e70. Grazing Out of the Box with Michael Vance

In this episode, Michael Vance of Southern Reds joins us to talk about their operation in Texas. Our conversation revolves around the intricacies of grass-based cattle farming, with emphasis on the importance of selecting the right genetics for the environment, the challenge of acclimating genetics, and the significance of consistency in breeding. Michael also discusses what grass genetics really is in the Overgrazing section. The conversation further delves into the potential for increased opportunity in the regenerative grazing movement and how to build a successful business model around it.

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

0:00:00 – Cal Hardage
Welcome to the Grazing Grass Podcast, episode 70.

0:00:06 – Michael Vance
I think a big thing is just getting pride out of the way and willing to listen to other people. I think having partners is really good for that. I think having mentors is really good for that, because we all have things in our operation that we don’t like talking, and if somebody tells you they don’t, they’re lying to you.

0:00:22 – Cal Hardage
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 Hardeech. On today’s episode we have Michael Vance of Southern Ritz. He is operating on 100% least land and grass genetics. I think we have an excellent show for you today and you’re going to enjoy it.

First, before we get to it, 10 seconds about my fun. You know I hate to say it again, but it’s still kind of hot here. I plan on planting a few cool seasons. Last year we had a drill it’s not a pasture drill, but an old drill we used and I used it to plant some. I had varying results, partly because it was just so dry. This year we’re coming into this part of the year in much better shape. Think about just broadcasting some and seeing if I can get the cattle to improve the contact with the soil so they’ll sprout.

Jump over to the Grazing Grass Community. Let me know what you do. And before we talk to Michael, let’s jump into a review. The review of the week is from Great089 and they said I keep coming back and stop here first. This is the one podcast I keep coming back to first when searching for something to listen to or learn. They have great diversification of interbullies, so many little bits of knowledge and great hearing the different perspectives. Well, great089, thank you for leaving us a review and if you’ve not left us a review, we’d appreciate it if you would. It helps get the word out about our podcast. That’s enough of that. Let’s get to why you’re here. Let’s talk to Michael. Michael, we want to welcome you to the Grazing Grass podcast. We’re excited to have you on here.

0:02:27 – Michael Vance
I’m excited to join in. I don’t get to do these very often, so I hope I’m able to contribute something. I know I’ve got quite a few friends that listen in, and some of them even somehow knew that this was coming up maybe, so they’re even excited to listen once this hits. So I hope I’m able to drop some things that are helpful to other producers, because we’re all in this together and learning from each other, and so I look forward to maybe giving a little bit of my insight that’ll contribute to other people.

0:02:53 – Cal Hardage
Wonderful. That sounds great, Michael. Let’s just start out. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your operation.

0:03:00 – Michael Vance
My wife and I we have three kids We’ve got a currently in a kind of a different operation. We’ve got two partners. One of our partners is largely into him and his wife are largely into cattle. That’s Cooper and Katie Hirsch, and they’re based out of South Mississippi. Then we’ve got another partner, jonathan Batarza and his wife, and they’re they bring more of a business mindset and it helps us with the financial side, but both very much they’re financially contributing and then they also contribute in a managerial way to our operation. And so we’re blessed with having a good relationship of partners. And then we run a grass based operation. We try to be 100% forage and we run on 100% lease land.

I originally started without anything. We didn’t have any inherited land, any inherited equipment, and so naturally, before it was even probably popular, we had to learn how to be low resource, low input operators and so we’ve always had to think outside the box. Over time we built up a seed stock red Angus operation. We’ve been really hammering away at that for a little over a decade now and we’ve also we’ve got commercial cattle and we do some. We raise some replacement heifers based on grass and then currently we’re doing some crossbreeding, some kind of knee composite stuff for here in the subtropical climates.

But mainly our deal is about enterprises and about raising cattle on grass low input, low resource and try to really think about things outside the box from a business perspective. It’s been kind of a long time getting to where we are now and we are based in Texas. We lease ranches in the north part of Texas, the east part of Texas and the central part of Texas, and currently we’ve got three pretty sizable operations and so we’re kind of spread out. We don’t have very much labor as in not almost no a little bit of part time help and we hire some day help when we need it, and so we’re busy. But we’re blessed. We are very much blessed with good landowner partners that I think are key in this business and we’re very much blessed with key cattle enterprise partners as well and just so thankful for those opportunities.

0:05:01 – Cal Hardage
Wonderful. It does sound like you have a lot going on there. Now you mentioned you didn’t come from a farm background.

0:05:09 – Michael Vance
No, I did come back from a farm background, but we didn’t inherit any land or equipment or anything. So we grew up farming, had some cattle and stuff, but my dad passed away, actually when I was in high school, and so that kind of lost the link and the change, so to speak, and there were three of us brothers and we pretty much had to what little we had we had to sell out at that time or as he was getting sick. But that instilled in me the want to to get back in it at some point and so even starting in college, we got blessed with opportunities to work for some pretty innovative people and it just been really blessed with opportunities along the way and good Lord’s been good to us and giving us opportunities to continue to do this and giving us a passion for it.

0:05:54 – Cal Hardage
Very nice. Now I think you mentioned you were grad school at OSU.

0:05:59 – Michael Vance
Yeah, so yeah, I got an undergrad in animal science and ag economics from Mississippi State and then, after a few years of working on ranches, I realized that I really want to learn more about business and really handle on financial side, and so I went back to the Spears School of Business here at Oklahoma State where they allow you to do some things. I actually did most of that on the ranch and it was a great program to go through and to really learn the business side and things that I would say that I probably apply, more so than some of some of the other things that I may have learned in undergrad.

0:06:29 – Cal Hardage
So how did you get started? Once you got out of college, you were working on ranches up here.

0:06:34 – Michael Vance
I probably got my first start with. I had opportunity to partner with some guys and buy some Recip cows and put some I guess if some guys are doing some show cattle and some bucking stock, they needed cows to put embryos in and I was looking for an opportunity and luckily there was a banker that believed in me and I bought a potload of cows and put embryos in them and I was able to flip those with the embryos in them to the owners of the embryo and sell the calf off. A lot of people at that time were probably buying more cell-borne open cows and putting embryos in and at that time pairs were pretty cheap. I bought pairs and put the embryos in them and I made an agreement to where I could keep that cow until she weaned off the calf and then I’d sell them the cow with their embryo in it and I saw some inefficiencies in it and I was working with a reproduction company and was able to partner with them a little bit on it and it started there. I had other opportunities to kind of partner with people that had leases and different things and I even started my seed stock operation. I was able to partner with a family that I’m still real close with they.

Let me put some embryos in their cattle and that got us our first red Angus seed stock cattle on the ground and I just took advantage of whatever opportunities we had at the time and then had opportunity to come down here to Texas and manage a ranch for two brothers and they gave me opportunity to partner with them, kind of grew with them for a little while and then eventually bought out the partnership with them and that’s where we are today and along the way we’ve just been blessed with good relationships that we still have and we still carry on and good people.

But just different things, life happens and different ups and downs and you get opportunities to move or change or whatever. And so now we’re in this phase where we’re leasing ranches. We’ve been pretty steady. I guess the last three or four years we’ve been kind of doing the same thing and kind of seems like we’ve really become a lot more sustainable with our model and our current business model and it seems like it’s something that we think we’re going to stick with as long as we’re able to.

0:08:31 – Cal Hardage
When you got those first seedstock, were you thinking at the time, 100% forage were going grass based.

0:08:38 – Michael Vance
Yeah, actually at that time we were already grass based. That was the reason. That’s a good question, because that was the reason we actually went and got the genetics. We found some genetics we liked up north and we knew they needed to be acclimated to the south and we knew they were the right body type for forage. They had. They were moderate cattle, had big guts on them, a lot of rib shape. Those cows would hustle during the winter, but we really needed to adapt them to this country, to this higher moisture grass, and we knew there were some things that we would have to just kind of you know, kind of let mother nature have her way with them and really put some pressure on them. And that’s what we did. I think the first calves were born in 2012.

We wanted to be grass from the get go. I mean, that was the whole point was to. You know, we look around the country and there’s just not very many really good grass, truly grass operation. Everybody claims to be a grass operator, everybody claims their bulls are forage officials, but when you really filter through, there’s not very many. And it’s disappointing, honestly, because there’s a lot of times I chase rabbits and I come to find out. Well, that guy’s feeding as much as the next guy is. He’s just trying to hide it. And what we found was there’s just not very many genetics that look good on just pure forage, especially if you’re making them grace and pretty tough forage at different times of the year. And so you know that was something that we thought. You know, over time I’ve gotten some confidence in doing it. Took a little bit to get there. You had to be a good grass manager and you really had to get to genetics at work, and so it took a few years before we had very many good ones and then seemed like every year we had a few more good ones. And then now it seems like I mean, the percentage that we’re keeping back and the percentage that are staying true to the end is just getting more and more so, and I think it really helps.

You know and I think a lot of people in our circle have this mindset we’re not looking for a great bull. You know everybody’s looking for that next great one. In the seed stop business, 90% of guys are looking for that next great. To be honest about there, there ain’t many great bulls. There’s not meant to be many great bulls. I want to, I want to.

You know, I tell people for myself I want 100 bulls that all look alike and that breed the same and the breed consistency. And when we started realizing that we’re not, we don’t want a great one, we want 100 really good ones that are just consistent, uniform, don’t have issues. And we, when we realize that we want to just like a guy wants his steer calves or just like a guy wants his heifer calves, that one great one is just the top side of an hourglass distribution, so to speak, and he’s going to breed average. Most of time he’s going to breed average. And so we want our breed average to be really good.

Cause I want, you know, like this past year at a bull sale we’d have guys show up and we knew their budgets were small. They’d tell us you know, hey, I don’t know if I’m going to get a good bull ball. I don’t know if I’m going to get a bull ball, my budget is kind of small. I’m like man, if you really look there, there’s a lot of good bulls out there. You know like I mean, if you, if you sit here long enough, you’re going to find a bull in your price range and he’s probably going to breed the same as the ones that are above your price range.

You know, and that’s not probably the right thing to say as a guy that sells bulls, but we’re into, you know, we’re into raising consistency and you know I tell everybody I want a bull sale to average, to say small. I just want to, you know, raise more of them and and that’s kind of where we’re going to be. You know we’re honestly in this business. People can afford to. You know, when I see bull sale averages that are seven, eight, nine thousand doesn’t even make any sense to me because the average commercial man can’t justify that.

And honestly that the average bull is getting sold for that. He’s not worth it, and so I want I want my bulls to be profitable for the guy that’s buying them. If they’re not, we’re not going to be sustainable and we’re not doing anything to help anybody. We might as well cut all their nuts and make steers out of them, because you know we’re we’re in this to be profitable, but the only reason we do the bull deal is to is to help spread genetics, and and what I tell people is we’re we’re selling hope, we’re giving guys a chance to improve their program, and if we can’t do that, we need to quit and go do something else, and if we ever get to the point where we feel like we’re not adding value, we will quit, because that’s what keeps us driving at the end of the day.

0:12:29 – Cal Hardage
You know, and on your bull sale, before I jump back to the other question, you had a bull sale in April of this year. Was that your first one and what’s your plan for the future on bull sales?

0:12:41 – Michael Vance
So that was our second sale and we actually had a few heifers this year, yeah, and we were. It’s kind of a tough time. This year was really tough for us because we’re all in still in pretty heavy drought and so in herds are majorly reduced. We have a lot of current customers that didn’t come by this year because they’ve they’ve got the bull battery they need and they’ve got reduced herd sizes. So they need less bulls and if your bulls hold up they’re going to last a long time and they’re you know they’re not going to. You guys aren’t going to need to buy every year, and so we’ve kind of hit a little bit of a lull, which is that’s okay.

But our current plan is to have another bull sale next spring. The only reason we wouldn’t is because we are in this transition to a new ranch and actually we want the bull sale to be at the new ranch and if we have a hiccup along the way trying to get set up over there, we will have a plan B. But currently we are planning on having a bull sale next April and the reason we we have a sell a little bit later in a lot of people because we do raise the bulls 100% on forage, and when I say forage I want that to be a grazing, a green root. There are drought times where we’ll have to hay them or something we did a few years ago. We really don’t want to do that.

That’s not, that’s not the way we operate. And even if we do that, we’re we’re not going to give them enough hay to. They’re never just going to be standing a lot eating hay. We just don’t do that. We would just not have a sale before. We did that, so that would be. The only thing that could give us a hiccup is if we continue to drought and we have some hiccups on this transition. But as of right now, we think we have somewhat of a pretty good plan to have a bull sale there next year and that’s going to be south of Palestine, texas, in the kind of east central part of Texas where we’ll have that sale currently.

0:14:16 – Cal Hardage
And for your sale and for your seed stock. You got started with, you went with all red Angus.

0:14:22 – Michael Vance
Correct. So we started red Angus and right now we do have some pretty solid South Pole red Angus composites and they would be. They’re actually double registered because they’re out of registered seed stock from both sides. We’re not just crossing them with some commercial cows and I think there’s some value to that. The other thing that we’re playing with a little bit there’s two other breeds that we really think add some value for grass producers. One is Murray Gray.

We raised a few pretty sharp Murray Gray cattle and Murray Gray or Murray Gray, red Angus cross cattle. The Murray Gray cattle are probably the best marbling cattle home forage that I know exists, at least in this part of the world. I mean they are. To me they’re the top tier in terms of marbling ability. They’re just some old school cattle old, short faces, moderate, good rib on them, cows have good little udders on them and so we really like those cattle. We think they add some things. They’re almost like a terminal cross for the grass-fed operator but they do have enough maternal in them to really do the things that you know guy can keep some really sharp females, some kind of smoky females. We got some really cool looking females out of that cross and the other one that we’re really excited about, that we’re just now really getting some calves big enough to wean out of is. We’ve got some really nice beefmaster cows. We’ve been crossing them with our Red Bulls and they’re more of a moderate beefmaster, low milk beefmaster, and we really like what we’re seeing so far. There’s a lot of head roasters there and so that’ll fool some people, I think they’ll be. They’ll probably even look a little better than what they really breed. But I think for that, for the subtropical climate that we see here in Texas and Louisiana, mississippi, we think that cross will do some things, especially for a guy that’s got maybe a little bit too much English. And you know, maybe a bull like that, a half blood, you know, half beefmaster, a bull that really is about an eighth year, we think that bull may have something to really create some females for this environment, and so we’re looking at that.

The other thing that you know we like to center poles. Just can’t really find any good ones that we can get our hands on. But you know we have a mentality that we believe there’s good cattle in every breed. You know, if people start getting hung up on breeds with me, I kind of tune them out, because they’re really are good cattle in every breed, and I don’t even care about color, like we’ve had really good Brangus cattle. We’ve still got some really good Angus cattle. We’ll have a few Black Bulls every year.

We just like good cattle, and so now that we’ve really got our red Angus where we want them, the last thing we’re really trying to critique on them is we want to get them slick, slick and I mean slick, like a simple slick, and we’re getting there. And then the other thing is just it’s kind of a constant critique on udders, like I want perfect udders and it seems like you never get them quite perfect. We’ve got them going the right direction though, but as we continue to do that, and now we’re kind of looking at something, we’ve got them where we kind of want them. Now they’re good enough to cross with some other cattle and kind of upsize them in our mind and so for that guy that likes our red Angus but maybe wants to touch your ear, maybe wants to touch that sappa, we’ve got quite a few customers that like the South Pole but maybe don’t have enough confidence in using them as a full blood or maybe they’re going to feed them in a feedlot and they don’t know, they don’t have enough data to know how those cattle are going to perform, and so we create that half blood for them and that way they can kind of step their foot in water a little bit and not have a drastic change in calf crop.

And so, and we’ve actually seen some really good things out of that cross in terms of the value they bring on a grass carcass in a grass finishing operation. We’ve seen some value in that red Angus South Pole cross as opposed to a, maybe a pure bread. So just something we’re kind of watching with some of our customers and stuff and kind of getting feedback from, and so you know, if a customer ever calls me now I’m going to the point where I got quite a few customers I can just say, hey, hey, call this guy because he’s doing that. He may, can you know, give you some real world data, you know oh yes, and very interesting with the different breeds.

0:18:09 – Cal Hardage
I’m I’m a breeds guy. I love all the different breeds and learning about them. So as interesting. I was wondering what that fourth breed was going to be beef master. We just got through using some beef masters on my dad’s herd. And then the Murphy Gray. Murray Gray is interesting to me. I’ve seen only like two or three cows in the wild, but I hear them talked up so much I’d love to see some more.

0:18:37 – Michael Vance
I’ve got a good friend down here in McKinney Texas that has a. He has a meat market and then he also has a really good barbecue joint. And you know, I kind of learned from him and I’ll throw his name out there. His name’s Matt Hamilton. He may not like it but he’ll be all right with it.

You know, I kind of learned about the Murray Gray early on from him. They were, we were actually harvesting some cattle at his processing facility that he had ownership in and I was asking him what’s the best grass carcasses that you see? Come in here, and I thought I had some pretty good ones and I think I still think I did and he said the best ones I’ve seen are Murray Gray. And then, you know, come to find out later on. He actually he has a partner that has quite a few up and I mean like a hundred up in a commercial outfit, and so Wade McCluskey is his name, wade and I’ve got to be good friends. And so Wade really turned me on to the Murray Gray’s and he’s crossing those Murray Gray’s with our Red Angus Bulls and you talk about an animal that can really finish on grass, that I’ll put them against anything. I mean they’re taking everyone in their steers and they’re, you know, I think they finished some of them in the feedlot and the ones that in the feedlot, I mean they look, they’re like the next thing down from Wagyu. They are tremendous marbling, and but the ones that they finish on grass are just remarkable, the, the, the rarebys on them, and so I hope I don’t get misspeaked for them.

But I, you know, I’ve watched what they’ve done from afar and those cattle have amazed me. They really, if you painted them red or black you would think they’re in Angus, they’re in old school Angus. They’re a real modern cow, just deep body. And so you know, we saw them, we like them and just like our res, we like some of the South Poles, we see, and we like some of the beef masters and there’s some other breeds out there that we’ve liked. You know we found cattle that we liked. We just couldn’t get them bought and you know I would, I’d buy anything If they’re the right. If I find them, and I think they’ll work in our program, I’ll buy them Because you know, like I said, we think there’s good ones in every breed, you know.

0:20:21 – Cal Hardage
Now talk to a little bit about breeds there, and we’ve talked about being 100% forage as much as possible. What’s that look like on your ranches? On managing your cows day to day?

0:20:34 – Michael Vance
Yeah, so we’re blessed with an abundance of variety in our program. We’ve got introduced forages like Bermuda grass, bahia grass, we’ve even got a little bit of fescue, but we’ve also got quite about a native country like big bluestem, little bluestem, indian grass, we’ve got some buffalo, but we’re blessed with, you know, quite a bit of diversity. And so you know, generally speaking, we’re gonna be grazing, you know, warm season green grass and we’re gonna graze in the fall of the year, winter of the year. We’re gonna graze a lot of stockpile. Even Bermuda grass will graze, you know, stockpile Bermuda grass until the first of the year at least. And in our Bermuda grass we oversee it using a no-till drill because we believe in green growing root year round. So anytime we get ground that’s mostly introduced grasses or what you know, or call it some people call it improved we like to oversee those with something green, because we think that not having some green root in it is unhealthy for the soil. And also Bermuda grass needs a lot of fertilizer and weed, spraying stuff, and what we found is by overseeding those. You take care of a lot of those issues, naturally, and so we oversee a lot of different tool season annuals and generally those go to, you know, like growing calves, bulls, stuff like that. But that’s gonna be more of a springtime deal. You know we’re gonna start really grazing those in probably late February, early March, because we don’t fertilize a lot. If we do fertilize it’ll be in the fall, to get them kind of started. But generally we like to graze those in more of a natural system without fertilizers.

And if we do use fertilizers with the thought to grow more forage, to then put more manure or organic matter back on that soil and to improve the soil, sometimes we’ll just plant a pretty poor area and fertilize a little bit just to get something to grow there and then we kind of kickstart that process, kind of like one step back, two steps forward and so. But we do that to increase our stocking rate per acre and really just to keep those cattle. You know grazing some. You know a variety of forages but they’re not grazing like lush, dark green forages until maybe late April. And also the other thing we do have some pretty good cool season perennials and so depending on the ranch that we’re on like our, you know, a spring cabin cow on some of our ranches spring cabin cow they’ll just be on stockpile until some of those spring those cool season perennials come on and then you know they never need any kind of supplemental hay or anything. Our fall cabin cows will generally be the ones that we eventually will put on some annuals, maybe usually about February. Up to that they’re grazing stockpile which is pretty tough on a wet cow, but we like them to go ahead and go through that dip and then we get them on some annuals and if we don’t have annuals at that point then we’ll supplement them with some hay just because they’re fall cabin cows and they gotta have good forage. But generally what that looks like is that’ll be unrolling like alfalfa out in stock just to make them eat, like in February, to eat whatever’s left out there. We might unroll alfalfa three days a week for them and but generally that’s a 30 day window, tops maybe 45. In a drought Like last year I think we did 45 days and that was the longest we’ve done it and so it’s for a very short window.

And you know we’re we have a lot of seed stock cattle but we also have commercial cattle and we run these cattle, you know, like commercial operation. That’s one thing I’ll tell anybody that’s buying bulls. The guy you’re buying bulls from is not running cows at a cow cost similar to what you’re running at. You need to find somebody different. You know, like our cow costs is under $500 a cow a year and we’re operating on a hundred percent lease ground and that includes our own labor. That’s everything. Interest, labor depreciation you know a lot of those things that a lot of people don’t want to include. That’ll really eat you out of house and home, but that’s something I encourage everybody to do. Some of these seed stock operations out there, man, if people really knew what their cow cost, their annual cow cost was, they would not buy bulls from. You know, and cause we were, we were one of those people. You know, we, we made that mistake decades ago.

0:24:22 – Cal Hardage
Do you have a preferred cool season mix that you’ll oversee with?

0:24:26 – Michael Vance
In our part of the world. I like things that reseed themselves. My thought is that one of these days and we’re already seeing in some areas I want to get to where we don’t have to plant anything anymore, and so I like annuals that reseed themselves. I like perennials. If you can get some, you know, some fescue or horticrafts, something like that started, that’s great. But then Texas winter grass down here is really good for that. But then ryegrass are a really good improved version of ryegrass that will reseed itself if you let it go to seed. Any of your clovers that reseed were big believers in those. So we want to do, we want to have ryegrass and clovers in our mix, at least until we have enough seed in the seed bank say year three, usually year three we might back off the ryegrass. We want those in the mix no matter what, because they will reseed themselves. And then we try to do an early season, like an oak that will grow good in the fall. Ryegrass is going to always be more growth in the spring, so that oak kind of offset, it sets it, and then a lot of times we’ll throw wheat, cereal, rye or tritical in there as well. Betch, we want quite a few legumes. We want at least three to five pounds of legumes per acre. You know, at least in the first couple of years we plant I will say, some of the places that we’ve been planting for six, seven years we just put kind of some cereal grains down because the ryegrass and the clovers come on. So we actually get our seed costs down around. You know, 20, $22 an acre because we’re just planting kind of 80% of the seeding rate, because we know that in between the rows all that stuff’s going to reseed itself. Because we don’t bail it and we let it go to seed, we don’t mow it early or anything like that, and so we don’t spray the clovers and so we want those to regenerate themselves. We just continue to put enough other seed in the seed bank to get a larger stand with the thought being down the road, especially as we kind of we’re always looking to discover more perennial cool seasons.

Honestly and this is kind of kind of take a turn a little bit but I’m encouraging more and more of these academic people to really look at helping us manage for cool season forages. Everybody in the world can manage, and this part of the world can manage for warm season forages. We can all do that. We can sit at home and that stuff grows.

But I want stuff that grows whenever we normally don’t have forage, like my emphasis on what can I do to get forage to grow and to have a green root, or it doesn’t even have to grow, just stay green during the time of year that we don’t have a lot of forage. And so even in our native pastures we’re starting to hit them harder than we used to, because I don’t want to see big blue stem and Indian grass so thick and so ranked that we can’t see some Canadian wild rye or we can’t see some Texas winter grass or we can’t see some good buffalo grass coming on. And so that’s something that we’ve learned. We’re actually managing our warm season pastures for cool seasons, so we’re actually hammering them a little bit more as far as grazing pressure and just to get them to open up a little bit more to give us more variety. And so you can almost become too good of a forage manager on your warm seasons and hurt the dip in your cool season forages in that cool season part of the year.

0:27:31 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, very good, and getting those legumes in really makes a huge difference. I mainly put in some cereal greens, try and get some rye grass in, but I don’t do a very big area. I try and pour, boy it and broadcast some.

0:27:46 – Michael Vance
We do a little bit of that too. I like to pour boys stuff. I love the idea of just throwing seed out in front of the cows and let them tromple it. I do that as much as I can, oh yeah.

0:27:55 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, I can remember growing up we didn’t have much Bermuda on Some land we had, and we had dairy cattle. So dairy cattle is a little bit different market. We fed them quite regularly. I shudder and think how much money we spent in feed costs growing up because we just fed them. But we’d throw some clover seed and some Bermuda seed on top of the feed in hopes that it’d go through the cow and then sprout up.

0:28:22 – Michael Vance
We did some of that growing up too, and it worked. We did some of that. I remember doing that with some crimson clover and it worked, yeah.

0:28:29 – Cal Hardage
Well, I bet it was quite the sight seeing my brother and I and my dad out there looking at Calvary University and we got clover sprouting. Now one thing you mentioned a couple of times 100% lease land. Tell us a little bit about the process of finding land to lease, because that always seems to be the issue People can’t find lease land, or they can find lease land, they can’t find land to lease.

0:28:54 – Michael Vance
It’s interesting because we don’t look for lease land anymore. We get the phone calls and I tell people that I really don’t. I want to answer that the best way I know how, but we’ve worked on building our reputation and building relationships. This is, you know, and a lot of us know this. You know, if you’re listening out there, a lot of you know this, but it can’t be overstated that this is a relationship business. The good thing that’s in all of our favor right now is that people are really waking up to this regenerative grazing movement. People are realizing, you know, people that may not have cattle or ranch, or maybe even people that do that are just getting kind of tired of it or they just use it as a tax shelter. They’re realizing the value from a regenerative standpoint for their ecosystem that they own, and so it’s given us opportunities. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity here in the next decade. I’ll tell you. I really believe that the opportunity to lease land is going to increase. I also believe that opportunity to custom graze on other people’s land is going to increase, because I think there’s a lot of people, with these high cattle prices that are, maybe have gotten out or reduced or herd and when they get forward to grow back. I don’t. There’s a lot. There’s a pretty high percentage of people that are not going to buy back in at these prices. That and some of them are just getting over the age where they really don’t want to be tied down all the time we’re seeing that more and more and to where maybe they still want to do some. You know some daily checking a cattle or they will kind of still want to manage their place, but they really don’t want to have cows 365 days of the year, and so you know, an operator that needs more access to land needs to really think about that. You need to be comfortable putting cattle on trucks. You need to be comfortable having cattle on different properties for just a short piece of the year. You know we look at it, our cattle, like hay balers. You know we go where the grass needs harvested and I mean that’s kind of transition we’re in. Currently. We’re shipping cattle all over the place during the next 10 days and it’s just getting cattle to some of our other ranches that have forage, because we’re in, you know, all of our places are under pretty severe drought right now and it’s just all about getting around seeing where we’ve got forage, just had plenty of rest and then getting after it with some cattle. And I think if you’re not in that mindset, I would encourage you to think about that a little bit, because there’ll be opportunities maybe for a guy that owns a property that they just deer hunt it. You know, maybe he doesn’t want any cattle on there from August to January because they’re hunting. Well, if you could get some pretty good grazing from April to June, hey, that’s a great value. You’re paying for a quarter of the year and you’re pretty much getting all the forage that they grew for, you know, 75% of the year, at least during the growing season. So, and there are probably quite a few people that look at it like that but actually building a business model that thrives on that, well, I think will be very advantageous.

Going forward, being willing to work with people that have conservation easements, that have different types of, I’d say, more ecologically minded land ownership, that’s what we’re kind of looking at. We’re looking for people that have the same view of land that we do that. Hey, you know, we’re here to protect it. We’re trying to partner with those kind of guys and ladies as well that do that because we think there’s value there. We want to partner with people that want to see their land improved from an ecological standpoint. We want to help bring back quail and turkey in our part of the world and we’re doing that currently. But there’s people that own land that are looking for somebody that, hey, grazing can actually help bring quail back. Yeah, I mean, what does that look like? But think about the percentage of grazers that know how to get quail to come back, that know how to manage grass and it’s willing to take the sacrifice and that and not grazing that, that grass to get that short-term profit. There’s some give and take there. Landowners got to be able to work with you a little bit on price and things like that. But we’re seeing more and more of that and then, just in general, there’s just going to be less people leasing land.

I think there’s a generation that’s getting out right now and there’s quite a few of us young guys that are in it. But I tell you the Cal numbers are down. I really am skeptical if they’re ever going to come back. I think we have seen this Cal herd is going to continue to diminish this year. I don’t care what the numbers say. I talk to farmers and ranchers every day and this Cal herd is continually declining in here in 2023.

And I don’t know that the land. We’re not going to have the land capacity to really think about this. We’re not going to have the land capacity as a country to maintain the beef food source that we need here in this country and think about that and think about what kind of opportunity that brings to the guy that’s still in it and I really think for people that are especially in maybe an our age category and younger, there’s some real opportunity. You’re going to be here in the next decade. And even to the point where I’m completely against anything subsidized. I don’t believe in it. But from just a lay consumer, I want my government to be paying attention and saying, hey, we don’t have enough land to raise enough beef, we’re going to have to start outsourcing beef. Well, that’s not sustainable. So what are we going to do as a country to support these guys that are trying to do the right thing and are trying to raise beef in the right way? You know, I don’t know that we need to be supporting every beef producer, but the beef producers that they’re doing things the right way we do.

I think, as a consumer, I’m concerned about that, just like pork or anything else, but people have talked about that forever, right, like we’re running out of land. We’re running out of land. I think we’re there, I think we’re at the cusp of it, and I think it’s going to be really interesting the next five, 10 years, like what’s going to happen, because we’ve got low numbers, we got low numbers of people that actually want to do it and we have low land, and so I think you’re going to see some land get back open, back up to grazing, because there’s going to be probably some curveball thrown and some advantageous opportunities, like the carbon markets for one that’s. You know, that alone could change things when, all of a sudden, a guy that may have CRP and just hunts quail and pheasants all of a sudden goes. Hey, you know, we can graze a little bit of this and we can split the profit with the cattle grazer. We need to find a good regenerative cattle grazer, you know.

So I’m very optimistic in terms of grazing opportunities. Long answer for that, though. Well, I’m repeating a conversation that we’ve had. I’ve had with producers for the last three weeks, and because we’re seeing, I’m hearing some things that I’ve never heard before and even some people that you didn’t think would ever probably get out, and they’re just kind of tired. You know, they bought back in during the last uptick in the market and got caught hanging with those real hot dollar cows and a lot of people are sitting on their hands now. This cow market’s not following the calf market and it’s I think it’s telling us some and I think it means we’re going to be some more sustainable, you know, in this higher market.

0:35:49 – Cal Hardage
Well, just to bring that home just a little bit, or closer to me, my dad’s recently talking about selling his cow herd.

Now he doesn’t want to get completely out. So he’s thinking maybe we should run stockers on his place and I can do my cow herd on Leesland and whatever that looks like. But I mean we’ve ran beef cows. We sold out the dairy in 99. And prior to that we had beef cows. I was I mean, I’ve had beef cows my whole life, so he’s had it his whole life and he’s actually I have to figure out math real quick about 75. So but he’s thinking, well, maybe, maybe I should sell the cows and it’s not a labor issue for him. So much because I do the labor for him. I think it’s a labor issue. But he just comes down and tells me what he thinks and then I go do what I want to do. But I try and listen. But that’s interesting because he has brought that up lately. So I’m not quite sure what he’s thinking right now.

0:36:49 – Michael Vance
Is it he just tired of winter cattle? He just wants to have cattle here in the growing season.

0:36:53 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, that’s part of it. Then he doesn’t have to worry about it during winter and, to be honest, and he does do some I’m not saying he doesn’t do anything, but he does do some but I take care of a lot of that. But last year we were close on hay and with our management we got dry. So last winter it was kind of tight supplies and our cows didn’t winter as good because we didn’t have the stockpiled forage we normally have and the idea of chasing hay and purchasing some is not appealing at all. I think he’s just thinking if we just had some animals during the growing season on the home place, that’d be enough for him.

0:37:34 – Michael Vance
You ought to work out a deal where you can put your cows on him during the growing season and then use your lease places during the off season, and then you just got one set of cows to check and let him do all the work in the warm season. You can do it in the wintertime. Trade it out, you know.

0:37:48 – Cal Hardage
I am trying. He’s quite ready to let go of that much.

0:37:53 – Michael Vance
We’ve done that with some people where they kind of went to stalk around. I was like why don’t I just send you cows and you run them whenever you have grass and then I’ll deal with them? I’ll deal with them and bridge it on the other side, you know, and we’ll empty a place and let it rest and send them. You know, but that’s a little bit outside the box thinking. You know, I tell you what, anytime I can check one place instead of two, I try to figure out a way to do it. You know, I love it when I empty a ranch. It’s the best feeling in the world. Okay, no cows here to check, I can let the grass grow for a little while. I don’t have to come over here, and it’s a good feeling. You know, if you go over there, you just go in there over there to enjoy the ranch. You know, you don’t have to necessarily do any work. We rarely get to really do that.

0:38:32 – Cal Hardage
Yeah, just the moving of one group versus another group is great. My problem with lease lands on doing that is having pens. Of course I can throw up some pens and do it, but there’s always resource shortages in there.

0:38:46 – Michael Vance
I mean it’s water, it’s pens, it’s shade, I mean it’s that’s the you. Never, rarely. I mean there’s been a couple of leases. I’ve gotten where I like, leases I wasn’t going to take and then I pulled up and I realized they did have everything. It’s like okay, we’ve got to figure out a way to make this work, because they, you know, like the problem is making it work. It’s got everything it needs, you know. And so, because you rarely find that, Now one thing you’ve talked about.

0:39:08 – Cal Hardage
You’ve been doing this for a while now. What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve came across during your journey?

0:39:18 – Michael Vance
Oh boy, where do we even start? I think pride is one. I would say that’s probably number one with a lot of us. Even when you get confident in what you do, your pride can be a downfall. I found that if somebody preaches the same story today that they preached 10 years ago, you better be careful, because I’ve changed my tune on so many things in our program just in the last five years. You know, five years ago I thought I kind of had some confidence in what we were doing, and now my confidence is, in my opinion’s, gonna change and I try to tell people that like, hey, my opinion may change two years from now. That’s how I feel today about this, and so I think a big thing is just getting pride out of the way and being willing to listen to other people.

I think having partners is really good for that. I think having mentors is really good for that, because we all have things in our operation that we don’t like talking, and if somebody tells you they don’t, they’re lying to you. There’s things that we don’t like. There’s things that we don’t wanna improve. There’s times a year we don’t like having people around just because things don’t look as good as we’d like for them to. I mean, if you don’t have that, you’re either taking way too good and carry your cattle or something. Because I’ve witnessed that every year I’ve been in this business and all of my friends that are really true to themselves will tell you the same things Like man, you can come around, but it takes them a little bit better right now, you know, and it’s like well, that’s good, that’s when I wanna see them, because that means you’re putting some pressure on them and you’re poor boying them a little bit. But I’ve watched that. I’ve watched guys that were willing to adapt, that were willing to set their pride aside, and I’ve watched guys that you know they wanna claim that, because they’ve been doing it for this long, they’ve got it figured out. Hey, we’ve been, you know, we’ve been bringing cattle for 40 years or 50 years or whatever. Well, that doesn’t really mean anything to me. Like, how has your opinion changed over those 40 years? Like, what can you say that you do different today than you were doing five years ago? If they can’t answer that, mm, that means they’re their own summing block and so and that would at times that can be my biggest summing block. So I’d say that number one weather would have to be up there. We pretty much manage now, like we’re always gonna manage our out, and then if we get rain we look for opportunities. So that can be tough, you know.

Just transitions Like right now. We’re moving from one our headquarters, from one ranch to another, and it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of logistics, it’s tiring. 10 days from now I’m hoping that we have a little bit more peace about it, just because we’re in that middle of moving. I mean, cattle are easy, it’s equipment and getting guys lined out and having somebody on that side and somebody on this side. But you know that’s a challenge.

The other thing I’d say is it’s just labor, the thought that you know I used to have this thought that you know we could. You know my first goal was to run a thousand head and we got there a long time ago. But I’m really blessed to get there. But what I realized is that, you know, you think with economies of scale that you would make more money, but the problem is low quality labor can really cost you a lot of money. And so now it’s about increasing our number of cattle per hour labor, per unit of labor, and I’m saying that you know, I’m pretty much the main labor for our operation, but we do use, like I said, day help and we have some part-time employees. But I would love to have really good labor because I think we could do some things.

But it is a struggle. The guys that are really good are worth more than you can afford to pay them. And I’ve even told guys that like, look, I’d love to have you, but I can’t afford you for what you’re really worth. And now that’s one thing I’m getting excited about with this cattle market. It’s not about making more money, I just want the chance to be able to hire some high quality guys. I want to be able to rear back and pay the kind of money that a guy deserves to work the kind of you know, the maybe the hours not just the hours, because we try not to work crazy hours but have the kind of stress that this job can put on you, because there’s a lot of guys that would love to do this for a living and they’re worth it if you can afford to pay them or partner with them or something like that.

And so we’re looking at some of that stuff and that’s the only way it’s gonna be sustainable. You know I’ve got three boys coming up, but I’d like to find somebody to kind of help us, you know, in our partnership, kind of help that transition. If I was to be in a bad accident tomorrow, I don’t want my partner stuff to sell out, but I mean, right now that’s kind of what would happen, you know, and so at least until my boys are a little older. So I’d like to have somebody else there that could kind of bridge that gap. That would be worth, you know, would be worth their salt, but then also we’re paying them what they’re worth, and so I’m hoping, with maybe a more sustained market I think a lot of other people are thinking about that too we hope to maybe have some opportunities, because right now you have to, when the gas station down the road is paying 17, 18 bucks an hour for anybody, I mean, if you want any kind of quality. You know where does it even start, you know.

0:44:04 – Cal Hardage
So I think that’s a hot topic across the industry. I work off the farm and education and finding good workers. You know we’d love to pay them more and keep them, but we can’t pay them as much as they’re worth. Sadly, we end up getting some that maybe aren’t worth quite as much as we pay them, but the job market’s hard right now getting employees.

0:44:28 – Michael Vance
Yeah, I mean, I mean just like at your job, at some point you just need somebody to show up and be there and you don’t even care. Well, you gotta have somebody there. Like if we go on vacation, I gotta have somebody around here to you know. So, yeah, it’s the same way in your job, you know, at some point you gotta have a body, warm body, there, and I mean a warm body is gonna cost you a lot of money before they even do anything, you know so.

0:44:48 – Cal Hardage
Michael, I’ve enjoyed the conversation thus far, but it’s time for us to transition to the overgracing section. So we take a little bit deeper dive into some of your practice, or a practice, and I think today we’re gonna talk a little bit more about grass genetics. If someone says so, what is what are grass genetics? What do you mean by that? Just by saying that?

0:45:10 – Michael Vance
You hear that a lot. The funniest thing you can get on Facebook and you’ll, I’ll see a guy post, you know, bulls, and they’ll be standing in a feedlot and say grass genetics, you know. You see, you can find that every day of the week. You know what. But you know what I really think of in grass genetics. I don’t see how hard this managed 100% on forage, and I want to see bulls that are raised on forage. Now I can. You could argue that, hey, if the cowherds raised 100% on forage all the time, or Maybe even 90, 95% raised on forage, then maybe the genetics are there. But what I found over time, that you can cover a lot of things with feed and what’s up, any kind of supplementation, even Even with forage supplementation. I mean I see a lot of programs now where I drive up and go look at bulls and they’re on they’re, they’re getting halage as much as they want all the time. Let’s not very much pressure, and so One I want to see. I want to see forage all the time. I want to see 100% forage if possible. There are some places Maybe that’s not possible. You better be careful claiming a hundred percent forage If you’re not.

I see that too. I see guys claim a hundred percent forage, a hundred percent grass and then they’ll tell you in the next post that, hey, they give them a little bit grain. Oh, we only give them one percent of their body weight. Well, that’s only 10 pounds on a thousand pound yielding bull, not, not much feed. But the other thing I want to see is pressure like I don’t want. I don’t when I pull up. I don’t want to see cattle eating halage out of a hay ring. You know what are you doing to push these cattle? I mean, what’s gonna make them fall out of the program if you’re giving them everything they need and they’re standing there? Just make life easy. I want to see cattle. They’re going out and hustling for themselves. It’s like even us, like when we supplement. You know there’s there. You know like if you give them any more than 10 Pounds of hay, like on a mature cow, it’ll make them stop and wait for you to bring them something.

And I never want my cattle to have what I call a you know more of a, I guess welfare mentality. I don’t want my cattle to ever wait on me for anything. I don’t want my cattle to wait on me at the gate, thinking they’re ready to move. I used to move big herds of cattle every day. Well, it got to be like a welfare system. They were just standing there waiting at the gate instead of they could have been out eating until I got there, and so we quit doing that because I want cattle that have their own mindset, their own cycle and I don’t want it to be altered by humans.

And you see that a lot with some of these mid-grazing systems, that, and they’re great, but that’s the doubt. I think that’s a downfall of some of those cattle are waiting on you. You have. You are there then leaning on you to help them eat that day and so, and not saying telling people stop doing that, but that’s. You’ve got to realize that I want cattle that can make a living with.

If I don’t show it for a week, I want them to stay alive and to make a live, and so my goal when we look at grass cattle in our operation, we look and go alright, what did God make beef cattle to do? He made them to take grass and convert them to a wonderful protein source, and at one time that was a perfect system, I believe. I believe at one time that was a perfect system and we as humans messed that up. Now. Maybe we didn’t have the carcass sizes we have today, maybe we didn’t even have the type of big cattle we have, and we definitely didn’t have them here. You know, all these cattle got imported, but my thinking in our thinking in our operation, let let that was a perfect system in terms of efficiency, low cost and and and that’s the most efficient system there is. So anything that I have to do, man-made, to add to that system, we lose efficiency and we also increase error and then we also increase cost usually. So our goal is to have cattle that can maintain as much on their home as possible, and that’s different for different areas with different resources.

But I want to see cattle that have pressure put on them. I want to see cattle that are raised on 100% forage and and generally that has a look that you know they’re more moderate cattle. They’re bigger, ribbed, got really good feet and legs. They’re generally gonna slick off on time. This is important. They’re gonna be able to slick off on grass. I can make any cattle slick and fat if I feed them, you give them enough a Protein and energy and they will produce oil and they will slick off. You go to feed lot. Those cattle are slick.

I want to see cattle, because this is a big deal. In the red Angus breed there are cattle that absolutely will not slick off on grass, or not on time, and it’s because over time they haven’t had enough pressure put on them. Or there you right now what’s happening while these Canadian genetics are getting infused, and so I want to see cattle that can slick off on On gray, on a true grass system. So those are some of the things that I look for, but generally it’s more.

It’s not even the cows that you know. I see beautiful pictures on the internet. It’s like, okay, what kind of program she is if I pull up and they’re just standing there to rack eating halage or silage or whatever. It’s like, uh, she’s probably not gonna work in my program and I’m not saying that that guy should quit what he’s doing, but for our program and for our resources and how hard we are on cattle, probably not gonna work. Or I better be able to get them cheap, bought cheap enough that we can call a pretty good percentage, you know, and try to try to get them down to the ones that will work.

0:50:03 – Cal Hardage
Right excellence. That said, and through that, you answered some other questions I had that was going to ask you. But one thing when you talk about your grass genetics and you’re raising bulls now, are you AI? Are you looking for certain AI sires? Are you doing all natural service with your herd? You’re still doing some embryos, so that’s a good, that’s a really good question.

0:50:26 – Michael Vance
So we quit using AI probably Seven years ago, maybe six, seven years ago. You know, with AI what we were we were seeing issues. We were seeing really some really good calves and then we but we weren’t seeing consistency. And we were seeing consistency in our back-end calves from our cover bulls, and so we had some really good cover bulls at the time and one day I just said I’m done with it. I said, look, I want them, I want my best bulls to bring my best cows, and when we did that, our herd changed overnight and we’ve probably we just weaned our third set of heifers.

I think that were really the result of that. I mean, I, you were, you really just go, I wouldn’t trade these with me Within our seed stock operation and we I think we got 80 keeper heifers out of that deal or close to it and out of a false set of cows. And I’m gonna tell anybody and I don’t care if you’re raising seed stock, I don’t care what breed you are you take the calves that work in your program, you put them back on the cows that work in your program and there’s no better way to get genetics that work in your environment and I’m a guy that sells bulls. But I tell people all the time about bulls for me at one, at some point you need to quit buying bulls from us. You know, use us for outcrossing, use us to add a little bit of something. But at some point you need to be a look in your program. Go, I can raise a bull better than than he can for for my environment. Now, a lot of guys that don’t have their cows Right, stuff like that you don’t want to jump ahead on that because you can sure get yourself on a bind. But if you, if you’re doing the right thing, you’re putting pressure on those cattle Generally, I think you’ve got as good a bulls out there in your program as I probably can raise for you Once you get your cow herd right.

But you need to be very careful. You need to be a cow man. You need to pay attention what those calves are out of and and not just pick the biggest calf in the weaning. I think that’s what now people naturally want to do and we we don’t even do that. We usually sell the bit.

The biggest couple calves in our program usually sale. It’s that calf that kind of flies under the radar, that we know his mother, we know his grandmother and he is just as balanced as could be. We want the calf that is that is balanced and just doesn’t have really a Flaw, just just just solid, and that usually you know there’s trade-offs to everything in these cattle, and so a calf that just blows the doors off in terms of gain, he’s probably gonna offset it somewhere, like maybe his mom’s got a little bit too much milk or maybe he’s got a little bit too Much growth, you know. And so for our program, that’s what we’re looking for and that’s when we change that mentality, like we just want them all consistent, uniform, and when, when you come to me and you come to buy our genetics, you’re buying our genetics, you’re not just buying one animal, well, I want the animal you get to breed as true as possible. One way to do that is for me to line, breed those cattle and breed, type and counting consistency.

0:52:54 – Cal Hardage
Michael, it’s time for us to move on to our famous four questions. Same four questions we ask of all of our guests. Our Very first question what is your favorite grazing grass related book or resource?

0:53:09 – Michael Vance
Oh, that’s a tough one, honestly, I’m gonna say Facebook. I think some of the grazing groups on Facebook are probably my favorite. Outside of reading, I think I work. I enjoy learning from other producers, like in conversation. I would also add to that Nat GLC the National Grazing Lands Coalition has a Conference every three years and it has been very productive that one, and then also a grass-fed exchange as well. But the grazing lands coalition, just in terms of just grazing and grazing cattle the last two that I’ve been to have been pretty out and from some pretty good, pretty good producers and speakers.

0:53:45 – Cal Hardage
Oh, very good, and you know, I don’t think we’ve ever had Facebook listed as a grazing resource, but there is a lot of information there and, as much as I hate to admit, I spend too much time there. But the good part is most of my feed is all groups that I’m part of and and I’m in that group for a reason. So, yeah, that can be a really beneficial resource. Our second question what is your favorite tool on your farm?

0:54:17 – Michael Vance
Primar no-till drill. I’m a big fan. I’ve got a great planes, I’ve got it. We’ve got a 12 of 6 NT, which is the a true no-till with cultures. And we just bought a 30 10, which is 30 footer, because we got a ranch, a much bigger ranch with with a lot more Open ground.

I like being able to plant stuff where there anything growing and so and I’m not a farmer my dad I grew up, my dad and my granddad were farmers. I’m not. I’m a horse guy, so I’m a cow guy. I was the guy that kid always want to be on horse and hated tractors. But I like taking that drill and and not just for the cattle I’ve. They’re one of the ranches that we’re on right now. We brought Canadian geese back in there like nobody’s business. I mean there are so many Canadians stay on that place in the winter time Because we oversee the Bermuda grass. I mean Bermuda grass doesn’t do anything for wildlife outside of nesting. If you stop, you have to stop pilot to do that. But you know it may bring in some grasshoppers for the turkeys or whatever, but you can plant some cool seasons that do amazing things for all the while. I’m not just the cattle. So that’s. That’s my favorite, probably my favorite piece of equipment, because I’m not a big equipment fan.

0:55:21 – Cal Hardage
Right, and I would. I would love to have a no-till drill maybe one of these days. Our third question what would you tell someone just getting started Surround?

0:55:31 – Michael Vance
yourself with people that do this for a living, and be careful with people giving you advice that don’t Get there their daily livelihood from this, and I and I don’t mean that as a cut to anybody but If people are giving you advice that that don’t put food on their table doing this, as long as they acknowledge that, and most people will say, hey, I do this inside or whatever that they’ll tell you. But I think there’s some people out there that are in maybe consulting positions or different positions that don’t actually get a check Check from cattle and from grazing cattle. And I think there’s some bad advice out there and I’ve heard it and I’ve debunked it over and over again.

Surround yourself with people that that either do this full-time for a living or are humble enough to say, hey, this is what I do, but but maybe you ought to try that you have different resources. And I would say, surround yourself with people that are resource minded and don’t just say, hey, go do this, go do that. That’ll ask you, hey, what are your resources? What can use? Maybe you don’t have a no-till drill? What are your options then? And not just say, hey, you need to go buy one, you go spend 30,000, you know, and so you need to surround yourself with mentors and people that can, because there are hard days in this business. You know that you need people that whenever things are going wrong, you can call and say that’ll give you some encouragement and give you some advice on how to get through that. You need those people and you need, you know, more than one of them. You need quite a few of them. If you can fill both hands with those kind of people, you’ll probably make it so excellent advice there.

0:56:54 – Cal Hardage
surrounding yourself by With like-minded people, you know what they say, you’re the average of your five closest friends and the other thing you bring up you know, get advice from people who’s doing this to put food on the table. I think that’s wonderful advice, because we have to be careful About who we’re listening to and are they really doing what they’re saying and it’s really going really happening? And then our last question, michael, it’s a easy one when can others find out more about you?

0:57:26 – Michael Vance
So we’re pretty, we don’t have a lot of resources real quick. We believe in word of mouth advertising, so we don’t do a lot of advertising. We don’t have a website. We do Facebook. We will talk about our bull sale and our program a little bit on Facebook. We try not do a whole lot. We’ll do a little bit more right up before sell time, just to be informative to the people that want to, you know, see videos and stuff maybe before they come out or get a good picture bulls. That way we don’t have to, you know, necessarily answer tons of questions through text messaging or phone calls.

But generally, you know, facebook is it, or I would encourage anybody. We are always. We always have an open door. We are limited on labor, so we’ve got to have a heads up, you know, because it is hard, because anytime that I take time to show your operation, as long as I have a heads up and we schedule ahead of time, we love to do it.

Sometimes, when it’s short notice, I’m having to choose between spending time with you and spend time with my family, and I used to be Pretty quick to just give up my family, but anymore I don’t and and I’ve had some people get upset about that. But as long as you give us plenty heads up, we love to show our operation to you, and we don’t care if it’s wintertime sometime, cattle may not look good, cattle may look good. You know, we want to be a hundred percent transparent, and so we encourage anybody. We don’t ever shy away from showing our operation, and so feel free to reach out to us. You know I’ll get myself on number out. You can provide that to anyone, and you don’t have to buy anything for them, as we’re not about that. We’re about relationships and get no more people, and so, and we, we enjoy it. That’s what I mean. That’s what makes this fun. I mean I’m sure that’s the reason that you have this podcast.

It’s it’s it’s about the people, and so for us, like we, you know, we, you know, I think some people sometimes you feel pressure when you go look at a guy’s operation. Maybe we need to buy a bull or we need to do this. No, like our bulls are gonna sell, our females are gonna sell. If they don’t, like I said earlier, we’ll quit and go do something else. But as long as we, you know God’s giving us his passion and give us these opportunities. We’re gonna share it with others, and just as people have shared with us.

You know, we would not be where we are today if it weren’t for people doing that for us, and so we owe that I feel like we owe that to everyone else. I mean, it’s not like we just all of a sudden are just here and successful people have blessed us with opportunities. People have blessed us with knowledge and wisdom and with relationships, people we can lean on, and so if we aren’t doing that in return, then we’re not paying for it at all. So we believe in that and, and if you’ll give us a heads up, we, we, we thoroughly enjoy and we think it’s a good investment and don’t feel like you had to have any money to spend to come spend time With us. We, we would love to show you around our operation.

0:59:53 – Cal Hardage
That sounds wonderful. You know, one of these days I’m gonna find myself down there.

0:59:57 – Michael Vance
Yeah well, yeah, you haven’t opened door anytime, we’d love to show you the place and and you can come back and tell it, tell your viewers. Oh well, he’s speaking truth, or maybe. Maybe there’s a little bit more to it, you know.

1:00:07 – Cal Hardage
Well, Michael, we appreciate you coming on and sharing with us. Really enjoyed the conversation.

1:00:13 – Michael Vance
Well, I appreciate you having us on and I appreciate you believing in us. Enough to you know, Lean, you’re here to us and I hope, I hope that people enjoy this and and we wish you success as far as this podcast as well, and we’re we’re listening more now that you’ve reached out to us and then, so we look forward to hearing some of the other people that you have on up in the in the future.

1:00:30 – Cal Hardage
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. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and want to keep the conversation going, visit our community at community dot grazing grass calm. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe to the grazing grass podcast on Facebook, twitter, instagram and YouTube For past and future episodes. We also welcome guests to share about their own grass farming journey. So if you’re interested, felt the form on grazing grass calm under the, be our guest link. Until next time, keep on grazing grass.

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