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The Van Fleet Family implements holistic planned grazing

The following is a guest post by Indian Valley, California rancher Maria Van Fleet. She and her family attended Grazing for Change and studied holistic management before implementing holistic planned grazing. Maria manages the family ranch with her husband David, son Eric and daughters Hannah and Camille. We are proud of them for taking the first step to just get started. It is the hardest step. As Allan Savory says, holistic management is not about perfection, it is about starting where you are. We look forward to more updates from the Van Fleet Family as they continue on their holistic management adventure!

Start where you are

Were pretty excited and wanted to give you a little update on our progress. We started our holistic grazing plan on May 1, 2015. We were all getting a little nervous as we fed hay 15 days longer than normal this year, (we like to leave some in the barn) to give the grass a head start. Some of the grasses were starting to seed out. We aslo worried about the grass poking the cattle in the eyes and causing pink eye, which is common in Indian Valley. Our paddocks have to follow the water. We know which fields we will graze and which to hay.

Day 1

We stared with approximately 1/2 an acre for 45 cows. The UPS package delivery service lost our package so we improvised and used regular metal hot-wire and ordered more poly wire from Amazon.com.  Nonetheless, the second day was super busy, and we had to wait for the poly wire so our first paddock was an example of what not to do (see photos in the gallery below). A few of the cows ran through on the first day but after that they didn’t challenge the fencing.

Day 2

The second day we doubled the width to just about an acre. The grass looked better but we were thinking we should maybe go even a bit bigger.
It is certainly trial and error to start, but we’ve truly embraced the concept. So despite the learning curve we’re committed!
The poly wire is super easy to use with the reels and ring top posts. Another challenge will be adding the yearlings. they are so curious. Working with them will be an adventure! The sheep and goats are working in the orchard with a poultry fence. David is almost finished with our mobile chicken house and then the little hens will be following the cows.