Earth Day is an everyday thought for Arizona’s beef farmers and ranchers. This lists only includes 28 ways Arizona ranchers care for the environment, but we promise there are many other ways. Caring for the land, their cattle, and you, the consumer, are the most important priorities for Arizona cattlemen and women.

  1. Maintain and introduce habitats as homes for numerous endangered and threatened species including Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, and the Mexican Gray Wolf.
  2. Utilize rotational grazing in which cattle are moved to different pastures every few days to prevent overgrazing. 
  3. Maintain proper nutrients in soil by regularly analyzing soil samples. This also helps to determine if nutritional supplements are needed to help meet cattle’s nutritional needs.
  4. Implement conservation tillage so that soil can be conserved and available moisture used more efficiently.

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    Photo from the Menges Ranch.

  5. Manage streams and sensitive wetlands to create a buffer that helps prevent bank erosion, helps control runoff and improves fish habitat.
  6. Utilize beef production practices and tools to raise more beef with fewer natural resources.
  7. Arizona mines use cattle to slow water runoff on tailings slopes by feeding oat hay and allowing cattle to graze down the slope while depositing organic matter and encouraging trails which help to reduce quick moving water.
  8. Utilize biofuel on cattle operations. The grain by-product of ethanol production, distillers grains, are fed to cattle as a nutritious source of energy.
  9. Fertilize fields with manure from cattle feeding operations to reduce fuel needed to manufacturer synthetic fertilizer.

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    Photo from Pinal Feeding.

  10. Protect open spaces through programs like conservation easements, to ensure ranchlands and wildlife habitats are protected from development for perpetuity.
  11. Utilize solar power to harness Arizona’s plentiful sun to power ranches including electric water pumps to provide water for cattle and wildlife.

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    Photo from OX Ranch.

  12. Create retention ponds to protect waterways from excessive runoff and to contain rain water for cattle and wildlife to drink.
  13. Provide habitat for ground nesting birds including the Bobwhite and Gambel’s Quail. 
  14. Operate methane digesters, which capture methane from manure decomposition and utilize it to generate electricity for the farm.
  15. Participate in university research projects that aim to improve agricultural environmental practices.
  16. Compost cattle manure into fertilizer products that can be used by golf courses, athletic fields, gardens, etc.

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    Photo from OX Ranch.

  17. Practice Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve grasslands, soil, and wildlife habitat.
  18. Plan soil nutrient management systems to control nutrient runoff and to minimize the need for additional nutrients to grow crops.
  19. Monitor and document effective practices and regularly solicit input from University of Arizona Extension Agents to improve resource management. Ranchers also work with the university extension programs to receive a continued education.

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    Photo from ZZ Cattle Co.

  20. Control invasive weeds and reduce plant fuel build-up on grazing land so it doesn’t turn into hot and dangerous fires.
  21. Install irrigation systems that efficiently utilize limited water resources.
  22. Facilitate fish passage at irrigation diversions so migrating fish can continue to spawn in creeks.
  23. Install fish screens in ditches so that fish do not get trapped.
  24. Partner with state, local and national environmental agencies to monitor land, water, and wildlife, and make improvements.

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    Photo from Garcia Ranches.

  25. Hold up water on ranchlands for extended periods of time in order to replenish underground aquifers and filter out nutrients and particulate matter.
  26. Improve plant density, work to eradicate invasive plant species and encourage native forages, promoting healthier rangelands, allowing cattle to graze and consume forages that convert to healthy, nutritious beef.
  27. Feed cattle crops that are grown locally to reduce fuel needed for transportation.
  28. Use windmills to harvest wind energy into usable mechanical power.

This is a short list compared to what is done on ranches to ensure the land is cared for properly. Work is also done to recognize others in the beef community who have made long-standing contributions to the preservation of the country’s natural resources through the Environmental Stewardship Award.AZ Top 10

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Photo by Kathy McCraine of Jim O’Haco

Ranchers: Jim and Jeanne O’Haco.

Arizona Beef Council: Where you are located?
Jim O’Haco: Our ranch is located 30 miles south of Winslow, Arizona sitting at an elevation of 6,200 – 7,000 feet. We raise mostly Black Angus cattle along with black baldy (Hereford/ Angus cross) cows who are bred each year to raise a calf. We sell first-calf heifers and bulls, along with calves in the spring and fall.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch.
Our story begins in 1898 when my grandfather Michel O’Haco came to this country from the Basque Pyrenees in Europe. He immigrated at the age of 14, landing at Ellis Island in New York and made his way cross-country to Phoenix. He had an uncle who was a sheep man around Wickenburg, who promised him work upon his arrival. He saved his money while working as a herder and eventually bought his own sheep, and thus the O’Haco Sheep Company was started.

For many years, he acquired land and continued to increase his sheep numbers and ranches. In 1946, he was the largest sheep man in Arizona, with properties all over the state, including summer ranges in the northern plateau and winter pastures in the Salt River Valley around Phoenix, Arizona.

My grandfather had 4 children, but only one son, MJ O’Haco, (my father). MJ was attending the University of Arizona when World War II broke out. He was assigned to the last cavalry unit but ended up in the infantry when the horses sank at sea; he served with honors as a Captain. At Nuremburg, Germany, MJ was shot twice in the back by a sniper while saving the life of a commanding officer, which left him paralyzed and unable to walk. At this point, my grandfather began dissolving his holdings, as he figured his only son would never be able to ranch. He kept his best properties, the Chevelon Butte Ranch and the Divide Ranch in Wickenburg.

After five long years, my father regained his health and married his Army nurse (my mother) in 1946, eventually having 8 children. My father returned to Chevelon Butte, and slowly began the transition from sheep to cattle. MJ continued to ranch until his death in 2001.

Fast forward and here is a short history about myself. I was born and raised in Winslow, attended the University of Arizona earning a degree in Animal Science and a minor in Range. I was accepted into veterinary school, but returned home and started running the daily operations of the ranches, which at one time consisted of four ranches and a small farm. My entire life has been devoted to the outdoors and agriculture.

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Pictured: Jeanne and Jim O’Haco, Senator Jeff Flake, and Mike O’Haco

As we’ve learned from our past blog posts, conservation and proper land management are important topics. When did you start conservation projects? What is an example of a conservation project?

Range conservation projects have been a part of our outfit for as far back as I can remember. My father switched from sheep to cattle in entirety in 1948 -1950. He fenced the perimeter, then cross fence pastures, as well as built earthen tanks to provide water to the livestock.

In 1995-1997, the ranch started discussions with the Arizona Game & Fish Department (AGFD), the United States Forest Service (USFS), the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD), and the Natural Resource Conservation Service on a water project we now call High Point. A severe drought had been in existence for several years, and the concept of developing a well that could gravity flow water lines to several different pastures and open country that had no water was the vision and goal. Management agreements with the AGFD, ASLD and USFS were finalized, and the project began in 1998 when a well was drilled that would supply 40 gallons a minute from the depth of 1,350 feet, operated off a 35KW generator with a submersible pump.

A 100,000-gallon storage tank was erected on a state section, on the highest point on the ranch, and connected plastic pipelines. As time and money permitted, more lines were trenched over the following ten years, with drinker troughs strategically placed in pastures that needed additional water. To date, with gravity flow, approximately 35 drinkers (steel troughs holding between 750-1000 gallons of water), and 42 miles of buried pipeline, supply water to 60,000 acres. The last trough is 25-30 miles from the storage tank, all watered by gravity flow.

By providing more water throughout the ranch, it has improved range conditions with the distribution of animals ensuring they are not walking to the same water daily and killing vegetation. The water is cleaner, as it comes out of a storage tank, then to the water drinkers. The average rainfall in the area is between 12-18 inches per year, with an average being 16 inches. All earthen tanks are still cleaned regularly and maintained for rain water and run off. We have not had to haul water since 1998.

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Jim, pictured at the water tank. Photo by Arable Media.

 

How do these water improvement projects effect the wildlife on your ranch?
Water is provided year-round for all animals and critters. After our cattle are removed, the lines are not shut off. AGFD helps maintain High Point Well while we provide the daily operation of starting and maintaining the lines and AGFD helps with the fuel expense and replacement of generators when needed._MG_6935What restoration projects have you done on the ranch?
Grassland habitat restoration has taken place across 15,000 acres through mechanical mastication of invasive juniper and other brush to enhance grass growth and restore habitat restoration by at least 30%.

Supported by the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Apache- Sitgreaves National Forest Black Mesa District, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Elk Society, Arizona Antelope Foundation, and Winslow Elk Habitat Partnership Committee, we’ve restored, enhanced and/or improved livestock management practices on more than 20,000 acres of private, state, and federal lands.

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Photo of the ranch by Arable Media.

 

What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
One is being able to produce good, quality livestock. The other is to improve the habitat I have been blessed with, leaving it better for the next generation.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Hard work.

The most important question! What is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like it prepared?
A juicy cheeseburger, well done, with all the fixings is the best!!

 

Meet Your Rancher: The Murphys


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Ranchers: John and Joan Murphy of the OX Ranch

Ranch Location: 15 miles northwest of Congress, Arizona off the Date Creek Road.

Arizona Beef: Tell us about your ranch.
The Murphys: The OX Ranch is a desert ranch consisting of 65,000 acres of private, BLM, and Arizona State Trust land located 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The ranch also leases a 30,000-acre summer grazing allotment in the Coconino National Forest south of Flagstaff, Arizona. We are a cow/calf ranch with 650 Black Angus, Hereford, and Brahma-cross cows, using Angus bulls of a diverse genetic base. Operating in harsh desert conditions, our goal is to produce a smaller-framed animal needing less forage to sustain itself, the ability to thrive in high temperatures, calve unassisted on the open range, and the genetic potential to grade choice or prime at the harvesting facility.

Animal health is a primary focus. The ranch has been an active participant in the Beef Quality Assurance Program for many years and is registered with Premise ID, and the National Animal Identification System.

What have you done to improve the ranch?
The OX Ranch has an enormous amount of history and through work with various partnerships (i.e. Natural Resources Conservation Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, U.S. Forest Service, Arizona State Land Department, University of Arizona and UA Extension Service, and the Prescott Audubon Society) we have been able to take a run-down and abused ranch in the desert and return it to a healthy state, both economically and environmentally. A few completed projects include the eradication of invasive species in two riparian areas, the fencing of three riparian areas to allow controlled grazing, the placement of solar pumps on desert wells to assure reliable water for cattle and wildlife, and much more.

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What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch?
It is our belief that few individuals in the state realize how many ranchers work to improve the health and productivity of the land they’re managing.

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How does wildlife benefit from the improvements made to the ranch?
We enjoy the many varieties of wildlife and love seeing our winter flock of Canada geese fly overhead several times daily. The geese, as well as our deer herd, are seen in the alfalfa fields regularly. Both lakes attract waterfowl year around, and a pair of blue heron have taken up residence. All the watering facilities on the ranch have access for wildlife in compliance with NRCS specifications designed to protect all kinds of desert dwellers. All new cross-fencing is wildlife friendly with smooth lower wires. Quail nesting habitat was created by piling up vegetation removed from the fields, offering protection from predators. An island was constructed in the lake to promote safety for ground nesting waterfowl.

Many trees have been planted for birds, and provide a continuous route from the lake, along the fields, and on down through the riparian area. As recommended by the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, this assures connectivity of habitat – an important aspect for birds. Audubon Arizona, in their state publication, recently identified 5 Arizona birds whose numbers have declined from 63%-93% due to loss of habitat and development. Maintaining ranch lands was cited as an important way to counteract this trend.

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What practices on the ranch have made a difference in how you raise cattle?
Many practices have affected our ranching business, with the sustainability of the land always key to those efforts. Just the investment in numerous water facilities, including 20 solar well pumps, 9 well pumps on grid power, 57 stock ponds, 26 water storage tanks, 138 drinkers made from metal or concrete along with 150 miles of fencing, 150 miles of dirt roads, and 43 miles of water pipeline, has enabled the use of thousands of additional acres of grazing land by cattle and wildlife, allowing for a more consistent annual impact. We have been able to increase our herd size, and have modified our grazing methods and rotation of pastures to improve forage health. By employing the most stringent health practices available and having the willingness to scrutinize and invest in herd bulls that are both geographically suited to our area, and have the best genetic makeup for our specific needs, we have made significant improvements in herd and carcass quality. All these steps have translated into higher production and greater profitability in the product we market.

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What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
We have a passion for caring about the land and caring for the land – that is what ranchers have done historically and continue to do.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
John – Hard work
Joan – Commitment

Meet Your Rancher: Dan Bell

We’d like to introduce you to Dan Bell, 48, of Nogales, ArizonaIMG_2828.

Arizona Beef: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:

Dan Bell: I am a third-generation rancher with a degree in Renewable Natural Resources from the University of Arizona. I am married to my wife of 23 years, Roxanne. Roxanne is a middle school science teacher and is also the advisor to the Arizona Junior Livestock Association. We have three children – Aidan is 9 years old and in the 3rd grade, Matt is 17 years old and a junior at Nogales High School, and Katie is 20 years old and a sophomore at Pima Community College and transferring to the University of Arizona College of Agriculture in the fall. Our ranch is a family held corporation called ZZ Cattle Corporation. It is comprised of 9 family shareholders, my parents, George and Juby, my uncle and aunt, Tom and Charlotte, my three cousins, Scott, Thomas and Chris, as well as my sister Jessica and me. Management of the ranch is handled by my cousin Scott and me, with input from my father and uncle.

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Dan and Roxanne with Wilbur and Wilma.

The ranch got its start in the mid 1930’s when my grandparents Thomas and June Bell acquired the 61 Ranch which was largely made up of a Forest Service grazing allotment. Over the years, the ranch operation has grown to Forest Service grazing, a State grazing lease, private land and private leases. In the beginning, the cattle herd was Hereford and in the 1980’s we began the transition to the Black Angus herd it is today.

We pay careful attention to our genetics, to enable our livestock to perform in our country, while at the same time providing the consumer with what they desire. We raise our own replacement heifers to put back in the cow herd and purchase high quality purebred Angus Bulls to achieve our desired outcomes. We are Beef Quality Assurance certified and do our best to constantly move forward, improving our cattle and the ranch.

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Photo credit: Tucson.com

We ranch along the border with Mexico for approximately 10 miles. The size of the ranch is approximately 35,000 acres, with a stocking rate of about 1 cow to 50 acres. We are home to many endangered species like Mexican Spotted Owl, Lessor Long Nosed Bat, Chiricahua Leopard Frog, Sonoran chub (a minnow) and we have even had Jaguar presence. It is also home to wildlife like Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Javelina, Coatimundi, Mountain Lions, Mearns Quail, and much, much more.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?

The biggest change we’ve probably experienced with regards to technology would be our record keeping. Tagging animals with individual identification, along with the use of computers and spreadsheets has allowed for more information to be collected and stored and is easily reviewed and evaluated for the cattle we raise. Cattle handling equipment has also come a long way, as it provides safer environment for the both the rancher and livestock which enables us, as ranchers, to obtain data and perform Beef Quality Assurance practices.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way you raise cattle on your ranch?IMG_2824

Sometimes it is alleged that ranching has a negative impact on the environment. However, I would submit that the opposite is true. Ranching and raising cattle have positive impacts everywhere you look. They provide open space over large landscapes, enabling wildlife connectivity. We take pride in what we do. We monitor vegetation on a yearly basis to ensure we are meeting resource expectations. Through our water developments, we are providing reliable sources of water not only for the livestock we raise but also because the wildlife has become dependent upon it. The strategic placement of our water facilities allows for more uniform distribution of livestock and wildlife over the entire ranch.
We also utilize rest-rotation grazing management that allows us to graze pastures in a pattern that allows for each of our pastures to receive growing season rest 2 out of every 3 years. As ranchers, we are most interested in assuring that resources we depend on year after year will continue to provide for generations to come. If we are successful in that endeavor, then we know the livestock and wildlife will thrive.

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What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for all to consume?

As ranchers, it is important for us to continually monitor our livestock to ensure the herd is healthy. In regards to our ranch, we are certified in Beef Quality Assurance programs that provide a frame work to follow and implement best management practices for livestock handling, vaccination protocols, and preconditioning our livestock to ensure sickness is not a factor.

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What would you like people to know about you and the work you do to raise beef?

Our family takes pride in what we do. Through our livestock, we take a renewable natural resource and convert it, into a safe and wholesome product, beef! It is an awesome responsibility when you consider that only about 1 percent of the U.S. population is providing the nutritional requirements for the country and a lot of the world.

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If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?

Rewarding!

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Matt Bell gathering cattle at dawn.

Lastly, and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?

This is extremely difficult to answer because there is a cut of beef for any occasion. For special occasions and holidays, a standing Rib Roast is on the plate. For gathering with friends, it has to be the Flank and Skirt Steaks prepared Carne Asada style. But, perhaps my favorite cut is the Ribeye.

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Springtime in Arizona

Arizona is a beautiful place, but spring happens to be one of the prettiest. This is the time of year when the desert comes alive. Flowers bloom, the grasses make a feeble attempt to grow, random rain storms erupt, and calves are born. Enjoy this collection of photos from various locations across our state.

A special thank you to Dean Fish, Cassie Lyman, Tina Thompson, Arizona Ranch Reflections, and Dan Bell for letting us share the views you have on your ranches.

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Janice Bryson promoting beef at an Arizona State Cowbelles event.

This piece was written by Janice Bryson, a great asset to the many organizations she is part of including the Arizona State Cowbelles. Janice’s family has a long history in ranching in Arizona and with their Irish lines, this seemed a perfect opportunity to feature the history of her heritage. Enjoy the history of a great Irish family who made their lives in Arizona along with a delicious Irish Beef Stew recipe to help your family celebrate the holiday!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  We Irish like to think everyone has little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and while it was originally a quiet day of church and family in Ireland, I think the Americans decided to make it a much more rowdy celebration which has spread around the world!

My great-grandfather William Ryan, born in County Tipperary, Ireland, arrived in the Globe mining camp in January 1881.  Several years later, he met my great-grandmother, Anna Mary Moloney, who come to Globe from County Limerick to work for her Uncle Denis Murphy.

Many Irish headed to the American West to strike it rich drawn by the reports of silver, gold and copper strikes.  A number of military forts were established to protect the miners from hostilities around the newly established mines and settlements.  This was a great age in Arizona Territory for an entrepreneur; who was going to feed and supply all the miners and soldiers arriving daily?  Many pioneer ranchers and farmers stepped up to help fill the needed food supply.

Most cattlemen in Arizona Territory followed the Texas system of ranching – cattle were left to graze on the free range to take care of themselves without supplementary feeding.  Denis Murphy branded the Wine Glass and ran his cattle northeast of Globe.  He also ran a butcher shop in conjunction with his ranch and even offered home delivery service.  The butcher shops would slaughter their cattle outside of town, doing the work at night. The meat would be cooled in the evening, brought into town before daylight and hung in homemade iceboxes. The shops would usually be sold out by noon and remained closed until the next morning.

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Denis Murphy and his cowboys lined up at the Wine Glass Ranch outside of Globe (1895).

We do have one story about Denis that has been passed down in family history.  He didn’t like his cowboys to ride the best horses into town on a Saturday night and tie them to the hitching posts outside of the Globe saloons.  He preferred the old horses to be stolen if there was a horse thief in town.

William Ryan became the night foreman at the Old Dominion Smelter and bought and sold cattle as a sideline.  He was also a livestock inspector and with his brother-in-law, John Moloney, established the first real dairy in Globe using range cattle.  I imagine they were a far cry from the current fine dairy cows we see today.

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Ryan cattle crossing the Verde River at Box Bar.

In later years, William and his sons leased rangeland on the Apache Reservation in the White Mountains for their cattle.  His oldest son, William Albert, was my grandfather who with his bride Edith settled in an isolated cabin on the Reservation in 1912.  The Apache men had not seen many caucasian women and would watch her through the window when Will was out riding.  She would offer them lunch which they gladly accepted; eventually, the novelty wore off and they no longer watched her.

While we still have isolated ranches, think of the days of no roads and riding horseback to the ranch house.  Will and Edith’s oldest son, William Paul, was born in White River and placed in an Apache papoose to be taken to the ranch.  At the age of 2, he walked behind a man chopping wood and was hit in the head with the back of the ax.  Will grabbed him and rode horseback many hours to the doctor in Fort Apache. Little William recovered but Edith was a very worried mother for four days before she knew if her son had survived his accident.

My father, Emmett Ryan, continued in the cattle business and in later years my family had cattle ranches at Florence Junction, Wenden and my favorite ranch, the Box Bar on the Verde River.  Lots of fun memories of them all for my family.

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Round up of Ryan cattle gathered off the reservation (1929).

Life was tough in Arizona Territory and we are thankful we have so many modern conveniences to make our life better today.  Thank you to those pioneer cattlemen who persevered against all odds to provide food for the new Territory.  After all – those hardy pioneers needed plenty of ZIP – zinc, iron and protein provided by beef – to do their jobs.

St. Patrick’s Day was not all work and no play back in the day – St. Patrick’s Day Balls were held in settlements with heavy Irish populations such as Globe, Jerome, Bisbee, and Tombstone. Globe even held a baseball game between the “town boys” and the Old Dominion Copper Company on St. Patrick’s Day in 1890. Before either side had gained a point, the only ball burst.  It was stuffed with rags and the game continued with the town boys prevailing in the end.  Wonder what the baseball players of today would think of that game?

An Old Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.  May the wind always be at your back.  May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Irish Beef Stew from Fidel Murphy’s Irish Pub, Grand Cayman

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and sauté until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add beef stock, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, melt butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden, about 20 minutes. Add vegetables to beef stew. Simmer uncovered until vegetables and beef are very tender, about 40 minutes. Discard bay leaves and serve topped with chopped fresh parsley.

 

The Menges Family and their ranches are in Graham and Greenlee Counties, where they run a cow-calf ranch. Please enjoy the interview below to learn more about this ranching family.

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The Menges Family.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch:
Jeff is a 4th generation lifetime rancher. He graduated from NMSU with degrees in range management and animal science. He grew up in Catron County, NM, on a forest service ranch. We have three sons; Ben, Mark, and Luke. We have two ranches operating as one unit along Gila River and Bonita Creek areas.

How does the technology you use now differ from the technology that was passed down to you or that generations passed may have used on this ranch?
The use of ATV’s instead of horses on the ranch has made us a great deal more efficient than in generations past because we can check waters, cattle, fences, etc. much more quickly. Also, solar technologies are advancing rapidly and now are available to draw water from wells as deep as 800 feet. We use solar technology on many of our wells on both ranches, which is clean energy and a reliable resource for us in Arizona.

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Moving cows on the ranch is made easier with ATVs.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch?
Our ranch headquarters is relatively easy to access, and we welcome those who would like to learn more about ranching to visit the ranch. We engage with the local community a great deal by hosting ranch day experiences, meetings and workshops.  One misconception is that grazing riparian areas is detrimental to the resource; however, we have proven that that is not the case, in fact, it is highly beneficial.

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Menges Ranch headquarters.

What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch every day to make sure you are raising safe beef for the consumer?
Providing the cattle with adequate nutrition and clean water to drink all year long are the most important things we can do as ranchers to keep our cattle healthy

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A beautiful ranch view.

What is the most important piece of information that you would want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch every day?
We believe  if we take good care of the land, it will take care of us and our cattle. We believe in careful stewardship of the natural resources, which in turn allows us to provide a safe and wholesome product for the consumer.

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Jeff Menges horseback.

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Diverse

Lastly and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Grilled rib-eye steak

Editor’s Note: Suzanne is an extremely progressive and active member of the Arizona State Cowbelles and the American National Cattlewomen (ANCW) as well as a founding member of her local chapter. The Cowbelle organization works to promote and educate about Arizona beef by interacting with consumers at various events such as the Ranch Day programs Suzanne has helped put on for many years. This program offers the opportunity for school-aged children to visit the ranch to experience and learn about all aspects of ranching in southeastern Arizona. Dr. Menges is currently developing a leadership training program for ANCW. She didn’t brag much about herself in these answers, so we wanted to do a little of it for her. 

Ranchers: My dad, Ruben Garcia, and I, Samuel Ruben Garcia, ranch on the Rancho La Playa, Rancho El Fresno, and Rancho Santa Gertrudis. My uncle Ramiro Garcia ranches on the Rancho La Higuerita and my uncle Sergio Garcia is on the Rancho El Alamo Rancho El Henry. All of the ranches are in Sonora, Mexico about 40 miles south of Douglas, Arizona. My wife Christina and I, with our son RJ and daughter Celeste, live and work in Tucson, Arizona.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and about your ranch and what you do now:
I grew up around cattle ranching and it has been a lifelong passion of mine. A majority of my time has been spent working with my family on various ranches. When I was growing up, ranching was a tough business, but I stayed true to what I enjoyed and pursued a career that kept me close to my passion. Growing up in Mexico was great, but there was a limit to the amount of education I could receive and my dad decided it was a good step for me to learn English and further my education in the United States.

At age 11, I moved out of my home and made a new home with Alfonso and Teresita Gonzales, who were working for the Dobson Cattle Company in Benson, Arizona. They took me in as if I was their son and added an abundant amount of knowledge about cattle and horses by doing the many chores expected of a ranch kid. After three years, I moved back to Douglas, Arizona where I finished high school.

After high school graduation, I attended two years at Cochise College and finally decided to transfer to the University of Arizona (UA) where I received a Bachelor in Veterinary Science in 2008. I then spent a year at the ranch with my dad to reenergize before venturing back to the UA to complete a Master’s in Animal Sciences in 2011 and a Ph.D. in 2013. After graduation, I took a job as a Lecturer in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. In 2014, I started as the manager of the Food Products and Safety Lab, which includes an animal harvesting facility, where I am now. I still continue to ranch with my father.

My grandfather was an accountant-turned-businessman-turned-rancher. He was a cattle buyer for many years and was able to purchase most of the ranches owned now by my family.

The ranches are desert ranches. Many improvements have been done to make them successful. Infrastructure that includes water distribution and storage, cattle working facilities and fencing have been our focus.

How did your ranching background get you to where you are today?
From ranching, I learned hard work and dedication, which have been most relevant to my career. You should never give up on your goals but remain flexible in how you accomplish them.

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Dr. Garcia with Zane Campbell, a 4-H member from Kingman, AZ after winning the Steer of Merit Award at the 37th Annual Mohave County 4-H Carcass Contest.

What are some common misconceptions that you think people may have about the way your raise your beef on your ranch and what happens in a harvesting facility?
One important thing to note is that most citizens in Mexico are still one generation away from the farm and ranch, so they know the reality of how food is raised. I’ve noticed people in the US, who are, on average, three generations away from a farm or ranch, are removed from how food is grown and raised.

There is also a misconception about the quality of Mexican cattle. The reality is that cattle raised in Mexico can be quite competitive with cattle raised in the US and are held to high standards while experiencing many health checks before entering the US market.

As to the Food Product and Safety Lab which houses the UA’s harvesting facility, we strive to be transparent in all we do. We serve as an educational facility for both students and Arizona ranchers while also providing meat for the community and harvesting services to Arizona farmers and ranchers.

What is the most important thing that you do on your ranch and in the harvesting facility every day to make sure you are raising and preparing safe beef for consumers?
At the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab, we ensure that all strict USDA regulations are followed. Protocols are in place to ensure the meat produced is safe and wholesome for my family and the consumer’s family to eat!

At the ranch, we make sure health and nutrition of the animals are the number one priority. With healthy animals, everything else falls into place.

What is the most important piece of information that you want people to know about you and the work you do on you ranch and in the harvesting plant every day?
I want to emphasize that the meat produced in the US is the safest in the world. Also, Sonoran ranchers who export cattle into the US are contributing to this wholesome food supply.

 

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Dr. Sam Garcia can be found at the University of Arizona Food Product and Safety Lab at the Campbell farm.

 

 

If you could describe in one word the life of a rancher, what would it be?
Sensational

Lastly, and of course most importantly, what is your favorite cut of beef and how do you like to prepare it?
Aged Ribeye grilled on mesquite with sea salt/coarse salt. Medium Rare.

aha-logoValentine’s Day and Heart Month make such a cute couple, don’t you think? New evidence shows lean beef and heart healthy diets go pretty well together, too. In a new study published in the January 2017 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Wayne Campbell, PhD, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, and his research team conducted a review and analysis of 24 clinical trials on daily red meat intake and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Many doctors recommend that patients limit red meat intake to less than 3 servings a week, but this new study shows that eating greater than 3.5 servings per week does not negatively affect short-term cardiovascular risk factors, such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol.  These findings can help put to rest some of the outdated notions against red meat consumption.

Putting all this great info into action takes delicious recipes. For the past six years, the American Heart Association has approved eight whole muscle cuts of beef and extra-lean ground beef for use in their Heart-Check mark program. We are excited to announce beef’s involvement in a new recipe certification program by the American Heart Association that we hope will inspire you to incorporate beef into heart healthy meals. Here are some examples of approved recipes that feature beef cuts that also meet criteria for “extra lean:”

confetti-beef-taco-saladConfetti Beef Taco Salad

citrus-marinated-beef-and-fruit-kabobsCitrus-Marinated Beef and Fruit Kabobs

sweet-potato-beef-mash-upSweet Potato Beef Mash-Up

 

Beef and Wine: A Classic Match

Beef and wine have an undeniable affinity for one another. The profound, meaty, complex, rich flavor of beef is complemented by a beverage that’s equally complex, savory and delicious. Nothing fits the bill better than wine. There’s also the all-important issue of texture. Mouth filling concentrated wines provide just the right counterbalance to beef’s dense texture. Like the perfect gastronomic seesaw, a sip of wine makes you want another bite of beef, and a bite of beef makes you want a sip of wine.

There are wine and beef pairings for every taste and preference. From a full red which pairs perfectly with prime rib to a sweet white which combines with stir-fry or Thai inspired dishes, you can find a combination to fit even the most discerning palate. Below is a list of our favorite recipes which require wine, be that in a glass at the dinner table or as an ingredient, with a few sips stolen while you cook it up.

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Perfect Pot Roast by The Pioneer Woman
The cooking guru herself admits on this recipe that the perfect pot roast is hard to come by. This method gives you the secrets to preparing this mythical dish correctly every time.

the-braxton-22rub22-your-meat-will-thank-you-4The Best Meat Rub and Beef Tenderloin Recipe: The “Braxton” by Fantabulosity
An extra special night deserves an extra special cut of beef, and the tenderloin is that cut. Jessica at Fantabulosity has got you covered with the perfect way to prepare this yummy cut, and a glass of full red wine is the cherry on top.

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Braised Short Ribs by Anne Burrell
Because these are always a huge hit and you need a recipe to guide you down the right path.

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Wine-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak by Beef It’s What’s for Dinner
What better combination is there. Some wine, a grill, and beef? None. There is no better trio. Be sure to serve it with a medium red wine.

3-simple-steps-for-stir-frying-13 Simple Steps for Stir-Frying Beef 

In only 3 easy steps you have a stir-fry fit for an emperor. This meal pairs perfectly with a glass of sweet white wine.

For more information on beef and wine pairings visit our website for a complete guide. Good luck and as Julia Child always said, “I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food.” Happy cooking!