Page 6

Testing Questions

continued from page five

might test the action of study and training to see if it moves you toward your holistic goal. I run into all kinds of folks these days who talk about sustainability. If I ask, I find all different kinds of definitions too. Therefore, I really like how Holistic Management uses the ecosystem processes to help define part of the sustainability test. This question brings us back to basic ecological health as a foundation for sustainability. It seems important in light of our linear minds to look at the ecosystem as these four processes in order to keep in mind just how complex and interrelated the ecosystem really is. It seems that when we lose sight of the magnitude of the interrelationships and their patterns, we tend to move away from true sustainability. The remaining testing questions of energy/wealth source and use, marginal reaction, gross profit analysis are all equally important as the ones already mentioned. Without the structure that these testing questions offer, you are likely to purchase more off-farm inputs than needed, overlook the time aspect of marginal reaction, and choose your enterprises based more on preferences than on gross profit, just to name a few of these testing questions’ benefits. The real crux of the whole topic of testing questions is whether or not you use them! How we would love to have a magic formula that would make everyone automatically begin thinking holistically. As a Certified Educator, I’ve spent years looking for the motivating method that gets folks using the testing questions. And I have often wondered why some folks can come to an introductory class and take off like a wildfire developing their holistic goal and moving forward rapidly, and others who clearly are searching for a way forward cannot take the steps necessary to make the changes. What I have learned is that I cannot change how a person determines personal responsibility. Based upon underlying, deep beliefs we have developed from childhood, our perspective about our own ability to change and chart a different course for ourselves can sit anywhere along a broad spectrum. The strongest motivation I have found for folks is embedded within the holistic goal. That is where I suggest they begin testing— everything against their holistic goal. It seems that when one can begin to see improvements, however small, confidence grows stronger and bigger steps can be taken. In the meantime, going through all seven testing questions is easier when done in pairs or a team. It can even be done quickly with a partner over the phone. Proficiency comes from practice. Begin with little decisions to build trust in the process and confidence in yourself. Make it a game. Become curious about what might be revealed. You learned to ride a bike didn’t you, or ride a horse, or drive a car? You can learn this too—with practice.

Working with Carbon on the Ranney Ranch— The Interplay of Range Management, Grassfed Beef, Wind, and Biomass by Nancy Ranney In writing about the Carbon Ranch, I hope you will take away three points: • Raising grassfed beef has great potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions • Alternative energy production can make a contribution to our nation’s needs and be consistent with a ranching enterprise, and • Using livestock as a tool, good grazing and water management practices have the amazing potential to pull carbon out of the atmosphere where we don’t want it and into the soil where we do, where it replenishes the soil matrix and restores our rangelands. Our Western grassland soils, if properly managed, have the potential to capture significant levels of carbon. This is our ranch story, our carbon ranch story, and as with all stories it evolved over time. We did not set out to create a “carbon” ranch with all the inter-related parts that I am going to discuss today but one thing led to another over time, in fact quite a short period of time, over just the past eight years.

The Evolution of a Ranch Of course, this land is not “ours.” It has been here for millennia, part of an island of rocky mesa country set right at the heart of New Mexico, sandstone mesas capped with limestone and threaded by beautiful valleys, harboring over the centuries and through the seasons a startling array of flora, of fauna, and still the hints of early human settlement on the land. Now we ride past the ruins of late nineteenth century homesteads, a chimney standing, all that’s left of the home my neighbor’s grandmother was born in, cisterns and camps and water retention structures from the 1930’s, a heritage that still spoke to our family when our parents bought two adjoining ranches near Corona in 1968. CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

Peggy Sechrist is a Certified Educator and rancher near Fredricksburg, Texas. She can be reached at: 830/456-5587 or peggysechrist@gmail.com.

Interested in a webinar? Contact HMI at hmi@holisticmanagement.org and let us know of what webinar topics you’d be interested in. Put “webinar suggestions” in the subject line. 6

IN PRACTICE



July / August 2011

The old and the new technology of wind power is being explored on the Ranney Ranch as diverse income streams are a necessity for a profitable ranch.

#138, In Practice, Jul/Aug 2011  

On-Farm Research on the Benefits of Applying Raw Milk on Pastures— The Wayne-Egenolf Farm2 Testing Questions—Just Like Riding a Bike Working...

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