Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Pasture Management:

Do you have any idea as to how long it has taken the government Neanderthals  (NRCS, et al) and their lackeys (SRM, et al) to recognize and admit to the advantages of intensive grazing management? I’ll give you a hint–the idea was introduced to this continent in the late 70s-early 80s and some of them still haven’t.


The Golden Yoke - Fenceline DifferencePasture management in Montana is not just about building fence and moving cows. First and foremost it is about irrigation. Because of our arid climate we rely heavily on irrigation water, which is dependent on mountain snow pack. Every winter farmers and ranchers in the west look to the mountains as they plan for the following year. Good snow levels correlate to a successful growing season. Poor snow levels might mean selling off some stock, planting fewer crops, and preparing a plan for drought.

The Golden Yoke’s water starts high up in the Mission Mountains. The melt and subsequent runoff is collected in a series of reservoirs located at the base of the mountains. The water then travels through a complex system of canals and ditches before it reaches our land. This is all controlled by the local water board and in our area this control belongs jointly to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes (our land is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation) and government agencies.

With this in mind, we have to manage our pastures with the understanding that we might not have much water when we need it most. Utilizing management intensive grazing in this type of environment is key because it helps increase productivity and soil water retention, build organic matter, and diversify a healthy plant population.

Our primary hurdle at this point is that we have too few animals to have the impact that we want. As we build our herd we plan to graze all of our land; right now we graze what we can and hay the rest. Much like other grazing operations, we use single strand electric fence to contain our cows in “cells.” We move them to fresh grass up to three times a day depending on season and what we want to accomplish within that cell. Our portable “cow-bana,” mineral lick, and their water tank move with them from cell to cell. We try to rest our cells no less than 35 days in order to irrigate and allow plants to recover from the animal impact.

The Golden Yoke - Fresh GrassRecently, we met with our local NRCS agent to discuss how we could improve the efficiency of our irrigation system. Just after our introductions he commented on our grazing strategy and we new we were talking to the right guy. Little did we know, his office had been holding pasture walks in our area all summer and soon Greg Judy (noted grazing expert from Missouri) would be coming to host a workshop in our community.

We are very excited to begin this relationship with NRCS because of all of the educational and financial support that they offer. One of the first things that we hope to accomplish with them is to accurately map our property and form a grazing plan that best suits our land and the nutritional needs of our cows. Over the next eighteen months we will be hashing out the details for a better, more efficient upgrade to our current irrigation system. We will also be working with them to achieve a more nutritionally diverse pasture mix, which will be most important when the cows are in milk. It was great to find out there are other farmers and ranchers in the valley that are experimenting with intensive grazing, and we are excited to join a community of like-minded folks.

Until next time, the girls of The Golden Yoke.

Thanks to Stonyfield, Profits for the Planet, for funding the 2013 Bootstrap blog series.


Books by Dr. Jimmy T. (Gunny) LaBaume

CoverA Handbook for Ranch Managers A Comprehensive Reference Manual for Managing the Working Ranch. Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s Rancher Supply aStore.

Digital media products such as Kindle can only be purchased on Click Here to buy the Kendall Version on

To purchase an autographed copy of the book Click Here


The Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other MisfitsThe Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfits.  Click here to buy the paperback version from Land & Livestock International’s Rancher Supply aStore.

Digital media products such as Kindle can only be purchased on Click Here to buy the Kendall Version on

To purchase an autographed copy of the book Click Here

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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3 Responses to Bootstrap @ The Golden Yoke – Pasture Management:

  1. Personal says:

    There is absolutely no real difference between the management of state-owned land by Communist officials in Warsaw Pact nations during the Cold War and the management of public lands on this continent by alleged experts of the so-called ‘free world.’ Not only have they failed to adopt advances in grazing methods but they have argued strongly against them in popular and scholarly publications… as we all know. If you graze public land, you are no less able to do what you believe to be best than the manager of any collective farm, and yet when those countries dropped communism, they were told that the keys to creating a market economy were more institutions associated with Land Grant universities such as extension and research.

    Rich Wilcke

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Yep. After its collapse, the old Soviet Union made a grave mistake by bringing in “consultants” from the uSSA to show them how to run a “free” economy. They just exchanged one brand of communism for another.

      That is something we liberty lovers need to keep in mind for when the uSSA government collapses. We need to be able and willing to fight to prevent a start over of the SOS.


      • rich wilcke says:

        The irony was that Russians, for example, kept their old agricultural bureaucracy in place and then added new “market” bureaucratic institutions foisted on them by arrogant – and totally ignorant – advisors from the U.S. and western Europe. I had lunch with an official of a Land-Grant university who led a series of agricultural advisory missions to Russia in the early 1900s – all paid for by USDA, the United Nations, the World Bank, etc. He could not have known less about market economics or development theories or anything useful for these people. He was an agronomist who was convinced – or I should say assumed – that the primary cause of greater farm and food productivity in the US as compared to Russia was its lack of a USDA-Land Grant complex with its experiment stations and cooperative extension services. He really had no real idea about why there had been such advances in agricultural productivity before those institutions, and he had never even really thought much about private property. But he sure did enjoy leading his teams over there to advise the Russians on how to become more “market oriented.” It’s no wonder Russia ended up with even more agricultural bureaucratic offices AFTER communism than before.


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