Welcome to Alderspring Ranch Organic Grass Fed Beef!
Know Where Your Beef Comes From
While there is no heaven on earth, Alderspring Ranch Organic Grass Fed Beef is pretty close. We raise our beef in the remote Pahsimeroi Valley, a place of clean water from pristine mountains, high altitude unpolluted air, highly mineralized volcanic soils, diverse grasses, and lots of sunshine. We have discovered that the unique and acclaimed flavor of our organic grass fed beef is a result of the place where they are raised, and our unique growing conditions. Similar to a fine wine, our organic grass fed beef is a reflection of the terroir of the physical environment.
Alderspring Ranch gets its name from three sources. First, it is named for the original people who homesteaded our first ranch in Tendoy, Idaho (Claude and Josephine Alder) and from the elderly couple we purchased the ranch from in 1993, Ron and Francis Alder. Ron and Fran lived on the ranch until their deaths. They taught us a great deal, and we loved them dearly.
The name also comes from our name, Elzinga, which means in Friesian “from the alders.” The third source of the name comes from the shrubby streamside alders that grew around several springs on the Tendoy Ranch, and also grow on our Hat Creek range.
We worked and cared for the 145 acre Tendoy Ranch for 15 years. While Alderspring Ranch Organic Grass Fed Beef was growing, however, the opportunities for ranching in the Lemhi Valley around Tendoy were decreasing.
We lost several of our long-term leases to subdivision. We began to deal more and more with conflict between ranching operations and subdivisions.
Land in the Lemhi Valley had become prohibitively expensive, and it did not look likely that we would be able to purchase a larger ranch anywhere in the valley. We realized that we would either have to shrink Alderspring Ranch Organic Grass Fed Beef to fit on the Tendoy Ranch, or find a land base somewhere else. We began exploring a long-distance move to states with less expensive agricultural land.
Things changed dramatically in the spring of 2005. After negotiating for several months on a new, larger property owned by a land trust organization in the nearby beautiful Pahsimeroi Valley, we moved the entire operation to this new location, formerly known as the Moen Ranch in May, Idaho. A few years later we finalized purchase of the ranch from the land trust.
The ranch is only about 20 miles from the Tendoy Ranch as the eagle flies, but because the roadless Lemhi Mountains separate the two valleys, the new ranch is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Tendoy. We spent the summer of 2005 moving our operation and learning a new ranch.
The Moen Ranch was initially purchased by the land trust in the fall of 2004 because of its many unique natural values, the most notable of which is that the ranch hosts one of the largest areas of functioning Chinook Salmon spawning habitat in Central Idaho. One of the organization’s objectives in purchase of the ranch was to find a conservation-minded buyer that would agree not to develop the ranch and to preserve and enhance the unique habitats found on the ranch. The land trust selected us from a pool of other applicants as best fitting their goals in their search for a new owner of the ranch.
The ranch has 1400 acres deeded ground and grazing permits on some 46,000 acres of BLM and Forest Service lands. The ranch is much larger, and much more productive than the Tendoy Ranch. About 540 acres of the private ground is grass/alfalfa/clover irrigated fields; the remainder is in dry grassland/sagebrush steppe and wet meadow areas. In addition, because of the management of the previous landowner, the ranch was eligible for organic certification.
We use the irrigated pastures for growing hay and intensively managing the young finishing beeves (called “yearlings” because they are between 12 and 18 months old) on high quality grass. Some older mother cows and their calves stay at the home ranch in the summer. They follow the yearlings in a rotation, and eat the less palatable grass that remains after the yearlings have eaten off the “ice cream” grass. The older cows have lower nutritional needs than the yearlings, and do fine on the less-palatable grass.
The remaining cows and calves will spend their summer on the BLM and Forest Service grazing permits. The range area is in the nearby Salmon River Mountains, about 10 miles away from the main ranch, and covers an area of some 70 square miles.
Due to its remoteness, Glenn sees very few people up in this wild country (He saw only 14 people up there over the entire summer grazing season). Instead, the area is occupied by a number of wildlife species: elk, deer, wolves, cougars, coyotes, antelope and black bear to name a few. We work hard to managed our cattle to improve these habitats, often riding 2-4 very long days each week (often from 5:30 AM to 11:00 PM) on horseback, moving cattle off of sensitive creeks and springs, fixing fence and caring for the nearly 50 miles of creeks that cross the range.
We’re excited about being blessed with the opportunity to care for both this ranch and the range. We have a lot of ideas of things to do over the next few years to improve the ecological condition and productivity of this place. We’ll keep you posted over on our blog, Organic Beef Matters.