Indian Ridge Farm recognized with huge award … and other spring 2024 updates

The Shavano Conservation District has awarded Indian Ridge Farm as the Soil Heath Producer of the Year! The District encompasses 2.5 million acres of land in Western Colorado, three drainages (the Uncompaghre River, the Gunnison River and the San Miguel River), and five counties (Ouray, San Miguel, Gunnison, Delta and Montrose). The organization has as its mission statement, “the District serves the community by providing expertise, funding and education to protect and conserve natural resources in the present and the future.”

“This award is in recognition of your endeavors to incorporate new methods in your farming operation to preserve and protect the health of your soil and benefit your soil resources,” the District Manager, Penny Bishop stated in the award letter.  “By demonstrating these soil stewardship methods to improve your soil health, you have shown how the health of the soil is of utmost importance and we anticipate others in agriculture will learn from your actions.”

We couldn’t be more pleased. Twenty years of hard work at improving soils here at the farm — through rotational grazing, cover cropping and composting, just to name a few of our regenerative practices — have been recognized by a state agency. When your eyes are on the soils, when your body is aching with exhaustion, when your nights are sleepless with worry, when your mind is constantly thinking of new ways to complete a project, it’s difficult to see the forest from the trees. An award like this forces us to lift our heads up high and be proud. Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the help of apprentices that have rotated through these fields and gardens, the ranchers that have preceded us and continue to help manage our pastures, plus the steady hand of Anne Lefevre, who’s been gardening here commercially for the past eight years. Thank you to all!

The local Daily Planet newspaper featured us in a recent article announcing this award. Check out the article by clicking here.

Now if we can just find a succession farmer that wants to compliment Anne’s work by taking over the livestock operation! We’ve been challenged by this notion: how do we keep the farm productive — protecting the soils, the ecosystems, the water systems and ponds, the pastures, the infrastructure, the farmhouse — into the future? This is an “all hands on deck” type of project.

Meanwhile, spring is springing here at the farm. The signs are so obvious: the snows here on the mesa have mostly melted, the red winged blackbirds and meadowlarks have returned from their winter hiatus and singing their beautiful song, the elk are quietly grazing in our irrigated pastures, the springs are alive with water and the temperatures are rising well-above freezing during the daytime hours. It’s a special time of year. The high mountains are still holding a bountiful snowpack, which should provide plentiful water for the summer irrigation season.

In fact, although it seems as if winter flew by with relatively scant low-elevation snowfalls, the San Miguel/Dolores River Basin holds about an average amount of Snow Water Equivalent, based on over 50 years of historical record-keeping. For this we are most grateful.

Enjoy some of the following images from around the farm, taken recently:

In early winter, some of our neighbors’ mama cows were intensively rotated through our demonstration pasture. We have been obtaining soil samples from this pasture in hopes that the intensive rotations can be applied elsewhere on our 65 acres of irrigated pasture. And who knows, if demonstrably successful, this management system may be applied elsewhere on the mesa to improve soil health and hydrology throughout the countryside.
The elk have definitely found a home here! As part of our regenerative efforts, we welcome all forms of wildlife to the farm.
We did manage to receive a few good snowfalls this winter, but the snow never piled up on the farm.
The sunsets never disappoint on Wrights Mesa!
These are the bucks that got away! They too can find refuge here on the farm, and are part of a resident deer herd that pastures on our healthy grasslands.
What more can you say?! Vedder is the most precious, intelligent, loyal and outgoing dog we’ve ever had. She embodies the spirit of this amazing place.

We hope this finds you well.

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