David Jessup

David co-owns Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, where he introduces low-stress, grass-fed cattle raising methods to guests, and guests to the ways of both the old and the new West. A history buff, he is passionate about preserving open space, battling invasive weeds, catching wild river trout on a fly, singing cowboy songs, and telling stories about the American West—some of them true.

Before returning to his sixty-six-year-old family ranch in 2000, David Jessup served with the Peace Corps in Peru, worked for human rights in Latin America with the AFL-CIO International Program in Washington, D.C., and collaborated with his wife, Linda, in raising four children and exploring fresh worlds with three grandchildren.

Jessup’s blog, Beef, Books and Boots, contains stories of ranch life, articles on sustainable grass-fed beef, and information about his and Linda’s favorite books on the American West.

David co-owns Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, where he introduces low-stress, grass-fed cattle raising methods to guests, and guests to the ways of both the old and the new West. A history buff, he is passionate about preserving open space, battling invasive weeds, catching wild river trout on a fly, singing cowboy songs, and telling stories about the American West—some of them true.

Before returning to his sixty-six-year-old family ranch in 2000, David Jessup served with the Peace Corps in Peru, worked for human rights in Latin America with the AFL-CIO International Program in Washington, D.C., and collaborated with his wife, Linda, in raising four children and exploring fresh worlds with three grandchildren.

Jessup’s blog, Beef, Books and Boots, contains stories of ranch life, articles on sustainable grass-fed beef, and information about his and Linda’s favorite books on the American West.

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Enter our Naming Contest Today!

When Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm put his pigs to work making compost out of the manure and wood chips in his barn, he coined the term, “Pigerator” to describe what they do.

We need a new term to describe the work pigs are doing to one of our pastures at Sylvan Dale Ranch.

The pasture is an unproductive swath of sod-bound fescue just south of our Big Valley Lakes. The forage lacks variety because the fescue chokes out any other plants that try to sprout there. Our cattle graze it every year, but the soil is compacted and the growth is meager. This pasture badly needs regeneration.

The traditional remedy is to spray the old grass with herbicide to kill it, then plow, disk, harrow, reseed, and fertilize, then let the new pasture grow for a year to get established. Unfortunately, this method harms soil fertility. As an alternative, we tried mob grazing with cattle. By packing a large number of 1300 lb. cows into a small area of pasture, we hoped the churning impact of cow hooves would damage the fescue enough to allow a new seed mixture, broadcast on the ground and “planted” by the cows, to germinate and add some variety to the pasture.

It didn’t work. That fescue sod is tough!

pigs-in-pasture-300x169Enter the pigs, courtesy of Spring Kite Farm, a new Sylvan Dale agri-partner. Michael Baute and Meghan are young farmers based in Ft. Collins, Colorado. For several years they have successfully grown vegetables to supply local customers and restaurants, and were looking for more land to lease in order to expand operations and introduce pigs, chickens and goats into their mix of offerings. Sylvan Dale Ranch raises grass-fed, grass-finished beef, along with enough hay to fuel our horse heard and get the cattle through the winter. Why not join forces with Spring Kite Farm and together, create a truly holistic, comprehensive agriculture operation?

At some point during these discussions it dawned on us that pigs might be able to do what the cows couldn’t: churn up the pasture enough to weaken or destroy the fescue as a prelude to re-seeding. Pigs don’t just graze, they root. Those amazing snouts might turn enough soil and gobble up enough of those pesky fescue rhizomes to open up the sod for new plants. Worth a try. We decided to start small to see if it works.

You can see the results in this video. Pretty impressive, we think. Pigs doing the work of machines. What should we call them? What should we call the work they are doing? We’ve started googling synonyms for “plowing” and for “pigs” to come up with ideas, but we haven’t got there yet. Here’s where you come in.

We invite you to a naming contest! Use the “Comments” feature on this blog to send in your entry. A distinguished panel of judges will select the winner!

The Wagon Wheel Bunkhouse, flood 2013

The Wagon Wheel Bunkhouse

Dear Friends of Sylvan Dale,

Shock and awe. Twice in two days.

First came the massive torrent that ripped through our beloved Sylvan Dale Ranch during the pre-dawn hours of Friday, September 13. Linda and I, and Susan and her Dave, couldn’t believe our eyes. How could another “500-year storm” happen only 37 years after the one that menaced our parents, Maurice and Mayme Jessup? This time, unbelievably, the destruction was even greater than the famous flood of 1976. You can view the damage on the video below. Read more on A Flood of Water; A Flood of Support…

  The following article was recently published in the June issue of The Stockman Grassfarmer.
git-along-little-microbes-stockman-grassfarmer-article

Grassfed Critics Are Ignoring Methane Eating Soil Microbes

LOVELAND, Colorado: Beef cattle belch out tons of methane. Some studies claim cows account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

  And, it turns out that grassfed cows belch more than their grainfed cousins, a fact that gladdens the hearts of feedlot owners seeking a patch of moral high ground on which to plant a green flag.

  Now along comes Bill McKibben to snatch the flag back for the grass-feeders. (“The Only Way to Have a Cow” by Bill McKibben. Orion Magazine, March/April 20I0).

  How is it, he asks, that vast herds of wild ruminants never burped the skies full of methane in days of old? The answer, he claims, is methane eating soil microbes.
Read more on Git Along Little Microbes…