This year brought numerous land revitalization projects to OLT's Everson Ranch. Pastures that were almost barren, this year produced a harvestable crop of hay. Sixty large bales were gleaned from the north pasture with a "street value" of about $3500 to $5000 (though this initial batch will remain with us for our animals). Still, a very good beginning!
"Our animals" are five horses, five pigs, a dozen chickens and a llama. Along with our new ranchland lessee's seasonal herd of Scottish Highland cows, these animals are being used as "tools" to till, irrigate and fertilize our rangelands and restore them to a more fertile and productive state. The Arrowpoint Beef herd from our grazing partner, Nancy Roberts, is being used on the land in conjunction with holistic land management practice methods that involve concentrating many animals in a small area for a short period of time thus impacting the soil composition quickly and favorably. Cindy Villa of NRCS was also our advisor for this initiation. This was our first year at this and we had some successes and some lessons. The regimen of fence repair, meander stream repair and weed mowing all contributed to the restoration of our agricultural lands. Fruit trees and berry bushes have been planted this year too.
We have been talking with NRCS about the idea of sharing the cost of a gated irrigation pipe project with OLT's share being 40-50%. If the project is approved we will naturally be pursuing grants for our side of things. This improved irrigation system would increase the marketable hay harvest and improve grazing. All of this is still in the "idea" phase.
In the Ranch building area, an almost-gone shed was demolished, being replaced by the beginnings of a small Bath House/Kitchen facility. This facility will provide needed amenities to volunteers helping with agricultural and renovation projects at the ranch. Three different groups have inquired after space for seminars in the last two weeks alone, showing the potential for using the Ranch for these purposes without impacting Valley View's peace. Of course, renovations and improvements will need to be driven by OLT's Strategic Plan, donations and grants and not by the finite OLT budget.