With each swing of the ax and cut of the chainsaw, David Pi was clearing the way for his dream of one day having what he calls a “ranching place.” In 2009, he bought 39 heavily wooded acres about an hour east of Houston that he envisioned opening up into pastures for the cattle he dreamed of owning one day.
“I always loved the outdoors and livestock,” says Pi, who lives in Houston and is a project manager for an oil and gas company.
During this time, his quest for knowledge about growing forages and raising cattle took him to the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s Ranching and Wildlife Expo. It was there that he came across the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) booth, where Pi found the missing piece to transitioning his land to a sustainable operation. NRCS employees staffing the booth urged him to come to the nearest field office to take advantage of their expertise.
“I don’t have any hands-on knowledge,” says Pi. “That is the missing part.”
So Pi took his book knowledge on ranching and visited his local NRCS field office in Liberty, Texas, sharing with the staff his vision for the property.
NRCS District Conservationist Phillip Stewart was immediately impressed with the methodical research and five-year plan that Pi had put together for his land.
“Sometimes when an urban producer walks in the door, they come with some pretty wild ideas. That was not the case with David. He had been trying to remove invasive woody vegetation by hand for two years and realized that method was taking too long. When he walked in the door he came with a thirst for knowledge,” says Stewart.
Pi and NRCS staff sat down and worked up a long-term conservation plan focused on addressing resource concerns on the property such as soil erosion, while setting Pi up to receive some financial assistance to implement conservation practices, including brush clearing, grass planting and cross fencing for rotational grazing.
Pi hired a contractor to finish the job of brush clearing with a bulldozer. With that once seemingly endless task now almost complete, it’s just about time to plant grass. Pi is now expanding his plans for the land to include adding water sources such as a livestock tank and cross fencing for rotational grazing.
And so Pi’s ranching dream is quickly becoming a reality.
“I can’t wait for the day I have my cows here,” he says.