Feed on Posts or Comments 18 August 2017

Category ArchiveSustainable Agriculture



Meet the Sabos &Sustainable Agriculture &Wildlife saboranch on 20 Aug 2016

A story of land restoration at Sabo Ranch

The land surrounding Harrison Lake in 2004- barren of anything but grass.

The land surrounding Harrison Lake in 2004- barren of anything but grass.

When we purchased the 6000+ acres of ground in 2004, it had been over grazed for decades.  Nothing but a sea of grass.  The border of the Lake, a significant stopping point for migratory waterfowl, was seamless grass- no cover, no willows, no cattails.

Mark and I gave the land a year of rest, then started to manage grazing to keep livestock OFF the lake borders.  $2000+ in materials, hours of permanent fence creation, and many more hours of erecting electric fence to control access to the Lake shore has born fruit.

57 of 60 Narrow Leaf Cottonwood trees that Mark and Scott Swanson planted several years ago have survived and are thriving! The willows that have self seeded are so thick in places that it was hard to find the trees!

57 of 60 Narrow Leaf Cottonwood trees that Mark and Scott Swanson planted several years ago have survived and are thriving.  The willows that have self seeded are so thick in places that it was hard to find the trees!

Mark selects a spot with good fitting for the cattle, and creates an electric fence water gap between willow stands for cattle watering. Since the Lake level falls swiftly during irrigation season, he mush extend the water gap farther into the Lake every couple of days.

Mark selects a spot with good footing for the cattle, and creates an electric fence water gap between willow stands for cattle watering. Since the Lake level falls swiftly during irrigation season, he mush extend the water gap farther into the Lake every couple of days.

IMG_2261The cattle stay within the borders of the water gap (you can see where the few willows within the gap have been avidly browsed by the visiting cattle), and the willows and trees keep growing around all borders of the Lake.

Migrating waterfowl and other birds LOVE the border zone!  Coots and greebs use the submerged willows early in the summer as protective cover for themselves and their chicks.  Yellow-headed Blackbirds nest by the hundreds in the willows at the shallow end of the Lake, suspending their pendulous nests safely above the muddy waters.

 

Meet the Sabos &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 18 Jun 2016

Ranching and Wildlife

Ranchers live a pretty incredible life. Here are scenes from the past few days out in the field.

A porcupine came to visit Mark's carefully tended aspen trees near our cabin at harrison Lake.  We loaded it into a trash can and transported it far away, towards a spot with more wild trees.

A porcupine came to visit Mark’s carefully tended aspen trees near our cabin at harrison Lake. We loaded it into a trash can and transported it far away, towards a spot with more wild trees.

A whitetail deer fawn, probably only a day old.  We found them on our driveway, and the doe brought it into the hayfield, told it to lie down, and ran far enough away to draw our attention elsewhere.

A whitetail deer fawn, probably only a day old. We found them on our driveway, and the doe brought it into the hayfield, told it to lie down, and ran far enough away to draw our attention elsewhere.

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Curlew eggs!  I almost stepped on mother curlew, and her broken wing act alerted me to something precious nearby.  A "life bird" in birding terms- or rather a "life bird nest"!

Curlew eggs! I almost stepped on mother curlew, and her broken wing act alerted me to something precious nearby. A “life bird” in birding terms- or rather a “life bird nest”!

Fencing in the morning, serenaded by Curlews, Meadow Larks, and sparrows.

Fencing in the morning, serenaded by Curlews, Meadow Larks, and sparrows.

The heavily used elk trails on a beeline from the neighbor's open pastures to our delicious field of sanfoin, a tasty legume.  The broken fence wires are proof of their nightly visits.

The heavily used elk trails on a beeline from the neighbor’s open pastures to our delicious field of sanfoin, a tasty legume. The broken fence wires are proof of their nightly visits.

Elk tracks, heading "home" to undisturbed daytime pastures free of cattle and ranchers.  They'll be back again tonight!

Elk tracks, heading “home” to undisturbed daytime pastures free of cattle and ranchers. They’ll be back again tonight!

Sabo Ranch, Harrison, MT 59735  406-451-6900, saboranch1@gmail.com

 

American Guinea Hogs &Articles &Beef Cattle &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 19 Mar 2015

The Importance of good minerals for weight gain

Just thinking as spring progresses about how to obtain the best gain on newly weaned Guinea Hog piglets and Devon calves.
Calves need a good high-sugar hay base to feed the bacteria in their rumen for good absorption of feed, and the bypass protein that plateful gut bacteria can provide.  They also need a superior mineral program to provide the raw molecular materials for enzyme creation!
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The pigs can be fed nearly anything, but they gain best when they have good, efficient, digestion!
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SO, how to help them to gain weight efficiently, and provide us with healthy, less expensive meat?
1. Improve their digestion so what goes into their mouths translates into weight gain BETTER!  Raw, organic apple cider vinegar provides the minerals from the deep rooted apple trees, and good potassium (the K in NPK that all life needs), and good probiotics that set up proper enzymes for digestions.  Cattle will eat it free choice, if it’s provided in a tub.  Pigs do well if the vinegar is mixed into one of their feedstuffs, or sprinkled on their hay.
2. Minerals.  If you don’t have a good source of really well mineralized feed, you might also consider a pig mineral.  Minerals are the base building blocks for the enzymes that are required for all metabolism.   Good metabolism = good digestion = weight gain!
Our neighbor found a gain of 50+ lbs per calf at weaning after he was diligent about filling all the mineral tubs on one side of a huge 100,000 acre ranch.  The other ranch manager was not as diligent about the mineral tubs- but had all the same genetics and forage as the first man- and the calves on “his” side of the ranch came in at a lighter weight at weaning.
50 lbs x $1.50/lb sale price x 900 calves = $67,500 extra $$ !!  No that’s a bank account addition we’d envy.
If you don’t have a good source of already mineralized milk or whey or eggs for your piglets, invest in a good hog mineral.  Calves will ALWAYS grow better with a good mineral program, and their dams will breed back quickly on the same thing, and their sires will have good, strong, viable sperm with that same good mineral program.
We have used the Helfter free choice mineral program and found 100% breed back in our herd, an excellent percentage of females (great for home-grown herd increase!), and healthy calves year after year.
Having trouble breeding back, or getting weight gain?  Look to your mineral program, either in the mineral tub, or straight onto your fields for bio-available minerals IN you forages and hays!

Articles &Meet the Sabos &Soil and Forage &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 09 Apr 2014

The importance of CALCIUM & MANGANESE

Many of us dislike glyphosate, found in RoundUp and other herbicides. One of the things it does is to block the absorption of MANGANESE from the soil. It blocks other minerals’ absorption also, but here’s some farming information about manganese that might be interesting to both farmers and livestock producers.

Manganese is high in the seed heads of grasses- livestock and humans need manganese to produce eggs and sperm. If we breed our Montana livestock back in July & August, when seeds are being produced by native grasses, we take advantage of naturally occurring higher levels of manganese in forages- for better breed back and pregnancy percentages!

“…Carbon determines the depth of the magnetic field across an acre of land. The next item of importance to maintenance of a basic electrical field is manganese. If manganese is not present, seeds will not sprout….Manganese is one of the heaviest elements essential for crop production…. It take at least 12 atoms of nitrogen to capture one of manganese. (hence the importance of adequate nitrogen in our soils! emphasis mine) Nitrate nitrogen is one of the main negatively charged elements in the soil, the other chief ones being calcium, atomic weight 40, and potassium, atomic weight 39.102…. If each calcium atom gave up all …units of energy, only four atoms would be required to capture one atom of manganese. No element will give up that much of itself, therefore a great many more than four will be required to capture that single atom of manganese. It may take as many as 15 or 20. If we have one pound of manganese per acre, it might take 500 pounds of calcium to serve up the energy needed to capture that manganese. A low test weight on a crop means that the soil was not working correctly to capture the necessary manganese. Certain symptoms can assist the farmer in reading the situation. If the soil is sticky, it may be so hungry the calcium can give up very little of its energy to capture the manganese. Soil that isn’t trying to grab the boot off your feet will give up calcium more readily.” p. 47

“Mainline Farming for Century 21” Dan Skow DVM & Charles Walters

Do any of us know that grains such as wheat, barley, etc, should have SOLID stems- indicating adequate calcium?
I always thought that wheat should have a hollow stem. That cool hollow tube of a wheat stem is actually an indicator of ill health and inadequate mineralization and an incomplete food for wheat’s consumers.

The first step in making CHANGE is to NOTICE. This corn dolly made from our grasses shows that indicative hollow stem- our cattle's demand from the minerals tubs have shown that our hay is still lacking in calcium. This year, again, we are mineralizing our fields- an effort to move the available minerals into a more bioavailable form than the ground-up rocks in the mineral tubs. Those have worked for 5 years and that method is slowly remineralizing our fields through the cattle. Now it's time to ratchet up the process and put the minerals onto the fields!

 

Meet the Sabos &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 15 Feb 2014

Kiril Sabo’s Pastured Poultry activities

Kiril's pastured turkey fed us at Thanksgiving!

Kiril Sabo is our pastured poultry specialist at Sabo Ranch.  He cares for our laying hens and ducks every morning before school or church- often in the dark!

His eggs feed our FAMILY,  GROWING CHICKS, GROWING HOGS, and our ranch CATS and DOGS.

Kiril caring for spring chicks in our greenhouse

A few of Kiril's heritage style Rhode Island Red chickens

Kiril's autumn pastured turkeys, half grown and eating LOTS of green grass.

Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale &Sustainable Agriculture &Uncategorized &Wildlife saboranch on 02 Feb 2014

Can docile Devons deal with Predators??

This was photographed at 1pm in the middle of the hayfield where our Devon herd was feeding. The deer was killed the previous night by coyotes, cleaned up by 10 bald eagles and numerous magpies, ravens, etc

 

Devons as small as this first calf heifer, with a pudgy heifer calf due to her high butterfat milk, have no trouble protecting their offspring from our various predators. Docile to all humans, great mothers! This calf has CREAM on her muzzle at the end of nursing, not milk!

Devons have adapted beautifully to the high altitude, predator filled dry land pastures of the high mountain West.

Questions?  Mark and Jenny Sabo, Harrison, MT 406-685-3248. saboranch1@gmail.com

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!

Articles &Beef Cattle &Devon Cattle for Sale &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 09 Aug 2012

Choose gentle Devons for better gain on Grass

Article after article, rancher after rancher these days, is looking for better gain in their cattle on fewer and fewer inputs.

As fuel costs rise, and hay, and gasoline to run a vehicle to check on cattle in the fields, we all need to find the solution for minimum input and maximum gain.

Devons can be the answer!  “…recent studies at Oregon State University evaluated the impacts of temperament on gain performance, reproduction and health parameters…”    and found that cattle with poor temperament negatively affected all the above parameters.

Not taken with a telephoto, Devons are among the most gentle of breeds. Fertile, extremely easy keeping, intelligent, and able to adapt to any environment. The perfect breed for producer safety and beef gain!

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

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Dairy Cattle &Sustainable Agriculture saboranch on 24 Sep 2008

Rotational Grazing Example

This slightly blurry photo, taken at dusk, shows a newly grazed, now resting area of pasture on the right, and a yet-ungrazed section on the left. We use these electric fence ribbons in much of our grazing management, allowing us to quickly graze, then rest, our pastures, allowing for maximum grass growth and pasture regeneration.

We only wanted the cows to graze the right hand portion, which they did over a two day period. This area is full of common tansy, a plant whose tea can cause abortions in humans.

However, it is also a natural cattle wormer, and high in calcium. Previous to this, the cows grazed sections of our hayfield (back portion of this photo), a mixture of grasses and clovers. Upon introduction to the “weedy” area here along the irrigation ditch, they consumed every tansy plant in sight.

Within several days, as they moved along the ditch, their tansy consumption was down to nearly nil. They had their fill, consumed the minerals and medicinals they needed, and passed back, free choice, to primarily grass consumption.