The first stop at was an FRSG cage, where Iric Burden, Steve Cassady, and Laura Dorsey explained what the 23+ years of data shows about elk and cattle useage on the ranch.
FRSG stands for 'Forage Resource Study Group,' and it monitors plant impact by grazing three times a year.
The discussion here ranged from the current worthwhileness of the monitoring to what other 'landmarks' could produce the change in data we saw between the 1990s and the early 2000s.
Kit explained what she sees as the purpose of the monitoring, and how she uses it on the Flying M Ranch.
Bob Prosser detailed the importance of measuring precipitation more accurately in FRSG.
Our crowd at this first stop was mainly ranchers, cowfolks, and agency representatives, but there were a few 'civilians' to balance it out.
Our second stop was at the exclosure, a short drive up the road. There was a contest to guess how large this 60+ year-old exclosure was (according to Google Earth, 13.1 acres). Janet Krones and Kit Metzger won, both guessing 12 acres, the closest guess!
Musket and Frenchy stayed in the truck for this stop.
Eli and Emery relaxed in the truck, too.
Steve and Beverlee Cassady with one of their dogs, Allie.
After walking around inside the exclosure, we moved outside the fence. Some more guests joined us by this time.
Iric got Emery and Eli to help out with this lesson.
Andrew Brischke, UA Cooperative Extension Research Specialist (center, in the white shirt) introduced this part of the day.
We had quite a beautiful afternoon to work with.
Andrew is holding a range monitoring tool as Iric explains what we're going to be looking for (different types of plants, and the amount of ground cover).
Andrew brought a neat tool - a special program on his tablet - that makes this type of range monitoring so much easier, and taught us how to use it.
Kit takes a turn on monitoring, as Laura runs the tablet.
Listing what species we see in the square.
Next, Laura got to use the tool and Judy Prosser was on the tablet.
What do you see in the square?
More guests have joined us, and the discussion shifts to the monitoring a few of us did beforehand, comparing what we saw inside the exclosure (where no cattle are allowed) versus outside (where the cattle graze).
Next, we walked to the other side of the exclosure - still outside, but we had a very different 'look' of the pasture. Can you guess what Iric is standing on?
There were some rain clouds gathering on the horizon by this time.
A: Prairie dogs! Their presence on this side of the exclosure showed that they have a drastically different impact than the cattle do. What was most interesting was that the prairie dogs went right up to the fence, but didn't go inside the exclosure. Can you guess why?
Back at camp - setting up dinner!
Andrew, Steve, Carl, and Bob relaxing by the fire. You can see some tents behind them, and then the canyon!
The Camp-out is a great place to catch up with old friends: Duane, Bob, and Bruce swap stories.
Not only for old friends, the Camp-out is a perfect setting for new ones! Greg and Norm get to know each other, with Chaco patiently waiting for her own dinner between them.
That's ranch ingenuity if you've ever seen it!
The winds were getting too strong and blowing out the grill, and we had an extra card table, so . . .
A perfect wind-shield for some perfect burgers.
The fire still burned hot, but wasn't the ideal location for that many burgers.
Denise, Shawn, Janet, and Diane meet each other and talk about their relationship with the open land.
Andrew, Carl, and Orso.
Serena, Ellen, Ellen's folks, and Jason wait for dinner.
Iric and Will compare Texas ranching experiences.
Later, Duane by the fire.
A breakfast fire! Two pots of coffee, a pot of washing water, and the lid to the gravy pan.
We had a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy, with leftovers from the night before!