Living in the mountains of Northern California our seasons are shorter than most, and though many people think that California is all sun and sand, we live in a rugged environment with four seasons. In the end, however, that works out to our benefit as cow/calf operators/ranchers because this creates a higher nutrient content for the alfalfa-grass hay we raise in the summer and feed our cows in the winter. In the summer our cows remain on the ranch with beautiful grass pasture, much of which is actually native grass, never having been farmed at all. The cattle live their entire lives on this ranch, never leaving at all until time for sale. What grain our cattle do eat prior to sale is primarily seed that is reused from year to year. We raise “natural” beef; Natural Certification verifies there is no antibiotic or hormones added to the meat.
All summer long is spent working; I love the old saying, “Make hay while the sun shines!” That’s definitely summer for us! There are six men (3 generations) doing the swathing (hay), raking, baling 1-ton bales, stacking on a truck, and hauling to the barns to be stored in the barn for wintertime. And there is no air conditioning for these guys – with temperatures often in the high 90s
In the fall, we calve – that means watching the young cows (and first time heifers) and often pulling calves. OBs hold nothing over these guys on some nights!! We work cattle during these months, too – but this is a fun time, too! Riding horses and moving cattle is a time that I enjoy immensely.
In wintertime the primary focus is feeding cattle – and mechanicing or working on equipment for spring and summer. Sometimes the temperatures drop below zero but most of the time it’s in the teens and 20s for daytime temperatures. One of the family benefits that comes with this time of year is evening “family time!” While we eat late during the summer, sometimes after nine o’clock, in wintertime we get to eat early!
Many people suggest farmers and ranchers work smarter not harder. But smarter for us is employing the entire family and a quality of life that requires sacrifice and dedication.
The women play a big role on the ranch too. We help where it is needed, hauling hay if the need arises, working cattle, providing daily lunches to the crew, which has also gone on for generations. We are now in our 5th generation with the grandchildren being the 6th generation.
For more about life on a ranch or related topics, visit my blog: www.whatsthebeeffromsouptonuts.blogspot.com