Robert “Bob” and JoAnn Good of Marion own a 640-acre pasture in the Flint Hills named the “Flying Turtle Ranch.”
The name came about, Bob said, when they found the skeleton of a turtle in the pasture and placed it in a cairn of stones on a small hill that overlooks the grass, trees, and creek that runs through the property.
JoAnn Good and her three sisters inherited the pasture after the death of their parents, Clinton and Josephine Frick of Durham. It had been in the Frick family since the early 1960s. The Goods eventually bought the sisters’ shares.
When JoAnn and her three sisters were still living at home on the farm, they took turns going to the pasture with their parents to check the cattle, fix fence, and cut weeds.
“I remember getting stuck occasionally when crossing the creek, since our old pickup truck did not have four-wheel drive,” she said. “We soon learned to put on tire chains when we got to the pasture. There also was a time or two when the truck mired down on higher ground where a spring seeped out of the ground.”
When their children were growing up, the Goods frequently visited the pasture to have picnics on the hill. They still do so occasionally.
“We like to explore the pasture,” Good said. “My 3-year-old grandson, Owen, likes to skip rocks on the water in the creek. I’m trying to nurture in him a love of the land.”
The grass is leased, but Bob said he goes out often to check on things and is familiar with chopping thistles.
Two years ago, he went to Marion County Conservation District for advice on how to improve the grass. Rangeland specialist Doug Spencer suggested a way to establish a permanent water supply that would see them through periods of drought. The district also devised a way of dividing the pasture into two segments for rotational grazing.
In addition to a creek, the pasture has a windmill for water.
“The cattle preferred the creek, but there was no water storage in times of dry weather,” Good said.
A fence surrounding a stock tank made from a super-large tire straddles a new cross fence. Gates that open to either side provide access to the tank and allow cattle to move from one side of the pasture to the other. Two 3,000-gallon, aboveground storage tanks are installed at the well. An underground waterline carries water from the storage tanks to the stock tank.
Good said the storage tanks would supply water for three or four days.
During the growing season, from approximately mid-April to mid-October, the cow herd is rotated from one side of the pasture to the other every two, three, or four weeks, depending on the condition of the grass.
“It’s not labor intensive,” Good said. “You open a few gates, go away for a day or two, come back, and they are in the new area.”
The renter sometimes leads cows through the gates with his truck or places salt blocks near gates to entice them through.
“The grass gets a really good chance to rest, and the cattle do well,” Good said. “The grass has improved.”
In 2015, the pasture was recovering from the previous year’s drought, so Good limited renters to stocking 158 cows as opposed to stocking up to 185 cows in a good year.
“I don’t like to overgraze the grass,” he said.
Good praised conservation service agents for their assistance.
“It was an A-plus experience,” he said. “They do a wonderful job. They know everything about the grass.”
The Goods will receive the 2015 MCCD Grassland Award at its annual banquet Feb. 27 in Marion. Bob Good said he and his wife were surprised to get the award.
“JoAnn’s parents got the award years ago,” he said. “We went to the banquet and were proud to see them get it. We love the land and are trying to encourage the kids to love it, too.”
They have two sons and three grandchildren.