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Monthly ArchiveDecember 2009

Dairy Cattle &Intern Diaries saboranch on 21 Dec 2009

Sabo Ranch Intern Diary – Rebecca Kurnick

October 18, 2009


Lena has been showing signs of limping.  Her left hind foot seems to be the problem. Vet Will Oliver came by to doctor her toe, which is a lot longer than it should be to begin with.  It seems she has a genetic crack on the inside of her right toe.  An infection was begining to make a home.  Will Oliver filed down the dead material and used Bovibond to apply a plastic cap to cover the toe.  Jenny puts great effort into keeping the herd as chemical free as possible, however Will used a local antibiotic in the fat pad to assist with the healing.   After the visit we continued treating Lena by fasting her and giving her a dose of crushed garlic (approximately 2 oz) in the morning and evening based on Newman Turner’s (1950’s English organic farmer) philosophies, (“Cure Your Own Cattle”, Newman Turner, republished by Acres U.S.A, 2009). 

Weather setting in October, 18

Bad weather setting in October 18, 2009. Dairy Cows still on green grass

One characteristic of the Sabos is their commitment to the overall health of their animals, despite resistance met towards alternative methods of healing.  Lena is a Jersey cow bred for her milk production and butter fat content. Naturally very thin and hard to keep weight on, she is not an “easy keeping” cow.  Easy keeping is one of the biggest traits I have been looking at the past few months.  Jenny said what you want to look at in a good cow is the “belly, bag, and boots”. With Lena I am seeing the negative effects of having poor feet. 

Cupcake is maintaining about two and a quarter gallons a day.  This week Cora had a snotty nose and was looking a little down so we fasted her for a day, giving us a spike in milk from Cupcake.










Meet the Sabos saboranch on 18 Dec 2009

Kiril farm photo

Kiril's Farm at Home
Kiril’s Snowy Day farm game

When a farm kid plays at home, he knows what he’s doing when he reaches into the box of toys and animals!  Kiril, age 6-3/4, built and photographed this, and wanted to add it to our website, so here it is. 

Intern Diaries saboranch on 14 Dec 2009

Sabo Ranch Intern Diary – Rebecca Kurnick

October 12, 

Snow on 9/30.  Early winter caught everyone off guard.  There was a scramble to get the property in order so when the snow comes in drifts we are ‘ready’.  Daily chores come in a whole new fashion when winter sets in.  Planning where ice will build up, where snow will drift, how animals will access food and water, making sure to prevent hoses from freezing. 

The two weeks between September and October were a busy couple of weeks. While we were waiting to see when Jersey cows Lila and Cupcake would go into heat we thought we missed both of their cycles.  By missing the heats and not getting both of these cows bred this time around, the dates at which these cows calved would be three to six weeks later than hoped. The later calving would affect the time of lactation with each cow. 

With a swift change in weather and many preparations for winter taking priority, other tasks were put on the back burner.  This busy time reinforced the concept of wearing many hats; constantly observing many parts to the whole operation.  Balancing daily chores, making sure there will be another generation of calves in the spring, in both Jersey and Devon herds, and maintaining the property for each season are just a few of the big picture ideas occupying ones time.

Jersey cow Cupcake and new calf Cora (Jersey/Dutch Belted) July 2009


The first weekend of October we branded calves.  Branding later in the season than typical yielded very solid fullblood Rotokawa Devon and Devon/Angus cross calves on the branding table.  Later afternoon activities included moving the herd of mother cows to the winter pasture.  The dairy cows are in the pasture above the house with access to what grass they can find and winter shelter.  Milk production has gone down slightly with the move off of fresh grass and onto second cutting alfalfa and grass hay making up the majority of their diet.  However, Jersey cow Cupcake, whose production I have been following as consistently as possible,  has given a full gallon more over the last few days.  This increase from one and a half gallons to two and a half gallons is because we have been putting Jersey/Dutch Belted calf Cora away earlier in the evening as she is now about three months old.  Sunny and warm today.  Will we have a few more weeks of fall??



Intern Diaries saboranch on 07 Dec 2009

Sabo Ranch Intern Diary – Rebecca Kurnick

Rebecca Kurnick preparing a lunch for locavores

Rebecca Kurnick preparing a lunch for locavores



October 4, 2009


My name is Rebecca Kurnick, I am originally from rural Lovell, Maine.  I came to Montana to study Soil and Water Science at MSU in Bozeman.  I have been fortunate enough to work with the Sabos part time over the summer and full time through this fall. Nutrition and whole body health plays a large role in my interest in spending time at the Sabo Ranch.  In the past few months I have learned more than I have in any similar amount of time in a conventional school experience.  Of course many variables go into that fact including the type of learner I am and the subject matter.  Many humbling experiences have acted as a catalyst, fueling my desire to develop the widest base of knowledge, absorbing as much information as I can.  This is the first of a number of logs that chronicle the next two months of my involvement at the ranch.  Over the last couple of weeks I have been keeping a record of milk production in Cupcake, a full blood Jersey cow.  This record will influence each log along with other thoughts on my day-to-day work on the ranch.


Articles saboranch on 07 Dec 2009

9/23/09- Bozeman Daily Chronicle article

Red Angus cow and Devon bull calf

Red Angus cow and Devon bull calf


Daily Chronicle- September 23, 2009       by Jenny Sabo





Clay Enos, a professional photographer from New York City, recently visited our ranch, referred here by the Community Coop as he traveled back roads across the country on a Vespa motorcycle.  Why here?  He was touring East to West using the online “Eat Well Guide to the U.S.”, traveling slowly and trying to eat locally grown food as he went, and stopped here for a meal and a chat between Bozeman and Helena.  Clay told me that in all his miles of traveling, he continually found that only the most expensive restaurants, countrywide, served locally grown food. Without a kitchen of his own, he said, it was almost impossible to find affordable, locally grown food.  No diners, few mid-range restaurants, had anything local.


Jeremy Roberts, a filmmaker from the Bitterroot, also shared a meal here yesterday, on his own journey towards a film about land use issues and open space in Montana.  Jeremy said that one of the few “benefits” of the current economic slowdown is that the ongoing disagreements between developers and environmental groups about the use and preservation of Montana open space have slowed.  No current building, no new subdivisions, means that no new land is being developed and covered with roads, homes, and businesses.  Yet this slowdown is temporary, human populations are rising, more people will move to Montana in the future, and all will need food and homes.


How can we fill this gap of services, this gap between good food and “affordable food“?  How can we maintain the open, beautiful Montana we all love?  For an answer, I go to an idea from Francis Saufmai, a farmer from a tiny island called Woleai, 500 miles south of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.  Francis recognized that he would be buried on his land, that his children and even great-great-grandchildren would live on and eat food from the land over his grave.  “Live as if we will be here forever.” 


Certainly, it is more difficult to live and work “at home” exclusively.  We must let differences fall away, forgive resentments, work with neighbors.  Do we knowingly deplete our soils if our children and grandchildren will be eating from those soils?  Do we look only for the highest profit, lowest cost materials if we buy and sell our products within our home communities?  


If we buy grain or hay from a neighbor for our livestock, and we don’t like how he uses irrigation water from our shared ditch, we need to work it out.  If the butcher down the road supplies our weekly meats and his children tease ours on the way home from school, we can’t just go somewhere else if we have committed to buying his local meats.  If our neighbor’s dog barks incessantly and we have committed to stay in our home for the rest of our lives, we have to be willing to discuss matters and come to a mutually agreeable solution.  When Mark and I moved here to Harrison, we were surprised by the lack of anonymity that exists in a small community– the benefit for us was that we are learning to take full responsibility for the way our personal decisions impact our neighbors’ lives.


Living and working “at home”, sustainably, forever, requires what I would call “true maturity”.   Ours is a young country, we have built our culture on the ability to move on to fresh ground, to find the best buy, the newest trend, the highest profit.  What if we settled into the maturity of a lifetime marriage to our home in which we live, to this community and landscape?  How would we treat our home if we planned to live here truly forever?


How would our landscape look if we committed to locally raised, affordable food in every kitchen in our valleys?  How would our towns and cities look if we tried to save the beauty and accessibility of our open lands for everyone, regardless of how much land each person actually owns?   What if we planned our development so that our great grandchildren still had clean water, clean air, good food, and affordable homes, and open space right here where we live now?