listing is by no means complete or comprehensive; it’s
meant to give some idea of the amazing array of resources
available to today’s Applied Ecologists (aka Ranchers).
Put the words “ranching,” “range management,”
“holistic” etc. into an Internet search
engine and the number of sites you'll find is truly
overwhelming. Most have links that will lead you to
still more interesting places.
Thankfully, more and more ranch kids have been teaching
their moms and dads how to use the Internet. A remaining
bottleneck to accessing all this for ranch folk is the
generally very slow and cranky rural phone infrastructure.
Someday perhaps, we will all have affordable RIS (“Rural
For integrated GPS and Digital Ranch Mapping
visit your local NRCS office (accessible via www.nrcs.usda.gov).
Soils maps and satellite photos are becoming available
online too (but you need a fast connection!).
Ecological Site Descriptions are available
through state NRCS websites. Try to get ESDs via your
friendly NRCS District Conservationist, as navigating
the website and selecting the appropriate description
for your lands can be confusing. Note that not all ESDs
as yet have “State and Transition Models.”
Fecal Sampling and Analysis for Forage Quality
– for details on this process see http://cnrit.tamu.edu/ganlab.
At $25/sample it’s not cheap, but after a few
times you can learn to estimate with reasonable accuracy
by tapping the patties with your foot.
Standard Performance Analysis (SPA)
– for info and interesting analysis of the economics
of ranching in the Southwest, see http://spatx.tamu.edu/library.
New Mexico ranchers who wish to participate in this
eye-opening process should email email@example.com.
Internet Weather is available at www.noaa.gov
with links to the “Drought Monitor” and
elsewhere. Track storms and warnings in real time (TIP:
unless you have a really good surge protector it’s
a good idea to disconnect when the lightning’s
close). NOAA even shows estimated “storm rainfall
totals.” Someday, when calibration is perfected
(and when you can figure out where your ranch is on
their map) all this could be very helpful.
Cow-Calf Management Guide & Cattle Producer's Library,
the big, heavy yellow book that covers everything from
A to Z; well worth the $95 price! Includes annual updates.
Available from the University of Idaho, www.avs.uidaho.edu.
Jerry Holechek, Range
Management: Principles and Practices (Prentice Hall,
Robert Taylor and Thomas Field, Beef
Production and Management Decisions (Prentice Hall,
Allan Savory, Holistic
Management: A New Framework for Decision Making
(Island P, 1998). See the Savory Center website (www.holisticmanagement.org)
for other titles.
F. A. Branson et al, Rangeland
Hydrology (Society for Range Management,
1981); M. Vavra et al, Ecological
Implications of Livestock Herbivory in the West
(Society for Range Management, 1994); Paul Krausman,
ed., Rangeland Wildlife
(Society for Range Management, 1996). All available
directly from the Society for Range Management (www.rangelands.org)
in their reference books section.
Plant and animal guides
James Stubbendieck et al, North
American Range Plants (Univ. of Nebraska P, 1997)
Tom Whitson et al, Weeds
of the West (Wyoming Ag Extension, 1992)
Z. M. Kirkpatrick, Wildflowers
of the Western Plains (Univ. of Texas P, 1992)
W. G. Degenhart, Amphibians
and Reptiles of New Mexico (Univ of New Mexico P,
D. A. Sibley, Sibley
Guide to Bird Life and Behavior (Knopf, 2001)
Other publications and websites
Stockman Grassfarmer (www.stockmangrassfarmer.com),
a monthly newspaper out of Mississippi. They also have
lots of good books to order, including Allan Nation's
and other industry magazines.
Weekly ranching newspapers with market and industry
news, producer profiles, ads for cattle, services, supplies,
and ranch real estate like: Livestock
for links to livestock market reports. Lee
for country customs and culture. Western
Livestock Journal (www.wlj.net).
Local and regional histories
These can provide insight into the ranching experience,
culture and customs in a given area (including drought
cycles!). Every place has its historian—good places
to start are your local historical society or museum,
post office or country store. In our area, for instance,
Faviola Cabeza de Baca, We
Fed Them Cactus (Univ of New Mexico P, 1994) documents
ranching and homesteading in eastern NM, including chapters
about our immediate neighborhood.
People & groups to know
Your neighbors – their local
info is invaluable. But don’t be offended if they
decline an invitation to your dinner party – they’re
probably busier than you are!
Your local agricultural extension county agents
and specialists. Ag extension services also
have many useful publications, including guides to invasive
weeds and poisonous plants.
Your local Natural Resource Conservation Service
“DC” (District Conservationist). Hint: They
like to get out of the office! NRCS offers many publications
and technical assistance for private land owners, including
administration and planning for range improvement programs.
Society of Range Management (www.srm.org)
Caren Cowan, executive director of New Mexico
Cattle Grower’s Association, or your
analogous state or regional industry group.
Rangeland consultant Kirk Gadzia (www.resourcemanagementservices.com)
our favorite grazing guru for planning and occasional
And of course, all the friendly folks at The
Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoalition.org)!