An ace in the hole | TSLN.com

An ace in the hole

Loretta Sorensen

Photo by Loretta SorensenFrom left to right: Dan, Gary and Kevin use organic farming practices on their Yankton County farm and produce and sell natural beef to local consumers. Their farm and livestock management practices changed about 11 years ago when Gary was diagnosed with cancer.

As Gary Cwach’s body was being ravaged by cancer, the Yankton, SD farmer began questioning himself as to why he was sick and what may have brought on his illness. He also began considering what his wife and children were being exposed to. His determination to regain his own health and produce healthy products on his farm has led him to offer natural beef products to local consumers and begin organic farming practices.

Farming northwest of Yankton, the first thing Cwach did was stop using hormone implants in his cattle, even though he knew it would affect his production time.

“Our beef products have not been certified organic,” Cwach said. “But because we’re not using hormone implants or antibiotics in our feed, the taste of the meat is better, more tender than what you’ll buy in the stores. It’s a little like wine. There can be a great difference in the taste because of the way it’s produced. Selling our beef to local consumers is a real low-key process. Right now we’re selling 15 to 20 head this way every year. Once people try it and taste it, they usually come back and buy more. They appreciate the quality and flavor of the meat.”

Cwach began his process to produce natural beef by revising his pasture management plans. He started using natural nutrients to build up the nutritional value of his pastures and fields in order to ensure that his livestock were consuming more natural products. In addition to examining how he managed his land, Cwach started reviewing every area he could think of that may have contributed to his health condition. He called to have his water supply – which comes from the Missouri River – tested. What he found out was not welcome news.

“Several chemicals and heavy metals were found in the water,” says Cwach. “It was also noted that antibiotics and all kinds of drugs were present. This was our drinking water and we showered in this water. I spent several thousand dollars to install a water filtering system for our house. I didn’t want our cattle drinking the water either, so I filter the water they drink too.”

As Gary Cwach’s body was being ravaged by cancer, the Yankton, SD farmer began questioning himself as to why he was sick and what may have brought on his illness. He also began considering what his wife and children were being exposed to. His determination to regain his own health and produce healthy products on his farm has led him to offer natural beef products to local consumers and begin organic farming practices.

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Farming northwest of Yankton, the first thing Cwach did was stop using hormone implants in his cattle, even though he knew it would affect his production time.

“Our beef products have not been certified organic,” Cwach said. “But because we’re not using hormone implants or antibiotics in our feed, the taste of the meat is better, more tender than what you’ll buy in the stores. It’s a little like wine. There can be a great difference in the taste because of the way it’s produced. Selling our beef to local consumers is a real low-key process. Right now we’re selling 15 to 20 head this way every year. Once people try it and taste it, they usually come back and buy more. They appreciate the quality and flavor of the meat.”

Cwach began his process to produce natural beef by revising his pasture management plans. He started using natural nutrients to build up the nutritional value of his pastures and fields in order to ensure that his livestock were consuming more natural products. In addition to examining how he managed his land, Cwach started reviewing every area he could think of that may have contributed to his health condition. He called to have his water supply – which comes from the Missouri River – tested. What he found out was not welcome news.

“Several chemicals and heavy metals were found in the water,” says Cwach. “It was also noted that antibiotics and all kinds of drugs were present. This was our drinking water and we showered in this water. I spent several thousand dollars to install a water filtering system for our house. I didn’t want our cattle drinking the water either, so I filter the water they drink too.”

As Gary Cwach’s body was being ravaged by cancer, the Yankton, SD farmer began questioning himself as to why he was sick and what may have brought on his illness. He also began considering what his wife and children were being exposed to. His determination to regain his own health and produce healthy products on his farm has led him to offer natural beef products to local consumers and begin organic farming practices.

Farming northwest of Yankton, the first thing Cwach did was stop using hormone implants in his cattle, even though he knew it would affect his production time.

“Our beef products have not been certified organic,” Cwach said. “But because we’re not using hormone implants or antibiotics in our feed, the taste of the meat is better, more tender than what you’ll buy in the stores. It’s a little like wine. There can be a great difference in the taste because of the way it’s produced. Selling our beef to local consumers is a real low-key process. Right now we’re selling 15 to 20 head this way every year. Once people try it and taste it, they usually come back and buy more. They appreciate the quality and flavor of the meat.”

Cwach began his process to produce natural beef by revising his pasture management plans. He started using natural nutrients to build up the nutritional value of his pastures and fields in order to ensure that his livestock were consuming more natural products. In addition to examining how he managed his land, Cwach started reviewing every area he could think of that may have contributed to his health condition. He called to have his water supply – which comes from the Missouri River – tested. What he found out was not welcome news.

“Several chemicals and heavy metals were found in the water,” says Cwach. “It was also noted that antibiotics and all kinds of drugs were present. This was our drinking water and we showered in this water. I spent several thousand dollars to install a water filtering system for our house. I didn’t want our cattle drinking the water either, so I filter the water they drink too.”

As Gary Cwach’s body was being ravaged by cancer, the Yankton, SD farmer began questioning himself as to why he was sick and what may have brought on his illness. He also began considering what his wife and children were being exposed to. His determination to regain his own health and produce healthy products on his farm has led him to offer natural beef products to local consumers and begin organic farming practices.

Farming northwest of Yankton, the first thing Cwach did was stop using hormone implants in his cattle, even though he knew it would affect his production time.

“Our beef products have not been certified organic,” Cwach said. “But because we’re not using hormone implants or antibiotics in our feed, the taste of the meat is better, more tender than what you’ll buy in the stores. It’s a little like wine. There can be a great difference in the taste because of the way it’s produced. Selling our beef to local consumers is a real low-key process. Right now we’re selling 15 to 20 head this way every year. Once people try it and taste it, they usually come back and buy more. They appreciate the quality and flavor of the meat.”

Cwach began his process to produce natural beef by revising his pasture management plans. He started using natural nutrients to build up the nutritional value of his pastures and fields in order to ensure that his livestock were consuming more natural products. In addition to examining how he managed his land, Cwach started reviewing every area he could think of that may have contributed to his health condition. He called to have his water supply – which comes from the Missouri River – tested. What he found out was not welcome news.

“Several chemicals and heavy metals were found in the water,” says Cwach. “It was also noted that antibiotics and all kinds of drugs were present. This was our drinking water and we showered in this water. I spent several thousand dollars to install a water filtering system for our house. I didn’t want our cattle drinking the water either, so I filter the water they drink too.”