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Articles &Intern Diaries &Meet the Sabos &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 25 Nov 2013

Health and Responsibility

There is a lot of debate these days about HEALTH CARE, when we are actually debating ILLNESS CARE, and usually CHRONIC illness care.

Mark and I discuss with visitors and friends the issue of cheap food equalling cheap nutrition all the time.  Its just part of our lives now.  I attend Weston Price meetings to learn, and also with my marketing hat on- so people who understand what we’re doing know that we exist.

Kiril Sabo raising organically fed, pastured turkeys this autumn.

I write a lot, and we host visitors a lot, to keep educating, to keep sending on information about how to find good health and good food.  We all want simple lives, but good food/good health in America comes by searching out the complicated issues and understanding them. Our customers are a tiny percentage of the whole– educated, thinking, questing, never satisfied with the easy answer.
We can raise livestock because they, like us, enjoy the easy answer– feed me your choice, my stomach will be full, and I’ll stay here until you butcher me……..  It’s a rather grim view of the world, but…!
That’s why this American health care issue works– the public is asking the “health care system ” to help them past their own terrible health choices, agreeing to follow you (the Feds & the conventional drug based medical system) and pay you (the health care system) the bulk of their lifetime earnings by the end.

The first litter of Sabo Ranch American Guinea Hogs- the perfect grazing hog- gentle, excellent mothers, easy keeping.

With 80% of health care costs taking place in the last month or two of life, many Americans are leaving this world far poorer than they or their families would wish.  Many Americans are also living a life of pain, with sore digestive tracts, sore joints, sore hearts, sore backs, and fuzzy minds– all due to their dietary choices.

All Sabo Ranch cattle are GRASSFED/GRASS FINISHED, for heath of cattle AND human consumers!

The life that we are leading requires personal responsibility, responsibility every day of our lives as we choose what to eat, how to live, how to raise our children in that responsibility.  It’s hard work.  Many rewards, but harder.
If we choose pastured meats, nutrient dense vegetables and fruits, and eat fermented grains in moderation, we can ameliorate a lot of our chronic illnesses such as arthritis, attention deficit disorders, allergies, heart inflammation, and even autism can often be ameliorated with responsible nutrient dense food choices.
I admire what all of you who are producing quality, nutrient dense foods are doing, and if you can stay the course, you will find that people start to depend on what you produce, because they are also making the hard choices and can’t raise all their own food, but want good food!

Intern Diaries saboranch on 12 Mar 2010

Sabo Ranch Intern Blog- John Thiebes 3/25/10

The easiest way to get a bale of straw back onto the pile: Flying Knee Kick


I’m getting ready to milk Toffee. Before we milk her, we brush her down, wash her udder, put salve on her teats and then squirt out the milk that has been sitting in the teats. Toffee has been giving us on average 2 gallons of milk per day.


And then to work…


Another Rancher come down from the mountains to train with sword master Ben.

Intern Diaries saboranch on 24 Feb 2010

Sabo Ranch Intern blog- John Thiebes-Feb. 23, 2010

Sabo Ranch winter chickens and ducks, outside enjoying the sunlight and space in spite of the snowy ground

Sabo Ranch winter chickens and ducks, outside enjoying the sunlight and space in spite of the snowy ground. Photo: Kiril Sabo age 6-3/4

One week has passed since I first arrived at the Sabo Ranch and today, as I write, the sun is shining and the snow is slowly retreating, revealing what will soon thaw into the great mud fields of spring. The ducks happily make a great deal of noise (but not much else) and the chickens are beginning to lay more eggs as the day length increases. Inside the greenhouse the peach tree is beginning to blossom above dwindling supplies of kale and swiss chard. The dairy and beef cattle are turning last season’s saved bounty of grasses into milk and meat and in a few months, will give birth to calves so that the herd will continue to grow.














 The winter weather in Harrison, MT has been mild. Snow storms blow in one moment and then pass to reveal blue skies. Nights have been cloudy and cold, ensuring that in the morning, ice will have to be broken off the watering tanks, nature’s way of providing me with a certain level of intern job security. The sun is beginning to shine more often, powering solar panels and allowing the cattle to shift their energy use away from protecting themselves against the cold to putting on more weight and growing their calves. According to Jenny, the wind has been unusually still for this time of year and as evidence, the wind turbines outside of my cabin have remained, for the most part, in a state of motionlessness. It is amazing how aware you become of the weather patterns when they directly influence how much energy you can consume and also when they are the motor that drives your business, the business of turning grass into quality meat products.

The routine of daily life here at the ranch is sheltered on one side by the Tobacco Roots, at times veiled in clouds and at times stark against big sky. It is sustained and nurtured by South Willow Creek, whose waters wind through now dormant pasture but in the spring and summer will create a microclimate for excellent grass production. The routine has been designed to exist within a framework of practical self sufficiency, tempered by the realities that face a business whose ideals fly in the face of our multinational, industrialized food system. This framework rests atop a family economy that has struck a harmonious balance with the natural world. It is one that moves and grows at Mother Natures pace. It works to slowly build the soil over time as poisons and pesticides are replaced with patience and passion. It is within this framework that I am trying to learn as much as I can so that someday I can create a routine built around similar ideals.

But like any good routine, it is often thrown out the window. In grade school, these are called field trips. In college, these are called internships. On the ranch, these are called any number of things.

For instance, one such break in the routine occurred last week in the form of a visit to the veterinarian. We loaded up one of the horses to have his foot looked at because he had a severe cut. When we arrived there was already another trailer in front of us waiting to unload a cow into the chutes. An old time rancher poked and prodded the unseen cow out of the trailer and low and behold, the poor girl’s vagina was dangling inside out, outside of her body. I would later learn that what I was looking at was a vaginal prolapse, which occurs in pregnant cows when they are suffering from increased pressure in the abdomen, most likely associated with the approaching birth of her calve. The vet secured the cow and then proceeded to push it back in. After much effort on his part, everything was back inside and over with, or so I assumed. He looked around, asked for a volunteer and then in the same breath, picked me. What I then performed was something that I will never forget. He gave me a quick rundown of the tools I would be using for my end of the operation and how we would then proceed once it got underway. I was armed with a scalpel, a plastic cap and a pin. He moved his arm into the cow’s reproductive area holding a long plastic tube that had a plastic cap on the bottom and a removable needle coming out of the top. Once he reached the designated area with the tip of the needle, I cut a small X into the cow’s side, pulled the needle out and then capped the tube, securely fastening what had once been outside of her body to the side of her stomach.

Intern Diaries saboranch on 15 Feb 2010

Sabo Ranch Intern blog- Jules Feeney-Feb 14, 2010

Jules, log splitting completed, is ready for a hot woodstove on a cold winter morning.

Jules, log splitting completed, is ready for a hot woodstove on a cold winter morning.

Jules' favorite Auracana hen, sitting on the nest for her morning egg

Jules’ favorite Auracana hen, sitting in the laying box ready for her fresh morning egg.
Jules, after learning safe handling of the skidsteer loader, helps to line up logs for firewood cutting.
Jules, after learning safe handling of the skidsteer loader, helps to line up logs for firewood cutting.

My internship lasted the entire two weeks and beyond. We worked early in the morning till sometimes later at night, and extending into the weekends. I learned the basic way of life, living off the grid and eating in season. But life here is more than just that, there is a lot more to learn than just how to feed an animal and when. What I did learn was a bit more about real life genetics and how they contribute to the herd as a whole. I also learned about the birthing of calves.  I learned what good milk, eggs and beef are. I also I talked with Jenny about eggs and how if they are fertilized they last longer.

            Not much of this will benefit me in every day life, but in the long run I will know the difference between well and poorly raised eggs beef and milk. Many people don’t have a positive stereotype of farmers but that is not true. That could not be further from the truth. Farmers are hard working people who know more about what they do and how it affects the world than anybody.

            One of the things that we talked about here was the problem facing genetically modified crops such as corn and now alfalfa. Alfalfa is a plant that is used to feed cattle because it is high in protein. What Monsanto, which wants to introduce genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa wants to do is genetically alter the way alfalfa grows so it would not be subject to killing with the herbicide Roundup. This might sound like not such a bad thing but for the organic farmers this could mean the end of organic cattle. One might say “well they can just plant non modified alfalfa”, but this is difficult because organic alfalfa can still be pollinated by the modified alfalfa. If this does occur then Monsanto and the farmer of the modified alfalfa can sue the originally organic farmer for stealing his crop. But still further worrying is that the cows that then eat that alfalfa are now inorganic making it impossible to market that beef as organic, lowering their income. These are the kinds of things that organic farmers consider on a daily basis.

            My trip out here could not have been more educational and  rewarding.

Intern Diaries saboranch on 12 Feb 2010

Sabo Ranch Intern blog- Jules Feeney essay for Field School- 2/7/10

Jules drives the manual shift Mitsubishi hay feeding truck with Kiril, Riley, and Jet the Labrador in the back

Jules drives the manual shift Mitsubishi hay feeding truck with Kiril, Riley, and Jet the Labrador in the back

Jules feeds the birds in the chicken house, his daily task since he arrived.
Jules feeds the birds in the chicken house, his daily task since he arrived.
Jules milks Jersey cow LilaJules milks Jersey cow Lila


 Throughout my first week here on the Sabo Ranch I have done many significant things that benefit the ranch, ranging from occupying the boys, to feeding chickens and ducks, to driving cattle. The job I do the most is feeding chickens and ducks before my breakfast. It is a simple but essential task. I have to make a judgment about how much they are eating from the amount of feed that is left over from the day before, and check on general health for the flock.

On my first full day at the ranch one of the three horses got very sick with colic (accumulated sand in its intestines from eating hay off the ground in the bare corral). Because of this, Jenny Sabo was a little agitated and nervous so she gave me rushed instructions that I did not fully understand.  As a result I did not give the calves the correct feed.  After a bit we sorted things out and got on the right track.  Earlier that day there was a mother cow and her bull calf that needed to be moved to a lower field.  We droved them into a long fenced-in area and picked out the mother and her calf. We then pushed (scared) them into the trailer so they could be transported to a better grazing field, where the bull calf would not be able to breed the heifer calves.

In the first few days I was asking many questions so that I could get more acquainted with the place, the people and the way things work. However, after a while I became more comfortable and was able to asses a situation and make a good choice on my own. For instance when I noticed a tub of water tub that needed to be refilled I jumped to do it.

The work that is most challenging is milking cows. There are four dairy cows but only three are producing milk at this time.  All of these cows have calves that need to become more comfortable with humans, this is accomplished by grooming each calf with a curry comb, which I have started doing while Jenny milks the mother cow.

Over the next week I hope to master the art of milking and to become more independent with more things than just feeding chickens and cows. Something that I have been learning on the side is how to drive a manual transmission vehicle. I also hope to master this in the next week.

Intern Diaries &Meet the Sabos &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 02 Feb 2010

Sabo Ranch Internship Blog- Jules Feeney 2/1/10

Kiril Sabo and Jules Feeney start a snow fort on a winter afternoon

Kiril Sabo and Jules Feeney start a snow fort on a winter afternoon








This is my first day on the Sabo Ranch and these are a few of my first impressions. Only some things are consistent. The cows and chickens need to be watched on a daily basis. The way in which the runts interact with the other animals effects the way the feeding is done. The overall rhythm of things is considerably consistent, every morning the cows and chickens are fed and checked on.

            The family is very much just a family with a significant amount of chores that need to be done. Kiril (age six) and Riley (age nine) help, play or work all the time. Riley seems to know everything there is to know about his ranch. Kiril is still learning the way things work from his brother. Both boys have their own set of things to do around the house. Every evening someone goes out to the chicken coup to collect the eggs.

The family could not have been more welcoming or better teachers. I look forward to more days of work and learning with this kind family.

Intern Diaries &Meet the Sabos saboranch on 26 Jan 2010

Jules Feeney- Sabo Ranch Feb. 2010 Intern

Jules Feeney, age 15, calls the Washington D.C. area home.  Jules will be spending two weeks with us for his Winter Special Session from the Field School.

Jules Feeney, age 15, calls the Washington D.C. area home. Jules will be spending two weeks with us for his Winter Special Session from the Field School.

Sabo Ranch remains fully committed to helping high school and college students experience life on a Montana cattle ranch. 

Jules Feeney will try his hand at driving the ranch pickup for feeding cattle, loading bales, milking cows, tending chickens and ducks, living off-the-grid, and eating in season in a Montana winter.  He will also attend a Bozeman Winter Farmers Market (as a farmer!), and watch a grassfed beef getting butchered, and cut up, at our local butcher “Montana’s Best Meats” for steaks and burger.


Before leaving- Jan. 26, 2010

Blog 1

by Jules Feeney



When I first decided I wanted to spend my winter internship in Montana at Sabo ranch I was expecting to do a few thing around and help out. But as the weeks went on and the time for me to leave came closer I realized I would be a real ranch hand doing everything and anything. So out of everything I want to learn to ride a horse because I’ve never actually ridden one before.

What I remember from the last time I was out on the ranch was the horse pulled sled riding. This a fond memory but not the driving force that has me returning as an intern. My dad has been encouraging me to get out in the world and work. We had talked about doing this in the summer but the time was never right. But when I had this opportunity with my school I decided this was my chance.

It’s had to say what I want to bring home with me before I’ve even seen what’s up for me to take home. However a sense of accomplishment and support that I can then provide for my family back home in the city life is something that sounds appealing.

The preparations were mainly thinking about my trip and preparing for the cold but also making sure I had the right clothes for the weather was another big part. But from what I’ve done in the way of packing and preparing I feel safe and ready for another learning experience.

Sabo Ranch has space for one Intern Sept-Dec. 2010.  Questions?  Contact us at saboranch@gmail.com, or 406-685-3248.

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.










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.