Recently a topic of conversation at work was how to reach out to small acreage producers. There are a lot of small acreage producers in our area, but sadly a lot of them are doing nothing to protect or conserve the land they own. Our team includes many small acreage producers, as well as the collective knowledge & expertise to assist in conservation planning.
We decided to write Conservation Corner articles sharing our own experiences to conserve our land and to improve upon what was already there.
The Wind Direction Changes
Summers were going great, but winters were creating problems. Snow drifts were, at times, completely filling the corrals on the south side of our barn. So the next thing we added was another windbreak. This one is on the north and west facing sides of the barn. We fenced it in order to keep livestock out and it is growing quite quickly. Soon, we will have a windbreak keeping snow out of the corrals and provide wind protection on any side for the livestock.
Grazing Management for Reality
As our herd grew, so did the need for more forage. Since we were in a drought, there were hard choices to be made. There was not enough grass to feed everything and purchasing hay year-round did not appeal to us.
The livestock looked fine. We knew there was not enough grass because the grass was not growing. If you do not see any new growth, you are overgrazing.
One of the decisions was to sell some cattle. We did, and kept a close eye on the grass. Even though the grass was green, it was staying short and not growing. We had reached the stage where the land could no longer sustain the livestock numbers. It was at this point that we either needed to sell more livestock or find another pasture for them. We were fortunate to find more pasture to lease while our pasture recovered. With the rains, it is recovering nicely.
At this point, one would think this is where our story ends.
Our Plan Grows as Our Operations Grow
It doesn’t. We continue to plan for the future health of our property. Future plans are for more cross-fencing and shorter grazing periods. More cross-fencing leads to a need for more water. More water leads to a new well and pipelines to more tanks. As we continue to grow, we may end up purchasing more property instead of leasing. This, of course, starts the whole cycle all over again!
Your action as a small acreage landowner determines how long you will be able to sustain. Future planning, even if you don’t plan on growing your operation, will help to protect the land. Whether you want to start out small by just planting a few trees or want to go big, your local office is here to help.
We Are Here to Help
The NRCS, located in the USDA Service Center in Simla can help you develop a quality conservation plan to protect the resources you are counting on. Beginning with the soils and determining what you have is a good place to begin the conservation plan for your place.
Whether you have 10 or 10,000 acres, knowing where you are and then where you are going makes lots of sense.
For assistance, Contact Us!
NRCS & Double El Conservation District personnel, are located in Simla at 504 Washington St or give us a call at 719-541-2358. We are available to help with your conservation needs.