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Happy International Day for Biological Diversity

written by

Lynn Watkins

posted on

May 22, 2021

One of the many things that I believe to be true about we humans is that everyone has passions that drive them. Things or ideas that reach down into them and ignite a fire in their soul. Oftentimes these passions are shared within members of a single family. A shared passion amongst our family is the land and all the things that grow from it. We spend hours out in our pastures but it's not just to check on the cattle. No, we are also looking at the health of the land, the activity of insects on the ground and in the trees, the number and kind of birds living on our land or just passing through, the small prey animals like rabbits, mice, and squirrels, the larger prey animals like deer, and finally we have game cameras up to catch a look at our predators like coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and mountain lions. We monitor the types of grass, wildflowers, and weeds in the pastures. We even spend hours fishing in the stock ponds for enjoyment of course but also to see the health of our fish.

You see we spend all of this time in our pastures monitoring the ecosystem because it all works together. The cattle are just one small part of what make our ranch work. If our stock ponds are healthy then we have clean drinking water for our cattle and the wildlife. If we have diverse grasses and foliage then we have food for the cattle and wildlife as well as keep our topsoil in place and the soil microbes happy. We love watching dung beetles because they are the biggest insect contributor to the health of our cattle and soils. The cows leave cow patties and the dung beetles get to work rolling it up and literally digging little holes to make deposits in the ground. A single cow patty goes from fresh to gone within 24 hours! This keeps our biting fly numbers down keeping our cows more comfortable and deposits important fertilizer directly into our soils keeping our grass happy and soil microbes thriving. If we provide brush piles to create homes for small prey this keeps our small prey numbers high and the predators such as coyotes, bobcats, and foxes have plenty of food and don't feel the need to attack larger riskier prey such as calves or deer.

Biodiversity keeps our ranch thriving. We have very low incidence of health issues in our cattle herd because our land and ecosystem are healthy. Also, working with mother nature allows us to spend more time enjoying our ranch instead of dealing with issues such as erosion, invasive weeds, sick animals, and algae blooms.

This entire mindset started to take form in 2011 when we had the worst drought our area had seen in over 100 years. Years like that one really bring to the forefront the problems you just didn't know you had. We noticed that we didn't have the small prey numbers that we needed to feed the predators and keep them away from our calves. So we piled up brush all over the ranch to make homes for small prey to move into. We realized we didn't have enough water volume to ensure water for our cattle and wildlife so we built another large stock pond and dredged two of the four original ponds. We also notice that we didn't have any dung beetles and the manure was piling up everywhere! So we did research and instituted an new worming protocol in our cattle to protect the lifecycle of dung beetles. Little did we know, we were on the path to creating a regenerative grazing program tailored specifically for our ranch. We didn't even know what to call it at the time. Regenerative agriculture wasn't even a widely known concept until a several years later. We just knew that our ecosystem could be healthier so we did something about it.

One of the keys to our success in creating a healthy ecosystem is supporting biodiversity all the way from the soils, to the insects, to the grasses and trees, to the wildlife. Nurturing and supporting the biodiversity of our land at all levels helps us keep our ecosystem healthy. So Happy International Day for Biological Diversity! You can always do your part by supporting farmers and ranchers like us who take the time to work with Mother Nature instead of fight against it.

Learn more about International Day for Biological Diversity Here

Two of last year's fawns caught on trail camera playing in March 2021.

Skunk caught making it's way to water at night in March of 2021.

Cottontail rabbit making it's way back to the burrow after getting a late night drink in March 2021.

Pair of coyotes on the prowl in April 2021. Can you spot the second coyote?

Pure Sunshine grazing in belly deep grass in May 2021.

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biodiverse agriculture

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