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.