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Gabe Brown on Ecosystem Stewardship

North Dakota farmer and rancher Gabe Brown stands at the forefront of the regenerative agriculture movement. He is perhaps best known for popularizing the concept of cover crop cocktails as a key strategy for jumpstarting soil health and nourishing soil biology, but that’s only one of his many contributions.

North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown stands among his crops

North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown grows crops, cover crops and trees and manages diverse livestock on 5,000 owned and rented acres outside of Bismarck.

To his life work, Brown brings an inquisitive mind and an infectious love of the journey. He revels in trying new things and is not reluctant to fail at some of them, as experiments always yield food for thought and generate ideas for future exploration. As a pioneer, Brown has forged close relationships with fellow seekers and fostered a stimulating community for trailblazers. Generous with his knowledge, he’s a consummate educator who strives to open minds and is known for making a deep and sustained impression on his audiences.

As science begins to catch up with what Brown has been demonstrating on the ground, his sphere of influence has steadily expanded to include more mainstream researchers, policymakers, and even leaders in the conventional food industry.

Brown grows crops, cover crops and trees and manages diverse livestock on 5,000 owned and rented acres outside of Bismarck. By area standards, Brown’s Ranch is not that big. But what is astonishing is how much more this dryland farm is able to produce than comparable operations — both for market and deep within the soil. Continue Reading →

How to Establish Dung Beetles in Pastures (and Why You Want to Do This)

I only recently became interested in dung beetles, largely because it has only been recently that we have had any to become interested in. As a rancher, I must create the conditions for dung beetles to thrive, and they will come.

The first time I saw dung beetles completely bury a manure pat in a number of hours, I was hooked. I wanted to learn all about them: what they do, how to help them establish in pastures, how they work, etc. My continued observations and research has led our family to develop a deep appreciation of these hard-working creatures. So much so that we created our updated business logo in honor of them.

Our daughter art directed the logo and our neighbor, Brian Taylor, created it. We get a lot of stares when people see our logo on the side of our truck, but we hope it piques their curiosity enough to learn more about dung beetles and the vital role they can play on a healthy farm or ranch. Continue Reading →

Book Excerpt: Ranching Full-Time on 3 Hours a Day

The book Ranching Full-Time on 3 Hours a Day, by Cody Holmes, provides real-world examples of the success that holistic management systems can create a for your ranch.

Using his personal experience, author Cody Holmes describes the practices that he has found both successful and profitable for ranching cattle, while working only three hours a day.

Many hard-working men and women have wanted to make a living ranching in the cattle industry, but have struggled with very little success. Holmes has found that to be truly successful, the critical factors are your decision-making and planning abilities.

In this book you will learn about:

  • Using diversity to find stability and security
  • Taking a whole-ranch approach to management
  • Letting cattle improve your soil
  • Maintaining a better quality of life while cattle ranching
  • And more!

The excerpt below discusses step-by-step processes for holistic management in agriculture.

Book excerpt: Reproduction and Animal Health

By Gearld Fry

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from the Acres U.S.A. title Reproduction and Animal Health, by Gearld Fry. Copyright 2003, softcover, 218 pages. We republished this excerpt in 2018 in memory of Gearld Fry, who passed away and was an important figure to Acres U.S.A.

Gearld Fry

I’ve heard the comment, “I’m doing pretty good,” and there are words like excellent, profitable, and not too bad. For my part, I love numbers. Accordingly, I’ve put together numbers for 400 acres, 100 cows, assuming the average soil in the South, and I hope it will enable the cowman to draw the appropriate conclusion. This model will change according to the area, but it should guide the logic and thinking that backgrounds a profitable bottom line.

The Calf

The average calf has seven owners. It travels 1,400 miles from the time it is born until it makes it to a dinner table. There are two or three beef organizations formed recently that hope to achieve select as their target norm. The American Hereford Association recently entertained the billingsgate that Hereford select was better than Angus choice, this according to Colorado State research.

Continue Reading →

Shift the Workload: Focus on Livestock Culling, Genetics

Raising livestock on any size operation is hard work. There’s no way around it. However, you can minimize your personal time and labor investment by shifting your farm’s workload from yourself to your animals. They have their entire lives to spend doing a few simple jobs: eat, grow and reproduce. You, on the other hand, have numerous important things to do. This mind-set for management of any species will lead to a low-input ranch that can be run on just a couple hours per day.

A Red Angus crossed with Belted Galloway, 4-month-old bull calf.

My shift-the-workload philosophy is a product of my diverse experiences in agriculture. I have a bachelor’s degree in animal science and agribusiness from West Virginia University. I have worked on ranches in Montana and Texas, and for renowned grazier Greg Judy in Missouri. As an intern at his ranch I learned how to harness the power of nature with mob grazing.

I now own Rhinestone Cattle Co., a grass-fed beef and consulting operation in western New York. I have taken much inspiration from the work of Tom Lassiter, Gearld Fry and Ian Mitchell-Innes. Continue Reading →

Book of the Week: Cure Your Own Cattle

By Frank Newman Turner

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Acres U.S.A. original book, Cure Your Own Cattle, written by Frank Newman Turner. Copyright 1950, 2009, softcover, 96 pages. $10 regularly priced. SALE PRICE $6.00.

I left university with the deep bewilderment about animal diseases, which I imagine is common to all agricultural and veterinary students. The only certain thing about animal diseases seemed to be man’s inability to prevent or cure most of them. It was not until I had experienced these diseases in my own herd and started at the beginning in my attempt to eliminate and prevent them, instead of accepting the diseases and treating them as inevitable, that I discovered the root cause of most of them. Until in fact I discovered that there is only one disease of animals and its name is man!

Cure Your Own Cattle, by Frank Newman Turner

The solution was then simple. If I could get the animals back to a life as nearly as economically practicable to what it was before man perverted them to his own use, and provide them as fully as possible with all the requirements of health available under natural conditions, it was reasonable to assume that health would be restored and maintained. That in fact has been my experience, and in this section of the book I publish the treatments evolved from this assumption, which have been proven effective when used by farmers themselves on their own cattle in all parts of the world. But first let me give you some of my experiences that led to the discovery of the simple natural cures for diseases, which have hitherto seemed incurable by the involved methods of orthodox veterinary science.

I have previously written about the diseases that drained my resources and nearly ruined two herds of cattle; how artificial manures were dispensed with entirely and how manuring entirely by natural means and feeding my cattle mainly on organically grown (See Fertility Farming) food and herbs, I restored my herd and my farm to health and abundance from the stage when 75% of my animals were suffering from contagious abortion, sterility, tuberculosis and mastitis. I spent large sums of money on vaccination and the orthodox veterinary treatment of sterility and the only result was increasing disease. Some cows aborted their calves as often as three times after being vaccinated, and one after another the cows were declared by the veterinary surgeon to be useless and incapable of further breeding after he had applied a succession of orthodox treatments and failed. He told me that I should never be safe from these diseases until I adopted a system of regular vaccination of all my cattle as they reached the age of six months; I must also fatten and sell the sterile animals and tuberculosis reactors. In spite of pressure, I resisted all this advice, largely because I had not the capital to replace the “useless” animals which I was advised to dispose of, and partly because I was in any case becoming convinced that we had been tackling disease from the wrong end. Continue Reading →