There’s NOTHING like a great year in review to keep all of you informed of what’s happening at Rafter W Ranch … and in the life of the Wheeler Family.
At the beginning of the year we were blessed to receive grant funding, through
Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Program, to further our work in building soil
health on the ranch! At the same time we were conducting final interviews for
our first apprentice through the Quivira Coalitions New Agrarian Program.
In February we began work on our soil health project with the assistance of
Dusty and Aaron from Audubon Rockies and the expert design and
implementation team of Avery, Kris and Greg of United Ecology. The application,
called Keyline Plowing, was designed to facilitate water infiltration, aeration and
robust root growth on 200 acres of the ranch.
In mid-March we welcomed Tess Palmer as our first apprentice and began to
transition into the grazing season while getting to know each other. Brett, Rowan
and Tess settled in together and formed an incredible range management team.
In late May our youngest son, Brandon, married Natalie Lewis all while
navigating a late spring snow storm!
The next month and a half became hot and dry and we were concerned that we
may have to sell off cattle. But then, in July the monsoon rains came to the
rescue and the grass grew and not only that but the Keyline application showed
its effectiveness as the grass in those areas grew taller and stayed green longer
than some other areas of the ranch. This allowed us to continue our normal
process of finishing the cattle and sheep on the range.
With August came chicken harvest season and the opportunity to get together
again with our skilled team of chicken harvesters as well as some new friends
who were also Tess’s co-apprentices from other ranches ( Rachel, Nick and
Kris). We are forever grateful for this group of people and their skill in helping us
with this work.
As we entered the fall season the focus moved to finishing the cattle and sheep
and preparing to ship them for harvest and then distribution to our customers.
We, always, look forward to our bulk meat delivery day as we get to renew
relationships and create new ones with our customers!
And now the winter season, a chance to rest and recharge a bit, read more, and
prepare for 2023.
And finally, we want to express our gratitude to:
Our amazing chicken harvest team …
Our incredible customers …
For making 2022 everything it could be and for being our partners in this work!