By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Long before phrases such as “low carbon footprint” and “sustainable farming” became fashionable and common, Roy Perish was using ecologically sound farming practices at his Creek Bottom Farm northwest of Long Prairie.
Perish grew up in Browerville and has been at 280-acre Creek Bottom Farm with his wife, Teresa, and their three children, for 25 years. His goal was to sustain a family farm, and he has done that.
In addition to cattle, Perish raises hogs and chickens.
In 1988, he began to rotationally graze his cattle. He was considered a renegade and was laughed at.
“Two times in a row, I was at the local parts store just visiting and they laughed me out of town when I told them I was ‘fencing,’” said Perish.
In order to rotate the cattle one or two times per day, the majority of Perish’s land is fenced. The farm is completely in pasture and is divided up into smaller paddocks.
“It’s a lot less expensive to fence land than to buy, operate and maintain machinery, or to grow and harvest crops,” he said.
After changing to rotational grazing, his cattle herd’s health improved considerably. Shortly after doing that, his veterinarian stopped by to see if he had switched to a new vet because of the lack of calls.
“My tax preparer jokingly told me that my vet bills were too high,” Perish said. “I had an annual vet bill of $54 for about 40 cattle.”
Perish’s health also improved. “Once I started grazing the cows, I was healthier, too, with the walking I do around the farm,” said Perish.
While not putting as much time into other activities around the farm, Perish has closer bonds with his cattle.
Five years ago, he had a Brown Swiss lead cow that he could simply call, and she would bring all the cows home for milking.
“I realized that she was hearing my diesel truck come home in the evening after baling and the cows just walked in by themselves,” said Perish.
Regrettably, Perish got rid of the Brown Swiss when she was done milking and had to break in a new lead cow.
That cow is Red Hat, a fourth-generation cow on the farm. “I can just call her, and she’ll follow me,” Perish said.
Then Perish got to thinking about how the other members of the family could bring the cows in so easily, even if he were not there with the diesel engine.
“I started using a cow bell. Now, even if they’re a half-mile away they will hear it and will walk in themselves for whoever is ringing the bell,” he said.
What Perish puts into his farm has been low since 1988. He purchases fencing materials, but he is not buying glyphosate-raised sugar beet pulp, genetically modified soybeans, fertilizer, machine parts or fuel.
“The good Lord gave me two legs and the cows four legs — now, who should be the one to bring in the feed?” asked Perish with a twinkle in his eye.
What was once an innovation has become more popular with the interest in organic farming. But Perish’s innovations have not stopped there.
On Aug. 8 last year, Perish had a greenhouse/garden hose Ultimate Water structuring unit installed on his stock tank. In only two weeks, the somatic cell count on the milk produced on the farm decreased by 80,000 and has stayed down.
Although Perish has not gone through the process of being organically certified, such an improvement in his milk quality would reap monetary awards if he were certified.
“Ultimate Water technology involves reenergizing water,” said Ben Ice, a biological consultant specializing in soil testing.
“A 26-part molecule with iron, calcium and other build-up is broken up into five-six part molecules, which is super hydrating,” Ice said.
“This process increases the energy of water, which dramatically increases hydration of anything that uses that water — crops, herds and people,” said Ice.
Water that has been structured with this system increases the bio-availability of essential nutrients.
“The benefits of increased hydration are passed on through the crops and the water from the stock tank to the cows to the people who eat the beef,” Ice said. “It is a whole system which benefits.”
For more information on Ultimate Water systems, contact Ben Ice at 612-396-5770.