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Armyrick's Land Healing Farm...

Correction to the above, Joel Salatin will be appearing in Guelph on October 4, 2014 and Greg Judy in Arthur on October 18, 2014.
So once again, summer or "grazing season" as I call it, is here. I have had the herd out on pasture for a full month now. Expecting calves any day now. This spring, many observations were noted.
1. The areas of the pasture that were hit hardest with last years cattle impact (1 day in a 1/4 to 1/2 acre paddocks, moved every day) resulted in super rapid grass and legume growth this spring! So What? The dense and taller grasses results in more carbon and nitrogen being locked up in the plant and soil. The areas were the cattle had the least amount of time or impact have very, very slow growth.

2. A big part of this growth is the "micro herd" on and in the soil. Worms, bugs, spiders, nematodes, fungi, protozoa, bacteria, etc. The less sun that hits the dirt (NO BARE DIRT!) and the more food there is for the microlife (Poop, saliva, hair, urine, crushed plant matter on the ground) the more this mini and base eco system works. And it works very well. A little shot of molasses mixed with water helps as well.

3. What about bare dirt spots that are inevitable? Old, dirty hay sprinkled generously on the ground makes for great canopy!

4. The cows themselves are doing very well, shiny spring coats and very vibrant personalities. Pregnant cows have big bellies and full udders.

I have unintentionally given several farm tours and people are amazed at how well we are doing. I also got offered up a developer owned farm property (no dirt to be turned for five to ten years) and was forced to turn him down. I simply do not have enough cattle at this point to make it work on 2 properties. I never thought I would be turning down a developer for use of land. However I was very polite and the door is open for future discussions.

Yee haw! 
The Bison altered the habitat and kept the prairies as prairies. From what my cousins tell me the nice thing about Bison is that the calves need little if any care, where out here calving with cattle can lead to high mortality rates as the calves have difficult standing on their own and the cold can cause hypothermia to set in quickly on the newborns. Throw in a booming wolf and cougar population with a crashing deer population and you have problems.
Update. So very, very tired. All calves are born and doing very well. They have almost all understood the theory of electricity. One is still painfully figuring it out. All bull calves except one heiffer. Some bulls banded to make steers, some of the nicer ones left as is, intended for breeding.

They were all born outside on pasture (in the field) with no human intervention what so ever. Dexter cattle are simply awesome, no wonder Gordon Ramsay prefers these to all other breeds for his meat and milk choices.

The re-growth in the first pastures is simply thick and dense but not as tall. Lots of Tufted vetch, red clover and birdsfoot trefol.

I nearly got a concussion last night from a 60 lbs calf when my wife and I tackled her and then tagged her ears. Strong beasties. Anywho, pictures should follow soon.
More updates. The Joel Salatin and Greg Judy seminars were an absolute HIT!

This fall, our pastures are staying rich and green to this day due to our higher density and frequent rotation. Grass may ceased growth on this date (Oct 30 2014) but the steers, lambs and heifers are still out on the pasture getting "winter fat" on pasture. The drainage in the soil is excellent and the microbial life is still good. I know this because I am witnessing week old manure piles still breaking down with plenty of bug life.

We have slaughtered some lambs earlier in october and have had a very positive feedback from our customers. More to go next week and then later in November the steers go in (Grass fed and finished beef yum). We will most likely put the breeding herd of cattle back out to eat dormant and thatch grass until snow burries it. Right now the breeding herd is in with last years fantastic bull, Dreamland's Big Red. He gave all healthy and strapping bull calves so lets see what 2015 calves look like.

With this intense rotational herd management, our grass is still green when most others have "browned out" (which means carbon still being sucked out of the air and tucked into the soil) and the wildlife has boosted on the farm (More deer, turkey, many species of birds, rabbits, foxes, coyotes unfortunately, skunks, raccoons, bats). When we first occupied the farm, these animals were all there but not seen nearly as often as they are now.

Life builds from the soil up (microbes- soil - worms - bugs - plants - herbivores - predators- people) and the water systems have taken on a new dynamic (no more flooding on the fields) thanks cattle and sheep hooves!
So November is upon us. Snow is coming (came but went) but will be back with a vegence. Anywho, in 2016 my wife and I will be making our way to our own purchased farm (98 acres) and we may still be leasing a 30 acre and 114 acre farm as well for our regenerative agricultural practices.

We have our yearling steers and heifers STILL grazing grass (got lots of green out there yet!). They get a small, emphasis small night treat of hay. Health wise, they look great. My intent is to run them another couple of weeks yet. Its kind of a practice run for next year, when we run the main breeding herd on grass until hopefully early-mid December. Or later. I can feed hay to them out there.

This should have loads of benefit to the environment. We slaughtered this years run of lambs and man were they ever tasty! We pulled them off grass 10 days ago and had them processed within 5 days. I have never enjoyed such tender yet tasty lamb. BTW, its all sold out, so sign up for next year if your interested. When the steers go in later this month, I am looking forward to it. Can you say snowy BBQ?

When we move onto our own farm in early 2016, we have some pasture, loads of cedar trees and some mixed bush. I intend to thin out the cedars (will need fencing) and introduce a savanah style environment for my cattle and possibly sheep. The trees will work well for mid summer brutal heat (2014 doesn't count) and mid winters brutal winds. Trees are shelters and the wild extinct aurochs was believed to have sheltered up in treed areas.

The so what? Well, with my extended grazing plans I am hoping to reduce hay feeding by 50-75% in the next five years. Shift those paradigms people!

On another note. I happened to be in a field recently where the brilliance of the government tunnel visioned tree dudes put in a long triple row of pine trees, all the exact kind (I will look up exact species). It was planted ten years ago and most of the trees look like shyte. Why? Here are my theories on it
1. WRONG soil profile. If you look at edge of this field, there are mostly decidous trees that are thriving.

2. Monoculture. Always a bad idea. Where does nature ever plant ONE type of plant over and over again in the same area without anything else? It doesn't. Each plant species has different nutrient and mineral demands, roots and dormancy times. Mixed plant species thrive and compliment each other quite well.

3. Trees planted on top of trees. I have seen this too much lately. People plant the same trees about 5-8 feet apart and then a decade later one or both of the trees are weakened? Why? They are competing for the same mineral and water consumption. Its like feeding 2 baby boys off the same plate, when they are little, the plate is big enough for both of their food demands. By the time they are teens, look out, nutrient demands sky rocket and that same plate can not possible feed them both.

Think thats all for today folks
I've enjoyed your posts ArmyRick, please keep them up.

I have family who have experienced the same issues that you mentioned,
WRT tree planting and monoculture. Their comments mirror your own.

Thank you for sharing.
On the farm we are going to own, my wife and I are looking at spacing trees about 20-40 feet apart. We are looking at a Black Walnut, Apple, Pear, Cedar, Maple type combination. No same two trees next to each other. This will provide summer shade for cattle, cattle and sheep poop nutrients for the trees and increases our food production per acre considerably.
I have been reading a bit about a technique called "SPIN" (Small Plot INtensive agriculture) that was developed by a couple in Saskatchewan, but really haven't found an easy to understand explanation.

Do you know anything about this?

Just curious
The grazing season for 2015 comes to a close soon. Weird part is , we have both our cattle and sheep still on grass (mostly due to the mild fall we are having in southern Ontario).

The cattle and sheep did eat alot of stockpiled grass (grazed or hayed once during the growing season and then allowed to grow back thick and bushy, once late fall/winter hits, allow cattle/sheep to graze it. It keeps hay feeding down).

This last spring, we noticed the areas that we hay fed cattle on last fall/early winter, showed an explosive growth in grass. It was so thick and bushy at one point, my sons could not walk through it.

I failed with trying to establish some warm season native grasses (Big Blue Stem, Little Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Switch Grass) but I was also advised by the OMFRA grazing specialist that due to Ontario's wet weather, warm season grasses rarely due well.

Need not worry though, continued awesome success stories with cool season grasses and more legume growth. All our calves born outside and healthy. They were up on their feet and nursing in very little time.

I have been following alot of information on Gabe Brown's cover cropping cocktails.
I love this thread. It reminds me when my grandfather retired. He bought a little hobby farm. Dad and I used go there and help. But, none of us knew what we were doing. ( Ever watch Green Acres?  :) )
I also enjoy this thread, Rick. I have dabbled a bit in range land restoration and a lot of things you are proving are things that I have long suspected. Keep up the good work!
I want to vent and get this out....

I am sick and tired of Vegans. Yup. Vegans, I am ok with vegetarians but vegans and their spreading of absolute crap on the internet and complete junk with blatant misinformation is really getting on my nerves. The mocumentary "Cowspiracy" was abolute garbage, it took me only a few minutes to break down most of there misinformation.

So what it is it that I have an issue with? Simple.

Vegans decide what their version of the truth should be regardless of facts. It has nothing to do with their not eating or using animal products.

The arguments I hear that drive me crazy are as follows

"All sentient beings have a right to live"
Really? First rule of nature to consider on this one, everything that lives, must eventually die. There is no escaping death, from the tiny ant to the largest whale, plants, bacteria cells, even people. We will all meet the end sooner or later. Most grown ups, can accept this and move on. The idea that any living creature should be allowed to live at all cost is ridiculous. We humans, have imposed a moral and legal obligation that life for humans will be preserved and unnecessary death for other animals /living organism will be avoided. However nature throws us curve balls. People drown. Airplanes crash. So on and on, those people had every right to live. How about the person holding a gun on innocent people and the police kill him? That is preservation of life.

To expand further on this. In the natural animal world, we have carnivores, omnivores and herbivores. There is a simple mechanism of natural control established by nature over millions of years. Predatory animals kill off herbivorous animals (usually) and keep populations under control. Think a 1,000 strong herd of wildbeest being controlled by 30 lions. Without the predators, you get a repeat of the Yellowstone National Park issue from years ago (No wolves, Elk population grew vastly out of control and began damaging the environment). So death is not just a mandatory part of the life cycle but it is essential to a functioning eco-system.

"We have grown beyond needing animals for food"
This one is worth a chuckle. As Dr Nicolette Hann Niman puts it, you can meet most of your nutrient requirements on a vegetarian diet but not very well. Protein, iron, other minerals and vitamins can be obtained from meat sources, in the best form. You need 20 times the broccolli to meat the same protein requirements as a simply 6 oz lamb chop. I know of many medical doctors that will not state this publicly but they have insisted that pregnant woman consume red meat. I personally know of one Vegan who nearly died from her dietary choices and needed a blood transfusion from her sister to survive (extremely low blood iron). Our brains have adapted from millions (yes millions) of years of eating meat and fat. Our ancient ancestors needed animals for a bulk of their nutrition. Especially during the fierce cold winters of the ice age (and inuits on traditional diets do very well with 90% hunted meat!!!). Humans in North America, Asia, Europe and Africa hunted Mammoth and Elephants species to live. We also hunted Aurochs, Deer, Elk, Seals, Wild Horse, fished to survive. We evolved to eat an omnivores diet. Want to compare us to Chimpanzees? They have been known to eat meat as well including hunting and eating monkeys.

The harvesting of food is another issue these morons do not consider. If we go with an ALL plant based diet (lack many nutrients NOT available to humans, we are not ruminants), then we will need to eat triple or more times the calories. That means harvesting more crops (nuts, fruits, vegetables and grain) which can have a more devastating impact on the land (the more land we cultivate, the more Carbon loss to the air). Many places inhabited by humans on this globe that can support any kind of crop and can only grow grasses, sedges, mosses, lichens, forbs, etc. These lands only herbivorous animals can survive. We can not eat GRASS or similar plants (we can not ever digest cellulose or hemicellulose matter) but we can eat the animals that eat those plants. Or milk them. Or take wool from them. 

Sorry Vegans, you lose on this one, huge. People should get a portion of their diet from wholesome protein sources.

"Cows need HUGE amounts of water"
This is another number that gets overinflated (As in Cowspiracy). They calculate the number of liters a cow will need to have a calf, they then calculate how much that calf needs in water over its 18-24 months of typical life before slaughter. Then they calculate how much grain that is grown to feed cattle (THey make the mistake of assuming ALL cattle are even fed grains), for this they assume the diet of the cattle is all grain (NO ONE ACTUALLY DOES THAT). Then they add in a few more calculations for washing the cow, transporting to slaughter. A few more for washing the carcass. In a nut shell, their numbers are Grossly overinflated for shock value (The propaganda spreaders of Vegan movement know this and do not care).

First, my cattle, sheep and goats are on pasture from Late April to Late November/December. In all that time, they are given clean water pumped from a nearby source. They drink the water, they pee it back onto the ground. That helps with plant and soil hydration which is essential for a healthy eco-system. Hydrated soils function better allowing their micro-organism to function at peak capacity. Pound for pound, a cow, a deer, a bison, a muskox what ever will drink the same amount of water per the conditions.

Second, in the early spring and mid fall, I hardly have to give my cows or sheep any water (sometimes I go days without pumping any into their troughs) because the RAIN does it all for me. Ya, of course that is not considered by closed minded Vegans trying to make their point.

Third, In the winter months, the ruminant animals barely drink anything and will take a protion of their water in snowfall. Kind of the same as point two really. 

"What about all that Methane?"
First consider sources of methane. Its always been there and always will be. Methane comes not just from Cattle but horses, many other living creatures as well. It also comes from rice fields, swamps, marshes, etc. We will always have methane in some quantity.

Next, methanatrophs or Methane Oxidizing Bacteria. This is bacteria that is naturally present (yes ruminants carry them) that feed solely on methane as their food source. Mother nature had this one figured out LONG time ago.

More to follow....
I have already shown how many of us farmers and ranchers are using livestock on a rotational grazing system to excel the benefit of the soil microorganism which in turn produce super healthy plants which in turn feeds both soil and livestock. Those super healthy plants also pull loads of carbon out of the air. Grasses and similar plants put lots of carbon in the soil where it belongs!!! Read back over to get more details of how this works.

Now, Vegans, I go on the offensive (dig in to stage six, your gonna need it!).

You are constantly slamming on ALL farmers and ranchers that raise livestock as pure evil and unnecessary. For those of us that are regenerating the environment, you are causing harm to modern day society. This is genuine progression that those of us involved (the numbers keep growing) in these principles of farming yet you want to slam us down and put some silly notions of a false utopian existence in people's heads.

How are we going to feed the world?
How are we going to sequester Carbon?
How are we going to feed soil micro-organisms which are the basis of all land based life?
How do we grow food in places where no crops can be grown?
What is your answer to reversing desertification which is environmentally destructive?
How do you account for all the ex-Vegans who have walked away from this lifestyle of yours?
How do you expect many aboriginals (that are left) on this planet to survive without meat?
What do you think we are going to do with all these cattle, sheep and goats?
How do you plan to maintain biodiversity at all levels?
How do you think eco-systems function without animals?
Why do your arguments go all over the place and very incoherent?
How come you Vegans always compare us Field/pasture/forest regenerative based operations to animal confinement operations?
Why do you assume us Farmers do not care about our animals?

I could go on and on. If you folks are interested I can post many links just slamming down Vegan arguments.

If you choose to be a Vegan, fine. Do it. If you start spreading misinformation, I will get on it and shut you down!

I am tired of Vegans selecting what they want to be true and trying to bend or twist facts and information to suit the distorted reality.

For fans and people interested in the sort of thing Armyrick is doing, here is a link to what seems to be a similar venture in the United States. Armyrick can tell us if this is legit or FoS:

Very legit. I know Joel Salatin personally, great guy. Kind of the American leader on sustainable and regenerative food production. Also look up Gabe Brown and Greg Judy.
What a crazy summer....

We have moved to a new larger farm that was badly abused with herbicides, GMO crops and tillage cropping. I have had to basically HALT soil erosion, establish a "microscopic eco-system" and still keep the animals healthy, breeding and gaining weight. Oh and the abundance of coyotes that hang around has made for some sleepless nights!

Halt the soil erosion. With exposed dirt you lose soil carbon big time, lose glomalin and decrease microbes big time. First solution. Feed the cattle and sheep, HEAPS of hay on this crappy ground. Yup. Feed 'em hay in the middle of summer! Oh yes crazy. But guess what? Those hay bales have seeds, minerals (lots of them especially potash), organic matter and by feeding it to ruminants, we are adding their bacteria and methantropes to the soil. The results? Six weeks later, even with little rain or almost none at all, we have fully covered these spots with huge patches of grass and legumes. The hay has mostly broken down into soil and the top layer provided a natural earth "bandage"

More to follow 
Hello everybody. I am back. It took me six months to figure out how to get back into my account.

Since I last posted lots happened
-Grew the farm big time
-Produce excellent forage
-Making high end soils
-Still slamming down on Vegan myths
-Released from the Canadian Army (What a sh*t show that was)
-Started working at the local tiny but high quality abbatoir (Silence of the lambs is now my new skill)
-Implementing silvopastures
-Passed my farm environmental audit with flying colours
-Still heavily involved with international grazing/soil/HM organizations
-Our meat, second to none in quality

Hoping to get some pictures up soon

Rick's Farm
-RHQ (4 humans)
-C (Cattle) Company (31)
-S (Sheep) Company (18-usually 20-25 lambs) Will soon be the main effort
-P (Pig) Company (6-They are the pioneers)
-FS (Farm Support) Company (2 dogs, 4 cats)
-LH (Laying Hens) Company sadly was completely lost in battle (three times) to the Minks and Weasels insurgency

More to follow
Talking a bit more about what we have done....

What a pain in the ass and yet what an amazing blessing they are. They are highly intelligent, so when they escape and want to stay out, what a pain rounding them up. HOWEVER, you can use same intelligence to convince them back in or to follow you with tasty treats.

When you have a problem weed patch that even the cows, sheep or goats have trouble with, send in the pigs to rip up the ground a little and suppress with a cover crop (Fall Rye the best, its a bully to other plants)

Got too many old apples falling off trees? Pigs
Too many left over pumpkins after Halloween? Pigs
Vegetable and fruit crops gone a little off? Pigs
Need to dig up and aerate an older cattle manure pile? Pigs (and then watch the magic of faster and better composting)
Too many snakes on your farm? Pigs

Feeding pigs a huge variety diet, get them outdoors lots and keep their health good = EXCELLENT pork and loads of lard to render

Apple trees got too much blight? Send a cattle herd in. They rub the hell out of the trees and and break the fungus path. They also rip down all the low hanging branches that catch rain splash up.

Late fall bale grazing
We had some good results boosting our worn out hayfield by bale grazing (leave the round hay bales on the pasture and unroll just prior to feeding). We had to watch the space between bales unrolled (A little heavy on the trampling)

The bad asses will eliminate any weed you want gone. The got rid of a goldenrod population in my front field.

ArmyRick said:
Hello everybody. I am back. It took me six months to figure out how to get back into my account.

Since I last posted lots happened
-Grew the farm big time
-Produce excellent forage
-Making high end soils
-Still slamming down on Vegan myths
-Released from the Canadian Army (What a **** show that was)
-Started working at the local tiny but high quality abbatoir (Silence of the lambs is now my new skill)
-Implementing silvopastures
-Passed my farm environmental audit with flying colours
-Still heavily involved with international grazing/soil/HM organizations
-Our meat, second to none in quality

Hoping to get some pictures up soon

Rick's Farm
-RHQ (4 humans)
-C (Cattle) Company (31)
-S (Sheep) Company (18-usually 20-25 lambs) Will soon be the main effort
-P (Pig) Company (6-They are the pioneers)
-FS (Farm Support) Company (2 dogs, 4 cats)
-LH (Laying Hens) Company sadly was completely lost in battle (three times) to the Minks and Weasels insurgency

More to follow

As someone closely related to farmers (beef cattle, sheep and grain) and growing up in the prairies, I am loving the updates.