The modern environmentalism movement was born in reaction to humanity’s extractive and destructive effect on the natural world. Our solution has been to cordon off enclaves protected from human activity, such as national parks and nature reserves, and to resign ourselves to destroying whatever isn’t protected. Contrary to this popular narrative, ranching is a form of sustainable land use that is capable of returning human beings to the environmental equation. The North American prairie evolved in the presence of massive herds of bison; biologically, the grasses depend on periodic pruning by grazing. In the aftermath of the United States’ near complete extermination of the bison, ranchers’ cattle can fill the ecological role that bison once played, while providing an economic rationale through beef production. Conservation and production can thus coexist and even serve each other, and people and their livelihoods can be integrated into the natural world. But this lifestyle is on the decline, challenged by modern circumstances. For the first time, over half the world’s population resides in cities. Land-based livelihoods are disappearing worldwide, and younger generations in the United States are leaving agriculture at a faster rate than the occasional newcomers can replace them. However, as more and more people are leaving the land, our environmental consciousness is growing, and paradoxically, we are even more in need of responsible stewardship. It is at this current crossroads of tradition and modernization that the future of humans and their relationship to the land will be decided.


The Mother's Wish Foundation opens doors for exceptional female students from Tibet by providing scholarships to support their studies at the middle school, high school, college and advanced degree levels. Without outside financial assistance, these young women would be forced to drop out of school and earn their livings as herders or farmers. Mother's Wish is one of the many programs envisioned and established by Machik to create new opportunities for communities on the Tibetan plateau. For more information: tiny.cc/machikmwf Music: Soul Birds by Ryan Taubert (via themusicbed.com)


The core of Ranchlands' ranching operations is rotational grazing. The majority of our time is spent preparing for, executing, and checking on the rotation of cattle through pastures in a migratory fashion.



"When I was a kid, instead of carrying an iPad or a video game, I carried a rope everywhere I went, and if a dog came by or my little brother or sister, they'd get roped."

At Ranchlands, we use ropes to catch animals that need doctoring or branding, since being roped out in the pasture is a far less stressful experience for cattle than having to be brought into a set of corrals somewhere.

In this video, Duke Phillips III talks about the art of roping–the subtle techniques, such as positioning your horse with precision and keeping the herd of cattle calm, that go beyond basic skillfulness with a rope.

Original Score by Brent Rowan