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/.
We moved to our current location with access to pasture in 1997. We thought about getting some cows but the idea of raising commodity beef just didn’t seem appealing. Attending the 2002 Nebraska Grazing Conference, I had the chance to hear some outside of the box presentations concerning cattle production. Here were some ideas that did sound appealing, raising livestock in a manner that was beneficial to the land, animals, community and pocket book.
As we investigated cattle production my health took a turn for the worse with acid reflux bouts. Digestive health complications are a huge problem in this country. Researching cattle production and health issues at the same time resulted in some interesting paths crossing. If the plants and meat you consume were raised on healthy soil, you too will be healthy.
A number of things fell into place for us to make a start:
- available underutilized land
- desire to raise cattle
- a new understanding of managing cattle in a sustainable manner
- calling to produce healthy food for ourselves and community
We are on a journey to improve soil and forages that will result in producing healthy animals adapted to this place and our management. Just like a fine wine is specific to a certain vineyard, we are creating gourmet grass-fed beef unique to our farm.
Please share your experiences on starting a new adventure.
Here we will share our experience on a small “grass based farm”. Maybe you are interested in some of the same things we are?
Soil, grass, animals, sunlight and management equals regenerative health.
- Enjoyment and health benefits of grass based animal products
- Local foods
- Environmental harmony of grass and animal production
- Tall grass prairies, soil, water and wildlife
- Animal welfare and care of working livestock
Located 15 miles Northwest of Lincoln, Nebraska, we look forward to any feed back that is shared; your experiences, questions or comments.
What topics related to our site interest you? Feel free to leave a comment.