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MAGAZINE AND NEWSPAPERS ARTICLES
ABOUT THE
REED FAMILY RANCH
 
 
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REED FAMILY RANCH - TEXAS WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE
 
When TWA members Jim and Judy Reed took over management of this 1,780-acre ranch on the middle Trinity River, it had been overgrazed and overhunted for decades. It was already on a downward slide that would lead to fragmentation among family members or sale to someone outside the family. After three generations in the Reed Family, the land was in the danger of being lost.
 
Water and family involvement turned out to be the magic ingredients that allowed the ranch to heal inself.
 
With a background in systems management, Jim Reed looked for a land management system. He settled on holistic resource management. (HRM).
 
"HRM leads you through a goal-setting process," Jim said. "Within those goals were land stewardship and water conservation, and relationship to native plants to the ability of land to hold and secure water."
 
Those principles have largely guided Jim and Judy's stewardship of the ranch.
Reed with bunchgrasses, cows, and electric paddock fence. With water management, Reed doubled the land's carrying capacity f rom 150 cow-calf pairs to 300.
 
"When we took the place over, it had more cattle on it than needed to be," said Jim. "It was overgrazed and overhunted. I saw what was happening to other places around here as parents died and the kids cut up the land. I wanted this place to be economically sustainable. I had to increase income and lower expenses."
 
The Reeds began working with what they already had. About half of the ranch lies within the Trinity River floodplain and periodically floods. The Reeds installed a water control structure in the dam of a 23-acre lake, and primary duck-hunting area, to allow for moist soil management to improve waterfowl habitat and enhance the quality of water that returns to the river. They also stabilized the dam with cobble to control erosion. Depressions were created to hold water and slow run-off and increase percolation.
 
Native grasses such as Alamo switchgrass and eastern gama grass were planted in the bottomlands both for grazing and to minimize water loss to run-off and evaporation. In a forested wetlands project, they planted 600 cypress and 16,000 oak seedlings. "We tried to move away from a monoculture toward a diversified landscape," Jim said. "When we did plantings, we tried to intermix things as much as we could."
The Reeds planted native grasses such as Alamos switchgrass and eastern gama grass in the bottomlands both for grazing and to minimize water loss to run-off and evaporation. In a forested wetland project, they planted 600 cypress and 16,000 oak seedlings.
 
After considering removing cattle from the place and relying strictly on income from deer, duck and hog hunting, the Reeds decided instead to use cattle both to generate income and improve the wildlife habitat. Jim spent a couple of years on the computer and on the ground designing a 33-paddock, Savory rotational grazing system. Key to making that work was the construction of a 10-acre water supply pond on the elevated portion of the ranch that uses gravity flow to deliver water to each of the paddocks.
 
"We doubled the carrying capacity of the place from 150 cow-calf pairs to 300," Jim said. "The cow-calf operation is very profitable. We could not have done this without separating the place into paddocks, and we could not have to the paddock system without water."
 
Jim fondly recalls summer Sundays spent at a log cabin his fathers and uncles built atop a bluff overlooking the Trinity River.
 
"I wanted to hold onto the place so we could pass it down," he said. "I hope my grandkids' grandkids can still be enjoying it."
 
Web Links:
 
Reed Family Ranch: http://www.reedfamilyranch.com/
 
 
THE REED BRAND OF RANCHING
CORSICANA NOW MAGAZINE
 
Where the Trinity comes wrapping its way around the Kerens-area hills like a wet jade ribbon, family ranching is looked at in a new way.
 
Jim Reed is the third generation landowner of the Reed Family Ranch, and he and his wife Judy are intent on managing the resources found there in a way that will sustain them for years to come.
 
When he inherited the ranch's 1,780 acres, with half the ranch in wetlands and the other half in hill land, he inherited a cow/calf operation that had been host to close family members hunting recreationally for six decades.
 
Jim received some advice he did not follow. "Most everybody I talked with advised me to sell the ranch as quickly as possible and enjoy the money", he said.
 
Reed is finding out that thanks to holistic management - a newer, more well-rounded way to looking at the time-honored Texas tradition - modern ranching can be rewarding in many ways.
 
"It's a belief that we have that anything that moves toward diversity is a good direction for us. Nature is diversified, and the best we can do is to try to work with nature as much as possible....I wanted to make sure it was around for a fourth generation of Reeds." (That future generation is already involved. A son runs the cow/calf operation, a daughter teaches school in Kerens, and her husband leads the hunting operation. Youngest son Jimmy is a student at Navarro College, and he manages the food plots and ranch services.)
 
Income potential and habitat go hand-in-hand at the Reed Family Ranch. Because the Reeds conduct habitat enhancement initiatives and wildlife census surveys, keep meticulous records, and report harvest numbers, their hunting season is about double the number of days it is in other parts of the state. Hunting, in turn, provides an estimated 25 percent of the ranch income.
 
The Reeds manage everything from food supply and herd size to frequency of harvest and harvest mixture - how many buck and doe should be taken each year, a partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that is seen as more important than ever since over 95 percent of Texas land is privately owned.
 
One of their biggest challenges was to balance the needs of the wildlife with those of the cow/calf operation. Although cattle and white-tailed deer do not directly compete with one another for food supply, there is enough overlap - especially in time of drought - that creating adequate forage is essential. With the help of the electric fences to reinforce rotational grazing, the Reeds don't allow cattle in their forested areas during the white-tailed deer stress periods of late summer or the winter months, because they would compete directly with wildlife for food. Because the cattle open up new grazing areas, the deer tend to follow the cattle around, and are seen frequently about two paddocks behind the cattle, Jim said.
 
The Reeds also offer commercial hunting of duck and feral hogs as well as the deer. "There are people from urban areas who need a place to go," he said..
 
On a recent spring afternoon, a group of fathers and sons drove down from suburban Dallas prepared for an early evening feral hog hunt. "Bubba" and his nephew, Seth, were loaded for boar, and whiled away the wait for the rest of their party by fishing in the Reeds' private lake.
 
The hunt for feral hogs has become a deer hunters' sport, extending the hunting season. Hog rootings, "normally cussed and discussed by locals as a problem" are happily received at the Reed Family Ranch, because their rooting ways naturally and effortlessly (for the Reeds, not the hogs, which Jim bills as "pretty well a wild animal with a bad attitude") till the land.
 
"I don't ever have to gas 'em up and they never break down or have flat tires like a tractor can. We've now established some pretty healthy switchgrass and gamagrass in the areas that hogs have 'disked' for us." Jim said with a chuckle.
 
Engineering a holistic ranch is something of a passion for Jim and Judy Reed. They have also planted and re-established native grasses, useful for cattle forage and wildlife cover. Grazing planning incorporates cultivation of separate waterfowl habitat areas to increase food supply at certain times of the year. Bringing in vetch and clover to join the yucca and prickly pear has built a reputation among winged tourists, and helps foster birdwatching.
 
Sometimes they're engineers - and other times, just fascinated observers. In a remote part of the ranch, a pencil cactus alien to North Texas was likely brought as a seed by a vagrant bird. It has grown up intertwined with the roots and the fate of a mesquite tree, and is slowly yielding its existence to the native tree. "There's all kinds of symbiotic relationships here," Judy said.
 
An infestation of army worms had the Reeds scrambling to stop the destructive creatures, but acting on a hunch - based on what he knew about holistic management - Reed decided to find out what the worms' own enemies would do. Sure enough, wasps and beetles moved in, assumed their place in Mother Nature's great pecking order of a food chain, and devoured the worms. Had he simply blanketed the area with pesticides, he would have killed off the worms' predators and might have left the ranch vunerable to move devastating infestations, Jim said.
 
The creation of wildlife corridors has been a hit with white-tailed deer - plots of protein-rich plants like iron and clay cowpeas, alyce clover and buckwheat provide forage.
 
Jim is convinced other species are benefiting from the wildlife corridors they have orchestrated as carefully as any master-planned community. "My feeling is that these corridors are also being used by a wide variety of species such as the cotton-tail and swamp rabbit, bobcat, ground-nesting birds, and a whole host of other species that need cover from predators." he said.
 
Figuring how best to cooperative, not compete, with nature, is a challenge Jim has embraced.
 
"Listening to what nature is saying is one of the best ways I know to make good decisions. Nature already knows what needs to be done and will make decisions for us if we don't do our part. The problem most of us have (including me) is being quiet long enough to figure out what she's telling us...Wildlife is part of all ranches. In order to consider the whole, the wildlife must enter into the planning and monitoring."
 
"This forces us to focus on the big picture, and creates opportunities to listen to all points of view, perceptions of what the real problem is, and a sharing of the best solution for all concerned."
 
The upside for the Reed Family Ranch itself? "The land is getting healthier every year." Judy said.
 
 
 
If anyone would like more information about the Reed Family Ranch, you can email the Reeds and/or add your name to the Ranch Newsletter list.
 
Ya'll Come!
 
 
 
WETLANDS ARTICLE
 
The Reed Ranch consists of 1,780 acres of diversified landscape, which has been under Reed Family operation since the mid-40's. Jim is the third generation landowner of the Reed Ranch.
 
The ranch's landscape (located near the edges of north central Texas' Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairies regions) is very diversified, consisting of forested wetlands, rolling hillsides, open marshes and wetlands, hill land outside the flood plain of the Trinity River, and a large riparian zone which surrounds almost half of its border
 
The ranch's focus in the past had been primarily on cattle and beef production, but when management changed several years ago, the direction was altered to better fit current practices and better serve the needs of the Reed Family Group . Since that time, the ranch has taken on a more diversified approach to operation, utilizing the model set forth by Allan Savory's Holistic Management system. This capability has produced a plan for wetlands enhancement on the Reed Ranch.
 
The first thing the owners did was to plan for what was wanted for the ranch. To them, that meant going through the process of setting ranch goals that were in line with ownership values.
 
Jim and Judy found the best goal modeling process to be Holistic Resource Management. The whole family participated, and Jim and Judy believe that it was one of the best things that could have been done at the time. From that time on, day-to-day decisions have been based on these goals. The involvement of the Holistic Resource Management of Texas organization and its membership has also been important to the ranch's development.
 
Mostly, these goals have to do with four things:
 
- diversification of the uses of the ranch
- maintaining a productive and flexible lifestyle
- being a good steward of the land
- and, using informed decision-making principals which are in line with ranch goals
 
According to Jim "the use of the holistic management process is one of the major reasons we've made the progress we've made. We couldn't be doing what we're doing without this model to follow. When we're trying to make a decision about whether to do something or not, we test our decision against our goals using the seven testing questions that are found in the HRM model."
 
Jim and Judy in Reed Ranch Front Pasture
With Lone Star Award Plaque
(Photo by Waco News Tribune)
 
The Reed Ranch is one of the recipients of the statewide Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's 2001 Landowner Stewardship Awards given to 11 landowners in Texas for their ability to manage resources. This award is given as a landowner incentive to manage in an environmental and fiscally responsible manner. The Reed Ranch has a history of working with other organizations in its operation.
 
Right now, the ranch has several income streams that everyone is enjoying. At one time, the only major income stream was the ranch's cow/calf operation. It's felt that cattle will always be a major player in the overall goals of the ranch. Cattle can be used as a tool in the improvement of the soil and grasses; if a systematic grazing plan is utilized.
 
As of 2005, ranch income support streams come from:
 
- son James Reed cattle management operation
- son Jimmy Gene and son-in-law JimmyK's hunting club operation
- son-in-law JimmyK's group hog and varmint hunts
- son JimmyG's ranch services
- msjudy's homemade soap making
- oljim's Reed Family Ranch website
- and, working in partnerships with federal, state, and other funding agencies
 
The ranch is separated into many paddocks using electric fencing, and a gravity flow water distribution system is in operation.. Jim says "the partitioning of the ranch into smaller operating ranch and wildlife habitat units was one of the best things we could have done. The creation of a systematic grazing system utilizing a paddock design was some of the best dollars we've spent. These ranch divisions allow us to create forage units and wildlife units at the same time."
 
Reed Ranch Electric Fencing Layout
(Drawing by Jim Reed)
 
The uses of these various units are rotated based on whatever best suits ranch goals at the time. For example, cattle are normally rotated throughout all the paddocks, but are kept out of the most wooded paddocks during times of greatest wildlife nutrition stress. The greatest nutrition stress for deer comes during the late summer months and the winter months.
 
There's now a hunting club operation on the Reed Ranch. The creation of the ranch's huntin' and fishin' club has allowed the owners to enjoy many more uses of the ranch and has increased the income flow, too.
 
Jim and Judy are enjoying the hunting and fellowship of deer hunting, duck hunting, hog hunting, fishing, varmint hunting, camping, hanging out enjoying the outdoors with their friends, sharing photo's, and watching the grass grow.
 
The Reed's use the internet to share hunting stories, ranch and hunting photo's, and the various ranch projects. A ranch calendar is also maintained at the ranch website. This calendar is used by the hunting club members and others to know what's going on so they can plan their activities.
 
Jim and Pasture Dream Planter
 
Flowering Eastern Gamagrass Clump
(Photo by Jim Reed)
 
A major emphasis has been placed on the return of some of the pastureland to native grass prairies. More than half of the 1,780 acre ranch is located in the Trinity River wetlands basin. Grasses that were at one time native to the area are being planted to return the soil to its productive conditions once again.
 
The grasses selected were needed to withstand the moisture and other bottomlands conditions. The grasses also were needed to supply ample cover and habitat to wildlife, and produce ample forage for cattle. So far, the two grasses that are being utilized now in the bottomlands for these purposes are alamo switchgrass and eastern gamagrass.
 
Mrs Judy and Seed Ball Machine
(Photo by Jim Reed)
 
Jim in Hog Wallow Switchgrass Patch
(Photo by Judy Reed)
 
Planting techniques include the use of a pasture dream planter, seed balls, and casting seed in soil disturbances left by hog rootings.
 
The forested wetlands project with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has offered an opportunity to meet some of the major goals of the ranch. The forested wetlands project provides for the repair over 400 acres of bottomland hardwood forests that were severely degraded. The management of the ranch's timber and wetlands is now receiving about the same emphasis as the native grassland prairie.
 
Shumard Oak Seedling
February 2000 Planting of 16,000 Seedlings
(Photo by Jim Reed)
 
The Reed's feel there's still lots to learn about timber management, wetland habitats, and native grassland prairies. With the help given by wildlife biologists, Jim believes the ranch is heading in the right direction. One of the ranch's early-on goals had to do with the stewardship of healthy forests, wildlife habitat, and ecological stabilization toward sustainability.
 
Reed Ranch Wetlands Photo
(Photo by Jim Reed)
 
If anybody would like more information about the Reed Wildlife Ranch, email the Reed's; olJim or msJudy Reed. They like email!
 
Add your name to the Reed Ranch Newsletter list by contacting olJim .
 
 
HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT IN-PRACTICE ARTICLE
 
Necessity is the mother of invention, and many Holistic Management practitioners have found that their ability to address a need has improved as they became clearer about what they wanted to achieve in the long run. This deer is part of a herd on the Reed Wildlife Ranch that is thriving because of sound resource management and a focus on habitat as well as economics. Read now about the Reeds' successes and learnings. 
 
HUNTING FOR HABITAT HEALTH
By Jim Reed
Reed Wildlife Ranch
 
I'm a third generation Reed family landowner of the Reed Ranch in north central Texas. Shortly after ownership began in 1998, we began making plans for diversification of the ranch assets and income base, because it was clear that the way it had been run wasn't economically viable, and would eventually lead to the ranch being sold. I wanted to make sure it was around for a fourth generation of Reeds, and I don't think this would have been likely if I hadn't learned about Holistic Management.
 
SEARCH AND ENGAGE
 
When I first took over the family ranch, I searched for an agriculture model that I felt would work for me. I learned by talking to the lots of local people and family members that the traditional agriculture model would not work! In fact, most everybody I talked with advised me to sell the ranch as quickly as possible and enjoy the money. I almost gave up until I learned about Holistic Management on the Internet.
 
As I learned more about Holistic Management, I contacted Holistic Resource Management of Texas (the Texas branch), and then my wife, Judy, and I enrolled in a Holistic Management class taught by Certified Educator Peggy Sechrist. Peggy's introductory class was right on target for us, and we've been practicing Holistic Management ever since.
 
Our ranch is about 1,780 acres (721 hectares) in size with half the ranch in wetlands and the other half in hill land. The ranch had previously been primarily a cow/calf operation with close family members hunting recreationally for the past 60 years or so. Because of my primary interest in white-tailed deer, I began conducting deer population census surveys back in 1993 with the help of wildlife biologists from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
 
This relationship with the TPWD has gone well over the years with many benefits. While they have always been helpful, the relationship deepened considerably when I demonstrated I had goals for my ranch and that I was concerned about income and habitat.
 
Back in 1994, we wrote a wildlife management plan under the guidance of local TPWD wildlife biologist David Rideout. This plan was integrated with our holistic goal in 1997. Over the years, I believe we've learned how our cow/calf operation can compliment our wildlife management program and vice versa. I'm now aware that income potential and habitat go hand-in-hand on my ranch. Most of the ranchers I know locally appear to feel that habitat enhancement reduces rather than increases income.
 
This cooperative approach with TPWD has brought such things as extended hunting seasons for my ranch because we conduct a satisfactory number of habitat enhancement initiatives and wildlife census surveys, keep records, and report harvest numbers. My season is about double the number of days of what it is in other parts of the state, and this extended season helps make my hunting club attractive to the membership.
 
I believe that the changes in ranch management practices and quality of life are directly related to having created our holistic goals.
 
We've also receive assistance from TPWD in matching wildlife resources with available food supply, special recognition (see In-Practice Bulletin Board note), helpful publications on management of wildlife habitat, forested wetlands and deer habitat partnership grants, and special help in determining herd sizes, frequency of harvest, and what the harvest mixture should be (i.e. how many buck and how many doe should be taken each year).
 
The TPWD's willingness to work with private landowners may be somewhat different from the wildlife department in other states because over 95 percent of Texas is privately owned. The TPWD recognizes how important it is to work with private landowners, and they do an excellent job at it.
 
But there was a tremendous jump in these cooperative efforts when we started managing holistically. I believe our ability to share our holistic goal with TPWD wildlife biologists was an eye-opening experience for them and cooperative efforts in providing assistance increased considerably. Not many landowners around these parts have developed goals for themselves, so I feel that they saw our focus and objectives as an impressive aspect of our ranch. It was great! Of course, all we were doing was using the ideas we had read about in Holistic Management.
 
USING RESOURCES EFFECTIVELY
 
One of the biggest challenges early on was to balance the needs of our wildlife with our cow/calf operation. Although cattle and white-tailed deer do not directly compete with one another for food supply, there is sufficient overlap (especially in times of stress, which can be caused by lack of rainfall or an over-population of a particular species) that we've tried to ensure adequate forage when creating our grazing plans and developing our land plan.
 
For example, we do not allow cattle in our forested areas during the white-tailed deer stress periods of late summer or the winter months, because they would compete directly with wildlife for food. Although white-tailed deer make a lot of use of browse and forbs, cattle do, too, at certain times of the year (especially when grasses are not readily available). However, because of the disturbance and new growth created by the grazing cattle, the deer tend to follow the cattle around, and are seen frequently about two paddocks behind the cattle.
 
This situation gets even more complex because we also have commercial hunting of duck and feral hog as well as the deer. To balance out the different needs, we plan how we can best use the impact of the wildlife (as well as the cattle) on the habitat we manage.
 
For example, we use special mowing techniques to ensure adequate cover of grasses, weeds, and other plants in key fawning areas. However, we're working on getting away from mowing altogether as we increase cattle numbers and decrease paddock sizes.
 
We also plant and re-establish native grasses for both cattle forage and wildlife cover (many of the native grasses are coming back now that we've stopped continuously grazing). While we do some tilling and seeding, we plan to run the ranch with no equipment by the end of 2003, so we're moving quickly to a point where equipment won't be needed to establish more native grasses.
 
With these efforts we've been able to move forward our future landscape description by planned grazing that is sensitive to both cattle and wildlife. With our grazing planning we allow native grasses to mature in some paddocks, use others for wildlife cover, or create separate waterfowl habitat areas to increase food supply at certain times of the year.
 
We've also used animal impact on the marsh elder and ragweed early in the growing season to control its presence. Young marsh elder and ragweed provide good protein for cattle in the early stages of growth, but becomes unpalatable to cattle as it matures. In this way, animal impact appears to be a better way to deal with these problem plants than pesticides and herbicides, which damage our soil and water.
 
Through earth moving, we've increased waterfowl and migratory bird habitat by re-establishing marshy, wet areas in pastures that we previously used only for grazing. Likewise, we created wildlife corridors by noting where animals normally congregate and enhancing those areas. The creation of wildlife corridors has worked beautifully, especially for white-tailed deer. My feeling is that these corridors are also being used by a wide variety of species such as the cottontail and swamp rabbit, bobcat, ground-nesting birds, and a whole host of other species that need cover from predators.
Switchgrass Spot Developed From Hog Wallows
(Photo by Judy Reed)
 
Lastly, we've used other forms of animal impact to initiate pasture improvements, particularily feral hog rootings. Normally, hog rootings are cussed and discussed by locals in these parts as a problem. But, we use their "work" as an opportunity to plant seed in these spots. I now call these spots my "hog disced" spots.
 
Feral hogs can survive just fine in their natural habitat and naturally disturb soil with their rooting. I don't ever have to gas 'em up and they never break down or have flat tires like a tractor can, if I were to use that tool instead! We've now established some pretty good areas of healthy switchgrass in the areas that hogs have "disced" for us.
 
LISTENING TO NATURE
 
We conduct our census surveys for white-tailed deer using both night and day observations to achieve a more accurate count. The TPWD uses these figures to make harvest recommendations, and currently they are suggesting that we should be carrying less deer, so we trying to reduce our numbers some.
 
We use the results of the night deer counts to determine the density of the herd. Back in 1994, the population density was about 5 acres per deer. Our most recent surveys now puts the herd density at about 8 acres per deer, which is more in line with what this geographic area can support. Our current plans are to decrease the deer population even more to increase individual size, fawn survival rate, and antler development (important from both a species health indicator and economics standpoint).
 
The results of the daylight observations are used to calculate the buck/doe/fawn ratio. In 1994, our results showed we were seeing about one buck to every 10 doe. Now, this year's preliminary figures are showing one buck to every two doe (believed to be a sign of better deer management on our part).
 
We take our deer counts each summer. We usually begin somewhere around the middle of July and finish by the end of August, as this is the best time to achieve an accurate count (fawns are big enough to be seen and still have their spots so as not to be confused for doe).
 
The number of twins born to each doe has also increased. Back in 1994, for every three fawns, there were 10 does. Now, based on this year's preliminary figures, we have 6 fawns for every 10 doe. This increase in the number of twins and fawn survival rate is a good indicator that the habitat is finally catching up with the herd size.
 
Listening to what nature is saying is one of the best ways I know to make good decisions. Nature already knows what needs to be done and will make decisions for us if we don't do our part. The problem most of us have (including me) is being quiet long enough to figure out what she's telling us!
 
HOG HEAVEN
 
On our ranch, there's always been sufficient numbers of migratory birds, including high populations of duck. My place is directly under a fly-by zone, and the wetlands usually provide plenty of water and waterfowl habitat. Like the deer hunting, the duck hunting is great!
 
We've had a hunting and fishing club in operation on the Reed Ranch since 1998. In the beginning, club members usually focused on deer and duck, although they occasionally took a feral hog. Because of the increased number of feral hogs on my place and the potential damage they can cause, I started a hog trapping program in the Fall of 1998.
 
I soon learned that the feral hog could be used in many ways other than just trapping. Since that time, the hog hunting on the Reed Ranch has become an asset. We usually don't have to trap now, unless there's an area on the ranch that is being damaged to the point where we have to consider repairs (i.e. creating holes that will cause erosion or damage to vehicles).
 
We've now been able to balance the feral hog population with hunting and trapping opportunities as well as having the meat as an excellent food supply. Hogs in Texas can be hunted all the time 24/7, and we do! Group hog hunts are conducted at night, and hunters will regularly pull all-nighters in search of free roaming feral hogs.
 
Many of the ponds on the Reed Ranch show the Reeds' success at enhancing biodiversity.
(Photo by Jim Reed)
 
 
Hog meat is excellent, the hunting is excellent, the income is excellent, and the hogs help us re-establish some of my native grasses by providing an excellent seed bed. It just doesn't get any better than that!
 
I figure the hunting income makes up about 25 percent of the ranch income. Of this, most comes from white-tailed deer hunting (about 60 percent of the hunting income), with hog hunting second (making up about 30 percent); and the remaining 10 percent coming from duck hunting.
 
A LEARNING COMMUNITY
 
The ranch also maintains a ranch calendar on our website, which is used by hunters to schedule hunts and see when hunting opportunities are available. People mostly use the ranch calendar if they are involved with my ranch in some way to find our what's being scheduled or what's happened recently. I don't think I could manage the ranch effectively withou this community calendar. It's an excellent management tool that's available to anybody with Internet capability.
 
It's been an incredible experience developing a wildlife ranch. I wouldn't ranch in any other way! A section of our holistic goal has to do with learning and sharing opportunities, and studying wildlife habitat has taught us a lot. Likewise, learning how wildlife and cattle can be managed together has definitely produced an economic return.
 
Wildlife is a part of all ranches. In order to consider the whole, the wildlife must enter into the planning and monitoring. When testing an activity, we reflect not just on a single species but also take into consideration all the species that live on the ranch.
 
This forces us to focus on the big picture, and creates opportunities to listen to all points of view, perceptions of what the real problem is, and a sharing of the best solution for all concerned. In many cases, the activity tested becomes more focused and sometimes even changes in scope and content. What better formula for success, and to shift the old agriculture paradigm?
 
If I hadn't been planning holistically, I'd have never thought of using the hog rooting spots for seed bed preparation or seen the benefits of diversity in management of animal (cattle and wildlife) habitat, native grasses, and such. I also would have never seen the benefits of planned grazing with cattle and its effect on wildlife (especially on white-tailed deer) or been nearly as creative in seeing alternative ways to using machinery and technogy. With Holistic Management, I'm now learning how to utilize animals, nature, and grasses to do many of the jobs I previously assumed could only be done with equipment. Lastly, I'd still be using expensive pesticides and herbicides and decreasing the health of the habitat by attacking the symptom and not addressing the root cause.
 
These changes in ranch management practices and quality of life are directly related to having created our holistic goal and following the Holistic Management Land Planning and Grazing Planning processes. We couldn't have accomplished what we have without Holistic Management.
 
Jim and Judy Reed operate the Reed Wildlife Ranch near Corsicana, Texas.
 
 
SAVORY CENTER BULLETIN BOARD AWARD ANNOUNCEMENT
REED WILDLIFE RANCH WINS AWARD!
 
The Reed Wildlife Ranch owned by Jim and Judy Reed recently was awarded the Texas 2001 Lone Star Land Steward Award by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) for their conservation efforts. Historically, both the native grassland and valuable timber were depleted due to non-sustainable grazing and logging operations. Because the Reeds manage their ranch holistically, they have reversed this decline.
 
As part of their Holistic Management grazing plan, the Reeds manage their white-tailed deer population and preserve their bottomland hardwoods using TPWD programs and services. One of their long-terms objectives is to restore the native hardwood diversity by reintroducing a variety of oaks and other mast producing trees following thinning of lower quality elms and ashes.
 
Carl Frentress, TPWD Regional Waterfowl Biologist, reported the following land management accomplishments on the Reed Ranch:
 
1. Native herbaceous vegetation has flourished in the grazing paddocks. Several species are appearing after a long period of absence under previous land use. Other species are increasing in abundance and biomass. Benefits are realized in more abundant and widespread forage for both livestock and deer. Perhaps more importantly, the entire grassland community seems to be prospering.
 
2. The organic component of grassland soils is increasing.
 
3. Erosion from grazing lands is practically nonexistent. Run off is affected both in terms of reduced turbidity and better percolation.
 
4. The aesthetic qualities are being enhanced. The is particularly noticeable in the remarkable wildflower growth during spring and summer.
 
5. Vertebrate diversity is becoming more abundant and widely distributed because of habitat improvements that increase the number of niches and associated opportunities for food, water, and shelter.
 
 
COUNTRY WORLD ARTICLE
 
COUNTRY WORLD NEWS
BY STAFF WRITER
STUART TENDLER
 
When Jim and Judy Reed assumed management of Reed Wildlife Ranch a few years ago, responsible land stewardship was high on the list of priorities. Following through on that goal has led to a nomination for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Lone Star Stewardship Award
 
"The whole matter of stewardship has to do with managing things in a way that protect resources and you try to manage resources without exploiting the resources," shared Jim. "Resources include water and wildlife and wetlands. About half of this ranch is in wetlands. It's in the Trinity River floodplain. So there are things that can be done in terms of wetlands, how you manage that."
 
"And forest management. This is a pretty heavily wooded ranch also, so we try to manage the forest. We just planted 15,000 oak trees down in the bottoms and that's an attempt to try and rejuvenate and regenerate a lot of the older mature forest that's up and down the Trinity River," he added.
 
For Jim and Judy, being good stewards of the land meant, above all else, diversifying a ranch that had historically been strictly a cow/calf operation. They still have a cow/calf operation, but managing wildlife has become a much more immediate concern.
 
Currently, the Reed Ranch has wild boar, deer, and duck hunting operations, and work is being done to more develop a fishing operation.
 
Good stewardship also meant switching to a grazing system which goes hand-in-hand with a pasture and grass seed type development program to increase the amount of forage on the ranch.
 
But perhaps the biggest change in the ranch has been the Reed's successful attempt to better share their resource with the public; especially children.
 
"If I were to compare the way (the ranch) is now to back the way it was 20 years ago, it would have to be with the number of individuals that are enjoying the resource. We thought this was a beautiful resource and we were interested with sharing it with people. We think it's worthwhile for people to learn about nature. In order to do that, they need places that they can come out and visit," said Jim.
 
"Women are more welcome out here now. Not that they were not welcome before, but we didn't have the resources here, just in terms of bathrooms," Judy added. "We have a bathroom now; just a big step towards making people feel comfortable. We've seen a whole lot more women out, plus women hunters who enjoy this kind of thing and want to be with their husbands."
 
"I think it's a neat thing. And children, too, are very welcome," she continued.
 
The more kids the better, the Reeds feel, and they are working with at least two other schools to organize field trips to the ranch and develop a curriculum for when students come and visit.
 
"A lot of times, the mindset of an individual that is raised in the country is, frankly, very different,...than the mindset of an individual raised in teh suburbs." Jim offered. "We think there's a lot to be said for country living, there's a lot that can be learned from country living and a lot of the kids will never have the opportunity to get out to a place like this."
 
One of the things the Reeds have begun it an annual youth deer hunt. This year marked the third such hunt. The hunts are for youth 16-years-old and younger. The year 11 youth took seven deer. The Reeds also hope to expand the program and begin having a youth duck hunt.
 
"It's kind of neat because we have both girls and boys. Last year, we even had month come and hunt with her daughter. So, it really has some diversity. And it gives the game warden an opportunity to talk to these kids", said Judy.
 
A final aspect of the ranch management involves setting aside some pasture as a reserve for wildflowers and wildlife.
 
"We have wonderful wildflowers out here and with the rotational grazing the cows can destroy the habitat for wildflowers. So Jim has graciously allowed two of the paddocks to be wildlife paddocks. It doesn't mean that cows are in there, but they're there for a shorter period of time and they're not in there at all in the spring." Judy explained.
 
"Also, we've set up an observation area. Some of the wives of the hunters and some other people that are interested are setting up some feeders for bird watching and that sort of thing".
 
Also, Jim complimented the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for their efforts in helping the Reeds with their goals. The agency "has really been good to work with the past several years or so." When the Reeds began their deer management plan in 1993, they had asked TPWD biologists to come our and help design and write the plan.
 
"Since that time, we've worked with the TPWD to try, specifically, to improve wildlife habitat on the ranch", he explained.
 
"We feel like the diversification on this ranch is the way to go. Nature has a tendency toward diversificatiion. Normally, you don't see many monocultures in nature. You see a lot of different wildlife and a lot of different uses of a particular piece of property. A lot of times we, as farmers and ranchers, get in trouble when we only try to use a particular piece of property for one particular thing when nature wants it to be used by a lot of different things," Jim concluded.
 
 
CORSICANA DAILY SUN ARTICLE
 
MAY 27, 2001
 
In an era when Texas urban populations are booming and rural lands are being subdivided into ranchettes and housing communities, Texas Parks and Wildlife honors Jim and Judy Reed of the Reed Wildlife Ranch in Navarro County for their outstanding efforts to conserve and enhance Texas' natural resources for teh benefit of all Texans.
 
At a May 20 reception in Austin, the sixth annual Lone Star Land Steward Awards will salute the Reeds' Ranch and 10 other winning properties for innovative, earth-smart practices to conserve the habitats that Texas' animals, birds, and plants call home. The Reeds' Navarro County ranch is the winner in the state's Blackland Prairie ecological region.
 
"Athough few Texans may realize it, 97 percent of Texas is privately owned. This means the future of Texas' wildlife and natural habitats is in private hands," said Andrew Sampson, TPW executive director. "Conversely, the majority of Texans are urban dwellers. It is they who make many of the decisions affecting wildlife habitats and rural lands. For this reason, it is essential for all Texans - urban and rural - to understand the impact of land stewardship and reward the efforts of our state's conservation stewards."
 
Throughout Texas, private landowners in diverse ecological regions team with TPW biologists and other advisors to develop land management plans that meet the unique resource needs of the properties. Land management strategies may include controlled burning to encourage rebirth of native plant life; harvesting crops and thinning forests in ways that create lush habitats; planting, protecting, and recording native plant species; and implementing livestock controls and harvesting wild game to prevent over-grazing.
 
"The Land Steward Awards show how proper land management and responsible wildlife stewardship are not luxuries, but are increasingly vital for all the sustainable income streams needed to keep rural families on the land," said Wallace "Happy" Rogers III, chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Private Lands Advisory Board. "More and more of the new breed of urban absentee landowners, as well as multi-generation rural families, are finding that wildlife leasing for hunting or viewing can provide steady income year in, year out, regardless of drought or cattle and crop price fluctuations."
 
After inheriting the ranch five years ago, the Reeds began employing holistic management principles with an eye to ecological responsibility. Instead of a pure cow/calf operation, the 1,780 acres of upland native savanna and bottomland hardwoods along the Trinity River now include forestry and some hunting and fishing.
 
To restore bottomland hardwoods, the Reeds planted over 15,000 oak and bald cypress trees and have improved wetland habitats for waterfowl and crawfish. The ranch uses rotational grazing for cattle and managed deer populations through hunting. "The Reeds dedication to managing their land for wildlife as well as cattle gives them the reputation as both land stewards and teachers." said Matt Wagner, TPW techical guidance biologist.
 
"This award made our day.", Jim Reed said. "We are like many Texas ranchers who inherited land that were primarily cow/calf operations. After being in the software industry, I at first had difficulty figuring out what to do with the inheritance. The one thing we knew was that we wanted to manage the land in an ecologically responsible way."
 
Reed added that he plans to promote and host the ranch's first "Nature Fest" in 2002.
 
"Our facilities are primitive and rustic. Right now, we're not set up for public use. But our goal is to share the ranch with others," Reed said. Currently, the ranch hosts fishing, deer-, hog-, and duck-hunting clubs.
 
Governor Rick Perry will attend the May 20 reception to be held from 5:15 to 7:15 p.m. at the University of Texas Alumini Center in Austin. Co-hosted by the TPW Commission and the Private Lands Advisory Board, the Lone Star Land Steward Awards are made possible through the support of the Federal Land Bank Association and the Natural Resources Foundation of Texas. During the reception, the state's top 2001 Lone Star Land Steward Award winner will be announced.
 
 
WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD ARTICLE
 
WACO TRIBUNE-HERALD
BY STAFF WRITER
LOWELL BROWN
 
KERENS - Down a dirt road among the scattered oak trees in eastern Navarro County is a ranch operation that accomplishes what many ranchers think is impossible, its owners say.
 
Jim and Judy Reed of Corsicana run a 1,780 ranch in Kerens, about 20 miles northeast of Corsicana, that they say is both profitable and earth-friendly. The Reeds are drawing statewide praise for their use of modern, environmental sensitive ranching methods that some traditional ranchers often think won't pay the bills.
 
"You don't have to rape nature to make money," Jim said. "You can be ecologically and environmentally sensitive as well as income productive. That's a balance that can be achieved; but it takes a willingness to be creative with ideas. That's what we try to do."
 
Among the earth-friendly ranching methods the Reeds have adopted are a rotational grazing system for their 100 cattle; an organized population control for deer, hogs, and duck; an effort to cultivate native plants; and a forest management program that enhances both timber and wildlife production. They also shy away from using herbicides and pesticides.
 
Late last month, Jim went to Austin to receive a 2000-01 Lone Star Steward Award for his ranch's achievements. The award, given annually to private landowners in Texas by the state's Parks and Wildlife Department, was presented to him and 10 other landowners at a ceremony attended by Gov. Rick Perry. The Reed Wildlife Ranch won in the Blackland Prairie ecological region category for its efforts to conserve and enhance the natural habitat of the land.
 
The deparment "recognized them for their efforts to be a better land steward and improving the quality of their land," said Matt Wagner, biologist for the department. "The goal of the ranch is to improve the land's health overall so future generations can realize the potential of the property."
 
The award and the publicity it has generated have may lifelong ranchers wondering how the Reeds achieve the balance between income generation and wildlife protectors.
 
"I'm on cloud nine," Jim said about winning the award. "The biggest response has been the local people around here; they've been real curious. Some of the (ranching) decisions I've made have been a little nontraditional, and now there's a better opportunity to share (those decisions)."
 
The Reeds hare former computer service workers who inherited the ranch just four years ago. They say their jump to acclaimed ranchers was not quite as big as some might expect.
 
FAMILY TRADITIONS
 
Both grew up working the land - Judy on her family's farm in Iowa and Jim at the Reed Ranch., which has been in the family since his grandmother migrated there from South Carolina in 1893 and bought some of the land. Jim attended Texas A&M University and later met Judy at a computer convention. They settled in Corsicana.
 
The Reeds retired from the computer industry after two decades when they inherited the land from Jim's father, who died in 1997.
 
"I was always around land and always had to interact with the outdoors," Jim said. "I learned to respect what the outdoors could do for me and what it could do to me. I knew I was gonna have to work with nature, so I try to support what nature's really trying to do."
 
Jim became involved with a local holistic management group, which provided him with a model for managing the land in a less environmentally harmful ways.
 
Judy, a master gardener with the Texas Agriculture Extension Service, works in the ranch's chemical-free garden planting vegetables and herbs. She helps educate other gardeners about earth-friendly planting methods.
 
"I love being out there 'cause I love to plant," she said. "I love to get my hands dirty."
 
The Reeds work at the ranch with their son, James, a cattle operator, and a few friends and family members work there part time. They have no full-time employees. Besides keeping cattle and hosting public hunting and fishing programs, they have also started raising crawfish to make extra money.
 
"When the Reeds inherited the ranch, it was primarily a cattle operation, and much of the land was overgrazed," Wagner said. "To heal the land, they began using the rotational grazing system," he said.
 
"The ranch is divided into 33 small pastures, called paddocks, divided by electric fences," Jim said. "The cattle are moved to a new paddock every one to five days to avoid overgrazing the land," he said.
 
"On a continual grazing system, a ranch can degrade each year," he said."I'm trying to reverse that."
 
Jim said a common criticism of rotational grazing is that it is slow to yield results, but he saw improvement in just two years.
 
"I was amazed at the way this land, when given a little bit of opportunity, how fast it cam back," he said.
 
This year, the ranch has hosted hunting trips for about 60 people in an effot to share the land with others. The hunts, mostly for hogs, deer, and duck, are also an important way to control the wildlife population.
 
Kirby Brown, branch chief of private lands and habitat for the department, praised the Reeds' wildlife population control, rotational grazing, and protection of the ranch's forested wetlands. The wetlands are areas flooded several times per year by the Trinity River, which borders about 60 percent of the ranch.
 
"The destiny of Texas land is in the hands of private landowners like the Reeds since 96 percent of the state's land is privately owned," Brown said.
 
The job of working the land in a responsible way is rewarding, the Reeds said, and fun, too.
 
"The part I didn't expect was my level of enjoyment of it and the people I'm getting to meet," Jim said. "It's been working out real well."
 
Judy agreed.
 
"One of our goals here is to be together and have fun and enjoy it," she said.
 
But, most of all, the ranch is about perserving the land for years to come.
 
"I'm hoping the decisions I've made will last for 50 to 100 years for the future generation", Jim Reed said. "That's the best thing that someone like me can pass along."
 
 
DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARTICLE
 
BY STAFF WRITER
RAY SASSER
 
In a vast state with 97 percent private ownership, the future of Texas wildlife rests in the hands of the private citizen. That's not necessarily a bad thing for the wildlife, but it causes economic problems for sportsmen who are disenfranchised by the rising cost of hunting.
 
Texas land barons in the past century treated the land as an adversary to be dominated. Much of the domination came in the form of overgrazing by cattle, sheep, goats, and other livestock.
 
Today's enlightened landowners, including some who got their land the old-fashioned way - through inheritance - have a different perspective. Rather than decimating wildlife habitat to enhance wildlife grazing, modern landowners often take the opposite approach, enhancing wildlife habitat at the cost of livestock.
 
At an Austin reception this week, 11 ranch owners and managers were recognized as Texas Parks and Wildlife Lone Star Land Stewards.
 
"The future of Texas wildlife and natural habitat is in private hands," said TP&W Executive Director Andy Sansom. "Conversely, the majority of Texans are urban dwellers. It is they who make many of the decisions affecting wildlife habitats and rural lands."
 
"For this reason, it is essential for all Texans - urban and rural - to understand the impact of land stewardship and recognize the efforts of our state's conservation heroes."
 
This is the sixth annual edition of Lone Star Award Land Stewards, and the 2001 list includes a property from the Dallas area.
 
In the Blackland Prairie Region, Jim and Judy Reed of Navarro County were recognized as Lone Star Land Stewards. They own the Reed Wildlife Ranch. After inheriting the ranch five years ago, the Reeds began holistic resource management principles to achieve ecological responsibility.
 
Rather than a pure beef operation, the 1,780 acres of upland savanna and hardwood bottomland along the Trinity River now include forestry and some hunting and fishing. To restore bottomland hardwoods, the Reeds planted more than 15,000 oak and bald cypress trees and have improved wetland habitats for waterfowl and crawfish.
 
The ranch rotates cattle grazing and manages deer populations through hunting. "The Reeds decication to managing their land for wildlife as well as cattle gives them the reputation as both land stewards and teachers," said Matt Wagner, TP&W technical guidance biologist.
 
 
BIRDSCAPES ARTICLE
 
REED IT AND REAP!
by
Carl Frentress
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
And
Jim and Judy Reed
Reed Wildlife Ranch
 
"Reed Wildlife Ranch" is the gate sign inscription that is deceivingly modest in its sincerity concerning the 1,780-acre tract owned and operated by Jim and Judy Reed. But, then, so are the owners. A few years ago when they returned to this land, they saw a scene reflecting years of intensive struggle in cattle ranching. Their purpose was to alter the quality of this river bottom vista.
 
Jim and Judy Reed are taking a holistic approach to managing the lands on their ranch, sustaining wildlife and a way of life.
(Photo by TPWD Wildlife Biologist
Kevin Kraii)
 
After a successful career with his computer business, Jim inherited the land from his father, a cattleman and businessman. With no preconceptions, Jim assumed control of the property with a view toward sustaining both the land and his finances. The Reeds were alert to the risks in continuing ranching operations fraught with issues that often pushed land and financial resources beyond reasonable limits. They searched for a better way.
 
Prudence and decisions based on sound information are traits the Reeds use in their lives. Using their business acumen, the Reeds began devising a long-range comprehensive plan for management of their property. Jim and Judy found an ideal goal modeling process in the approach for holistic resource management set forth by Allan Savory with assistance from the Texas Holistic Resource Management organization.
 
The whole family participated. Jim and Judy believe that this was the best thing they could have done as they engaged the plans for the future of the ranch. Significant points of the plan are:
 
(1) diversification of ranch uses
(2) maintaining a productive, flexible lifestyle
(3) good land stewardship
(4) and, using informed decision-making principles consistent with ranch goals.
 
Jim states, "The use of the holistic management process is one of the major reasons we've made the progress we've made. We couldn't be doing what we're doing without this model to follow. When we're trying to make a decision about whether to do something or not, we test our decision against our goals using the seven testing questions that are found in the HRM model."
 
Much of the property is in the floodplain of the Trinity River about five miles north of Kerens in Navarro County, Texas. This is the western edge of the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture. Subsequent contact with state and federal biologists brought news of opportunities associated with the joint venture mission. The Reeds began to integrate various technical guidance and cost-sharing programs agencies offered to benefit the land.
 
Through an Environmental Protection Agency grant administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, they improved the forest species composition and wildlife value of elm-ash-sugarberry forests from which the original oak and pecan trees were high-graded.
 
Shortly, they were consulting the local Natural Resources Conservation Service staff for assistance in restoring native range grasses. Likewise, NRCS staff provided survey and design assistance for a crawfish pond conceived for added revenues, erosion control, and supplemental water for wildlife. Currently processes are underway to complete an extensive wetland development project via the East Texas Wetland Project (see Birdscapes Winter 2002).
 
None of these activities are kept secret. Outdoor recreation and land management demonstrations are integral with the master plan. Revenues are generated from hunting, fishing, and camping. Bird watching is being evaluated for its potential. The problem of damage to wildlife habitat and livestock range by feral hogs was solved by enthusiastically promoted hog hunts. In short, the Reeds want to show that their system is successful.
 
So, now, when a visitor drives through the cattle guard at the entrance to the Reed Wildlife Ranch no doubt exists about the meaning of the sign at the gate. The effects of holistic, ecologically based land management clearly are visible.
 
So, now you know the secret to Jim and Judy's success - and it's an award winning secret at that. The Department presented them with its Lone Star Stewards Award, because every day, the Reeds' life work demonstrates that the principals of sustainable land management really do work.
 
For more information contact:
 
Jim and Judy Reed
Reed Wildlife Ranch
2209 Dartmouth Lane
Corsicana, Texas 75110
oljim@reedfamilyranch.com
msjudy@reedfamilyranch.com
www.reedfamilyranch.com
 
 
TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT PROFILE: REED WILDLIFE RANCH
 
The Reed Ranch has been in the Reed family for a little over 50 years. Jim and his family took over management of the ranch in 1997. The ranch was passed on to him by his father.
 
The first thing we did was to plan for what we wanted to do with the ranch. To us, this meant setting some goals that were in line with our values. We found tha best goal modeling process to be Holistic Resource Management (HRM designed by Allan Savory). The whole family participated and it was the best thing we could have done at the time. From that time on, we've made day-to-day decisions based on these goals. The involvement of the HRM group has also been important to our family.
 
Mostly, these goals have to do with three things:
 
Diversification of the use of the ranch
Maintaining a productive and flexible lifestyle
Being a good steward of the land and using informed decision-making principals which are in line with our goals
 
The use of the holistic management process is one of the major decisions we've made the progress we've made. We couldn't be doing what we're doing without this model to follow. When we're trying to make a decision about whether to do something or not, we test our decision against our goals using the seven testing guidelines that are found in the HRM model.
 
Right now, we have several streams of income that everyone is enjoying. At one time, the only major income stream was the ranch's cow/calf operation. Cattle will always be a major player in the overall goals of the ranch. We recognize that cattle can be used as a tool in the improvement of the soil and grasses if a systematic grazing system is utilized.
 
Now, the ranch is separated into many paddocks using electric fencing. The partitioning of the ranch into small operating units was one of the best things we could have done. The creation of a systematic grazing system was some of the best dollars we've spent. These small paddocks allow us to create forage units and wildlife units at the same time. We rotate the uses of the various units whenever we feel the need suits our goals.
 
There's now a hunting club operating on the Reed Ranch. The creation of ol jim's huntin' club has allowed us to enjoy many more uses of the ranch and increased the income flow, too. We're now enjoying the hunting and fellowship of deer hunting, duck hunting, hog hunting, fishing, and varmint hunting, camping, hanging out enjoying the outdoors with our friends, and watching the grass grow.
 
We use the internet to share hunting stories, our photo's, and ranch projects. A ranch calendar is also kept on the internet. This calendar is used by all the club members to know what's going on so they can plan their activities.
 
A major emphasis has been placed on the return of some of the pastureland to native prairie grasses. More than half of the 1,780 acre ranch is located in the Trinity River wetlands basin. Grasses that were at one time native to the area are being planted to return the soil to its productive conditions once again. The grasses selected will need to withstand the moisture and other bottomlands conditions. The grasses will also need to supply amply cover and habitat for wildlife, and produce ample forage for cattle. So far, the two grasses that are being utilized now in the bottomlands for these purposes are alamo switchgrass and eastern gamagrass.
 
Our forested wetlands project with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has given us the opportunity to meet some of our major goals for the ranch. This project is allowing us to repair over 400 acres of bottomland hardwood forests that have been severely degraded from years of high grading. We're seeing that the management of our timber and wetlands is now receiving about the same emphasis as the native grassland prairie.
 
There's still lots to learn about timber management and wetland habitats. With the help given by our wildlife biologists and foresters, we feel we're heading in the right direction. One of our early-on goals had to do with the stewardship of healthy forests and wildlife habitat.
 
At first, we didn't have a club about how to approach this. However, when the forested wetlands project came along, it gave us the opportunity to make informed, solid decisions based on our goals for the ranch. In addition, we continue to use HRM's seven testing guidelines in our decision making.
 
If anyone would like to have more information about the Reed Ranch, Jim can be contacted by email at oljim@reedfamilyranch.com. Jim can also be found on wildlife and hunting discussion boards at such sites at TexasBoars.com and Tx-Outdoors.com.
 
 
 
NICKEL FLIPPING AND ESTATE PLANNING
 
Beyond Nickel Flipping—
Reed Ranch Estate Planning
By Jim and Judy Reed
 
Several years ago in a small community in Texas, a mere flip of a coin determined much of what consumed our time for years to come. It’s hard to think of a nickel being flipped as an estate planning tool, but it was about the only tool Jim and his brother had at the time.
 
At the time of Tillman Reed’s death (Jim’s father), a revocable living trust was in operation. This revocable trust contained all the assets of Jim’s parents and was being used to operate things up until the death of the first parent. When Tillman died, the assets were to be split among Jim, his brother (Lary), and his mother (Ora Anna). Most of the task of deciding how the individual assets were divided fell on Jim and his brother. Yikes!
 
Tillman and Ora Anna Reed
Jim's Mom and Dad
 
 
This was a crucial test for the Reed family, since we had read and heard of the many horror stories of family conflict, misunderstandings and miscommunications, and tales of close family members not speaking to one another for the rest of their lives. We already understood the possibility of close family members being forced into difficult and emotional decisions, which might have been best made by the deceased.
 
Both Jim and his brother agreed that it was best for this not to happen to them.
 
After most of the interest-bearing assets were separated out for the benefit of Ora Anna’s care and immediate income needs, work began on dividing the remainder of the assets into two parts–A and B.
 
Jim and Lary decided they would not stop their asset division work until they both felt that the A and B parts were equal; and that each would feel okay about receiving either part. They spent lots of time in this endeavor but, under the circumstances, they felt it was time well-spent.
 
After both Lary and Jim agreed that the appropriate level of equity was achieved in Part A and Part B, they flipped a nickel to see which brother would receive which set of assets. The ranch was part of one set of assets, and Jim received the ranch and other assets by virtue of the coin toss. We’ve had no regrets about how this degree of equity was achieved and, at this point in time, there’s been no family member that hasn’t felt that what Jim and Lary did was a fair and equitable way to settle the division of the estate assets.
 
Tillman Reed on Right in Photo
Brothers Jack and Willie
Sister Lizzie
Granny Reed in Center
Early 1940's Photo Taken At Reed Family Home Place
 
 
Since that coin toss, we’ve had the opportunity to experience Holistic Management and how it affects our happiness, peace of mind, and quality of life. We felt like it made sense to apply these same principles to the planning of our estate rather than rely on a coin toss the next time around.
 
What’s contained in this article is an explanation of the direction we’re heading. There has been no attempt to write this article in terms of what may be best for others, although you may find this article helpful in working through your own situation.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Key Points
 
Before we get into our specifics, here’s what we think is the best advice we can offer you in terms of your own estate planning:
 
- Estate planning is important for your own peace of mind and for the generations that follow. We owe it to the people coming after us!
 
- Your estate plan has to be customized to your own set of circumstances. Like ranches, everybody’s situation is different!
 
- It’s very important to keep up-to-date on your net worth. If you don’t know this, you’re flyin’ by the seat of your pants!
 
- GET A WILL, if you don’t have one. Or, make sure the one you have is UP-TO-DATE! The size of your estate doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse for not having a will!
 
- You should to be prepared to search hard for quality legal, tax, and financial planning advice. Just like finding good ranch hands, good estate planning help is hard to find!
 
James Lawrence and Lottie Cureton Reed (aka Granny Reed)
James was thrown off horseback and died in 1911
Photo Taken In Early 1890's in Lancaster County, South Carolina
Prior to Migration to Navarro County, Texas, in 1893.
 
Our Story
 
We were fortunate to find a financial planner (who’s also an attorney), who’s willing to listen and learn about Holistic Management, and also has sufficient background to understand how important it is to set goals for yourself. We’ve found that many attorneys and tax accountants don’t have sufficient background in goal setting and many don’t understand its importance. It’s also tough to find a good fee-based financial planner, whose livelihood isn’t based on selling you a product or investment.
 
The big disadvantage of many financial planners is that they may not have the sufficient depth of knowledge or credentials required to work through all the tax and legal implications of estate planning. So, to find good help, you may find yourself gathering a team to help out; instead of choosing a single individual.
 
Once we were able to find someone to help us, we developed a basic framework from which we can continue to tweak our estate plan as we see fit. That framework includes:
 
- A Will for both of us which creates bypass and marital trusts at either of our deaths. This is the strategy we’re using to eliminate or ease the blow of federal estate taxes if one of us should die.
 
- A special provision in our Will referencing special consideration for the ranch; its goals and Holistic Management principles. We hope that such focus will speak volumes to our kids and others about how a ranch can be run in a sustainable and profitable manner. If they’re smart (and our kids are), they’ll continue the tradition of managing the Reed Ranch holistically.
 
- Special treatment of our separate property (since there’s an extended family created by virtue of an earlier divorce). By the way, it’s important to know the laws within your own state or country as it can really influence the choices you make about your estate plan.
 
- The attachment of our holistic goal to our Wills, the support of Holistic Management and consensus building, and the use of the Holistic ManagementÒ testing questions to manage and resolve things. You can read our holistic goal at: http://www.reedfamilyranch.com/ranchgoals.html.
 
- The naming of a third party trustee at both of our deaths.
 
Most of the estate planning we’ve read about appears to be driven largely by the size of the estate to be settled and methods to avoid estate taxes. But we’ve planned ours to integrate Holistic Management into ours because it will help future generations to improve their lives and this land.
 
 
Four Generation of Reeds
Jim, Son James, Ora Anna
And Baby Kaylee
 
Estate Taxes
 
Federal estate tax can be mean and ugly! If not planned properly, estate taxes can take so much value from the estate that the kids will have to sell any property because they can’t afford the taxes. Of course, there are special provisions for a family-owned business deduction, so be sure to ask your tax and accounting expert about this very important provision. Again, the key is to plan so the most money can go to the people you want it to go to. Sure, there are lots of things beyond your control, and that’s all the more reason for planning what is in your control. So here’s some other things to consider:
 
- You may not be a millionaire now, but just think how much your ranch may be valued at in the future. It’s important to plan both for what’s now and for what’s in the future.
 
- Unless you have an up-to-date net worth statement, you may be worth more than you think you are.
 
- You don’t know who’s going to be in control the government at the time of your death or how badly they will want or need your money, so it’s best not to count on any government policies that might encourage you not to do your planning (i.e. potential repeal of estate taxes).
 
We found out that you don’t have to be a millionaire to be able to take the opportunities that’s afforded by doing good estate planning with all the family included. It’s our belief that, if you work hard enough and are committed to it, there’s ways to have your cake and eat it, too.
 
Maximizing Your Estate
 
By planning ahead, you may be able to:
 
1) Pass on your estate free of all federal estate taxes
2) Support the ranch being holistically managed in the future
3) Have little to no family conflict in settling your estate
4) Keep your property from being sold or divided to settle your estate
 
Jim and Judy Reed
With Son Jimmy
 
We recognize that there are many other ways to look at an estate plan and how it can be influenced by Holistic Management. To us, merely passing things down through the use of a Will, without any regard to what our heirs will have to pay in estate taxes seems kind of unfair to the kids (especially if federal estate taxes can be avoided with a little bit of work and things are kept neat and tidy before they’re passed down).
 
We also wanted to make the execution of the estate as easy as possible emotionally, which is why it’s really important to pick the right executor or trustee if you are setting up a trust like we did. This is the person that pretty much calls the shots and his/her responsibilities are spelled out in the Will. These are listed underneath a section in our Wills called “trustee title, powers, duties, immunities, and discretions.”
 
At this time, none of our children are named as trustees. Although both of us are named as each other’s trustee in the case of each of our individual death, our trusted friend and financial planner/attorney is named as the alternate trustee and the eventual trustee in the case of both our deaths.
 
Daughter Traci Family
Jimmy K. with Children Hagen and Anna
 
As each of our children mature and develop their own lifestyles and interests in the future, this method of trustee naming may eventually change if it becomes apparent a change is needed.
 
In other words, in consideration of our own particular situation for family peace and cooperation, we feel it’s best for the presumption to be that a third party (other than a family member) be named as the trustee, unless it becomes readily apparent that a single family member can be named, and there’s a level of confidence that peace and cooperation can be maintained.
 
The more you can spell things out in this section the easier it is on everyone. For example, here’s what we put in our Wills regarding the desire for the ranch property to be managed holistically:
 
“If agriculture ranch property is contained within any or all of the trusts named herein, the trustee of the trust(s) shall recognize the influence of the Holistic Management principals as promulgated by the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management, and shall give due consideration to the ranch(s) holistic goal (attached herein). More specifically, the use of consensus building techniques (led by a Certified Holistic Educator), and the use of the seven testing guidelines (as documented by the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management) shall be an integral portion of the management of any ranch(s) contained in the trust(s) named herein.”
 
Working for the Future Now
 
Lastly, we believe that an integral part of estate planning has to include some meaningful financial planning for the on-going operation of the ranch; and sticking to it. For us to keep the ranch in the family and for it to be something worthwhile in the future, it has to be both financially and operationally sustainable.
 
This means holistic financial planning in a responsible manner; in a way that suits our needs. More specifically for us, this means limiting our expenses to half of the ranch’s income (or planning 50 percent profit )and operating the ranch with little or no equipment. One of the most important things we’ll do in 2003 is to fulfill our current ranch motto of “equipment free by the end of 2003.” In doing so, we are better able to hit our 50 percent profit objective and add to the health of the land base.
 
For several years now, we’ve been posting all our income and expenses (both ranch and personal) in Quicken and running net worth and income/expense reports on a monthly basis so we can assess our estate on an ongoing basis.
 
We hope you found this article worthwhile and that it may be helpful to somebody. Holistic Management has helped us achieve what we want now and we are working to make sure it continues to help the Reed Ranch for generations to come.
 
Jim and Judy Reed own and operate Reed Wildlife Ranch in Corsicana, Texas. They can be reached at: oljim@reedfamilyranch.com and msjudy@reedfamilyranch.com .