By Mike Scott
Sweet Home Ranch in northern Clark County has a long history. Brad and Heather Nelson manage Sweet Home Ranch with their sons Caleb and Jed.
Heather’s grandfather, Ed Vance, purchased the ranch in 1963. His son, Eric, Heather’s father, took over later. Around 2008 Brad and Heather moved into the 1890’s farmhouse took over the operation of the ranch, which they call “A land flowing with milk and honey.”
On Thursday, June 18, Missouri State Conservationist J.R. Flores visited Sweet Home Ranch to see firsthand how Brad and Heather do things differently.
Sweet Home Ranch, as its name implies, is a ranch. The Nelson’s don’t raise row crops, although Brad is experimenting with a small patch of no-till corn.
Their well managed grassland is divided into parcels. A two acre pond, constructed with the aid of the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), provides water for the animals in all the grazing areas. The grassland is closely managed to continue improving its yield.
“We wanted to do thing differently,” Brad said. “Doing it differently allowed us to not spend a lot of money and become more profitable.”
What do they do differently?
The Nelsons have around 50 grass fed Red Angus/South Poll cross cattle. They don’t vaccinate, and they don’t use any dewormers. Chickens provide the fly control.
They have around 100 ewes, with about 250 total sheep, which are guarded closely by dogs. The sheep are a low maintenance, no shear breed that sheds its wool. Like the cattle, they’re not vaccinated, and don’t have their hooves trimmed. They market the lambs when they reach about 65 lbs.
“We try to do as much as possible naturally,” said Brad. We calve and lamb in May. Around here, the deer have babies in May. If God set it up that way, there’s a good reason for it.”
The ranch also produces honey from a dozen hives.
“If we could sell grass fed beef like we sell honey, we’d be millionaires,” Brad joked.
Continuing with doing thing naturally, they only take about 50 lbs. of honey from each hive per year, assuring that the bees will have enough to survive the winter.
Heather also makes soaps using their own goat milk, and they also raise golden retriever puppies.
For more information, visit sweethomeranch.us.