From the Ground Up: Ranchers Embrace Stewardship
Sustainability is one of today’s buzz words, but for ranchers, it’s what keeps their operations going year after year, so good stewardship of their resources isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. Michael Nichols has spent his entire career as a veterinarian working with beef cattle.
“I love that term stewardship because to me it means the careful, the taking care of in a very conscientious manner of what we’re entrusted with. So, for ranchers that means the land, the water, the grass, the resources. Certainly, the cattle but also the people that work there.”
Nichols believes that with 98% of our population not involved in food production, the serious disconnect with agriculture isn’t surprising.
“Part of the disconnection from the farm and particularly from livestock involves disconnection from life. From the birth of newborn life and all the risks that that carry with it, and cattlemen see that every day. They deal with the birth. They deal with the animals that sometimes don’t thrive and they got to care for them like the calf I just mentioned.”
Nichols understands and even sympathizes with consumers that don’t grasp agricultural production.
“I think it’s a disadvantage for people who don’t have a connection to the farm because they miss that really deep connection with life and they miss that opportunity to really understand how fragile life can be, what the risks are, and what it takes to care for it.”
As a veterinarian, Nichols is a teacher but he’s also a student.
“Every ranch is different. They’re different pieces of land, different environments, different cattle, so they can’t be operated in a cookbook fashion. They have to be managed and stewarded specifically for that ranch. It’s wonderful to learn from the people who do that and have done it successfully and continue to do it despite the challenges.”