Hayes ready to ride in the cattle truck

Mixing Things Up This Summer

Well they say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, so we decided to mix things up this summer! The last two years we’ve lost over 13 head out on the range. That is a big hit to an operation of our size. Unfortunately, we think that man is hurting us more than the wildlife. The wolves are working this country pretty hard, which is a common narrative in many states today. In the Spring of 2024, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service made an official “record of decision” to reintroduce Grizzly Bears into the Northern Cascades. All that to say, ranchers all around the country are having big challenges with wildlife reintroductions happening all around. If it isn’t currently happening in your state, than it probably is in a neighboring state.

Recently, I was looking at some comments on a Five Mary’s Instagram Reel. People were stating that they wanted to know if a ranch runs on Public Lands Permits, or not. If they did, they didn’t want to support them. My jaw dropped open and I had a hard time picking it back up. I have certainly heard people complain that ranchers are able to utilize the land for far to cheap. There have been many that think the wildlife should have free rein of all of the Public Lands and that even populations of feral horses shouldn’t be managed. The Public Lands I have seen in Southern Oregon and Northern California are not areas that anyone would be able to grow a crop. I see immense value in grazing rangeland in an effort to raise a high quality and complete protein to feed the world while benefiting the land and the environment.

Cattle Benefit Rangeland

Not only do cattle produce a nutritious food product, grazing provides many benefits to the land. Cattle help reduce risk of wildfires each summer by decreasing the fuel load. They actually help support quality watersheds. While growing and putting on pounds of nutritious beef, they are helping sequester carbon. It breaks my heart to see ranchers and cattle struggle to coexist with other animal populations. I know this has been a longstanding issue. It seems that the animals have earned more and more rights over time. Their increased protection hinders management and the ability for ranchers to continue grazing the lands. For some, sadly, that is their ultimate goal, which is why there is no better time for agriculturalists to share their story.

How much is your summer range costing you?

In business, it is often easy to overlook things that are costing your business, yet you never write a check for. The public may know about the initial investment of the permit and then the seemingly small rate that producers pay each year depending on the amount of animals they turn out. What they don’t know or see is the hours of time fixing fence, the miles put on pickups, the fuel that those pickups burn, the flat tires, the death loss from predators, the gates left open from recreators, the days of gathering, and the effort that goes into having a symbiotic relationship with the agencies incharge of managing the land for the government. When you start putting a price on all of those things, your Public Lands Permit might be more costly than you thought. An irrigated meadow is starting to look pretty good.

An Irrigated Meadow for the Summer

We started drilling down what the summer range was actually costing us. Not only in time but money. Given the amount, we felt like it was the perfect time to try something new. Especially with our third baby arriving this spring, time seems to be more and more valuable. We began calling around and putting feelers out there for pasture that is available. I visited with the family that has been a long standing and great neighbor to my family’s ranch in Northern California, and they ended up having some pasture available. They loaded up in the semi cattle trailers and headed three hours south-east of here. Hayes jumped in with one of the drivers and had a blast. We loaded up and followed the cows, put mineral out, and met up with my grandparents for lunch. Below you will see all three kids were tuckered out on our way back home. We have approached this summer as a test to see how keeping cattle inside will work out for us.

After heading home from turning cows out for the summer, the kids were all tired and fell asleep in the backseat. What a beautiful sight.

Keeping Cattle Inside

When our cattle were on the mountain, we would begin gathering the first weekend in October, which is coincidently the opening day of hunting season. I don’t get warm fuzzy feelings sending my husband off in the morning. Especially since his best coats are neutral colored or camo print. I digress. They’d begin riding in October and still be riding on the weekends into January. This was nothing like the ranges I experienced in Northern California. It is so wooded and brushy that flying over it doesn’t make a ton of sense either. As they began gathering the calf market would be looking great, but by the time we had enough gathered and weaned, the market was saturated. Since we will be keeping them inside this year we are curious to see if we will be able to capture a higher price for our calves. It will be a big win for us if we just get all our cattle back alive. Wish us luck!

  1. Laurie says:

    I totally agree with you Gabbie on all the issues. It’s so similar to the logging industry when they started cutting out the logging but when managed right can be good for out land and Benefiting the people for jobs here in America. But instead we buy lumber from other countries. Now they want to do away with real food, take away our farms and feed us bugs and printed meat from who knows what!!
    Keep fighting young lady we need you
    young people to keep people informed and educated!!
    P.S. please excuse my writing skills, I’m not very good with grammar!! But you definitely are keep up the good work!!!

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