If you step outside into the morning sun but don’t hear birds singing, you may have a problem.

“Birds are a leading indicator of what’s happening in your ecosystem,” says Chad Lemke, a Texas rancher who took over his family’s operation in the early 2000s with his wife, Rhona. Parts of the ranch, two hours west of Austin, have been in Lemke’s family since the late 1800s. Today, the family raises cattle, sheep, and goats for breeding stock and grass-finished meat.

Read more from Courtney Leeper-Girgis with Successful Farming here.