The Ranching Wife Writes
Grazing tips, recipes, and stories compiled on this journey to Grass Fed Beef
We are glad you are here!
Please follow along in our writings, start at the bottom as we add new information and notes,
and contact us for help.
Toxins Are The Topic
So We Are Here to Help!
We Are Growing and Changing
We have been busy with adding a store on our ranch. I'd like to introduce you to "The Market at Trail of Faith Ranch".
Our Grass Fed Beef has sales has increased and my frequent deliveries to customers drove me to do something I have aspired to
for many years. I've actually been collecting furnishings and freezers, bookshelves and display cases, and preparing for this since I retired as a school counselor and special education teacher. I opened a Market!!
Our market gives me a chance to be home more, taking care of animals and property, while still being able to provide our healthy
beef to customers. And, we've expanded our choices. We are raising our own pastured poultry, to provide our customers with healthy chicken. We raise Cornish Cross Broilers, and also raise laying hens for delicious eggs. We are working with area
farms and ranches to provide pork and lamb, along with delicious canned salsas, pickles, jams and jellies. Besides my own
canning, I have other talented folks that bring their canned items. We have a quilter making quilts and aprons, bags, and
neck towels for the market. I have contracted with a gal that makes the most wonderful goats' milk lotions, soaps, and
beauty items, and I am making natural soy candles, scented for the season. We have local Raw Honey and
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
The Market at Trail of Faith Ranch is open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can find us on Google Maps. Type in Trail of Faith Ranch and it will bring you right to us.
We hope you will come visit and stay a while. We'd love to show you all we're doing.
Keeping A Healthy Cow
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 ponds, small bodies of water, fairly strategically placed on the property for ease of grazing animals close to water sources. these are the
main water source for our cattle. We also have a creek bed that runs on and back off our property. It is dry sixty percent of the year. When 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.
To keep our ponds clean and at a Ph balance of 7, we utilize our electric fence to prevent our cattle from drinking from the creek, allowing them a crossing area.
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
Of course, ground water can be contaminated and get into any water source, but we make efforts to protect our water sources.
As far as keeping our ponds clean, we do not allow our cattle to get into the water. You may see cattle, especially in hotter months,
standing in 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
Minerals are The Answer
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 minerals, too much protein, or a health issue may be the problem. If the animal appears to be well, head up
energetic, and eating well, are all good signs, and hopefully the animal is getting the best nutrients from the soil. If an animal is hanging its head for long periods
of time, weepy eyes, bloated stomach, not grazing, or lethargic, it is possibly getting too little mineral from diet, protein or sugar intake is too low or too high, or
there may be a parasitic infestation, which all need to be addressed.
For prevention of these symptoms we offer our cattle a mineral program including Redmond Conditioner, Redmond or Kansas Salt, Sodium Bicarbonate,
and organic Apple Cider Vinegar in multiple, easily moved, rubber or poly containers. These are rotated with the cattle in their rotational grazing.ach animal
has the opportunity to consume and or all of the products as they need. This program has by far improved our cattle health, pregnancy rate, calving ease, healthy
calves, weight gain, and hide health.
Don't let anyone tell you cows aren't smart enough to know what they need to eat!
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 offered entrance into the dark woods of chocolate cake, French fries, and soda pop. Thus,
our palates drive our needs, rather than our body function and even poor health symptoms. We have been trained by experts in food desire, comfort, and
consumption, many foods leading to health problems, obesity, depression, and other problems, which we then go to the doctor for medications to control.
A vicious cycle. Spending more money on healthy foods to truly feed your body with minerals, vitamins, amino acids, omega 3, etc., will save you money
on health care and life will be of greater value.
Minerals are the catalyst to absorption of the vitamins, carbohydrates, and proteins from the grasses, legumes, weeds, etc.,
Without minerals, the body does not absorb vitamins, but rather passes them through the body in the form of urine and manure. 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, creating 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 put on our tables.
Truly, God created our planet to be healthy. Man created ways to "improve" upon God's plan, and basically we have failed, drastically.
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. We offer Fields Days here at the ranch or consulting on your farm or ranch to begin your own
Regenerative grazing and livestock management. Contact us to hear more about our mineral program and how we administer it to our herd.
Raising Healthy Food
As 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, high density grazed, healthy cattle, would have on our lives.
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.
The destruction of our food industry all boils down to "Money". "Money" rules the world.
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. You may find the healthier choice items to be more expensive, but with the education of consumers in
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 all chemicals, 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 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--Future Plans for Trail of Faith Ranch
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.
Raising Grass Fed Beef
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 selection of minerals from which they choose, 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."
Our cattle are grass-fed, pasture-raised from cradle to grave. 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. When cold weather arrives and the grasses die out, it is necessary to feed hay. Here we are sharing some of the methods for choosing good hay, feeding it, and the benefits the hay gives soil.
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, lightly tilling them into the soil, fertilizing as they go, (literally go... poop), making for the perfect planting process for new grass growth 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 load the round bales onto the flatbed trailer with our truck with hay spikes, or our tractor. We then use our ATV to pull the hay to the cattle. This process eliminates hay rings that are hazardous with Longhorns, keeps the hay off of the ground, wastes less hay, and is an ease for moving the hay each time we move the cattle, which is at least once a day in the winter, sometimes twice.
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. 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.
THE GRASS FED COW
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, (800 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.
NOTES FROM THE RANCH INTRODUCTION
Howdy, from Trail of Faith Ranch!
To start my first post on Notes from the Ranch, I'd like to tell you a little about us. 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.
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.
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, gardening and canning, along with some photos of our "Farmhouse Barndomium" and property. 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 navigate this journey.
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'ts, 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.
Thank You to Hired Hand for setting up our site and working with us to make it user friendly, informative, and interesting.
Have a blessed day, Doug and Susie Winters
God Bless America