A Tale of Two Farms
Three generations ago, at the sound of a cannon's boom, our great grandfathers led their families across the plains during the Oklahoma Land Run of 1893. The Gosney and Ratzlaff families staked their claims, separately, in what is now Major County. Chances are these families never met as their homesteads were 20 miles apart, separated by the rugged Gloss Mountains. They each persevered through droughts, hail storms, insect infestations, the Dust Bowl, floods, illnesses, and personal loss.
The "tale of two farms" came together when John Gosney and Kris Ratzlaff fell in love and were married, bringing their stories together to start the next chapter. Commitment, faith, and love of the land are all characteristics of our ancestors that have successfully passed from generation-to-generation. With a wealth of Oklahoma farming history, a multitude of family stories, and a collection of ancestor memorabilia, we are humbled by our history. That same pioneer spirit of our ancestors continues today as we strive to constantly innovate to find healthier, more sustainable ways to farm and cultivate the land that has been entrusted to us.
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For generations, our ancestors farmed without chemicals and other commercial inputs as such additives simply were not available. When herbicides, pesticides, and commercial fertilizers came available our parents utilized these inputs in hopes of improving the economics of agriculture. When we first began farming our operation also included these harsh inputs.
In 1996 our farming methods began to change when a neighbor asked John to take over his farm land and we would need to meet one stipulation – that is to remain as organic as it had been since the Land Run. We were reluctant to take on organic farming; however, after putting pencil to paper we decided fewer commercial inputs might improve our bottom line, which motivated John to agree to farm organically for our neighbor.
After several years of hands-on experience and self-study, John believed his calling was to be an organic farmer. Economics soon gave way to the greater importance; the methods of sustainable agriculture became a priority. We planted native grasses in pastures, built ponds and terraces, put effort into helping the soil become naturally healthy through microbial growth, worked diligently to provide an environment for cattle where they are free to roam and partake of a grass diet for which they are intended. This is the model of our farming practices today.
John’s Farm is the only small, family owned/operated farm in the US which is Certified Organic, Animal Welfare Approved, and USDA verified grass-finished.
What we considered a rare challenge in 1996 is now the norm on our farm. Harsh inputs are a thing of the past. Ladybugs and earthworms are abundant and welcome. In many respects we are farming as our ancestors did—we’re dependent on weather to enhance growing opportunities and allow healthy soil to produce healthy plant and animal life.
We are honored and humbled to continue our family’s farming tradition. We are pleased to have the opportunity to sustain our farm for the generations that will follow us. We believe our great-grandfathers, who staked a claim in the Oklahoma Land Run of 1893, would be pleased to know there are nine species of native grasses nourishing the cattle that live on it.