As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?
The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…
In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the
mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became
the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California
in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a
600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves),
but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the
cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they
happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made
public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau
Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of
the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll
probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions
disguised as news articles, and appar…
More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.
Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…