The Ranching Wife Writes
Grazing tips, recipes, stories and more from our family to yours!
February 9, 2019
Happy February. Boy, January flew by. As I contemplate my next writing for our website, I always look back over previous posts
in hopes of avoiding repetition. In past writings, I have mentioned the desire and attempts to clean our property's water sources.
I'd like to expand on our thoughts for making the water sources on our property clean and healthy for the animals that consume it
and the soil in which the water feeds.
The property we own has five ponds, fairly strategically placed on the property for ease of grazing animals close to water sources. We
also have a creek bed that runs on and back off our property. It is dry sixty percent of the year. When it is running, it doesn't feed
our ponds, and we feel that is a good thing. With a source of water that flows onto any property comes the chemicals, trash, and debris
that also flows with that water from other properties. With no control of what others may put into the creeks, or chemicals they may use on their property,
water flowing onto our property can be very contaminated. We utilize our electric fence to prevent our cattle from drinking from the creek
as it enters our property. Further down the creek, on our property, we will allow the cattle to cross the creek for grazing at which point
they are able to drink water from the creek. However, there is a pond near, not connected, but within a distance of the creek in which
the cattle have abundant drinking water. We prefer they drink from the ponds as we have a bit more control of the health of the water
within the pond, than water running onto our property from unknown sources. Of course, ground water can be contaminated and get
into any water source, but we make efforts to protect our water ways.
As I said, the cattle are allowed to drink from the creek that opens up further into our property. With the distance the water flows,
the natural flow and filtration cleans a lot of debris, and hopefully chemicals from the creek water. The creek is fairly shallow and
in numerous areas it has a pebble base, which is extremely helpful in the filtration process. If the cattle choose, this creek may be a source
of drinking water at times, but they have alternatives sources, and I rarely see them choose the creek for water. The banks are a bit steep,
making it a bit difficult to stand near water. Another plus. Why go to the trouble when there is another much easier, larger water
source within easy walking distance?
As far as keeping our ponds clean, we do not allow our cattle to get into the water. Often you may see cattle, especially in hotter months,
standing in the ponds. Well, they aren't just standing. They are peeing and pooping in the ponds while they cool off. Have you heard
the phrase, "Don't eat where you Poop"? We take that seriously. Our cattle are able to walk up to the ponds and drink, but cannot
go into the ponds. We string electric fence around the ponds, a few feet into the water, keeping the electric string from touching the
water, which would ground out the electrical current, defeating the purpose. The cattle easily walk up to the shoreline, drink and back
up off of the shore to continue grazing. This keeps poop and pee from the ponds and provides cleaner water. To be certain,
we test the Ph balance of the water on a regular basis. It stays at a perfect 7 on the scale. We also test urine occasionally.
Upon observing a cow urinating, we will promptly dip the Ph strip into a spot of urine from a leaf, etc. We have recorded a balance
of 7 on the scale most of the time. When we have gotten a reading of too much alkaline, or acidity, we don't quickly blame the water or any
There are many reasons a particular animal will have a less than favorable Ph balance reading. Most likely, with the water at a perfect balance, it is
based on the animal's diet. Too little mineral, too much protein, or a health issue may be the problem. If the animal appears to be well, head up,
energetic and eating well, it often proves to be that it is getting too little mineral from diet or the protein it is receiving may be high or low.
For these instances, we added a daily Free Choice Mineral "buffet" box to our rotational grazing.
Two of the 16 choices they get are Ph balancers, one for when acid level is too high, and one if their alkaline level is too high. This
mineral box is moved with the cattle in each move. At all times, they have access to sixteen to twenty types of minerals which are placed in
separate compartments of a wooden box created for this purpose. The box has a cover that is easily lifted with a cows nose, from either side.
Each side has eight to ten minerals and supplements from which she is able to choose. We get the box and minerals from a company that has done a
great deal of research and mixes their minerals to benefit particular animal needs and health.
Learn more about the minerals and the company at www.freechoiceminerals.com
Tell them you learned about them here. We get nothing from word of mouth, but we believe in Mark Bader and his products.
I've said it before, "Don't let anyone tell you cows aren't smart enough to know what they need to eat ". Blah, Blah.
Cows are very smart and acute to the needs of their bodies based on seasonal grasses, pregnancy, lactation, etc., and much
smarter than we humans. But, we've been led by our palates into the dark woods of chocolate cake, french fries, and soda pop.
We no longer know, or care, if it good for us, we just know it is good on our tongues.
Mmmm, Mmmm, Good!!! Healthy? Not particularly!!!
But, back to cattle, my mind definitely strayed to chocolate cake....there is goes again!
With these mineral supplements, the vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins from the grasses, legumes, weeds, etc., are digested, absorbed and
dispersed into the blood stream providing the nutrients throughout. Without minerals, the body does not absorb vitamins, but rather passes them
through the body in the urine and manure. So, short story....long....our cattle are getting all the nutrients they need, clean water for drinking, and
thus, have no deficiencies or illnesses to speak of. The water is healthy, the soil is healthy, the plants growing in the soil are healthy, making for
a healthy animal. That is why I remind you, "You are what you eats, eats"! The better the diet of the animal, the healthier the beef we receive.
Truly, God created our planet to be healthy. Man created ways to "improve" upon God's plan, and basically we have failed, drastically.
So, we go back.
We choose to see the greatness in God's plan, His wisdom in each and every creation, and the process, and we will follow His path.
We'd love to hear from you. Contact us with any questions. We love the sharing of information. No one person can know it all,
nor begin to do what many minds working together may accomplish.
Thanks for dropping by. God bless your journey.
Susie, @theranchingwife Follow on Instagram
January 9, 2019
Happy New Year!!! I hope your year of 2019 has started out well, finding you in good health, good spirits, and blessed.
We certainly feel we have been blessed abundantly. Doug had his surgery on December 19th and it was a great success.
The surgeon, and I must give you his name, Dr. John Mark Pool, with Texas Health, Presbyterian Hospital, Dallas, was amazing.
Dr. Pool was able to repair Doug's mitral valve, thus no valve replacement. Even though a replacement would have been a bovine
valve, making Doug much closer to his favorite animals, we are thankful that it was not necessary. This repair is a lifetime repair,
whereas a replacement valve would have a life of 10 to 15 years, maximum, requiring further surgery.
Dr. Pool was able to go into Doug's chest through the ribs, rather than the traditional "open heart" procedure. Doug has been
home since the 24th and is healing very well. Each day he is able to feel his body strengthening. He will be home from work
for some time to recover, and do a bit of rehab, then back to his travels.
As I had stated in previous blog, we were blessed to find our surgeon. Dr. John Mark Pool prayed for all of us before surgery.
What a gift. A physician of God. He released Doug with a prayer, also. We are in God's hands and may God bless Dr. Pool in his
medical practice and his personal life and family.
You see we are strong believers in our Mighty God. We know He has a plan for each of us, and we are so grateful to God for leading
us into the raising of grass fed cattle, specifically, Texas Longhorn Cattle. It is a love of ours, but also a journey. As we started
eight years ago, we had no idea the impact these cattle and this journey of raising solely grass fed, healthy cattle, through high density
grazing would have on our lives and our thoughts about the destruction of our food system. We are continually surprised at the
allowances our government has given chemical companies to create super foods, super animals, and basically take
ownership of our seed base that God created. The Food and Drug Administration that is supposed to protect us from
foods that are contaminated, drugs that are unhealthy, and chemicals that cause harm to our ecological system, has allowed
"Big Business" to take hold of God's creations to "IMPROVE" upon the way we grow our crops, raise our animals and feed our
families. Those so-called "improvements" are in the forms of chemicals to enhance growth, poisons to prevent pests, hormones to raise
larger breeds, and improve the the overall package, making every cut of beef, each tomato and egg we buy the perfect size and shape.
All the while, these chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are poisoning the humans in which these "perfected" foods are supposed to
be providing nourishment and sustainability. And it is all allowed by our government and food suppliers. It's call big business,
and it earns big money. So, let's face it, it all boils down to big money.
Money talks? Yes, it certainly does. Thus, we have chosen to cut out the big business and raise our own food. It is harder,
it is a lot of work, but is it worth it? Oh, YES. The benefits we have already seen in our own health prove it.
For those who feel they don't have the knowledge or ability to raise their own food, please take the time to find reliable, healthy sources
for your food purchases and consumption. Yes, you may find the healthier choice items to be more expensive, but with the growth in
knowledge of the harm our foods are causing, many farms, ranches and individuals have chosen to get involved, therefore the choices
are many and the prices are competitive. For instance, many families are choosing to raise their own foods for the health of their own
families. They also sell their over abundance of foods to help with costs of producing, and are not interested in making lots of money,
Our original goal was to raise cattle for a two-fold purpose. We desired a healthy beef, without chemicals and the glue, dye, etc.,
that is used in the packaging of grocery store beef. We also desired to improve the land on which we live, improving our water
sources on our property, the soil and plant growth, the microbial, worm and dung beetle population within the soil, and rid our soil of
chemicals that had been put onto it from years of planting, poisoning and harvesting. Cattle were the perfect answer, but there was
more that we could do. As we learned of high density grazing, we added electric fencing to provide smaller paddocks for grazing and
rotation which would provide a better diet for our cattle, improve our soil, and increase the natural fertilization process as the cattle
graze through each paddock. It has been a win-win situation for us. It was a bit of work in the beginning as we added the wiring for
electric fences, but we did it as we gained in cattle numbers, and we will never go back to the conventional continuous grazing
methods. The process has provided us with an abundance of grasses, legumes, and edible weeds, clean water ways, healthy soil,
amazing growth in microbial, worm and beetle activity under the soil, and healthy, productive, stress-free cattle.
We aren't finished. We plan to add goats to our grazing herd for the consumption of plants that cattle don't tend to eat. We will
add our laying chickens to the rotational grazing for consumption of larvae that produces flies in manures, (and the best hen eggs ever),
and we will be adding chickens to our meat sales, as we raise broilers this spring.
It seems, one leads to another, not adding to the work, but to the sustainability of our lifestyle.
As your read through our notes, stories and documentations, please feel free to contact us with questions about our processes.
We invite sharing of any knowledge or practices you may have tried that were successful and unsuccessful for your homestead,
farm, ranch,or backyard endeavors. If you are reading this, you are most likely looking for a better way, a healthier lifestyle, and
a sustainable management that is right for you.
We are all in this together.
May God bless you in your journey.
Susie, @theranchingwife Follow on Instagram
December 9, 2018
Here we are at the end of the year. We have had a big surprise with Doug's health, but it is truly a blessing in many ways. Doug had his yearly physical and the doctor found a heart murmur. He has never been told he had a murmur, so our general practice doctor suggested he have an exam with a cardiologist, just to see if there was a problem. After seeing a cardiologist, and having several tests, he was informed he had developed a severe leak in his mitral valve. It would require surgery to either repair or replace the valve. This valve feeds the aorta that goes to the brain. Without repair, his aorta would enlarge, his heart would enlarge, and at some point the aorta would burst. Well, that was a no-brainer.
We felt very blessed to have found this leak and even more blessed as we met with the surgeon, who is a devout Christian, firmly believes that God is in control and prayed with us at each visit. From that point, we were certain God had blessed us with the news of the leak, and abilities to have the surgery prolonging Doug's life. He is scheduled for surgery December 19th. He has had many tests that will lead up to the surgery. Every test has come back very positive with no blockages in the heart and no hardening of the arteries. Doug's heart is exceptionally well and healthy, and the valve malfunction is not due to any disease or genetic results.
God is good all the time.
We have attributed the excellent health of Doug's heart to our diet using beef from cattle that are grass fed, only. Doug's family has a long history of heart problems, mainly blockages and surgeries requiring repair of arteries, stints, and heart attacks. However, Doug's heart is clean, healthy and without any disease. Our beef is solely pasture raised, grass fed, (as we called if "Salad Bar" fed), a diet of grasses, legumes, and medicinal weeds, basically a smorgasbord, when in season. The cattle know exactly what and when to eat particular plants for benefit to their bodies. We also offer them a Free Choice Mineral selection of which they choose from as their body requires. Don't let anyone tell you that cows aren't smart enough to choose a healthy diet.
We never stress our cattle, nor do they receive any chemicals, hormones, etc. We do not grow hay on our property, thus we do not use fertilizer, herbicides, or pesticides on our property, or given to our animals. We worm with a natural, chemical free wormer, very seldom and only when needed, striving to create a soil in which the microbial activity within the soil is as healthy as the cattle standing on the soil. Any chemical wormers go into the ground from the manure. This kills the microbial activity. The microbial activity, along with the earth worms and dung beetles, help create top soil, carries manure deep into the soil, basically working as tiny tillers in the ground, and creating carbon in the soil. That carbon sequesters water which adds to the water table under ground. We no longer have water running off of hills and washing away top soil. Our grazing style has created a "sponge" type soil allowing rain water to soak in, rather than standing or running off, along with our soil.
This process of "high density grazing" and grass feeding, has made for a perfect place to grow a delectable selection of grasses and plants for the diet of our cattle, a strong and healthy soil base, microbial activity, worms and bugs, all combined to continue working and improving the soil beneath, producing the healthiest beef one is able to obtain. Grass fed beef is healthy for you. It is healthy for your body, mind and physical well being. We have no doubt. We feel we have been given the greatest gift in the cattle we raise, and the health benefits in which they provide us. If you have not tried grass fed beef, it is certainly worth the effort to find and the price you may pay. We sell our beef from our farm store, here on our property. We sell to the public at a price that is competitive to beef prices in grocery stores, but without any preservatives, chemicals, glues, dyes, or fillers. Just good healthy beef. It is processed, USDA inspected, and vacuum packed for sale. We'd love to be a source for you and your family's grass fed beef needs, or help you find a source near you. Whatever you buy, make certain it is "grass fed", and finished on grass. We say cradle to grave grass fed, as it is a lifetime of healthy eating. And remember, "You are what you eat...eats."
November 9, 2018
Fall is around the corner and with weather changes come feeding changes. I thought I'd share a bit of our thoughts on feeding hay, our process of delivery of hay to the cattle, and some of our preferences we've found successful in the process of raising grass-fed cattle. I hope you will enjoy our blog of sharing and feel free to email us with questions, and suggestions, as we are navigate our way, share and learn as much as possible with and from others.
Our cattle are grass-fed, pasture-raised from cradle to grave. With cold weather approaching, it is vital that we stock up on quality hay. We do not supplement our grass/hay feeding with any use of cubes, cake, or cattle feed. We don't grow hay on our place, as we do not use fertilizer, herbicides, or any chemical products that could be absorbed into the soil. Our goal is to feed all natural grasses, and thus our cattle are constantly eating our grass as we rotate them around the property with high density grazing.
We purchase hay from nearby farms that regularly bale spring and summer grasses, reserving our hay orders in advance. We buy hay from more than one farm in order to get different types of grasses, legumes and clovers for our cattle to eat, and for the distribution of hay and seeds as they fall to the ground and/or are passed through the cows onto the soil. As the cattle eat these healthy varieties, they pass the seeds that come with the hay through their digestive system and back onto the ground, scarified, and ready for rooting. The cattle walk over these seeds, literally and lightly tilling them into the soil, fertilizing as they go, (literally go... poop), making for the perfect planting process for regrowing the grass and adding to our own seed supply in the soil. It's a win-win!! We call our feeding style "salad bar" feeding, as our cattle get the variety of grasses, clovers and legumes, providing them a healthy choice of grazing.
We feed our cattle hay off of the flatbed of old cotton trailers from which the sides have been removed. These are light in weight and have swivel-style tongues with hitches. We try to purchase large bales of 5' X 6' in size. We load the bales onto the flatbed trailer with spikes on our truck, then use our ATV to pull the hay to the cattle. This process keeps the hay off of the ground, and accessible for moving each time we move the cattle, which is at least once a day in the winter, sometimes twice. We simply hitch the wagon to the ATV, move it into the next cell/pasture, and the cattle follow along. No hay rings, no rotted bales, and the cattle always have hay wherever they go.
We do not grow our own hay because we choose not to use machine tilling, chemicals, or uprooting of grasses or overturning of our soil to sit in the hot dry sun, burning all the nutrients within. Our cattle are our "tractors". Each step a cow takes actually presses into the soil, massaging the soil as they walk. This massage is a shallow form of tilling, the hooves press any seeds slightly into the soil, and giving them opportunity to root and grow. It also breaks up the soil a bit, allowing microbial activity to blossom. That microbial activity is a must for healthy soil and healthy animals. Any use of chemicals destroys the Earth Worms and Dung Beetles that are essential to the soil as they are basically our underground tillers that keep the soil from packing, becoming hard and lacking in water absorption. With this process we are constantly working the soil, constantly planting, constantly fertilizing with manure and urine, and constantly replenishing the seed bank within our soil, thus growing more grass each year than the year before.
Since our cattle do our tilling, planting and fertilizing, it is important that we raise an average size cow. Cattle of taller body height, or too large, heavy in weight, are less productive to the massaging of the soil. We also pick cattle that are a bit shorter in height, not miniature by any means, just shorter legs that put the animal closer to the ground, making for the best body type for grass feeding. The average height cow has less distance between the neck and the grass, allowing for less bend in the neck to eat from the ground. Their average weight, (8,000 to 1,100 pounds), is perfect for the impact to the ground. Taller, heavier cattle tend to leave a deeper footprint on the soil than we prefer. There is an exception with our bulls, which typically weigh 1,600 to 2,100 pounds, but are less than two percent of our herd, including mama cows and calves.
This process has worked successfully for us and has helped our property gain considerably in grasses, healthy topsoil, and microbial activity under our soil. It natural, its holistic, it works for us. Feel free to contact us. I will check my e mails frequently and if you wish, post your question, comment or suggestion in my blog, with an attempt to share, or find, information to be of assistance. Have a blessed day. May your November be fruitful and filled with blessings and thankfulness. Susie
e mail: email@example.com
October 9, 2018
Howdy, from Trail of Faith Ranch! Thank You to Hired Hand for setting up our site and working with us to make it user friendly, informative, and interesting.
We are Doug and Susie Winters. We raise grass-fed, pasture-raised, registered Texas Longhorn Cattle. We raise them for multiple reasons. First, we both had grown up with cattle and decided to raise a breed. We did some research and decided on Texas Longhorns because of their individuality in color, horns, their docile demeanor, and definitely their personality. Secondly, we raise them for breed stock and to produce the best and most healthy cattle. Thirdly, we raise them for beef. Hence, the grass feeding, high density grazing techniques we use with our herd. Our beef is lean, filled with Omega 3, and extremely healthy.
As we get to know each other, we hope we can be an inspiration to those who aspire to raise cattle, specifically Texas Longhorns, but any breed in which we can be of help with grazing techniques, do's and don't's, calving, animal health, what works for us, and any questions you may have. To breeders far ahead of us in their history of raising Texas Longhorn Cattle, we hope to learn from you, be of help in return, where possible, and get to know you better. Most of all, we hope to make a lot of good friends along the way.
I, Susie, will be writing most of our "Notes From The Ranch", otherwise known as a "blog", "journal", etc. Here, I'd like to write about our journey, along with our funny stories, messes, accomplishments, defeats, and our love for these animals. I will post recipes I've made up, some copied and changed a bit, and other old faithfuls, many of which will include our delicious beef. By the way, we have our beef processed, USDA inspected and vacuumed packed, for sell. I tell you more about it in future posts.
To start my first post on Notes from the Ranch, I'd like to tell you a bit about me. I call myself The Ranching Wife. Yes, my husband is a rancher, but I am right beside him, and often left to do a lot of the moving of cattle, hay feeding, and general ranch duties, alone, due to his travel with work. We are a team, but I like to tease him on occasion and call him "The Rancher's Husband". He gets a big grin and I truly see pride in his face, as he giggles. Upon retiring from 25 years of Education working as a teacher and school counselor, I am now home and have the time to tend to the animals while he continues to work toward his own retirement, being a full time rancher, farmer, anything that has to do with animals and land. At that time, I might give him back his title ... (ha ha), but I'll always remain by his side, as the ranching wife, his helpmate and soulmate.
In closing, today, I'd like to invite you to follow me on Instagram under my name, @theranchingwife, where I post pictures and captions of our cattle, our grazing techniques, our other farm animals, the farm fresh eggs, home decor photos, gardening and canning, along with some simple musings of inspiration I gain from our experiences. I'd love to have you as a follower and get a glimpse into your lives through the little squares we share. Doug and I also have a Facebook account called "Trail of Faith Ranch" as an account under each of our names/accounts, Doug or Susie Winters. We'll be working to add more and more posts to that page. We have many goals and aspirations that I look forward to sharing with you. I'm so glad you're here, reading this, and I so hope you will return to see what's happening at Trail of Faith Ranch and check our "Notes" as we follow along our Trail of Faith.
Have a blessed day, Doug and Susie Winters
God Bless America