What does Friday the 13th and Regeneration have in common

What Does Friday the 13th and Regeneration Have in Common?

By Holly Stoltz

That sounds like the start of a bad joke, don’t you think?

Don’t walk under a ladder; watch out for black cats…Blah, blah, blah. It is Friday the 13th, after all.

But did you know, in all actuality, the number 13 isn’t all doom and gloom? In numerology, 13 is the composition of focus, pragmatism, independence, creativity in self-expression, and building a secure future. 

 Knowing this realization, it sounds like 13 is the perfect number for a regenerative mindset!  It requires focus to plan grazing, enterprises, and goal setting; it is a practical way to solve problems; it requires independent and creative approaches; and it helps to build a secure future.

 So today, instead of being superstitious about what bad may happen, let’s focus on setting some positive and achievable goals for 2023.  

 

 1-Perform a cost comparison between at least two enterprises you are considering adding to your operation or currently have. To help with this, listen to the November (Tris Munsick) and December (Jordan Steele – Ranching for Profit) Bull Session recordings that can be found on our website. Several free tools are mentioned, and if you need further assistance, reach out to me – I have even more!

 2-Sign up for a Winter Grazing tour with Cooper Hibbard. Typically he schedules four dates to give people options, now through April. These are absolutely incredible and very insightful. If he can graze all winter long in the hills behind Cascade, Montana, you can graze anywhere!

 3-Since winter is a great time to network, plan to attend the Soil Symposium in Billings on Feb. 9-10. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with fellow ranchers and learn from a variety of experts.

 4-If you are just starting out in regenerative practices or need a report on your progress in the eight key management areas, take our free Regen Ranch Guide. It will take you about 20 minutes to complete, and at the end, you will not only learn more about what it means to be regenerative but also where you can make improvements –  where that low-hanging fruit may be.

 5-If there was one lesson I learned last year, it was to focus your attention on the low-hanging fruit. By that, I mean pick an area on your ranch with good growth potential and perform an intensive grazing rotation. If that is the only chance you get to try rotational grazing, this is how to do it. You will see quicker results that will prove to you that it works and get you excited to try it on a larger scale.

 6-Make contact with at least one person outside your “circle” and ask for their advice. As many producers have experienced, this journey cannot be taken alone. And you will be amazed at how open, honest, and willing to share these folks can be.

 7-This spring, participate in the  SOIL YOUR UNDIES challenge! Buy a couple of pairs of tighty whities (100% cotton) and bury them in two separate locations.  For a good comparison, bury one pair in what you would consider a healthy soil location and the other in a less desirable spot.  Keep them buried for at least six weeks. Take before and after photos! This is an easy way to monitor the living activity in your soil.

 8- Try resting a portion of a pasture for one year. Don’t make this more complicated than it has to be.  Pick a corner or easily fenced-out area that was grazed last year and run an electric fence. If we have a moisture-filled spring, consider resting a larger area.  Once again, take before and after photographs.

 9-Here’s one that I am excited to try. As many of us know, we tend to get in a hurry; there’s always something else that needs to be done. But this summer, take a couple of hours out of your season to observe. When you move your animals, grab a lawn chair and sit for an hour instead of leaving directly after the fencing is done. Document what you see, hear, and smell. How many different birds did you see or hear? What does the grass look like? How fat and sassy are the animals – write down a body score. What insects are buzzing around? There’s so much we can learn by just observing. Do this at least once a month.

 10-Grab a mediocre grass bale and drop it on a bare spot, cut the strings, and let the animals go to town. Once again, take a picture of what the ground looked like before and then revisit the site later in the growing season to see what has changed. Don’t be alarmed if there are lots of weeds. We have to remember that weeds are the first signs of healing!

 11-How about dabbling in the direct-to-consumer market? Instead of sending a cull animal – something you know you’ll lose money on –  to the sale ring, try butchering it and selling the burger to community members. If you’re going through a non-USDA certified processor, technically, the right way to do this is pre-sell the live animal, which shouldn’t be hard to do – no one can have enough burger! If the plant is USDA-certified, then you should be good to go. But don’t take my word for it; it’s best to check with your processor beforehand.

 12- Explore market opportunities at the 2nd Annual Expanding Livestock Markets Conference (dates and times TBD). Learn what the future holds for regeneratively raised products and how you can benefit from changing your management practices. The momentum is getting stronger for regeneratively sourced products.  Make sure you are the one who reaps the rewards!

 13-Perform a forage budget on at least one pasture. The easiest way to do this is to take a piece of bendable material 4 feet long and make a circle out of it –  I tried to find a hula hoop that size but to no avail. Randomly throw the ring out, cut all the grass in the circle, bag it, dry it, and weigh it. I bought an inexpensive scale that weighs in pounds, ounces, and grams. For this, use the grams. Multiply this number by 20, and you get the amount of grass per acre. Do this in several locations to get more accurate readings. After you get your amounts, reference the document for the nutritional needs of each class of livestock in the resource library on the Rancher Network (search by topic: livestock)

Start Small!

 Remember, don’t get bogged down in the details. Regenerative is about making positive change – change being the operative word. It’s okay to fail; you learn way more from failing than you do from succeeding. And don’t try to take on too much. Pull a handful you know you can accomplish if this list seems overwhelming. But I can’t stress this enough, document, document, document. Take pictures and write notes.  You will be glad you did!

 Now get out there and enjoy this 13th day of January! 

 

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Lauren Dillon received her B.S. in Visual Communications from the University of California, Davis. Lauren became passionate about working with missional companies that dared to challenge the status quo after a few years spent working for Patagonia. In 2012 Lauren seized an opportunity to move to Wyoming and consequently spent eight years working seasonally across the West as a photographer–each year becoming more interested in the intersection of ranching and conservation. Lauren made her way to Montana in 2017 to manage the guest program at J Bar L Ranch–a regenerative, grass-fed beef operation and one of WSE’s partners–where she quickly became fascinated by learning about soil health ranch’s land management and conservation projects. Lauren is excited to continue supporting land stewardship and regenerative producers through her work on the Communications and Farmers’ Market teams.

Carrie Balkcom is the Executive Director of the American Grassfed Association. AGA is the National multi-species entity organized to protect and promote Grassfed and pasture-based farmers and ranchers.

AGA is the leader in pasture-based production and the oldest grass-fed certification in the United States. AGA certifies ruminants and dairy.
Carrie grew up on a Florida cattle ranch and has stayed connected to the agriculture and livestock industry. She has spoken, presented, or coordinated numerous regional and national conferences; and is well known in agricultural, culinary, and sustainable agricultural circles.

WSE communications manager Holly stoltz

Holly Stoltz’s greatest passion has always been helping people in the agricultural community. Throughout her career, she has revitalized a small-town newspaper, promoted businesses and organizations with her screen printing and embroidery business, actively mentored area business start-ups, and supported the 4-H program as club organization leader and activist.

Montana ranch-raised and marrying into a family ranch, agriculture has always been a part of her life.  Because of this, her degree in marketing, writing experience, and seeing the need to shift away from traditional ag practices, Holly has become a vocal supporter of regenerative agriculture as the only way to secure this legacy for future generations.

Colin McClure is a proud Bobcat Fan and a 3rd generation graduate from Montana State University in Soil and Water Science. As a 4th generation Montana descendant with ties to active farming and ranching operations in the Flathead as well as central Montana, Colin was raised in and around agriculture. Colin is strongly rooted in both traditional and regenerative agricultural practices focusing on improving the livelihood of all Montanans.

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Roger Indreland, together with his wife Betsy, own and manages Indreland Angus, north of Big Timber, Montana. Roger is a third-generation rancher with a Farm & Ranch Management degree from Montana State University and forty-four years in the registered Angus business. Roger has found his niche in the grass-fed bull business, hosting an annual bull sale each December.

For over thirty years, Roger and Betsy have regenerated the landscape by placing value in building soil health and increasing biodiversity to complement Mother Nature’s system. As Roger says, “Our soil is the key to our success, so decisions are made with that in mind.”

In 2020, the Sweet Grass Chamber of Commerce honored them as “Ag Persons of the Year” and were nominated in 2021 as “Tow Rope Heroes” by the Northern Ag Network

Brittany Masters is the co-founder of Go Roam Free, a regenerative bison ranch and food business. As a first-generation rancher, Brittany brings her brand marketing and strong business sense to the world of sustainable animal agriculture. Brittany is passionate about developing brands and premium health products. Brittany spent 9 years as a Marketing Director at the Boeing Company, where she focused on reviving the Boeing brand and serving as a brand consultant to airline customers. During that time, she launched a startup food brand in the Middle East and finished her MBA at Seattle Pacific University. As WSE’s Secretary, Brittany hopes to help family-scale ranches transition to regenerative agriculture while improving their profitability in order to preserve the best of the west.

Dylan Hoffman is the Director of Sustainability for Yellowstone National Park Lodges. He oversees park-wide environmental efforts, compliance issues, and programs to curb the park’s contribution to climate change. In addition to his passion for helping to protect our environment, Dylan enjoys recreating in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem – including floating our local rivers, Nordic and backcountry skiing, hunting, or waving around a fly rod. Dylan lives in Gardiner, MT, with his partner, Erin, and their two little girls, Steely and Merrick.

Andrew Anderson, manager of J Bar L Ranch in Montana

Andrew Anderson is originally from Tom Miner Basin, where his family ranch is located. Currently, he manages J Bar L Ranches in the Centennial Valley and Melville, MT. His wife Hilary and four children have worked on the J Bar L for 13 years, helping to manage cow/calf, yearling, and grass-fed beef enterprises. They feel incredibly fortunate to ranch in wild and complex ecosystems and continually strive to learn how to preserve these unique places’ health, diversity, and integrity.

Malou Anderson-Ramierz resides on her family ranch in Tom Miner Basin, Montana, where she and her husband Dre live and work while raising their two daughters, Esme and Hasell. Aside from working on the ranch and learning about holistic management systems, she has psychology, social work, and equine-assisted therapies background. Malou enjoys working in community-building and land-based practices. Helping people and communities reconnect to themselves through restoring landscapes, coexisting with wildlife, and creating strong and thriving communities for both human and the more-than-human. When she’s not on the ranch or tending to kiddos, animals, or listening to lands, she loves exploring newfound communities- both urban and rural, reading, riding her horse, and sitting next to the ocean.

Matt Skoglund of North Bridger Bison, WSE board

Matt Skoglund is the founder and owner of North Bridger Bison, a bison ranch rooted in Regenerative Agriculture principles located in Montana’s Shields Valley. Prior to starting North Bridger Bison, Matt was the Director of the Northern Rockies Office for the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he worked on various conservation issues in Montana and the Northern Rockies for a decade. Matt is a graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Illinois College of Law. He is passionate about food and ranching, and he loves to hunt, garden, cook, and forage for morel mushrooms in the spring. Matt and his wife, Sarah, have two young kids, Otto and Greta.

Rebecca Kurnick of Montana Aleworks

Rebecca Kurnik loves all things soil. She discovered this through her work on farms in Maine and Montana and, as a result, got her B.S. in Soil and Water Science from MSU, followed by an M.S. Ed. Agricultural Education. Through her work in local food systems over the last 15 years, she has helped small farmers and ranchers grow to sell products through Montana-based distributors and led the sustainability initiatives at the busiest restaurant in Montana, including a post-consumer composting program and a 50kW solar array installation. She is honored to help fulfill WSE’s mission through her participation on the Board.

Lill Erickson, the executive director of Western Sustainability Exchanage

Lill Erickson has deep conviction to protect the incomparable landscape, wildlife, and way of life of the rural West, especially Montana. In 1994 Lill founded Western Sustainability Exchange to do just that.  Leading up to it’s conception,  Lill was an organizer for conservation nonprofits throughout the west, caretaker of a cattle ranch bordering Yellowstone National Park, and an advisor to a national committee to craft a strategy to promote agricultural sustainability. 

These experiences gave her the prowess to implement regenerative agriculture practices and develop market-based conservation strategies to ensure a healthy, long standing, and profitable relationship between nature and innovative land stewards. 

Lill loves her community of Livingston, spending as much time as work allows adventuring with friends in nature, and caring for and cavorting with her two dogs and two cats.

Lauren Dillon received her B.S. in Visual Communications from the University of California, Davis. Lauren became passionate about working with missional companies that dared to challenge the status quo after a few years spent working for Patagonia. In 2012 Lauren seized an opportunity to move to Wyoming and consequently spent eight years working seasonally across the West as a photographer–each year becoming more interested in the intersection of ranching and conservation. Lauren made her way to Montana in 2017 to manage the guest program at J Bar L Ranch–a regenerative, grass-fed beef operation and one of WSE’s partners–where she quickly became fascinated by learning about soil health ranch’s land management and conservation projects. Lauren is excited to continue supporting land stewardship and regenerative producers through her work on the Communications and Farmers’ Market teams.

WSE livingston farmers market manager Shannan Mascari

Shannan Mascari joined the Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) team in 2019 as Office Administrator and Farmers Market Manager. Mascari attended Chico State University in Chico, California prior to moving to Montana in 1996. Upon moving here, she became a certified nursing assistant, caring for the elderly, before moving on to an administrative position with a wetlands restoration company. There, her hard work and dedication earned her the title of Vice President of Operations. She has over 18 years of administrative and managerial experience.

Mascari’s passion for taking care of the planet and the people who inhabit it is a perfect fit for WSE and the Farmers Market program. She and her husband, Jason, have three children and can often be found at soccer games, enjoying the great outdoors, or simply relaxing at their home on the Yellowstone River.

Chris Mehus program director-211108_laurendillonphotography_halverson_ranch_native_energy

Chris Mehus, born, raised, and educated in Montana, has always maintained a joint passion for agriculture and the outdoors. He has applied his degrees in Wildlife Biology and Range Science to assist and advocate for ranchers who have a strong conservation ethic. After 10 years of direct ranching in Southern Montana putting his education to practice in numerous areas of grazing management and planning, Chris spent many years working in rural business, economic, and financial planning giving him unique insight into the workings of a ranch business to understand economic drivers and incentives that make ranching with nature a more profitable operating model than typical conventional practices. He is an outspoken advocate for the Ranching For Profit, Integrity Soils, Holistic Management International, and related schools of thought and how they can be applied to create a thriving ranch business while creating healthy, functioning ecological systems with rich soil and diverse wildlife populations.

Alex Blake is a regenerative rancher from Big Timber and a producer coordinator
for WSE. He lives and works on the ranch and tree nursery his parents started in 1973 on a foundation of deep appreciation for the natural environment. Alex holds a Master’s in Agribusiness from Texas A&M University but has gotten most of his agrarian education from hands-on experience on farms and ranches in places as diverse as Kenya and Argentina. He enjoys being a part of the progressive rancher support network in south-central Montana and draws inspiration from those who are constantly challenging old ranching paradigms. He was an artillery Captain in the United States Marine Corps and is a proud husband and father to a two-year-old daughter.

Mark Ledger, former banker and WSE board member

Mark Ledger has been a member of the board since 2005, having served as Chair twice during that time.  Professionally, Mark’s career has involved  international finance,  business counseling and private equity.  Having spent all of his high school summers as a hand on a family cattle ranch in Big Timber, he has long standing ties in the area and retains a personal interest in agricultural and environmental sustainability.   Mark serves on the boards of multiple non-profits, including land trusts, inner-city homelessness, urban micro-finance and a foundation dedicated to underserved populations.  He and his wife, Ann, live in Pennsylvania and have two children and four grandsons.

Tyrrell Hibbard enjoyed an upbringing in agriculture and conservation and today serves as a producer coordinator and senior advisor for WSE. Tyrrell is a rancher by day and distiller by night. He manages a seasonal custom grazing operation on his family’s multi-generational ranchland on the Continental Divide west of Helena. He also owns and operates Gulch Distillers in downtown Helena, producing award-winning spirits from Montana grains and fruits. When not actively engaged in agriculture or adding value to agricultural products, Tyrrell pursues conservation goals through WSE and Prickly Pear Land Trust. He serves on the board of directors. Tyrrell earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Duke University. He lives in Helena with his wife and two daughters.