On Fridays, We Move Cattle!
One of the best parts about our charter school is that it allows us to home school our kids on Fridays. This provides opportunities for the kids to do things out of the ordinary on a school day, such as helping Dad out on the ranch. So when he is able, the Head Cowboy will do ranch activities on Fridays so the kids can help out.
Last week everyone went over to the Pajaro Ranch (Hollister, CA) to help out with several activities. One of our activities was moving cattle from one pasture to the next. Henry (12-years old) prefers the 4-wheeler to a horse, (he's a 21st-century cowboy you know!) He is not an expert on the quad, but we’re Cal Poly SLO grads (go Mustangs!) and we believe the best way is to “Learn by Doing!!” Especially for a kid like Henry, we can tell him things 20 times, and then he’ll go and do it exactly the opposite, so go on Henry, grab that 4-wheeler by the horns, er handles, and get after it!!!
So why do we wake up at 5:00 am on our "day off" to go move cattle? We’ve been employing a method of grazing known as rotational grazing. Rotational grazing is good for the cattle and good for the pasture, but it is labor-intensive, so hello 5 am!! Rotational grazing places the entire herd on a smaller area of the pasture for a certain amount of time. They are then moved to the next portion of pasture, and so on and so on. This allows the cattle to have a more balanced diet of the various grasses in the pasture, because much like us (or our children) if we were at an "all you can eat" buffet, we tend to move towards the “best stuff” which is not always the “best stuff” for our bodies. Rotational grazing allows the cattle to eat all the grasses that are good for their bodies and it also prevents overgrazing of “favorite” grasses to the cattle. If this topic really interests you, watch this interesting Ted Talk by Allan Savory.
Holistic resource management is not just a theory, we have actually witnessed it working on the ranches that we manage. Just the other day Seth found some perennial grasses at the ranch; we've never seen these grasses at this ranch and we've been on it for 10-years! Needless to say, Seth was super excited.
Breakfast burritos are a perfect way to start a day at the ranch, especially when you use superb ingredients like eggs from Burroughs Family Farms and bacon from Heritage Family Farms. Here’s a surprising and little-known fact, the Head Cowboy hates eggs!! It’s very un-cowboy-like and makes breakfast a little challenging, but thankfully Henry loves them, so I get to share my love of eggs and making them with him. As you can imagine, after our day at the ranch we come home tired, dirty, and hungry! The last thing I feel like doing is cooking dinner so I'm always sure to put something in the crockpot before we go. Then we come home to a good-smelling home, I don't have to turn on the oven, and I don't have to rack my brain for a dinner idea. Here's one of my favorite recipes using our grass-fed beef brisket.
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 beef brisket
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 yellow onion, quartered
- 4 medium potatoes, quartered (optional)
- 4 carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups dry red wine
- Enough water to cover