I have been doing a little experiment, of sorts, lately. While hosting camps, classes and tours this summer as we kick things off here on the farm, I have been asking folks of all ages if they understand the benefits of livestock on a farm. Most will answer as expected, which is that farmers and ranchers raise livestock for milking or for processing for meat. This is true, of course, but there is so much more!
I hope this serves to educate as I share a concept that may seem new to many, but is actually not new at all. The earth is in a state of change, at a pace that at the very least requires awareness, but in my opinion requires action now. Yes, I believe climate change is real. I actually have found that most folks agree on this. The awkward, and sometimes heated conversations come when people debate about whether we allow the earth to change without any intervention by humans or whether we work together to prevent further damage to our planet.
Every goal I have made for myself, my family, and my farm is based on the latter. I truly believe communities of people can work together with open hearts and open minds to learn from each other while working toward a common goal of protecting the earth for generations to come. Our farm is brand new to us this past year, but the land was cared for well by the previous owners. We are grateful for their dedication and we look forward to continuing the work on this land as we build a place where community can visit time and time again to learn how we are using livestock as our primary tool in our regenerative efforts on the farm.
When you visit Hills of Milk and Honey for a tour, or attend a camp or class here, you will hear me talk about Holistic Management International's (HMI) approach to caring for the land and healing the soil. I just recently completed the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Training Course with extremely knowledgeable instructors and great classmates who provided thoughtful discussion. This training has made it possible for me to have the knowledge, the support, and the connections needed to move forward with my farm and meet my goals which span generations, not just my lifetime. What I'm doing on this land is not about me, but about what I leave behind.
HMI focuses on promoting healthy land, healthy food, and healthy lives. They are currently running a 20/20 Campaign which allows people to support the following goals monetarily or otherwise so that others, just like YOU and me, can learn and take part in protecting our soil and our water so that generations after us have healthy food and healthy water. HMI has developed the following goals to be met by 2020. Will you take part in helping achieve these goals?
- Heal 20 million acres of land
- Sequester 1 billion tons of carbon
- Educate 25,000 people
- Sequester 400 billion gallons of water
- Help farmers and ranchers reduce their bare ground from 70% to 40%
At Hills of Milk and Honey, we are committed to doing our part, not just because HMI thinks it's a great idea, but because we believe the science to be true. When brittle environments exist, we as humans have an opportunity to heal the soil. We can intensively graze livestock in small areas at a time providing high impact for a short duration and allow ample time for rest. This requires a farmer to be very aware of his or her land to the point of noticing the slightest changes. The farmer must be aware of what to look for with growth or lack thereof in the fields. The animals must be moved more frequently to newer paddocks than conventional methods would suggest. Year-long and even years-long planning must take place with detailed records kept along the way. Livestock help trample brittle land, naturally fertilize it, and "mow" it without the need for humans. Our job is to know when to move the livestock so that they can help heal the next area of land, and so on. The concept is simple, but it requires a paradigm shift for many. We aspire to teach others while we continue to learn too.
We invite you to pivot with us and see from a fresh perspective as we scale up our farming operation, save money, and gather all of the tools and equipment here at Hills of Milk and Honey to put this into practice. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow along on Facebook and Instagram so that you will be the first to know when we release tours, classes and workshops for children and adults. Healing soil, sequestering carbon and water, and reducing the bare ground on our farm is important to us. Mr. Bamberger has done just that, right here in the Hill Country. He is an inspiration to me and by watching this video Selah: Water from Stone you'll see what I hope to achieve on our little slice of heaven here in Dripping Springs.