As a young adult, Henry Day of Millican, Tex. left his family’s ranch and spent years living and working in Houston, returning frequently to visit throughout the years. Upon his retirement, he came back for good and began his grassroots journey to restore the long-neglected soils and pastures on the ranch.
Day ranches on 157 acres, which his grandfather purchased in the mid-1800s. Nutrient-deficient soils and visible erosion problems made it an intimidating prospect, as did the overgrown pastures, which were covered in mesquite, weeds and thick underbrush.
“I had to come in and clean up everything before I could start doing anything,” Day recalls.
He credits Wade Ross, state director of the Texas Small Farmers and Ranchers Community Based Organization, who has spent hours with him on the ranch, his fellow CBO members and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s technical and financial assistance with guiding and educating him about best management conservation practices that have helped restore the ranch’s soils and forages.
NRCS has helped him implement conservation practices such as planting grass on pastures, adding cross fencing to pastures to allow for rotational grazing of livestock and creating a pond for watering the cattle. Day has participated in Farm Bill programs such as NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
Day met the land restoration challenges one at a time and with patience. And his focused, hard work has paid off: today his ranch has healthy, productive soils and open pastures and forages for his livestock to graze on.
“That information from NRCS was the best information that any farmer or rancher can get anywhere in the state of Texas. I know, because this is a very good program and all you have to do is follow the directions that they give you, and it pays off. It works,” Day says.
In fact, his stewardship efforts were recognized when he received Texas’ Region IV Soil and Water Conservation District 2012 Resident Conservation Rancher award.
This award and his land stewardship efforts are a new chapter in the long, storied history of the land Day looks out across today.
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