Gilmore Creek Ranch

(Frank) Well good morning, my name’s Frank Harper. This morning we’re broadcasting here north of El Dorado at the Gilmore Creek Ranch. This is an operation, one of three ranches under the operation of Dual Creek Land and Cattle Company. My wife and I were married in 1994, and this was a part of the ranch at that time and so over the years I had an opportunity to spend quite a bit of time down here and learned and got to know the ranch a little bit. And then in 2009 I had the opportunity to lease this place and run this as my own operation. It was a great opportunity. When we started in, things were really going quite well and then we hit the dry weather of late 2010 and early 2011. So a couple of challenges we really saw early on was the deteriorating water quality in our ponds and the low level of those ponds. So we had to make some quick decisions and decide how are we going to maintain our cow numbers through this. At that time we didn’t know how long the dry spell was going to last. So, one of the solutions we considered, we have what we call the Gilmore Creek here, which is what the ranch is named after. A very good water supply, spring-fed water source, and it never did run dry during the drought. But one of the challenges we had with that particular creek is that it’s right next to, it runs directly into El Dorado Reservoir. And one thing we considered when we needed to get more water to our cattle and better quality water to our cattle, being able to use that water resource more intensely. And we decided not to do that just based on the fact that we wanted to be a good steward of not only the water quality, but also the land and the pastures that surrounded the creek. So what we decided to do was put in a more updated water facility through buried water lines, improved a couple of wells, and formed a trap system where we could do a central feeding facility for a good number of livestock, improve the road structure there and then also be able to handle more cattle instead of less during the drought. The first traps we put in were in the fall of 2011. And at that time we had the main goal in mind, was to get the water source and the feeding facility. And we were at that time pretty much exclusively a cow/calf operation. So, my goal at that time was to provide an infrastructure that we could feed a good number of cows and water those cows effectively at the same time. Since that time we found additional uses for that trap. We’ve currently been starting more cattle in these traps, whether that’s southeast cattle going to our stocker program in the summertime or through our AI program in those traps. It’s allowed us to concentrate more cattle closer to our facilities. And in the future I think we’ll continue to utilize the trap system as we learn more about it, how it functions. We’ve built additional traps since that time period. A lot of the things that we learned from our first experience with the traps, we’ve replicated that. Some of the things that we thought we could improve, we tried to do that as well. I think the thing to remember with the trap system that every situation is different, the topography is different, the turf, the grass that you’re going to use and beyond is most likely going to be different. So, most of our traps are brome grass, so we’re learning as we go how we can utilize those effectively. But one thing we do try to recognize is with the trap system we try to maximize the value from each day and not the number of days that we’re in the traps. Because if we use the traps too intensively then we’re going to get back to the situation with a dry lot environment and that was our goal from the beginning to not get into that situation because for lots of different things in a cow/calf operation, calf health is very important. The ability to feed efficiently, all those things come from the traps. But we have to respect that fact that we’ve got to take care of that vegetation that the traps are made up of.

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