Red Lodge: Healthy Meadows, 2019

Despite wet September snow, more than 50 people attended our final Soil Crawl of 2019.

Ivan and Chia Thrane cleaned out their 100 year-old barn for attendees to gather indoors with space heaters, hot dandelion tea, and fresh knapweed honey on September 28. Ivan opened the day by sharing the story of his family ranch, the work his grandparents put in to survive the long winters, and the creativity of his neighbors to survive Montana droughts. One family saved their cattle by feeding them nutrient-dense thistle, the only plant growing that year.

This Soil Crawl focused on the importance of every plant and animal on the range. “Everything we do, we want to focus on how we encourage what we want to grow and succeed,” said Thrane, “not on how to kill what we don’t want or understand.”

The Thranes manage their own land – as well as public and private lands across Montana – with goats. While this has been a successful solution on some operations, it’s not right for everyone. Ivan explained, “You really have to understand the history of where you are to understand why things are growing where they are… The same treatment does not do the same thing on different land.” The Soil Crawl ended with freshly smoked goat meat, neighbors playing bluegrass, dancing and stomping, and a warm fire outside to warm up. It was a perfect way to wrap up a great summer of soil crawls!

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