The V6 Ranch Conservation Easement: Defined

I believe that the spirit of this agreement should address the goals to be accomplished and the methods used to accomplish these objectives.

Upon the signing of the Conservation Easement, a vacuum was created by the fact that the Varian Family L.L.C. could no longer use the sale of a portion of the ranch in order to cure economic or family difficulties. The question then becomes: how do we fill the vacuum in a way that satisfies all the parties that have an interest in the sustainability of the V6 Ranch?

First, all the noble goals that this land can provide the ranch must be managed in ways that will keep it solvent so invoices are paid. Second, a policy of flexibility that allows a diverse number of practices to be employed, thus insuring that a sustainable landscape for the good of all will be preserved.

The following practices at this time we believe give management the elbow-room to operate the V6 Ranch, but it should not preclude that the future will undoubtably present new ideas that must be given fair consideration. If they have merit and meet the ranch goals, then they can be implemented.

  1. The right to amend this easement shall be maintained.
  2. The use of grazing animals that will allow the symbiotic relationship between grazer and grass to flourish is so granted.
  3. In order to provide a sustainable neighborhood for wildlife to thrive the management will emphasize the need to provide feed, water and cover.
  4. Hunting and fishing is a sustainable and necessary part of good game management.
  5. The enjoyment of the land by the public is an admirable use and will help keep The V6 Ranch economically sound. The types of recreation that are allowed must not diminish the sustainability and quality of life on The V6 Ranch.
  6. Decision making is an endless process which effects the quality of life for every living thing on The V6 Ranch. Therefore, good decisions will be grounded by considering the whole: how a decision affects the speed of water (slowing is good, speeding is bad); is the The V6 Ranch stewardship reliable and beneficial?
  7. With the ever increasing human population and our ability to literally move mountains, climate change is most likely. The V6 Ranch will do its best to help reverse climate change on our land by harvesting sunlight. We will use grazing animals to harvest growing things so the soil is left covered with litter. This encourages the percolation  of water into the soil and reduces soil temperature, thus reducing evaporation. The V6 ranch will encourage photosynthesis, the natural process that converts sunlight into organic substances (chiefly sugars) and removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (one cause of global warming), helps green things grow, sequesters carbon to the soil and puts oxygen back into the atmosphere. The V6 Ranch has the best of intentions to help arrest climate change, but we all must recognize that part of the natural course of events is chaos from drought, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes and more that can lay man’s best plans to rest. So once again, flexibility is a necessary component of good management.
  8. Mutual trust and respect, if they are present then all of the above can happen, if they are absent then we will all collectively suffer the cost of mistrust

The Varian Family L.L.C.

About the Cow 101

Elise, the Borden’s cow, was the love able cartoon mascot representing Borden’s Milk Company of a bygone era. Elise has been around longer than we humans have, but her form was very much different. I believe her counter part was Dino the Dinosaur that four-legged, affable, slow-thinking, grass-eating machine. Dino’s job back then was much the same as Elise’s job is today: to eat the grass that grows on every continent of the world to sustain herself. By  sustaining herself she sustains the soil that feeds the grass by pooping, peeing, dropping saliva and worn out hairs on the soil. Those things become the food for  all the critters that live under the soil surface. They can then feed the grass above the surface to feed Elise. This then is the symbiotic relationship between grass and Elise.

In Dino’s time there were mostly two-legged predators (meat-eaters like tyrannosaurous rex that fed on the sick, the lame and those with birth defects). The predator animal couldn’t afford to get hurt so he was an opportunist that has no qualms when he  picked the weakest and  left the most formidable and viral to breed with a healthy and beautiful bevy of ladies.

Two million years later Elsie is part of a herd of grazing cattle that, until we humans came along, found their safety in numbers grazing fairly close together. When threatened by a pack of wolves or a mountain lion the cows put the young in the middle of the pack and the weakest of the herd were pushed to the outside edge of the herd. The predators of today acted exactly as the predator of 2,000,000 years ago and herd health was maintained.

There is now another very important part of this symbiotic relationship between the grass, Elise and the predator and that is the time spent grazing a particular area is critical. When a group of grazing animals are frightened by predators, grazing stops and flight starts. The predator gets his prey and the herd has moved on to a fresh area of tasty new grass. What is left behind looks like chaos but actually this partly grazed, trampled, fertilized with poop and pee will now be left to rest and recuperate for as short as a month but more likely several months before the herd reappears to repeat the cycle of life. This process is called Herd Effect, a very necessary part of our ever expanding symbiotic whole.

Well we don’t have wolf packs or other predators in sufficient numbers to maintain herd effect so we humans will now inherit the roll of predator. So it’s up to me, as steward of our ranch, to be like the conductor of a symphony orchestra. First I must know the score I’m going to play. The music that I will ask every living thing to play has been written by Mother Nature. When played well, her music makes the most beautiful sounds. The trouble is it takes years of study and practice to create the symbiotic whole. The conductor must be agile and willing to change to meet the ever changing conditions that can be man caused by greed, stupidity, bad governmental regulations, laziness and I’m sure you readers can think of many more. Conditions can also be nature made, i.e: droughts, floods, sickness and more. But the really good conductor can solve most all situations that he encounters if he keeps Mother Nature’s words and music always in front of him.

To close I want to say to all you single issue people that are unable to consider the interrelationship of all living things you will always be part of the problem, never part of the solution.
See Ya

A Trip to the Status Quo

My son Greg and grandson Kade and I traveled to Tulare in the San Joaquin Valley to for the biggest farm equipment show in California.

We took a back road across the valley floor over a flat expanse that was once the Tulare Lake. One hundred years-ago, give or take a few years, it was home to a teaming megalopolis of ducks and geese. Some say there were 10,000,000 deer and Tule Elk, fish of every kind and an untold sum of other critters that would stagger the imagination. This 130 mile stretch of water sub-irrigated 1,000 acres of Salt Grass that fed a multitude of grazing animals and ground nesting birds. All together this was a chaotic and complex place to make a life but this is the way Mother Nature designed life on this earth to work. I see parallels in the domain of we humans with wars going on in some corner of the planet at all times. Now add in floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, drought and pestilence and I believe this is a normal course of events for us humans.
What’s different this time around is our ability to change our environment in a direction that disregards all of Mother Natures rules.

As we drove across this land of mono-cultures it felt like I was walking on the Moon. From the edge of the pavement to the edge of a tilled field the ground had been scraped and sprayed clean of every living thing. There were no birds in the sky, not a rabbit to be seen, this land that was once home to uncountable millions was now a barren wasteland in my eyes. With today’s modern farming practices, that include: G.P.S. Laser straight cropping rows, soils that have been fumigated, fertilized, given liberal amounts of herbicides, pesticides. The only living thing left was a green growing crop. I’m sure if it had to fend for itself it most assuredly would wither and die.
Now I fully realize that to pull the rug out from under our modern ways to farm would surly leave many of us without much to eat. All I ask for, is to at least ask the question: are we at the top of the food chain caring for the land the best way possible? Is it sustainable for the foreseeable future? If not, why not? I think it’s because I’m going to an extravaganza that spends billions to maintain the Status Quo. I will spend the day getting my annual indoctrination put on by John Deere, Monsanto, the banks that finance this belief system and all the tool makers that build plows, discs ECT to ripe and pulverize the soil. Add in what the proper way to act in this environment is. Don’t ask the question. IS THIS TRIP NECESSARY?
I don’t think this entertaining way to have a day away from the ranch is totally bankrupt as there is much in the way of new irrigation equipment that is very miserly in the use of water and new ways to monitor this precious stuff so it’s not wasted. I also think that some of the new people manning the Organic Booths have already asked themselves, “Is there a different and possibly better way to feed the populous?” But the real money was spent by those that till the soil with tractors and plows much as we have done for the past several thousand years. Follow that with those that practice the Art of Chemistry to kill off chaos and replace it with monotony.
It’s time to head back to the ranch having washed myself in the  blood of the status quo, tasted candy at almost every booth to satisfy my sweet tooth and lubricated my conscious so that I won’t squeal to the world that there may be trouble in paradise.
see Ya

Going West, The Year is 1948

My mother, Winifred Varian, was a prolific letter writer. She also spent the better part of a year taking a life time of family photos, letters, and memorabilia regarding my fathers early life, his years of being a pilot for Pan American Airlines and time with his brother founding Varian Associates, in its formative years and cataloging it all into 7 albums. She believed that if she had not made this gigantic effort all the history and knowledge of my family would now be “just hear say.”

Seems that each new year, for me, must surely have less than 365 days as they go by so quickly. Why it was just yesterday that I was making a New Years resolution that I know I’ve broken because I can’t even remember what it was. But there is one thing I do know, that looking back and recalling past times brings me a great deal of contentment.

A couple of days ago I was browsing through volume 3 of my mother’s collected family knowledge and came across a letter that she had written to a friend upon our arrival to my birth place, California. It was an 8 year leave of absence but my father made it quite clear that when the Great War was over we would be moving back to California. But first, every last citizen in the then 48 states did what ever it took to defeat Japan, Germany, and Italy in a most noble struggle against a tyrannical enemy. It would be 3 more years after the end of World War 2 before we would return to my birth place. For me sooner was better than later.

My mothers letter tells of our cross country journey without my father as he had gone ahead several months earlier to find a place to live and give dawn to Varian Associates. Our trek started July 10th, 1948, and ended July 19th, 1948.

Here then is my mother’s account of 10 days in a 1941 Plymouth Sedan.

Dear Gang,

Left Garden City N.Y. 7:30 A.M. July 10th and arrived in Albany 11:30A.M. Went on to Howe Caverns where we had lunch. None of us had seen caves such as these before, and found them very interesting, although not as colorful as we had expected. We then went on to Skaneateles where we were fortunate in finding a cabin opposite a lake. Lorna and Jack went in swimming and said the water was wonderful and warm as it was at Lake George, our favorite vacation spot in up state New York. I thought this part of the country was beautiful.
July 11th. We went on up to Niagara Falls. The falls themselves and the boat I thought were worth going out of our way for, but with so many large factories in the area it sort of spoiled it for me. Traveling was slow all day Sunday as the traffic along Lake Erie was often bumper to bumper. It seemed as though every man and his family were heading for their favorite resorts. We stayed that night just this side of Cleveland, where we spent 2 hours looking for a Western Union. It seems that they are not open on Sundays or even take telephone calls around those parts.
July 12th. Went through Cleveland during the wee hours of the morning , and saved ourselves a lot of time. Here we saw our first accident. It seems a car stopped short at an intersection and a truck ran into it from behind. The car looked pretty sad, but no one was hurt. From here on we made pretty good time as the roads through Indiana  were excellent. Jacky developed a little kidney trouble on these long hops, but were able to solve this problem with the old standby. The coffee can, or better known at camp, as the “canopy”. Iowa, I thought was the worst state of the lot. Who said it was flat? We went up one hill and down the other for miles, on very narrow roads with soft shoulders on either side. Truck after truck passed us going 80 miles an hour. This makes a nervous wreck out of me, so finally agreed to let Lorna age 16 take over. She had only had the wheel about 10 minutes when a big trailer truck ahead of us hit a soft shoulder going around a curve and rolled over into a corn patch. The driver came out in good shape. Half way across this state we ran into thunder and lightening storms, comparable to those we have in Mexico, and the rain was so blinding you couldn’t see anything through the windshield. We had to crawl along for a couple of miles, however, before we could find a spot large enough and hard enough to park on, so as not to get bogged down in the mud the rain let up. We hit several more of these squalls, but most of them were not to bad. That night we spent in Amboy Iowa and what a racket. Thousands of pigs went by our door in trucks going to market. It seemed as though each one was trying to out do the other by squealing.
July 13th. Was sure glad to leave that part of the country even though it did look extremely prosperous, and went on to Grand Island Nebraska, covering close to 600 miles. This part of the country was flat and barren, but for some reason appealed to me. I guess I like the desert.
July 14th. Were on the road at the crack of dawn and was bowling along at 70 miles an hour when I blew the right front tire. I managed to keep on the road but sure had the jitters for a couple of hours afterwards. Jack did a swell job of changing the tire, although we had one hell of a time trying to get the nuts loose. Never again will I start out on a long trip without new inner tubes. We stopped at Sidney Nebraska for lunch. It was out of this world. A real frontier town. Cowboys sitting outside saloons, or galloping up the road on horseback. Their speech intrigued Lorna. She asked one of them if they liked living in Sidney. His answer. ” You dead bern right.” We arrived in Cheyenne Wyoming during the afternoon and had time to take in a few of the sights before dinner. The days here were warm, the nights cold, the cowboys tall, lean, and handsome. This place fascinated me. I couldn’t say much for the women, in fact I didn’t see many of them. They must hide. Sig met us at the airport the next morning. Was I ever glad to see him. Spent the rest of the day sight seeing and loafing.

( My mother was exhausted as she wasn’t the greatest driver in the world and had called my dad and said ” You’ve got to drive us on to California”)

July 15th. Headed for Salt Lake City, while on the road we witness a horrible auto accident. A car towing a huge house trailer, apparently lost control on a down hill curve, swung into the left lane, the car coming toward them crashed head on. Wreckage was scattered in every direction. One man was killed instantly, the other 6 not expected to live. Lorna and Jack of course, had to get out and take pictures of all the gory details. This held traffic up for nearly an hour, but still made Salt Lake City by supper time. The sunset here was the most beautiful I had seen in years. We drove all that evening, stopping at Wendover on the Nevada side. All the gambling joints were wide open, Jack was thrilled to put a nickel in the slot and win seventy five cents. The money was spent in no time on souvenirs and slot machine.
July 16th. After an hour on the road we had to stop for another accident. The driver must have gone to sleep at the wheel, as he hit the only culvert in miles. The car rolled over several times. All three occupants were badly hurt, and it seemed ages before the ambulance arrived.

( My dad and mom helped all they could to stop those that were bleeding )

This was the hottest day of the entire trip. Fortunately we had our little ice box along so we were able to indulge in real cold beer. I managed, however, to spill a whole glass down my front. I had to hang my slacks out the window to dry, so rode the worst part of the day in my underwear. I was indeed grateful to a rider that was going travel cross country with us backed out at the last minute it would have made the trip difficult. From Carson City Nevada to Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe where we met up with my sister Lillian and her husband. The country was the most beautiful of the entire trip.
July 17th. We spent a good deal of the day down at the lake, hiking through the woods. That evening all the college youngsters that were staying at the lake illuminated their row boats with candles in tin cans and went out on the lake for a sing-song. It was heavenly to listen to 100 or more voices coming across the water.
July 18th. Started for Palo Alto, stopping at various points of interest. At Sutter’s Creek some of the old gold mines were still operating, and Jack was all for getting out of the car to see if he couldn’t find some gold nuggets for himself. That night we arrived at the old home town, Palo Alto and stayed in an auto court.
July 19th. That morning we left for Halcyon were Sig was raised. Arriving there about noon. A great deal of this country had grown tremendously, and there were new houses everywhere. Jack of course made a bee line for the horses and disappeared for the rest of the day with his cousin Sheila. A great deal of arguing went on, but I think by now that Sheila has convinced Jack that a western saddle is quite worth while. At any rate Sig and I had to return to Palo Alto the next morning leaving Jack and Lorna with the Eric Varian’s. Jack is apparently having the time of his life as he has only written once, and from all I can gather they have the poor horses almost worn to a numbing. Lorna on the other hand was still terribly homesick for Wildwood New York, and since we are staying with friends and won’t have a house till September 15th. Sig and I agreed to let her return to New York by Airline but will return in time for school this fall.
We will be renting the Kirkpatrick house on the Stanford campus, for next year. The house has a beautiful garden. It is also completely furnished. The women’s swimming pool at Stanford is right next door, so the kids should be happy.
This part of California, as far as beauty and climate is concerned, has New York backed off the map, but I still miss all my friends in the east terribly, and only wish I was rich enough to call you all frequently, or better still fly out for a good weekend party. I don’t imagine Stanford will tolerate any such parties as we used to have, but do plan to have a real blowout at the new Varian Associates lab. To close our new address will be at 273 Santa Teresa St. Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif. ( Tel. Davenport 2-1757)
Loads of Love to All

I would not turn into a teenager until September 7th, 1948, but I was ready to be a teenage punk and now I’m quite ready to become an 80 year-old punk.
See Ya

A Day to Remember

Monday 3/30/15 was to be the day of our annual trek. Son Greg and wife Tricia and their three boys have their cattle ranch that joins the V6 to the east and each year the family and friends hike to the waterfall. But first there is an Easter egg hunt that for most of my grand children are getting a little old, but old traditions die-hard.


When the hidden eggs were all accounted for it was time to get ready for the main event. This year I wanted to have a little input about the direction that our jaunt would go. Knowing that we always go to the waterfall some three hours hiking time over some pretty gnarly terrain.


My suggestion was to hike in an easterly direction that was a much more ‘user friendly way to go’. Well you should have heard all the new names that I had to wear. ‘Sissy’, ‘Whoosy’, ‘Weak Heart’, “Come on Grandpa you can do it and if you don’t make it we’ll haul you out!”

“Yea Grandpa all that hiking you’ve been doing you can make it!”

Okay, Okay I guess I’m ready so let’s go.


Driving to our jumping off place my demon appeared on my left shoulder and took great delight I’m sure by bringing up the ‘what if game’.


What if I wimp out? What if I over heat? What if I die?


But what if I make it? I’m almost 80, what a testimony to Zee’s and my Daily two-mile hike?


Upon arrival I took couple of deep breaths, slipped my hands into the leather loops of my ski poles that make great hiking sticks, seeing as to how we didn’t get enough snow to make use of them this year or last. I told my demon to go take a hike and that I was in control. Seems like a lot of preparation for the simple process of putting one foot in front of the other, but I felt much better and the thought came to pass that, “You can do this Jack!”


About halfway to the waterfall I was starting to get a little hot but I could see that the creek was starting to run so by sliding on my backside I did a most ungainly entry into a pool of water, but I didn’t care, as it sure felt good. After filling my hat with water and dumping it over my head I was ready to journey on. Have you ever noticed that hiking in rough country, a person doesn’t get to see much of his surroundings as you spend most of your time watching where your toes are going?


We’ve been hiking now for about an hour and a half and as I glanced up from looking at my shoes, there it was; an almost dry Waterfall. But upon closer inspection there was a little dribble that made a small pool of cool clear water. I opened my shirt and poured some water over a grey hairy chest and let it run down to my potbelly.


As I was savoring the coolness, my grand daughter Kathryn looked over and said, “Grandpa that’s gross!” But I knew their was a lot of love in those words. so much for, ‘children should be seen and not heard’.


We lounged around for a while while my thoughts took me to how tasty a hard boiled Easter egg would taste, and if I was home it would be the last thing I would eat. Somebody yelled, “Its time to go!”


Well at least it’s all down hill, and that can also be said about getting older.


See Ya,




The Lucky Ones

I Owe my Soul to the Pacific, Gas and Electric Store

Tennessee Ernie Ford was a very popular singer back in the 50’s and 60’s and turned the song ‘16 tons’ into a number one hit. The song tells a story about a coal miner who loads 16 tons of number 9 coal, and what dose he gets for his labor? “Another day older and deeper in debt, Saint Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t come, I owe my soul to the company store.”


That’s what I feel like when it’s time to start irrigating our pastures for the summer months. I can always tell when my 100 horse power electric motor reeves into action at 9 PM. Every evening our house lights will flicker and my P.G.&E meter will start spinning at super sonic speed, much to the delight of the PG&E bean counters.


Well not this time PG.&E. For the solar generation is coming to my rescue. This is a new option for all of us that somebody has invented. It’s a way to take light (photons) from the sun and trap them with a solar panel made of silicone that converts these Photons into Electrons (electricity), for at least 25 years and probably 50 years after that.


Our state and federal government, wanting more electricity to be generated using solar power, sweetened the pot with some attractive incentive like a 30% reduction in the tax that I owe to the U.S. Treasury. Then add in some depreciation credits, and my bank savings accounts earning a Big Whoop-de-doo 1%, solar makes a lot of sense as a better place to invest.


My return on my investment will be between eight and 12%. So for all of the above reasons, I’m at this very moment building a 90 Kilowatt generating facility to stanch the bleeding from my PG&E meter that is spiraling out of control from a severe case of oppressive meter gluttony.


If this is something that any of you readers out in Blog Land might want to pursue, then get prepared for a process where in my county it will take longer to address all the rules, regulations and some Green Backs, than to build it.  Makes a person sure want to look at his whole card before starting to construct a solar farm. But for me, I still think it’s worth the effort.


First, I want to clarify that my solar farm is really not a farm in the real sense of the word. For there is no real farmstead, only 109 posts in the ground that will be the frame work to mount the Solar Panels to. They are cemented down to a 35″ depth because to be at a 36″ depth would require another Archeological study for possible artifacts below 36 inches.


Next, I find that I’m in a flood zone. But a Topographic map shows that in a 100 year storm the floodwaters would breach the opposite bank. That’s not good enough. Okay, okay I’ll hire a surveyor to tell the Planning Department that what the U.S. Geological map clearly showed was true. In case of a flood, waters would indeed go in the opposite direction from my solar farm. You need a Civil Engineer to draw plans showing a rectangle that evenly spaces out the 109 holes that will receive the posts, which will then marry to the solar panels.


Earthquakes were a consideration but the planning department decided to wave that requirement. They felt it was unlikely that anybody would want to live under a Solar Panel. Well, the day finally arrived when the lady I had hired to do all the leg work, like going to the planning department and hiring the different experts, to give their blessing to my 109 post hole extravaganza.

photo 1

I now find my bank account is a light $10,000, but the good news is I now have a building permit that allows me to put 3″ pipe posts in all 109 holes and fill them with concrete. It’s a good thing the county doesn’t require a permit to build cattle corrals with all their gates and pens, because there would be nothing left to buy the cattle to put in said corrals.


I’m going to sign off for now, but will write again when a PG&E representative says we have joined up, and I’ll be all smiles.


See ya,



It’s Raining! (Late post, don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up)

I knew it, I knew it, I knew that she could do it! Mother Nature couldn’t hold her water any longer and she had to cut lose last night with 1.5 inches of mana from the heavens and the weather prognosticators say there’s more on the way. I’m a happy camper right now, but don’t worry, I will be back to my whining ways if 8 or 10 days goes by without a follow up deluge.

Because I live and die by how much rain falls each year, it follows that a person becomes a real cynic when the weathermen start forecasting how much water Mother Nature will dole out for the upcoming season.

I have before me a copy of the National Cattleman’s monthly publication and a copy of the Farm Bureau’s weekly poop sheet called AG Alert both have Weather Guesser’s on the payroll. In the Cattleman’s corner sits Don Day Jr. Meteorologist and in the AG Alert corner sits AccuWeather, Inc.



Barometer in hand, my dilemma as shown by the two weather maps is that I live in the central part of my state of California. According to AG Alert I live just a little to far south to get any rain out of the storm that just blessed me with 1.5 inches of the wet stuff. This means that Don Day, the hired gun for The Cattlemen wins this round, as he forecasted that the north half of the state would be wetter than normal.


I believe that Don intended for Parkfield to be considered in the north half of the state. Nobody says forecasting the weather is an easy task but I think just once, at least one weatherman in the whole country would say,

“I’m sorry, so sorry for my recent blunder.”

Witness the recent shutting down of New York City for a day. Because three feet of snow was on the move, the ready, the right now, to start falling on New York’s citizenry, only to find on awaking the next morning a little skiff snow that would barely make a Snowball.

But there is a comforting side of, WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE TOMORROW OR NEXT WEEK OR NEXT MONTH? Just think, if the weather people new that much, I’m sure our politicians would be right in there to appropriate some bucks so that they could then start legislating when it was going to rain or snow so that in a 100 years our deserts would be Jungles and our northern forests would be populated with cactus.

And yea know what I think? They’re not going to apologize either.

I go now, knowing at least for the foreseeable future, that weather people (least I get labeled a sexist), and politicians won’t be apologizing for their mistakes, and I can go on sniveling about how these people don’t know as much as the Farmer’s Almanac.

See Ya,







Breakfast Was Invented By Rice krispies

I want to take you back to several hundred-thousand years ago when the land was totally devoid of any golden arches and no  sign of a Starbucks was anywhere to be seen. That meant the only food to fill your belly was the food that you hunted and gathered yourself.

With stealth you got within arrow’s range of your target, but the arrow sails wide of the mark and in the blink of an eye your prey runs away. Your family has also had little to no luck this day gathering berries, acorns and anything else that will make a meal. It’s dark now. Time to build a fire, for it’s quite possible that you are now the prey. On this night, dinner will be a drink of water.

There’s an old saying that says a person can live for three minutes without oxygen, three hours in a snow storm when you forget your coat, three days without water and 3 weeks without food (hope you’ve got a good covering of fat). What this tells me is that eating was a very irregular event, so feast or famine was the norm.

Today for many fasting is defined as the time between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. Not fasting is when you fill the in between hours with eating snacks. I think that fasting is more clearly imprinted on our genes than three squares a day that consist of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The other day I was reading an article in one of my favorite magazines called, Acres. The article, ‘Health in Your own Hands’ by, Dr. Joseph Mercola had one paragraph that validated what I think. He wrote,

 ‘The whole strategy behind intermittent fasting is to replicate our ancestral eating patterns by going through regular periods of not eating. The problem with eating all day is that it causes your body to forget how to burn fat because you never have to. Your body has about 12 hours of sugar stored as Glycogen in your muscles and Liver but when you eat constantly you never run out of Glycogen so you have no need to burn the fat you are storing for a famine so it just builds up in large quantities. The solution is to restrict your eating window to about 6-8 hours. You stop eating at least 3 hours you go to bed, sleep for 8 hours, skip breakfast and wait until lunchtime for your first meal of the day’.

I’m tired of being hood winked by the breakfast food consortium. This band of charlatans that in their quest to raise the bottom line for the likes of Kellogg’s, General Mills, Post and all the rest that have taken every last ounce of nutritional value out of breakfast in search of profit by using what most youngsters can’t resist: SUGAR AND CARBOHYDRATES to addict them.

That’s what I think. And if you follow their instructions carefully mom and dad, you will have given your kids a good start down the obesity trail. This trail has all sorts of wonderful life altering consequences to encounter along the way. A good place to start is with diabetes, then you’ll get lots of trips to the dentist and playing outside loses out to video games and watching a TV set, and somehow a little self-confidence disappears along the way. But what’s a mother to do? Well, we might start by asking ourselves how important is breakfast anyway?

We know what the answer will be if we pose the question to the ‘Cereal Mafia’. They will trot out a legion of nutritionists, all with Dr. preceding their name. Then the public relations people will gallop out to make sure the white wash is applied correctly so that the sanctity of Fruit Loops is secure. Then we can all go home reassured that the best thing that a person can do for his body is to have a bowl full of ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’.

I was raised in an era when if you wanted to be a cowboy, you had to smoke Marlboro cigarettes. And if you liked to listen to music on the radio (before TV), you could tune in and listen to the Lucky Strike Hit Parade, and any baseball player, to be worth his salt, had too in hail  a pack or two of Camel’s a day.

We all know what an insidious disaster that was on the health of ‘We The People’. What’s amazing is how many hundreds of years the Tobacco Cartel was able to keep us all puffing on those coffin nails til’ the cost of participating in that deadly game could no longer be squelched by the Tobacco Kingdom. So today I can travel this land of ours without getting smoke in my eyes.

I’m hoping that lightening might strike twice, and why not? First it happened to cigarettes, they went the way of Humpty Dumpty, who had a great fall; so why not Cheerios, Fruit Loops and Sugar Frosted Flakes? Come on mom and dad, back each other up and buy some apples and a few bananas. Then, take all the junk food, put it in the garbage and when the little munchkin reaches in the cupboard for that box full of obesity fixings they find an apple instead. Then lightening might strike twice.

See ya,


You Can’t Regulate the Wind

Why is it that government agencies always want to create a regulation to solve any and all problems? A friend answered it quite succinctly when he said, ” Laws have to be passed by an elected body and may not happen, but this is not the case with a regulation.”

So leave it to our California State Water Resource Control Board to choose a less messy way to advance their agenda by proposing a regulation. The Grazing Regulatory Action Project (G.R.A.P.) that in their infinite wisdom will tell me how many cattle I can graze on my ranch, in order to address water impacts potentially related to livestock grazing.

This G.R.A.P. aka C.R.A.P. is an acronym that will consider a wide range of alternatives to ensure that grazing has a minimal negative impact on water quality. The GRAP says it will give thoughtful consideration to the cost of compliance to the regulated grazing community. Historical evidence shows quite the opposite.

I’m sure there will be a fee involved for the G.R.A.P. to save we grazers from ourselves and all the nice rhetoric about hearing each other will disappear as the regulation becomes more stringent and the compliance bar is constantly raised to make sure that most ranchers don’t comply. It’s called “job security”.

I don’t think it’s possible to successfully regulate an art form, for that’s what good ranch management is. Ranching is never the same for any two years, let alone any two days. Ranching, done well, is constantly changing, and a regulation that might work for one situation won’t work for another. But I do have a rule that has never let me down, that doesn’t need a regulation that works, every time.

I make my decision on how I affect the speed of water. First, any rain that falls on our ranch, I will use every effort to make those rain drops stay on the ranch as long as possible. There’s a handy little phrase that I carry in my mind at all times:

SLOW DOWN WATER always works. Speed water up, that’s a bad decision, slow water down that’s a good decision. Simple as that.

This type of decision-making doesn’t lend itself well to a regulation, because so much of good ranch management is subjective. I think a better way for the water quality folks to approach their goal of quality water is not with a regulatory whip, but with an olive branch of education and patience. For if you make all the stakeholders furious, then the agency will end up PUSHING A STRING.

What follows are my thoughts after this first gathering on 9/15, the first of three public focus listening sessions has taken place in San Luis Obispo. I’m sitting in my recliner watching some silly movie that I think has some parallels with today’s happenings. I was under the naive impression that the Water Board was exploring a range of options to enhance environmental benefits from grazing.

But in the same sentence, “Protect beneficial uses of surface and groundwater and address water quality impacts potentially related to livestock grazing.” I think this double talk to lull we members of the livestock profession into thinking that the Water Board really wants to hear from us is B.S.

After today’s session I think this ‘dog and pony show’ is just a perfunctory step so it can be said by the water board that we heard from the stakeholders and have duly noted that the grazing community has had their day in court.

The water board probably now thinks that it has a self made mandate to start making a hard copy of the regulations that they have already been discussing IN HOUSE the last couple of years. Water Board, your regulations will fail just like an entity that would try to regulate the wind.

Because livestock grazing is an art form that needs the flexibility to adapt to each new day. Regulations are much too cumbersome to allow for this kind of flexibility. Without the ability to react to each day’s events, your hoped for goal of water fit to drink, will most assuredly founder on the rocks of rigidity.

Looking back over what has transpired it looks like my thoughts pre- stakeholder meeting and post stakeholder meeting haven’t change much. I believe this agency will not attain the results that they want. That said, I believe the board will not deviate from their regulatory ways. It’s in their DNA. The sad part of this regulation fiasco, is the quest for quality water that we all want will not happen. What will happen is my tax dollars will fund an attempt to corral the wind.

See ya,


The Cowboy Side of California