Are you GRAZING or just grazing?

My son, best bud from high school, and I went fishing one weekend on Lake Ontario for the big brown trout that normally come in close to shore that time of year and can be easily caught trolling minnow imitating lures in water from 8 to 30 feet deep. We spent hours and hours on the water looking for those big fish. We had two down riggers running lures down about 10-25 feet below the surface.  We had 4 lines off of planer boards running lures up to 75 feet each side of the boat, and we had two lines running directly behind the boat. We tried spoons, stick baits, and deep diving crank baits different lure colors and sizes. We had our depth finder and GPS unit giving us our location, water depth and temperature, the marine radio kept an eye on the weather for us, and the satellite radio entertained us with an endless assortment of tunes. We were FISHING! Or at least that is what we thought we were doing. As it turned out, what we were really doing was washing lures and “just fishing.” Although we caught a steelhead trout about 30 inches long, a Coho salmon of similar size, and a 20 inch smallmouth bass (all of which were really nice fish), we did not catch a single brown trout, which was what we were after. We

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2 thoughts on “Are you GRAZING or just grazing?

  1. What a fantastic article! It is easy to get caught up in all the bells and whistles of grazing while the basics are over looked. I see many graziers not practicing proper recovery and proper graze period for their environment. However, they are unaware that their system isn’t working because of superfluous technologies or gadgets.
    Like Darrell suggested, if you don’t have a metric to measure, it becomes easy to BS yourself into thinking what you are doing is working. For me, dollars per Acre is what I use to evaluate my grazing progress. That being said, there is a lot that is included in the evaluation (soil health, animal performance, family health, personal development, etc).
    There are two reasons I use $/ac to evaluate my progress. First, a ranch must first be profitable to be regenerative. Nobody wants to take over a place that is just a source of poverty, struggle, and hard work. Plus, if you can’t make enough to raise your family and make a mortgage payment you won’t be ranching for very long.
    The second reason is because it is my experience that when your land is increasing in productivity, all the other metrics improve. Soil health and the water cycle improves because you have more ground cover and you are keeping plants vegetative. Animal performance improves because they are grazing grass in the ‘Sweet Spot’ all season long. Wildlife becomes abundant because they know where the good grass is.
    When you have a quantitative metric as Darrell points out, you are able to see if you are accomplishing your goals. Just like the fishing analogy, Darrell’s group did not accomplish their goal of catching trout even thought they tried a whole host of techniques. Had they not seen the charter boat’s success they would not have known the reason for being unsuccessful was not because the fish were not biting, it was what they were doing or specifically, not doing.
    This often plays out in ranching. We experience some grazing success just like the fishing crew had some success; they did catch some pretty good fish, just not the intended target. Maybe we have more grass or better gains than our neighour, but is that success? Are we just trying to be better than our neighbour? I hope not!
    I completely agree with Darrell that each person must find a measurement that is quantifiable to see if we are going toward our goal. That metric may be different for each person and may change over time, but it is a great place to start to accomplish your goals.

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