see it so nicely then. Absolutely. You know what’s also kinda neat is I checked the you know, I use Google Earth, then it just happened that Google Earth shot a new satellite image of the farm area. Oh, we were halfway through. So I have a really cool, like, you know, they probably won’t shoot another satellite image for ten years. So nobody can say I didn’t bail grades. There is gridded bales just sitting out there much to the street where you know those people. But, yeah, it We’ve documented, and I do have a drone and I think I will put it up. I wish I would’ve had the drone before, so I could’ve got some really good shots of how poor that little piece of land was, but Oh, yeah. I expect it. I expect big things out of it. Yeah. I’m I’m sure that’s gonna work well for you in the future.

Before we move on just a couple of real practical questions. Maybe you you set them out there and and you just set the bell out and then whenever you fed them, you’d tipped them over and pulled the net wrap off at that point. Yeah. Or did you do that all in the beginning? Nope. Nope. You’re right. I set them out just as you would okay. Stack them, you know. And I did that after water shedding. Right. They’re all net wrap and they’re out very tight. In case we had any rain, it would that would shed more water than if they were a flat side up. So it doesn’t take much Like, I’m not extremely strong person and my wife would do it too. And we go out there and we’d flip four bales over and peel the net wrap. And that that just helped the bale hold this quality better than if we laid him on our side, I kinda believed, then Cal’s figured Oh, yeah. Cal’s figured it out quick and move move the next line over.

You know, I’m sitting here thinking, how difficult is that to flip a bell over? And to be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever flip the bell over on purpose. I do sometimes flip one over accidentally when I’m using a tractor. But I don’t know that I’ve ever just tried to flip one over. It’s not that it’s not that bad. You can get him rocking pretty. He’s seen the go whatever way you want. Yeah. I I very good. I honestly think it’s easier to tip on over than it is to roll it. You know, they always get that — Oh, yeah. — they always get that flat side. So rolling is not easy, but just Tipping over ninety degree corners not that not not that hard. Yeah. Well, that makes sense. I’ve just I’ve just never done that. Yep. And, yeah, I always try and use a hillside to help me with any rolling. I’m gonna have to do manually. Yeah. You gotta use gravity. It’s free too. Yes. Exactly.

Well, Taylor, excellent discussion thus far, but it’s time we move into our famous four questions. Same four questions we ask to involve our guests. Our first question is, what’s your favorite grazing grass related book or resource? My favorite books, I’m gonna I’m gonna divide this I’ve read all the books. I have all the books. If anybody like to borrow them, call me up. I’ll loan them out. But one of my favorites is is is kicked the hay out of it by Jim Garish. It’s one that I’ve I’ve dog marked a lot of the pages and I go back and pull it open a lot. And that’s I think that one resonates so much with me that because I can really take that stuff and go pen and paper. And that’s how my mind works. I go pen and paper. You can see the savings. Yep. We’re going that direction.

Another set of books that I have not heard many people talk about, and I listen to a lot of podcasts with this gentleman, but there’s a guy named Dale Strickler out of Kansas who who runs cows on sub irrigated pasture, and he wrote the drought resilient farm managing pasture and restoring your soils, which you’re they read almost more like a coffee table book. They have amazing illustrations. Mhmm. I got his drought resistant book. Yep. And I haven’t read that one yet. I’ve got it. It’s only to read list, but his other book, Managing Pastor — Yep. I think the name of I love that book as a reference. Absolutely.

Going back and you mentioned a coffee table book. Yes. One, I I read it almost front to back when I got it. But now it’s something I just pick up and I look at and I go through. If I’m trying to find something or if I’m just a little bored, I love that book. Absolutely. So the third one you just put out was restoring your soil, which Honestly, should’ve went out before the other two, but it’s it’s the exact same type of book and it’s just as good. And it’s kind of a conversation story. If you leave it coffee table and half people over, somebody will pick it up and flip through it and ask you about those crazy things. Oh, yes. Very good. I did not realize there’s was a third book, so I’m going to blame you, Taylor. When I go tell my wife, I have a new book to buy. You can blame me. Okay.

The the the resource that I’ve used that I don’t know how common it is either is there is a website I think it’s play on words. Everybody’s heard of the website, Investopedia, which is an investing type website. It’s an encyclopedia of investment stuff. There’s one called Feed Opedia, f e e d Opedia. Oh. And it’s a conglomeration of about every white page in university study of different forage types throughout the world. So you can Google anything.

For instance, I fought with both Thistle a lot or Canadian Thistle. And I, at one time, realized that once I if I could get it out of its if I could kill it, start killing it, and could get it a little a little spongy, my cows would eat it. They would fight over it. Oh, yep. Yeah. Then you look it up and you realize it on average has more protein than alfalfa. Right? So it’s kinda what I use to try to help learn the different forage types that were out there and what they may or may not have, you know, nutritionally. I’m not saying you should feed your cows all these things, but It’s helped me a ton. You know, there’s so many studies even outside of the US with some feed types that are not extremely common lesson.

I have used that one. It’s a little difficult and sometimes you have to use the slang term or sometimes you have to Google the slang term to find the scientific term of the plant you’re looking for and then put that back in the website, but I’ve had a pretty good luck finding nutritional, you know, facts about about every type of forage in there. Very good. I pulled it up right here. I I have never looked at that website, so I’m excited to look through it. Sure. You came with your a game on resources. I spend a lot of time in airplanes with my other career. And you need to have you can either watch movies or you can teach yourself something, so that’s what I choose to do. Yeah. Very good.

Moving on to our second question, what is your favorite tool to use on your farm? My favorite tool is probably up observation of boots on the ground, but that’s not exactly how you asked the question. You’re asked you’re asked the question of what could you not live without. And I would say, That would be the four wheeler. It is the cheapest piece of machinery I have to operate, and I don’t have much machinery at all. But I do know exactly what it costs to operate per hour every piece of machinery that is in the farm. It’s the cheapest piece of machinery I have to operate. It increases my efficiency. Exponentially, you know, I could walk everywhere, but I’m not I can’t, you know, I don’t have enough time in the day.

Yes. With some slight modifications, it’s just become the workhorse for everything. It’s got Oh, yeah. You know, it’s got every fence. We run all our fence with it. It becomes a ladder to put up the cell cams to monitor the water troughs, to get them out of the reach of the cows. It it’s what we use if we do any type of little bit of spraying. If we spray fence lines, it becomes the herbicide spray. It becomes the broadcast seater. It is it’s the workhorse. We couldn’t live without it for sure.

Very good. Very good. What would you tell someone just getting started? The same piece of advice that I heard from somebody, and thankfully, I I listened was You can’t wait too long to start on this stuff, but taking your time and and observing can probably help you navigate around some some large financial hits which will maybe help keep your startup costs low. So observe. And I and I have that listed as observed what the land gives you for free. How the land uses the water that’s on it. You know, where it stores it, where the grass grows, That’ll help you.

The second piece I have is find your competitive advantage. I think every different topography and piece of land has its has some type of competitive advantage. For instance, ours is our climate and the fact that we can grow grass, intent, eleven, twelve months out of the year. If we manage things correctly and growing grass doesn’t necessarily cost me much, it’s a lot cheaper than running a mixer wagon. So you have to you have to find your competitive advantage and then you have to not be afraid to exploit that.

And then the last thing is is just working on your business more than you work in the business. You know, it’s it’s not glamorous to sit in an office and and run a pad and a pencil but it’s a lot more glamorous than losing losing the business because you didn’t didn’t forward plan. So try to find a balance of both for sure, but that’s there’s a lot of times I’d rather just be driving fencing staples into a post than earning numbers, but it does let me sleep a lot better at night knowing that I’m moving I’m moving in the direction I wanna move financially here as a business. So And I guess that goes both ways. If if you don’t know how to work on the business, don’t be scared. You know, you might have to pay a little bit for some consulting or to learn skills to do it, but you can’t afford not to. Is is really where we’re at in this day and day day and age and agriculture. This isn’t nineteen seventy three anymore. Diesel fuels not twenty five cents a gallon. So you can’t afford to just go burn it aimlessly. But, yeah, those are the three pieces of advice I have for for your startups. A wonderful advice.

And lastly, Taylor, where can others find out more about you? Well, we have a website for the farm. And within that website is links to our social media. So we do have the farm has an Instagram account, which we are very active on. And we have a Twitter account which we’re a little less active on. And then I also have my personal accounts. But the the website would be ridge view land and cattle dot com. The Instagram would be Ridgeview Lane and cattle, as well as the Twitter, I think, is it’s just Ridgeview LC. And then all my personal stuff, which you can get back to the farm, would just be Taylor, c Meyers, so t a y l o r c m o y e r. But we are very active within reason for the farm account.

We you know, there are some days that are personal days and we’re out there and we don’t wanna have the phone stuck everywhere, but I feel like nobody can be a better advocate for agriculture and my farm as I can be. So I work hard to explain the things we do at our farm. My wife does a great job. She’s very skilled as well with social media. So we have fun with it. We do not take it too serious. You know, you’ll get some informative soil health type videos, and then you’ll get a goofy video of how we dress like Australians in the summer because it’s a hundred and ten degrees, and why would you not wear shorts out there? In a big hat to keep the sun off your, you know, your ears. Yes.

But we love to interact with folks and we’ve made some I think for Harry and I both, we’re both raising, you know, agrarian type families and and what we found is we’ve made such personal connections and friends through all out the US. I even have some some followers from Australia. And we just they’re like minded folks or people with similar interests in agriculture and soil. And those are, like, truly concrete interests that think as humans are, you know, very much ingrained in us. So it’s been some of our they seemingly, you know, seem to be have the best connections with some of those people. So reach out, and we’d love to talk to folks Excellent. Excellent. Taylor, I’ve really enjoyed conversation today. You shared a lot with us, and I think our listeners will enjoy. Absolutely. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share.

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