Anvil Ranch Reliable Livestock Water Success Story
John King standing with wife, Pat, youngest son, Joe, and his daughter-in-law, Sarah.
NRCS worked with the King's to provide water tanks throughout the ranch, enabling a reliable water source for the livestock.
The largest solar pump on Anvil Ranch pumps seven to eight gallons of water per minute!
Looking to the Past to Better Conserve the Future
The Anvil Ranch – Ranching for Generations
TUCSON, ARIZ. - March 13, 2012 - The Anvil Ranch dates back to the 1890’s. Owners John and Pat King share with pride the history and legacy the ranch has carried for four generations.
“The long term history of the ranch is interesting and carries great value,” said Joe King, youngest of John and Pat King’s children and fourth generation rancher. “We know what the ranch was like before us and what it is capable of being. Ranching is what we do. I don’t know any other way.”
Turning a few pages back in Anvil Ranch history, cases of severe drought, supplementing water sources and managing grazing lands were all significant issues. John’s father began working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in the 1950’s during the Mid-Century Drought that lasted from 1942-1978. Their primary goal was to get something on the ground.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s John expanded their NRCS conservation plan to include brush clearing. John worked very hard to remove mesquite trees that provided too much shade for native grasses to germinate and grow, reducing the amount of vegetation available.
“There wasn’t any cross fencing at that time either, so we worked with NRCS to put up fence,” said Pat King. “We continued to do so through the 80’s and began our pasture rotations. Before we had cross fencing, it took time and a lot of man power to round-up the animals, count them and feed them.”
With new fencing installed, managing grazing lands was becoming easier. However, the King’s encountered another hurtle they had to maneuver.
“We found that some of our pastures didn’t have enough water,” said Pat.
Water needs to be delivered to the areas where livestock are grazing or where it is desirable to have the livestock located, rather than requiring livestock to travel long distances to drink. The ranch had a few stock ponds that would fill when the rains came. The problem was when there wasn’t rain they were dry. When it finally did rain, the ground cover they desperately worked to replenish slowed the water that normally filled the stock ponds and soaked into the ground. John coordinated with his local NRCS field office and they developed a plan to put in wells and pipelines to provide water in needed locations across the ranch. John used funding he received from the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for installation. Over the past ten years the King’s added more fencing and more pipelines. Their grazing management plan improved significantly.
The King’s have also begun using solar technologies to pump water at their ranch. One of their larges solar pumps, pumps seven to eight gallons of water per minute. This is more than twice as much compared to old generators they used before.
“The solar pumps are great. There is less maintenance required and they save us a lot of money,” said Joe King. “They paid for themselves in the first two months.”
The King family goes over and beyond their ranching duties. They are advocates for their trade, active members of their community and educators. John serves as Vice President of the Pima Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD). Pat also sits on the Pima NRCD board as an advisor. In addition the King family is also core members of the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, where Pat serves as the President. Joe’s wife Sarah is the Community Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Alliance. They also participate in Arizona Farm Bureau and Arizona Cattle Growers events. The King’s have opened their home to many who wish and need to experience the lifestyle of ranching on the Arizona and Mexico border. They continually educate politicians and the public on the issues they face.
“The ranch has private, state and federal lands. But to us, it is ours. It doesn’t matter what land it is, its condition is what defines the kind of ranchers we are. Maintaining a good functioning habitat is important to us,” said Pat.
Each generation brings new challenges and successes. The Anvil Ranch demonstrates what it means to conserve not only the land they live and work on, but also the history that surrounds them. Sharing the past to improve the future is a key part of their agricultural operation. Advocating for agriculture and stewardship of the land helps to conserve the lifestyle they love for many more generations to come.