WHO WE ARE
This is our family, Thomas, Felicity, Rory and Ryan Hagan. Naturally Manitoba is what we believe food and purchasing food can, and should, look like. We raise grass fed beef, pastured pork and honey, along with growing our own garden and raising our own eggs. We are not nutritionists, nor are we soil biologists, but we firmly believe food, fitness and our health are extremely intertwined. The ranch is 3200 acres of native prairie grasslands and bush located on the east side of Oak Lake, Manitoba. We try to use as many old cowboy traditions as we can while adding new technologies that can improve our soils and lifestyle. We love that we get to raise our son in this environment, being this close to nature makes it easy to see we are just a part of a big system. Things certainly aren't always perfect around here as sometimes Instagram and Facebook would lead people to believe. Sometimes the gate gets left open and the cows are out or god knows we should own shares in a tire shop the amount of flats we get. But overall we are getting to do what we love and agriculture is a pretty exciting industry to be in right now as we believe we hold the key to fixing climate change. There is so much to learn, boredom isn't an issue. We love horses, cows, food, fitness, people, nature and family and Naturally Manitoba is all that wrapped up into one business.
WHY WE DO IT
In a time when there is so much debate about what is the best diet, how can we feed the world and what is causing climate change, I truly believe we need to study history and see what has worked on this planet for the last 200,000 years and more. Whether you're a vegan, vegetarian, carnivore or omnivore, we all need a food growing system that is sustainable. In a grassland ecosystem such as the one we live in here, we need animals to help cycle nutrients, period. The soils we live on were built from plants and animals working together, cycling nutrients and storing carbon. The plants grow from photosynthesis using water in the soil and carbon dioxide in the air to form carbohydrates. The plant feeds the soil microbiology below the ground, liquid carbon and puts carbohydrates into its leaves to feed the herbivores above ground. Below ground there is an exchange going on, the plant trades carbon for minerals with bacteria and fungi. Above the ground there is another exchange, herbivores offer a pruning service that stimulates plant growth while the herbivore gets the nutritious sugary part of the plant . In a grassland ecosystem everything revolves around this process, watch documentaries of the African Serengeti, the same process occurred here in North America. Predators, prey, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, bacteria, fungi, etc., etc., all needing one another and none of them are able to make it on their own. Regenerative agriculture, what we practice here, is bio mimicry, taking these lessons nature has shown us and applying them to our food growing system. We use our animals as tools to build soil health and in the process grow more, higher quality grass and higher quality meat, honey, eggs and produce. To mimic this natural system we rotate our cows to new paddocks weekly and sometimes daily, pruning the grass but leaving a full layer of plant life on the soil to protect it from erosion and keep the soil moist and alive. This mimics the migratory grazing patterns of the bison that were here in North America many years ago. Everything about a cow is designed to be good for soil health. The shape of their hooves pushes ungrazed grass into the ground so the soil microbiology can break it down. The bacteria on their noses acts as a sort of fertilizer, which they leave behind when they graze. They poop out 80% of the nutrients they swallow, only now its half digested and in a neat little pile. There is literally whole species of beetles, Dung Beetles, that live off these cow pies and simply seeing them in our pasture is a sign of true soil health. Flocks of birds followed large groups of ruminants around and ate the fly larvae out of their dung, a food source for the birds and a natural pest control for the larger grazers. We are starting to see this in our pastures as birds are seeing the buffet meal these cows are leaving behind in small areas. This system can and is used to grow fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, honey, eggs and more. The key is the soil. If it is storing carbon, it is feeding the microbiology, holding and cleaning water and able to grow massive amounts of food. So that is the focus on our ranch. We use these principles to grow healthy, sustainable food. We believe in it and we hope you can see the value in that. We are not doctors, health experts or soil biologists, but we firmly believe the food we eat and our overall health are just as intertwined as ruminants are to soil health. We want this earth to be a great place to live for generations to come, not a barren dust bowl that our kids will have to fix.