What happened at our 2008 Mob Grazing Schools!
Last fall, we hosted a one-day grazing conference and pasture walk on Judy farms with Ian. We had over 200 people attend from 23 states and Canada. It was a wonderful one-day conference but very limited on time to cover everything that we would have liked to. That is why we decided to hold 3-day conferences this year. We just finished our November 3 day Mob Grazing School and it was just as good as our October school. Both schools sold out and people had to be turned away due to the smaller class size of 30 people. Ian Mitchell Innes, who is from South Africa taught, both schools and did a phenomenal job of it. We had rave reviews from the attendees of both schools on how much they learned from the school and pasture walks. Ian is the best teacher of Holistic Management in the world. He is a certified Holistic Educator. We felt very fortunate to have him as our teacher at our grazing schools.
The October school had attendees from 16 states and Canada with ages ranging from 20 to 75 years old. Some folks had very large ranches and others had no farms. The weather for this school was perfect and some great pasture walks were taken each afternoon.
Everyone was enthusiastic and eager to learn new techniques in grazing. It was great to be able to physically show people the results that we have had on our own farms in three short years with Holistic Planned Grazing (Mob Grazing). Our Friday night banquet was held at our house and it turned out great. Everyone commented what a good time they had visiting with fellow attendees. Some very valuable contacts and friendships were formed that night among the attendees. I grilled grass-finished hamburgers and Jan, Pam (Ian’s wife) and Dana (our intern) helped with all the fixings.
The November school had attendees from 14 states and Canada with ages ranging from 13 years old to 85 years old. One third of this class was 18 to 30 years old, which was very encouraging for us. I think that it is great that the younger folks are getting interested in Holistic Grazing, after all they are the future. The weather was a little bit cooler than the October school but not extreme. People were so anxious to get out in the pastures that nobody complained about the weather but we did go out after lunch for the heat of the day.
Again the attendees were very enthusiastic and eager to learn as well. I filled one half of my notebook with precious notes from Ian’s November school. I could hardly believe that I took that many new notes after hearing Ian speak 5 times previously! Every time that I hear Ian speak, I pick up new information on profitable ranching techniques.
Our Friday night banquet was held in our workshop with the wood stove cranking. Jan fixed Tamworth pork hams that had been finished on our red clover pasture, no grain. The Tamworth hams were a hit, absolutely delicious. Everybody had a great time and the meal was delicious, thanks go out to Jan and Pam for the wonderful preparation of the meal.
Jan and I were blessed with having Ian and Pam stay at our house during both schools. We got to spend some quality time with both of them, which is always a treat. Ian toured our farms with us and opened our eyes to some things that he saw on our operation.
Ian challenged Jan and I this fall on some of the current practices that we do on our farms. Why are we doing them? I will not tell you what they were at this moment, except that they will be major cost saving changes if we can get them implemented. There will be articles coming on our web site greenpasturesfarm.net detailing them as Jan and I brainstorm ideas to implement them into our grazing operation this coming year.
Last fall, Ian challenged us on why were grazing three herds in three different locations. We had all kind of reasons why were doing it but none of them added up. We combined the herds and have never looked back. Immediately we had 2/3rds less labor, 2/3rds more recovery period for our grass to grow back and 2/3rds more density with the large mob. Why in the world we were trying to make ranch life so complicated is beyond me. We literally should question everything that we do on the farm. Why are we doing it? Is it bringing us closer or further away from our Holistic Goal. This really drives home the importance of having a written Holistic Goal to bounce your management decisions off of.
Ian and his wife Pam own a 14,000-acre ranch in South Africa where they graze 4000 head of cattle on. The thing that separates Ian from other folks is that he is actually doing what he teaches. Ian will be the first to tell you that he has made some major mistakes that have cost him dearly on his ranch. He is very passionate about keeping us from making those same costly mistakes on our farms. Ian is the ultimate low-input cattle rancher. He spends very little money. He concentrates on letting the animals do all the work on his ranch.
Ian has agreed to put on another 3-day mob grazing school in 2009 with us. It will be in the middle to end of September. Exact date and topics to be covered will be listed on our website this spring