general thoughts and ideas on cattle ranching


“The willingness to give up my pride and self-will to a Power greater than myself has proved to be the only ingredient absolutely necessary to solve all of my problems today. Even the smallest amount of willingness, if sincere, is sufficient to allow God to enter and take control over any problem, pain, or obsession. My level of comfort is in direct relation to the degree of willingness I possess at any given moment to give up my self-will, and allow God’s will to be manifested in my life. With the key of willingness, my worries and fears are powerfully transformed into serenity.”

This is what I’m reading tonight. This is a great reminder for me of the times which seemed dark and hopeless and which were, in fact, the very times when I exercised even a tiny bit of faith and was able to sleep, to function, to weather the maelstrom. Sometimes I forget where I come from.

ChemChina to by Syngenta??? !!!

This is not good news. For anyone.

Largest producer of pesticides purchased by one of the world’s worst polluters.

Do you suppose anyone in the various regulatory agencies associated with these deals here in the U.S. will have the guts to say no to the merger? Will our Congress? How about our President, whoever that ends up being?

This in light of TPP…

This is disgusting and frightening.

Made it to New Zealand

Crazy as it might seem, it’s taken me 13 years to get here. I’m in Wellington, NZ. 

I was inspired to apply for a design/labor job with Weta Workshop 13 years ago. There was a bit of a process involved and I went through it. I got to speak with some people at Weta whose work I really admire and that was cool. I received a letter saying I couldn’t be hired due to labor laws and such. I thought that was the end of professional aspirations toward New Zealand and movie set design work.

Well, the set design aspirations have faded, but I’m here in New Zealand on other business, and that feels phenomenal and a bit other worldly. I’m here to visit cattle breeders, people who truly know and love their business of both the art and science of breeding livestock.

I finally figured out what it is I want to do in life and pursuing that passion has really made tremendous possibilities come to life. 

Of course, what truly made these former dreams current realities was a pretty major personal crash on January 22, 1998 and a second on August 23, 2012. Both bottoms were different in nature, but felt the same when hitting them. In both those cases a complete giving over to a power greater than myself was required. One day at a time I have learned it isn’t what happens in our lives that defines us, but how we respond, how we grow through what can appear wreckage at first observation.

The wind outside is blowing a gale through Wellington. It’s 5:30 a.m. local time and I’m jet lagged. The hotel walls are shaking and I’m about to go rent a car to drive out to the Pinebank Stud near Masterton. 

North and West of there I’ll visit with Cliff Shearer and Bruce Cameron who are dairymen and breeders of Jersey cattle. 

Beyond those visits, I have more to make and to other parts of this beautiful country. 

While I’ve known intellectually I’d be celebrating my 18th anniversary  as a “friend of Bill” here in New Zealand, I’m only just realizing what the last 18 years have meant.

Gratitude can be an overwhelming emotion. 

 The next post will have cows and bulls and discussions of udders and feet and dispositions and body conformation.

But for now, I’m reveling in the fact the promises in the big book come true. It works if you work it.

Fall Grazing

Here it is, Columbus Day Weekend. We have a frost advisory for tonight though it’s not a hard freeze warning. Still, that nip is in the air and it’s only a matter of maybe a week or two before we get that real hard freeze that stops our forage growth.

In the photos you’ll see a recently purchased group of cattle with their late summer calves. As soon as our herd bull, H A R Pinebank 708 211 was pulled from the main cow herd, he went in with these gals. Based on activity, I believe these cows are bred back for early summer calving and next year they’ll be caught back up with the rest of the herd for late April and May calving.

Our 211 bull is pictured here. He’s a long three year old. These aren’t the best photos of 211, but I’m hoping you blame the photographer and not the bull.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting photos of calves by 211.


Going along with the mob…

Yesterday afternoon I showed up to a beautiful sight. The cows had trampled and grazed their way through the swath they’d been given a few hours before. Here’s the residual, what they’re moving into, and what they look like when too busy grazing to smile. Slick, fat and happy. Best part is… This is their 3d time through this pasture in 2015. Because of changing my management, I’ve increased the carrying capacity of my farm and increased the soil organic matter. This is called a positive feedback loop in other parlance.   

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steakI just finished reading the book, Steak, by Mark Schatzker.  You can find it at your local bookstore.

Excellent reading for the lay person and the beef producer alike.  While there are some minor things I would take issue with, they are entirely opinion based, or otherwise a matter of subjective thought vs. objective.

Anyway, during and after reading each page I couldn’t help but think of cooking a steak on the grill.  It made me question, too, the whole concept of quality in a steak.  Surely the USDA concept (graded entirely and solely based upon fat content of the ribeye) is not the standard to be trusted.

The author states that the best steak he ever ate was a grass-fed steak, and the worst steak he ever ate was a grass-fed steak.  Clearly not all grass-fed steaks are created equal.

That isn’t news to anyone, but it is exactly the premise behind commodity beef; that all steak is created equal or it can be “manufactured” like so many widgets.  I’m probably preaching to the choir in terms of folks looking at our website, but getting to know where your steak comes from is important to informing you of what it will taste like.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Soils are important, for they serve as the basis of how the forages grown on them will express themselves.  The forages grown on those soils are important to the flavor of the beef or milk or lamb or chevron.  Nuance of flavor in the meat is to be sought, as opposed the currently accepted practice of simply using the meat as a substrate upon which to put the sauce of choice; ie. Peter Lugers or some other such thing.

Did you know that Peter Lugers sauce actually started out as the house salad dressing?  Yep.  You know why it is now the house steak sauce?  Because it adds flavor to otherwise flavorless meat that is touted as steak.  Also it is a brilliant marketing and revenue stream for the restaurant business.

How does it work?  Well, you can buy the stuff in a store almost anywhere in the country and have a “steak” that tastes just the same at home as it does in the restaurant.  Easily done since the commodity beef that is served in the restaurant is the same stuff sold in the grocery store, has no flavor, and can thus serve as the same amorphous substrate for the sauce at home as in the restaurant.  Wonderful.

I challenge anyone reading this to find local, grass-fed steaks, preferably from as many producers as possible and try them out, sans sauce.  Push your local restaurants to source their beef, lamb, pork, chevron, milk, cheese, etc. from local producers.  This is the only way the highest quality in grass-fed, local products will be produced, through competition.

Also, you as consumers, will have more choice as to the flavors, textures, etc. that you encounter, just like it is with cheeses, beers, and wines.  The same can and should be said of steaks.