By Tricia Kimmel
Kimmel Ranch and a neighboring operation, the Louie Petrie Ranch, were recently asked by Ranchers Stewardship Alliance based at Malta, Montana to host an on-site tour showcasing some of the changes and practices we implement here on the prairies of the Big Flat. We were blown away by the interest and attendance for this tour! If you weren’t aware, Turner, America is not along any main roads to anyplace except maybe Saskatchewan, Canada, (we’re not even on Highway 2) so to see this turnout from folks 10 to 500 miles away was both super encouraging and humbling. The events of this day called attention to the unseen and far-reaching impacts we humans make. I’ll circle back to this in a minute.
The order of the day included a presentation by the Obrecht family at Louie Petrie Ranch detailing their efforts to manage their grazing lands using Vence electronic grazing collars, which is an emerging technology in the cattle industry. The presentation at ranch headquarters was followed by a field trip to see the towers and collars in use, as well as a stop to observe a bale grazing site from last winter. Following lunch and networking at Obrechts’, the group motored south to our ranch where PJ, myself, and Cora showcased a list of things including our transition to a yearling enterprise, rangeland monitoring, cover crops’ role in grazing and soil health, as well as our experiences with direct beef marketing. The crowd was served Wholesome Beef Direct burgers for supper along with salads and sides sourced from right here in our local community prior to the bus and attendees departing for home.
Much of the discussion at both ranches centered around “soil health”, “biology”, “bugs beneath the soil” and similar concepts—all invisible to the naked eye. So, this morning, the squeaky gears in my brain really started turning when the following Bible verse 2 Cor. 4:18 (CEB) popped up in my daily study: “We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.”
Now, the apostle Paul wasn’t exactly referring to soil health and farming and ranching. But could he have been? If there’s one thing I’ve learned about scripture, it’s that there’s always more than one application for it.
While PJ and I are fiercely committed to our ideals, the day-to-day function of it all can cloud our vision from time to time. I suppose it’s human nature for daily work to sometimes feel mundane. After spending yesterday with so many people invested in a similar mission to ours, however, we are re-encouraged. Encouraged that even when we can’t easily see the benefits, they are there. Encouraged because it matters. It matters not only to our family, but it matters to others. It matters to folks in our backyard and to folks across the country. And even more importantly, it matters to the generations who will be inheriting this land next and a couple hundred years from now.
Thank you to everyone who had a part in making this day roll off without issue and for inviting us to participate: Ranch Stewardship Alliance, Louie Petrie Ranch and the Obrecht family, Blaine County Conservation District, Western Sustainability Exchange, and mostly, everyone who took time out to travel north to “south Canada” and visit us. We’re just a bunch of cattlemen doing what we can, but we hope we shared something of value for all who attended.