By Matt Rockwell: Desert Mountain Grass Fed Rancher


Years ago, my daughter, Jessi, wrote an essay for school titled, “The Circle of Life”.  In it, she talks about the cycle of how a bug eats a plant, a bird eats a bug, a coyote eats a bird, dies and returns to the soil.  Worms eat the coyote, worms feed the plants…and the cycle repeats.  Pivot grazing has me thinking in circles so this all fits together pretty well for me.



Over the years, we have tried many things, growing corn, selling hay, commercial cattle, etc.  For the most part, it seems like everyone got paid but me and I began to see the Co-op fertilizer and spray salesman as a drug dealer, a villain of sorts, telling me I needed to do more and more.


As I began to educated myself on soil health, I turned a new leaf over the last few years.  I reconfigured fences and piped water to use the feed properly, rest the plants and soil so that the circle of life has time to do its thing – soon we were seeing positive results!

With the plant litter (thatch) and manure, we see moisture retention, biological activity in the soil increasing, Production is up and cost is down and it feels good to be building the soil instead of tearing it down.  I told the Co-op guy to stop by and we’d talk about fishing…but if he brings up spraying and fertilizer, I might just sic the dogs on him!



Adjusting our breeding season to our weather pattern has also helped our health and conception rate.  We’re finding that slowing down and following nature works pretty well.


It is very satisfying to feel like I’m building the soil and taking the best care of my cattle, in the process. Being part of Desert-Mountain has provided us a way to market good stewardship practices.  That is what I’ve always wanted, tall grass and fat cattle!

Desert Mountain Grass Fed annual summer meeting- 2017 McCall, ID




As I watch the circle of life with the plants, bugs, cattle, etc., I realize, as I get older, that same cycle applies to me. Then, I see the next generation coming with renewed hope and strength and it comforts me as I complete the circle of life knowing that I’ve left things a little better than when I started and hopefully I’ve helped teach them to do the same.

Riatta Rockwell

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