Michael Pollan famously called grass-fed beef farmer Joel Salatin a “grass farmer” in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Here at Rafter W Ranch, we use a system called Holistic Management to farm the grass of our pastures – and we get some of the best beef, chicken, and eggs around as a by-product!
What is holistic management?
Simply put, holistic management is a way of thinking about the farm as a whole system just like nature. African biologist-farmer Allan Savory developed holistic grazing in the 1960s as a way to reverse desertification, but it applies equally well to the Front Range of Colorado.
Allan Savory developed holistic management as a way to combat African grasslands from becoming deserts due to poor management. Ranchers use holistic grazing methods to mimic natural herds as they would interact with their specific piece of land. This is very similar to mob grazing, which we’ve written about before. Holistic management refers to the process of thinking through how to manage the pasture rather than the methods.
How does it work?
Holistic management asks ranchers and farmers like us to think of our farm as a whole system. Holistic Management International has great resources for farmers to think through how to do this. First, we take an inventory of what resources we have, including land, equipment, etc. Next, we create a “holistic goal” that clearly defines what we want our farm and our life to look like. We use natural cycles and the tools at our disposal to try to reach that holistic goal. Finally, we constantly test our decisions and monitor the results to ensure every decision we make on the farm helps us achieve our holistic goal.
How does it apply in real life?
In so many ways! We started Rafter W Ranch to grow great beef, sure. But we also started the farm to build the soil quality on these acres, feed families great food, and be able to live and work alongside our family. Each of these goals affects every decision we make at Rafter W Ranch. Thinking about the farm as a whole natural system allows us to regenerate the soil and grow the best product around!