I was reading an article the other day written by the generic name of Mr. Ecology. His opening paragraph about how important it is to save water to help California get through our present drought is very noble. Every right-minded person would surely want to be part of the solution. But here is where Mr. Ecology and I disagree. His solution and mine are light years apart. Albert Einstein, though genius with his famous game changing Theory of Relativity nor William Shakespeare, poet and writer of verse that will always be inspiring have never raised a tomato, or carrot. Perhaps Black Angus is thought to be a sexually transmitted disease among these geniuses, so they wouldn’t be my choice to solve our water woes. You ask who might be able to shed some light on the problem? I believe that I can help. My profession these past 57 years is a Grass Man that provides grass for my cattle to graze upon. Grazing is a natural and necessary part of Mother Nature’s plan that our environment needs to succeed.
I would like to take you all back in time about 200,000,000 years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The herbivores were the grazers who moved about mostly on 4 legs. The carnivores like Tyrannosaurus Rex who traveled about on 2 legs. The omnivores ate everything in sight like us humans. If eating almost anything is part of my D.N.A. sign me up as a meat, vegetable, fruit, ice cream and cake eating vigorous 80 year-old. Mr. Ecology never mentioned exercise so I assume that he doesn’t consider it important. But for me a two mile hike five out of seven days a week is as necessary as the food that’s going to give me the energy for my hike.
But I want to get back to water conservation and show you how Mr. Ecology has “cooked the books.” Cattle will drink pretty close to 1 gallon of water for every 100 pounds of live weight. Let’s say that a Grass Fat Steer ( an altered male) lives for 24 months and now weights 1200 pounds. His average weight is 600 pounds so he drinks 6 gallons of water a day (more on a hot day but in the winter some days he will get all his needs just from the grass). Doing the math ( 2 times 365 days = 730 times 6 gallons / day = 4380 gallons. Only 1/2 of the steer is meat so we really have 600 pounds of meat so I’m going to divided 4380 by 600 pounds of meat = 7.3 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat not 1,800 gallons. If you want to consider the total weight, it has value for making leather, the heart and liver are enjoyed by many, and the rest is put to many uses so that nothing goes to waste. I think I’ve made my point that the other half of the steer has value. Then using the total weight: a steer weighing 1200 pounds and living for 730 days consumes 4380 gallons of water, it then takes 3.65 gallons of water to help produce 1 pound of live weight steer. To use Mr. Ecology figure of 1800 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of beef is pure fantasy. Again doing the math 1800 gallons of water times 1200 pounds of beef animal = 2,160,000 gallons of water. Now let’s divide 2,160,000 gallons of water by 730 days = 2959 gallons of water per day! This poor steer would have to drink over twice his body weight every day of his entire life. Talk about animal cruelty…
The next example that is irrefutable would be a toilet that is leaking 1 ounce of water / minute times 1440 minutes in a day = 1440 ounces divided by 128 ounces / gallon = 11.25 gallons per day. That is enough to water almost 2 of my steers each day. Hopefully I have demonstrated that Mr. Ecology was merely picking numbers out of thin air, that if you didn’t know the truth any person would sit up and take notice.
To Mr. Ecology, diatribe of irrelevance and missinformation. There is only one word to describe his article: STUPID. So how does a responsible steward of the land help to conserve water and care for the land? Allen Savory is a gentleman from Zimbabwe Africa, who created a way to save the land and those that live upon it using a thought process called Holistic Resource Management. When I was dealing with our last drought (1985 to 1991) I was using the long held traditions of the cattle industry and watching my neighbor, but I knew down in my soul that that these methods weren’t working. I had to make changes but I didn’t know how. Thank you Allen Savory for in 1991, I spent 3 days opening my eyes to mind changing ways to become Mother Nature’s ally instead of her adversary. I learned to assume that the decision I was making was wrong for if I thought it was right I would never have changed it. Then I tested and monitored the decision. If it didn’t pass the holistic test then I needed to change what I was doing to a way that considered the whole. Mother Nature in many ways has showed me that she is quite giddy with my new found way to care for the land and all the critters that call the V6 Ranch home. I have a 3 word motto that always keeps me in good stead working around the ranch “SLOW DOWN WATER.” If a decision increases the speed of water (rainfall, evaporation, well water) something is probably wrong with what I want to do. Jack, you had better rethink what you’re doing!
I once heard that Monterey County was about 2,000,000 acres in size. It really doesn’t matter… what matters is what is happing to the water on 2,000,000 acres. Is it mostly running to the ocean because we either paved it all over or we bare the soil which speeds up water? Bare soil is also hotter in the summer than soil that has a coat of growing things, or summer dry grass and organic matter. The hotter the soil the more water is evaporated into the atmosphere. It won’t be around to migrate into the underground aquifers where Mother Nature banks her water not needed at the moment for growing things.
I like crunching numbers because they show a person how I arrive at answers. Doing the math tells me, if I save 1″ of water and sequester it in the soil I will have saved 2,000,000 acres X 7.5 gallons / cu. ft. X 43560 cu. ft. = 653,400,000,000 gallons
divided by 12″= 54,450,000,000 gallons on 2,000,000 acres 1″ deep. Divided by 7.5 gallons /cu. ft. = 7,260,000,000 divided by 43560 cu. ft. / acre = 166,667 acre feet.
If you save one inch of water that is 47% of the volume of Lake Nacimento which is 350,000 acre feet. I recognize that Bean Counters don’t like numbers that are subjective because we can’t measure exactly how much is sequestered. But I do know this process has been going on since the beginning of time and the aquifers of the world were once full. So let’s recognize that we humans are the problem and the solution. Let’s start by using valid numbers not the ones that fit somebody’s misguided agenda.
To all you deceivers out there, here’s a piece of common sense I think from the Bible that might help to give you a satisfied mind: Seek the truth and the truth will set you free.