Family’s land legacy important enough to protect

Ferd Tschirhart has been named as the 2019 Outstanding Conservation Rancher of the Year by the Medina Valley Soil and Water Conservation District.
Ferd owns and operates over 765 acres located in northwestern Medina County. The property was originally settled by his maternal ancestors and has been in his family for at least four generations. His love of the land and passion for preserving the natural beauty was planted at an early age by coming out to the ranch many weekends during his childhood with his father to help him with ranch maintenance.
Ferd recognized several conservation concerns after taking over ranch operations and turned to the Medina Valley SWCD and NRCS for ideas and guidance. With the help of the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and many years of dedicated work, he has restored natural grasses for grazing cattle and wildlife, established rotational grazing, and conserved natural resources – namely soil and water. The conservation work Ferd put into his ranch has increased the productivity of his cattle operation and enhanced wildlife forage which has strengthen his whitetail population.
Ferd runs a cow / calf operation consisting of approximately 30 head of registered Black Angus cows with a registered Braham bull. Rotational grazing has impacted his herd by increasing the amount of forage available as well as the quality of that forage.
In turn, the cattle have fertilized the land and managed plant growth. Other effects of rotational grazing include greatly reduced soil erosion and increased water infiltration.
In addition, he leases acreage for deer hunting. Keeping with the idea of preserving nature, Ferd places deer management stipulations in his leases to promote stronger herds of whitetail. He requires supplemental feeding as well as places restrictions on the age, size and condition of the deer harvested each year.
Ferd has been approached by several individuals interested in purchasing his property. While some of the offers would have been very lucrative for him financially, he was more concerned with the preservation of the land and his family heritage.
Despite advice from a few people about possible devaluation of his ranch, Ferd made a long-term commitment to conservation and to ensure the land would remain undeveloped. He placed the ranch in a perpetual conservation easement agreement with the Edwards Aquifer Authority. According to Ferd, the value of the land depends on your perspective and what you value.
Owning land that has been in your family for generations is an opportunity few people have. To Ferd and his wife, Margaret, the real value of their family ranch is maintaining the integrity of the original property to pass on future generations. They are very excited about the conservation practices and improvements they have implemented to safeguard its natural resources.