Edmonton (Rural Roots Canada) – It can be tough finding land to farm. But one farmer is sharing her story about how her family turned a spent gravel pit into a flourishing grassland for cattle.

RELATED: Cattle grazing: protecting native grasslands

Kristine Tapley and her family have been running their cow-calf operation near Langruth, Manitoba the last ten years.

When they first started out, they found it hard to find land that was farm ready. So they improvised, buying a property that once housed a gravel pit and promptly went to work on improving it.

“We were really fortunate to access lots of programs that allowed us to take that property and restore it back to grassland and to rejuvenate it using the cattle and feeding cattle on that land to get lots of growth,” Tapley says.

Tapley, who also works for Ducks Unlimited Canada, says they had some remarkable results within the first five years.

“We took it from a spent gravel pit, turned it into a productive grassland and now we’ve put an easement on it so it will always stay as grass and bush forever.”

She suggests if there’s one takeaway for farmers about her experience, it’s that if there’s a will, there’s a way.

“We were able to grow into that piece of property and use cattle to make it better, which turned out to be a good business plan.”

Tapley says the last ten years have been a learning experience for her and her family, and she’s always learning new things about their operation.

“We really focused on growing the grass first and foremost and then focusing on the quality of the cattle and converting that grass into pounds. The next step we’re grappling with is getting those pounds to the market. It’s been an exciting process. We’ve had to change our perception of what we thought our farm was going to look like but for the better, I think.”

Tapley spoke at the Western Canada Conference on Soil Health and Grazing last December.