12. Let's Talk About Success Baby, Let's Talk About You an' Me.......

There are things that go well.


There are well heeled folks out there that only want the finest for their organizations and will have nothing less. I’d like to honor a ranch in Paradise Valley, MT. The above video shows the state of their trophy waterway on property. No algicide or herbicides were applied to the water by me during my management tenure, although the staff did inform me that rounds were applied in previous seasons, but the same issues continued to persist.

I went about outlining my maintenance proposal using non toxic products that I had good results with on other slightly smaller but similar waterways. Often times when a big account comes along inquiring about this kind of work we’ve already come highly recommended or the client will seek references. But in this case, ironically enough, came along because a previous contractor claiming natural remedies did not satisfy the needs of the water owner. It was assumed I had pesticide applicator skills to utilize if needed and I did. I was a very responsible and accurate applicator but that’s like saying Josef Mengele was a talented research scientist.

My intention on this was to pull a toxic to non toxic bait and switch by promising to fall back on the poison that didn’t work in the first place if the scientific method of biology didn’t work for some reason.😑 Goddess give me strength. But I am a hell of a salesman. Too bad I don’t want to sell insurance or something, rather than eco solutions. My life would be easier. Or I’d have to kick my own ass like the messed up dude from Fight Club.

It worked like an absolute charm. They nearly forgot pesticides for water even exists even though the barn was still full of aquatic rated 2-4d and who know what kind of stuff for the hay fields. Ranching is hard and when a former auto giant CEO tries ranching in retirement they have to fall back on “established” methods. But this former CEO had a love for nature and a sharp observation of operations. He stands up against gold mines and industry creeping into Yellowstone Country. Yup big mining is trying to get into gold around Yellowstone and copper around the BWCA in northern Minnesota. Two of the worlds premier wilderness destinations are a focus of big industry plunder. 🤨 How much is enough people?

This Gentleman ranch owner does right. He’s trying to naturalize without fear of big loss due to natural ranching issues. Tough balance to achieve but sustainable methods improve constantly. And his managers are locals who are serious about the health of the land and water. The Yellowstone flows right through and springs flow from the wetland bottoms of the property. With a name like Paradise Valley, you could imagine the natural beauty of the area. The video above shows…

There was a big bloom of elodea one summer on Pond # 6 on the back side of the ranch and we raked and raked but could barely keep up. The management wondered if herbicide was called for. One morning with suspicion in my heart I got out there early to see if the irrigation pivot was blasting that pond with overspray.. Sometimes fertilizer is applied to hay fields via swing pivot or the blast is strong enough the water can be muddied in nutrient rich runoff full of manure and topsoil. Sure enough Sherlock got a nice long video of what was happening to pond # 6 twice or more daily. I sent the video to management and they got on the issue. All we had to do was backtrack the biological issue causing nutrient overload that fed the aquatic weed bloom. We held off on herbicide and the bloom subsided into late summer.

Oddly there was a massive fish kill on Pond # 5 at that same time and there was suspicion that maybe someone did bomb the waters with herbicide, which at the wrong time of year can leave a rotting mass of vegetation that rips oxygen from the water column while the deadfall is composting. That kills fish. I double checked with the General Contractor and confirmed no one applied chem. to any pond per the original plan. I spoke with the ranch manager in charge of the fisheries and natural works on the land, tree planting etc. He said there was an oil slick on the water and all fish dead and floating. I asked him if he had to run from any big lightning storms lately and sure enough he said absolutely. The day before a staff member noticed the fish kill a big super cell ran everyone on staff inside for cover because lightening was indeed striking on the land and probably pond 5. We all became pretty confident the pond got hit by lightning. Natural causes….. And pond six despite a nasty dragon weed bloom, that’s what I call elodea, (it’s an amazingly invasive native plant) recovered and hopefully this year behaves, it should if not industrially fertilized accidentally. The fish are hungry healthy monsters. And the entire waterway of the ranch is World Class. That family and community can live off that land and water indefinitely if society crumbles to reset, and are continuing the work necessary to make it sustainable. Success!

So that was a huge lesson for everybody. No matter how we think we can control nature. We can only control our role in it. We can prevent chemical mishaps in water and land management just to have lightening strike and kill our livestock anyways (trout are livestock out here as well as mythical wild creatures, like bison). But the stock that remains is non toxic and pure for the family on the ranch and the consumers at market. And who or whatever is mutilating cattle please, stop, they hold no secrets. 👽 The chicken however…..listen to Third Stone from the Sun by Jimi Hendrix. “with your mysterious majestic cackling hen, your people I do not understand, and so to you I shall put an end, and we shall never hear surf music again.” ✌️

All in all my work for several seasons on The Ranch was an overwhelming success. I put to use with complete confidence the method I had arranged to tackle water issues with only non toxic means. I’ll always remember the level of pride I’d head out and back with on maintenance runs. The main company and myself made good economic gains and there would end up being dozens of acres in many valleys across the region that would see similar treatment. Herbicide use was slashed immensely in the prime years of that work. The balance is delicate and it’s now up to a few major companies in the region to follow suit and keep up the effort. Unfortunately my confidence and salesmanship is not entirely in the mix presently. I have to wait out a few chemical applicator retirements and the market may soon swing my way again. I’ll need an enthusiastic and hopeful investor. I can’t do this as an Island. And I can’t expand the conscience of nature alone. From the outskirts of the wilderness. I’ll need to hit the Lake Management conference tour again and display my method in front of the chemical giants in the hope a few interested parties would consider a pure cure to water problems. There will also be other ways to do this work aside from big battles against toxic competition.

A web site will need to be built and non profits and other organizations like Seagrant can be utilized for educating on a bigger scale. I’ll have to use my old fashioned sales skills to sell knowledge, well I’ll be giving it freely. Just need some fish to eat. 

Footnote: In the video above is a human made waterway with a grid powered recirculating stream. After a season or two of food chain building maintenance protocols to fight weed and algae issues rather than pesticide, we started to see trout spawning in captivity. A new wild breed of fish was born in this human construct. That’s as close to divinity I can get, without going over.. The Price Is Right too.