This 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 Internet Satellization”)!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, 2003)
Robert Taylor and Thomas Field, Beef
Production and Management Decisions (Prentice Hall, 2002)
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, 2005)
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 Knowledge
and other industry magazines.
Weekly ranching newspapers with market and industry news, producer
profiles, ads for cattle, services, supplies, and ranch real estate
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
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
Rangeland consultant Kirk Gadzia (www.resourcemanagementservices.com)
our favorite grazing guru for planning and occasional reality checks.
And of course, all the friendly folks at The
Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoalition.org)!