Planning Our Way Through a Drought

2015 has been an exciting year for Early Bird Ranch.  This year we collaborated with TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation and Kitchen Table Advisors to pilot an internship to teach sustainable business management alongside sustainable farming practices.  One of the things that made this internship possible was the efficiency-boosting Pasture Hoops we made in 2013.  These hoops let us concentrate a typical year’s production into the summer months during which time our summer intern gained experience in the full range of production activities, while also learning about cash flow, sales, and planning.

2015 has also been an exciting year with regards to conservation.  As the drought continues in the West, we’ve been focused on looking at the specific role that poultry can play in this drier environment as well as ways to improve our water efficiency.  What we found was good news for pastured livestock production.  It turns out our pastured production requires less water than indoor production and can actually benefit the water cycle by improving soil water holding capacity.  We also began talking with NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) to look for ways to improve the drought resiliency of our operations.  Out of these conversations, we developed a multi-phase plan to store excess rainwater from winter storms to use during the dry season for livestock production and to plant native trees that provide shade and a windbreak and protect soils and help store water in the ground. 

I am frankly in LOVE with this plan as we are learning something everyday we are working on this.  The NRCS staff are great partners and mentors providing us with technical assistance, local and historical knowledge, and world-class cheerleading as we experiment with ways to provide long term benefits to the soil, the land, and our business. 

I will certainly keep you all in the loop as we proceed.  Things seem to always be changing around here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2015- Still Dry, But Full of Ambition

Happy Spring Everyone!

This year is shaping to be another dry one, but that won't stop us from finding plenty to do.

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While we will continue to limit our animal impact to help steward the land, this year we are launching an ambitious internship program with the TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation designed to both train aspiring farmers in production methods and business administration.

As the sustainable food movement continues to grow it is so crucial to ensure that the inspired and diligent young people moving into this field are given the tools they need to succeed over the long term.  To that end Early Bird Ranch, TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, and Kitchen table advisors are piloting the new Holistic Farm Enterprise Internship this summer.  The internship will be an intensive 12 week program where interns will slowly take over the complete management of Early Bird Ranch's summer pastured broiler and forest-raised pig operations.  The internship will be broken down into 50% training in pasture-based livestock production and 50% in business administration/planning, direct marketing, and small-business finance.

Along with TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation and Kitchen Table Advisors, we are excited that the curricula we create and refine over this and future summers will be shared in an open-source manner so that other farm internships will be able to easily incorporate these critical lessons into their programs.

For more information, please check out the "about us" section of the TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation website.