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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PST

Low Impact Ranching

Low Impact Ranching

Low Impact Ranching

by Jamie Henneman of Tonasket, WA

Washington man makes most of his land with “leave no trace” stewardship methods

Change really can be a good thing, according to one Eastern Washington rancher, especially when change allows a ranching operation to expand and be more profitable. By making a few basic alterations to his cattle management, Colville area rancher Ron Rose is getting better use of his pasture ground, making more of his water resources, and now has the option of doubling his herd size.

By employing some low-impact management tools, Rose has been able to make a 160-acre spread jump from supporting 35 cow-calf pairs to 100 pairs through the use of an off-site watering system and special feeding methods. Lush green pasture grasses are also prevalent on the ranch due to mindful management of how to evenly spread cattle traffic and their manure byproduct.

All this has been done at the Rose “Big Sircle-Little Ranch” through his unique leave-no-trace style of ranching that is yielding both benefits to his operation and the environment.

Low Impact Ranching

Riverside Pasture and Off-Site Watering

One of Rose’s most recent projects has been an innovative off-site watering system that allows his cattle better access to water and encourages broader cattle traffic over his land. The 160-acre pasture that borders the Colville River in Stevens County would seem an ideal location for cattle, due to its close proximity to a water source. But instead of going the traditional route and having his cattle water at the river, Rose has installed several 150 gallon watering troughs throughout the grazing ground. A 430-foot well pumps the water to the tanks at 100-gallons-a-minute and water levels are maintained through use of an in-trough float. These troughs are positioned on a six-foot long cement slab that helps prevent one of the common problems associated with off-site watering – boggy ground. “Putting in these tanks has not only increased the availability of water for the cattle, but it has also allowed me to get better grazing dispersal over my fields,” Rose explained. “Instead of the cattle hanging around the water tank, they come and get a drink and then move on.”

The water trough area that is inhospitable for lounging encourages the cattle to find other places to rest.

“My cows are now choosing a variety of spots to lay down when it is hot out and I’m not seeing as much traffic at the river,” Rose related.

Rose said he has not fenced off from the river at this point, as the cattle are benefiting the water body in a number of ways, namely by keeping riverbank grasses trimmed down and healthy to help prevent the encroachment of weeds.

“Now that the cows don’t have to come to the river just to water, they are making a little bit better use of the grass by grazing it off,” he said. “Grazing is one of the best uses for this piece of land.”

Another management tool that has allowed Rose to make better use of his grazing ground is the installation of cross fences that has created a six-pasture rotation system. The pasture rotation helps to ensure that cattle are evenly covering the grazing acreage, instead of just hanging out near their favorite spots.

But a state-of-the-art watering system and fencing alternations are not the only methods Rose uses to make the most of what he has.

Low Impact Ranching

No-Loss Salt and Hay Feeding

Instead of providing mineral salt to the cattle by way of tubs or other on-the-ground methods, Rose has bored out a 50-gallon drum that he suspends from a tree to allow the cattle to be salted off the ground. This ensures that Rose doesn’t lose any other loose minerals he has invested in through moisture or spillage and there isn’t a patch of grass that is brown and dead from being covered by a tub or barrel. Off-the-ground salting is similar to a feeding method that Rose uses in the winter to make sure he doesn’t lose any hay when feeding.

When the snow has buried the grasses in Eastern Washington, Rose feeds his cattle every other day in round bale feeders that he moves throughout his pasture every time he feeds. The 800 pound round bales can sustain 14 cows for two days, according to Rose, a figure that increased by two head since he started feeding this way.

“Before I was losing a lot of hay by feeding on the ground because it would get trampled,” Rose explained. “Now I don’t lose any hay and I can feed two more animals.”

Moving the feeders also allows hoof traffic and manure to be evenly spread throughout the pasture he counts on for summer grazing grasses.

An unexpected benefit from the mobile feeders has been that the cattle manure, high in acidity, has helped to discourage the prevalence of a common weed called Jim Hill Mustard.

“This spring there was a noticeable difference in the prevalence of the weed from where we had moved the feeders and where we didn’t” Rose related. “It’s just amazing the difference something that small can make.”

Taking advantage of the “free fertilizer” his cattle produce is not only good in the field, but also in the paddock. One of the main corrals by the ranch house that had been used to winter cattle was planted with triticale (a wheat-rye cross) this spring, turning what could be a dry, dusty corral into a mini pasture, ready for harvesting.

“I planted the triticale as a kind of experiment, both for the aesthetics and to get some good use out of that piece of ground,” Rose explained.

This kind of low-impact management has yielded visible results for Rose who can display flourishing pasture grasses, healthy cattle, and firm banks in his riverside pasture. “I am just a detail oriented person and one of those farm boys who always likes to have a project,” Rose said. “I am trying to get the most out of my land and efforts and I really enjoy seeing the positive outcomes of a finished project.”

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

Horsedrawn Dempster Well Driller

Horsedrawn Dempster Well Driller

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The driller is like an auger type post hole digger powered by one horse walking around the machine. The gear is stationary. The platform and everything on it (including operators) goes around and around with the horse. The auger shaft is clamped to the platform so the auger makes one revolution as the horse makes one revolution. The gears operate a winch. It appears the winch can also be cranked by hand.

Multi-Purpose Tool Carrier Equi Idea Multi-V

Multi-Purpose Tool Carrier: EQUI IDEA Multi-V

Building on the experiences with a tool carrier named Multi, consisting of a reversible plow interchangeable with a 5-tine cultivator, the Italian horse drawn equipment manufacturer EQUI IDEA launched in 2012 a new multi-purpose tool carrier named Multi-V. The “V” in its name refers to the first field of use, organic vineyards of Northern Italy. Later on, by designing more tools, other applications were successfully added, such as vegetable gardens and tree nurseries.

Work Horse Handbook

The Work Horse Handbook

The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.

International Harvester Fertilizer Distributor

International Harvester Fertilizer Distributor

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Because of the many varieties and mixtures or fertilizer, it is impossible to give complete tables listing them. It is, however, very easy to determine the distribution of any particular fertilizer by proceeding as follows. Put a cloth, or some large sheets of paper under the machine and turn the main driving wheel 57 times for 7′, 51 times for 8′ and 46 times for 9′ machine. Weigh the amount ejected which will indicate the amount distributed per one-tenth of an acre.

Log Arch

Log Arch

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The arch was built on a small trailer axle that I cut down to 3 feet wide and tacked back together. This was done so that I could keep the wheels parallel. I cut the middle out after construction was complete. I used heavy wall pipe from my scrounge pile for the various frame parts. It is topped off with an angle iron bar for added strength and to provide a mount for the winch and some slots for extra chains.

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

Box Jaw Tongs & the Cow Poop Theory of Blacksmithing

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Making a pair of tongs was a milestone for a lot of blacksmiths. In times gone past a Journeyman Smith meant just that, a smith that went upon a journey to learn more skills before taking a masters test. When the smith appeared at the door of a prospective employer, he/she would be required to demonstrate their skills. A yard stick for this was to make a pair of tongs.

Happs Plowing A Chance to Share

Happ’s Plowing: A Chance to Share

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Dinnertime rolled around before we could get people and horses off the field so that results of judging could be announced. I learned a lot that day, one thing being that people were there to share; not many took the competition side of the competition very seriously. Don Anderson of Toledo, WA was our judge — with a tough job handed to him. Everyone was helping each other so he had to really stay on his toes to know who had done what on the various plots.

McCormick-Deering All Steel Corn Sheller

McCormick-Deering All-Steel Corn Sheller

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To obtain the best results in shelling, the machine should be run so that the crank makes about forty-five (45) revolutions per minute or the pulley shaft one hundred and seventy-five (175) revolutions per minute. When driving with belt be sure that this speed is maintained, as any speed in excess of this will have a tendency to cause the shelled corn to pass out with the cobs. The ears should be fed into the sheller point first.

The Horsedrawn Mower Book

Removing the Wheels from a McCormick Deering No. 9 Mower

How to remove the wheels of a No. 9 McCormick Deering Mower, an excerpt from The Horsedrawn Mower Book.

Fjordworks Plowing the Market Garden

Fjordworks: Plowing the Market Garden Part 1

In a horse-powered market garden in the 1- to 10-acre range the moldboard plow can still serve us very well as one valuable component within a whole tool kit of tillage methods. In the market garden the plow is used principally to turn in crop residue or cover crops with the intention of preparing the ground to sow new seeds. In these instances, the plow is often the most effective tool the horse-powered farmer has on hand for beginning the process of creating a fine seed bed.

LittleField Notes Spring 2013

LittleField Notes: Spring 2013

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If we agree that quality of plowing is subject to different criteria at different times and in different fields, then perhaps the most important thing to consider is control. How effectively can I plow to attain my desired field condition based on my choice of plow? The old time plow manufacturers understood this. At one time there were specific moldboards available for every imaginable soil type and condition.

Mini Horse Haying

Mini Horse Haying

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The first mini I bought was a three year old gelding named Casper. He taught me a lot about what a 38 inch mini could do just by driving me around the neighborhood. He didn’t cover the miles fast, but he did get me there! It wasn’t long before several more 38 inch tall minis found their way home. I presently have four minis that are relatively quiet, responsive to the bit, and can work without a lot of drama.

Snow Trail Groomer

Snow Trail Groomer

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Want to groom sled trails, freeze skid trails, or set cross-country ski trails? Here is a relatively inexpensive device that has numerous advantages over the conventional chain link fence, bedspring, log, tractor tire, etc. It is easy to construct, manhandle, and store. One of the major advantages over some other methods is that it allows the snow to stay on the trail rather than pushing it to the side. This action allows it to cover rough surfaces such as roots, rocks, and ruts.

Littlefield Notes: A Slower Pace

LittleField Notes: A Slower Pace

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I will probably never get a chance to sit at the throttle of a steam engine heading up some winding mountain grade and feel the romance of the rails as the lonesome sound of a steam whistle echoes off canyon walls. Nor will I sit and watch out over the bowsprit of a schooner rounding Cape Horn as the mighty wind and waves test men’s mettle and fill their spirits with the allure of the sea. It is within my reach however to draw a living from the earth using that third glorious form of transport – the horse.

Stationary Baler

Stationary Baler: Engineering and Evidence

Our friend, Mark Schwarzburg came by the office with an old wooden box he inherited from his great great great grandfather, Henry Schwarzburg. In it is a lovely, very old working wooden model of the stationary baler Henry helped to invent. Also were found, on old oil-skin paper, beautiful original engineer’s drawings for patent registry; and a brochure for the actual resulting manufactured implement.

McCormick Deering/International No 7 vs no 9

McCormick Deering/International: No. 7 versus No. 9

McCormick Deering/International’s first enclosed gear model was the No. 7, an extremely successful and highly popular mower of excellent design.

400 Hen Laying House

400-Hen Laying House

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One of the hardest problems in successful poultry keeping is to maintain the vigor and health of the flock. Housing has particular bearing on this problem. If the laying-house is poorly lighted, has insufficient ventilation, or is overcrowded, the health of the fowls will be affected. The purpose of housing is to increase productiveness. In order to accomplish this the fowls must be comfortable.

Basil Scarberrys Ground-Drive Forecart

Basil Scarberry’s Ground-Drive Forecart

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I used an ’84 Chevrolet S-10 rear end to build my forecart, turn it over to get right rotation, used master cylinder off buggy and 2” Reese hitch, extend hitch out to use P.T.O. The cart is especially useful for tedding hay. However, its uses are virtually unlimited. We use it for hauling firewood on a trailer, for pulling a disc and peg tooth harrow, for hauling baled hay on an 8’ x 16’ hay wagon, and just for a jaunt about the farm and community.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT