Meet Laura and Lee Hazeltine of Integrazers in Northern California. Integrazers is a vegetation management business, running sheep, goats and cattle. In addition to the wildfire prevention work they do with their livestock, they also market their lamb and goat meat commercially. I’ve enjoyed see the work Laura, Lee and their team of shepherds do on Instagram.
Name: Laura (and Lee) Hazeltine
Location: Northern California – our primary residence is in Lincoln, CA. However, we have ranches and property in Northern Cali.
Tell me about your farm/business and work with goats:
Lee is a plant scientist out of UC Davis with a 30-year vegetation management business, running sheep, goats and cattle. I have a land conservation background and together we operate a large-scale service-grazing organization.
Integrazers uses Holistic Integration of animals into systems using scientific, innovative, best management practices to develop financially sustainable & regenerative solutions: Forests, Open Space, Conservation lands, conventional & organic crops. Plant Scientist with 30 years of experience & knowledge in: Vegetation Management, Targeted Grazing, Forestry & Timber, Fire Science & Fuels, Systems Biology & Ecology, Ag Cover & Multi-species crops, Conservation Law & Homeowners Association Policy. Respecting the biological complexities – not complicated, but ecologically complex – seeking solutions that holistically optimize the system, not maximize one at the expense of another.
Vision: One day, when we see smoke, we will be able to say, “We should go put that fire out at some point. Not, run for your lives.” In the same systems, we can feed the world, high-quality, nutrient-dense food at a reasonable cost, not a select few that can afford it.
What’s your market? Where do you offer your services/products?
We sell our meat commercially through Superior Farms. So, when you see lamb at Costco with this label, it may be ours. We also sell our goats and lambs through a local livestock broker (40 years) that supplies the restaurant industry and the Muslim population with meat. We call our custom meat SimpLee Fed.
Grazing for long-term fuels management in symbiosis with the needs of the landscapes, removing, or better said, transforming fire fuels, while also improving biological function through economically viable and sustainable solutions.
As Lee would say, “Finance & science integrated with a focus on long-term earth equity, delivering economic value, not a short-term solution with a narrow-sighted payday.”
Through carefully executed prescribed herbivore, these herds transform vegetative fire fuels into nutrient and organic biomass, while respecting the biological complexities of the landscape.
How/why did you get into doing this work?
What began as 22 acres in 2008, with 570 sheep, 70 goats, and Lee walking the animals from site to site, grazing, studying, and gathering data, while also soliciting support for a strategic grazing program within the suburban interface; building from the grassroots with residents and local groups, to the top, with policy makers. The original herd did not see a trailer for 18 months.
In 3 1/2 years the project grew to 5,000 acres and 14,500 animals. In the Spring of 2012, we had 31 semi loads, 14,500 animals and 17 sites working on the first day of May in Placer County.
During these times, we contemplate what our current reality would be if we had kept all the animals working in the forests.
Why do you like working with goats?
Holistic-Managed Grazing Prevents Catastrophic Wildfires — Similar to a brief elevator speech, they say we should be able to communicate in five words or less what we do. For storytellers like us that’s hard to do.
So instead of sharing with you how holistic-managed, multi-species grazing regenerates our conservation and range lands, transforms fire-prone brushy forests into healthy woodlands, prevents devastating wildfires throughout rural, urban and suburban landscapes by consuming the ladder fuel plants . . . Instead of sharing how well-managed, systems-grazing can target invasive species or regenerate environments that foster sensitive plants & animals . . .
Instead of sharing how ruminants through their unique & powerful microbial digestion can transform fire-prone vegetation into much-needed, nutrient & water holding biomass that through biomimicry (mimicking the large, wild herds that once grazed here) solves modern day problems with natural solutions for storm water management, soil fertility, climate change . . .
Instead of sharing with you how ruminants support ecosystem health, enabling carbon sequestration by drawing carbon into the soil through improved plant & soil health and increased biodiversity . . .
Instead of sharing how in these same systems we can grow nutrient dense food for an ever-growing population, and how within the American River Parkway, how grazing addresses local issues by exposing criminal activity and helping to “clean up” the parkway of unnatural elements, I’ll just reiterate what Lee says,
“Quality Grazing Delivers Dynamic Results”
For several decades Lee ran a large vegetation management business in this timberland. With his doctorate and father as a renowned entomologist embedded in the chemical world, Lee followed suit using herbicides to kill brush. Until one day, many years ago, an epiphany washed over him. “This brush is forage that can be feeding ruminants that in turn can provide nutrient-dense food.” That’s when our mission statement was born and to this day is the ethos of @integrazers
Modern day herds preventing destructive Fire behavior on the steep terrain behind the homes along this fire-prone corridor. Cristian and David are holistically managing this herd with a high-intensity, short duration approach – mimicking the large herds that once grazed & browsed here.
What’s one tip, trick, hack or favorite tool that you use with goats?
Keep the fences hot . . . like the Polar Express song – Hot, Hot Hot! Here in long, dry climates, we carry a jug of water and pour on the ground where the connecting posts are.
To settle both the sheep and goats in the corral, I sing peaceful church songs from my childhood. And always, think like the animal -whether dog, goat, cow or sheep. They know!
Where can people find you online?
www.integrazers.com @integrazers on Facebok and Instagram. And don’t hesitate to give us a call if you think we can help – Lee is at 530-681-0290