Days later, I mentioned the name to Chad Peterson who, it turns out is distantly related to Doug, though neither was aware of it for the first five years of their friendship (It was their wives who finally realised they both look the same, act the same and share the same interests in mob grazing and cattle breeding. There's no escaping your genes! After some digging, they realised they shared the same Great Great (?) Grandfather on the paternal side)
As a consequence of this, I visited Doug. As well as a rewarding visit, he invited me to attend a farm walk with a group of Missouri farmers the following day, during which I met another farmer, Ben Coleman, who also invited me visit his place as I was passing. Doug also gave me the name of a geneticist-turned-farmer by the name of Allen Williams who he suggested I should meet up with in Mississippi. Subsequently, Allen gave me the name of another farmer, Durwood Gordon who I also met up with.
This is the beauty of a trip such as this, when you're meeting farmers willing to give freely of their time and their contact lists. One name, mentioned in passing, resulted in five further meetings.
Sometimes, it's true that it's not just what you know, but who you know.
Farm walks are the same the world over!
Traditional conservationists want to fence off riparian areas to prevent cattle accessing the creeks and damaging river banks. During the farm walk, we saw how, with proper management, cattle could actually improve the vegetation, helping to support the banks of the stream and thus preventing erosion. This is a creek looking as it would have done hundreds of years ago, when buffalo passed through the area intermittently. Note there is grass right up to the water's edge and small groups of trees exist in places.
Cattle grazing a pasture recently reverted from CRP land (not dissimilar to long-term setaside land in the UK). Note the large numbers of weeds in the foreground, which I comment on further in my next blog.