Meet Your Farmer – Healthy Meadows

May 23, 2023 | Grow & Tell - Stories

At the tail end of June last year, as a wave of green swept across the prairie, we visited Ivan and Chia Thrane at their ranch northwest of Red Lodge.

In the rolling hills above Red Lodge Creek, their family of five raise a rambunctious herd of approximately 250 goats which they use to manage noxious weeds in their community. 

In Montana, landowners are responsible for controlling weeds – and many turn to spraying herbicides. But grazing goats, at specific times and with a high stocking density, can target weeds like leafy spurge, spotted knapweed, and Canadian thistle. That’s where the Trane’s business, Healthy Meadows, comes in. Their herd’s intense grazing inhibits seeding and, if grazed at a frequent enough cycle, can reduce the number of weeds in a pasture. 

“We’re viewing what we’re doing, specifically with goats, as a way to increase the health of land and increase diversity,” said Ivan. “Something that gives us a lot of joy is seeing some of these native wildflowers returning to pastures that historically had been sprayed for years and lost a lot of diversity.”

Raising the herd is a family affair and a choice Ivan and Chia made early in their relationship. According to Chia, “it’s been a real joy to have as part of our lives little people who also care about the things that we care about.” The three Thane children – Yarrow, Axel, and Juniper – are intimately involved in the daily care of their animals and are inquisitive about the lives of their chickens, goats, cows, and horses.

“I see so much wealth in raising our children with this innate knowledge of where their food comes from, but also what it takes to get it to the dinner table,” said Chia. “They participate in bottle raising baby goats, they participate in herding, and sometimes moving fences if they’re really energetic. And they also help us butcher and sometimes even cook now.” 

This hands-on experience is important to the Thrane family and something they’re excited to share with their community. They offer butchering workshops on their ranch, seasonable edible and medicinal plant walks, and internships as an integral part of their mission. And, in case you didn’t hear, Healthy Meadows won AERO’s 2022 Jane Kile Scholarship which supported their purchase of a meat grinder for their butchering workshops. Read more at AERO’s blog.

To try their meat or sign up for a class at their ranch, you contact them at their website. To learn more about Healthy Meadows, enjoy the full video above.

To learn more about Healthy Meaadows, enjoy the full video above and stay tuned for our June newsletter to see the next video in the series. Subscribers will receive exclusive access to our forthcoming ‘Meet Your Farmer’ videos weeks before they are made publicly available. 

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