Hello from the Barthelmess Ranch

Good day everyone my name is Leo Barthelmess and because I drew the short straw, I will be producing the June blog for the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance. This is the first one I've ever done so be patient as I try to fill you in.

I am a 3rd generation rancher who attended a one room country school that is on the ranch. My brother and the neighbor children in the community also attended the Tallow Creek School. When my wife Darla and I had school-age children they were also students at the Tallow Creek School. Unfortunately, it closed several years ago. So there will probably not be any more 8th grade graduations at our little community center, the Tallow Creek School.

The ranch that my family manages is a grazing operation. We raise Red Angus cattle and Targhee sheep. We try and provide the livestock on the ranch the opportunity to graze native grass 10 months a year. The other 2 months of the year the livestock graze planted forages in the winter pastures. Occasionally cold weather in the winter and deep snow require us to feed hay to keep the animals healthy. We try to keep a 3 month supply of hay on the ranch for winter emergencies.

The cows start having their babies the first week of April. The weather is generally very warm then and the new grass is starting to grow. We calve the cows on native pasture with enough protection that unexpected storms will not hurt the babies. Generally the cows are done calving by the end of May.

The sheep start having lambs the end of April. Because the baby lambs are so small and delicate we keep them in a corral near a barn. After the lambs are 5 days old they go to a grass pasture with their mothers.

As spring moves to summer our daily jobs change. We go from calving and lambing to branding, harvesting hay, and moving livestock to new pastures. As I said before we are a grazing operation which means we focus our attention on grazing management. We manage our livestock so that they improve soil health, water quality, forage quantity, forage quality and wildlife habitat. One of the big benefits from managing our livestock this way is they are very healthy and the wildlife habitat on the ranch is suitable for many species. We have over 30 permanent pastures on the ranch that vary in size from 3 acres to 3000 acres. We also subdivide some of the pastures, with temporary fence so that we can harvest special forage crops. On a typical year we move livestock from pasture to pasture 100 times during the year.

Our ranch is suitable for many kinds of wildlife. In the past year I have seen Whitetail Deer, Mule Deer, Pronghorn Antelope, Elk, coyote, red fox, muskrat, beaver, prairie dogs and a badger. Some of the bird species include the Sage Chickens, Sharp tailed Grouse, Ring Necked Pheasants, Long Billed Curlews, Canadian Geese, multiple duck species, and burrowing owls to name a few.

The Barthelmess Ranch is hosting a grazing tour June 15, 2017. I am very excited about having guests on the ranch that are as interested in this landscape as I am. People that have told me they will be attending the tour work in many different jobs.  Some are wildlife managers, grazing experts, other ranchers, small business owners, and teachers. It promises to be a good opportunity to exchange ideas and techniques that will help us all do better work.

I think I will sign off now as I need to finish other ranch tasks before it gets too late. I will write another installment for the blog after the ranch grazing tour or maybe before. Hopefully there will be some pictures.

Have a good day, I know I have.

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