Our farm is located in the tall grass prairie region of eastern Nebraska. A rare remnant of this tall grass prairie exists within our pastures yet today. Most people are familiar that historically a key component of the grassland ecosystem involved large roaming herds of grazing bison. When we arrived in 1997, the prairie was in a degraded state, in a large part due to lack of grazing. A system built and maintained by the interaction of growing plants and foraging animals will decline when animals are removed.
Early efforts to restore the native prairie on our farm involved chain saws, herbicides and fire. The initial results were dramatic, invasive species declined and native species rebounded, but soon the grasslands returned to a stagnant state. Fire, mechanical and chemical inputs created an attractive short-term response but did not restore the key need of animal impact on growing plants.
July 2011 our first cattle arrived, 10 heifers (females) and a bull (male). You could say we became a “farm” at this point because we began producing livestock. From another point of view, the cattle restarted the biological processes that will bring balance back to the overall ecosystem.
We believe what we began on this small piece of land is for the betterment of the soil, water, plants, animals, our community and the world. In early 2013 we were surprised and honored to be recognized by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society with the 2012 NSAS Beginning Farmer Award.
You can read more about the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society at http://www.NebSusAg.org/.