One of the best gifts of ranching in the Steamboat Springs area is the abundant and rich grass that fills our valley floors each summer. Because of this amazing feature of the area, most ranchers do not need to feed their cattle or horses during the summer as they get more than enough nutrition from the grass. As the snow covers the valley and the mountains around the ranch, the horses start to wonder where did all that lush grass go? And, where is my dinner?
Around the middle of August we start seeing the hay truck rolling up the driveway several times a day. One of our local friends has fields and fields of grass that he watches and cares for until it’s just the right time to cut it each year. As he cuts those hundreds of acres of grass hay, he starts delivering them to us one load at a time. With a mix of big round bales, large square bales and smaller bales that can be tossed by a strong wrangler, we slowly accumulate all the hay that we’ll need for the winter months.
During the snowy winter months, we’ll feed the horses with the feed sleigh, just like the old timer ranchers did back when Vista Verde was homesteaded as a hay and cattle operation. Each day the wranglers load up the sleigh with hay, hitch up the team and head out right around lunch time to spread cheer and joy throughout the winter pasture. The horses know exactly what time feed-time is and start lining up at the gate about 11am.
As the snow starts to get melty in the late-spring, we switch over to feeding the large round bales with the tractor. The amount we feed gets lower and lower as fresh, spring grass starts peeking through. And, then it’s back to fields of green, lush grass and horses grazing each day in the pastures. There’s a reason it’s called Vista Verde!
So, the question is, can you guess how many tons of hay we have to buy each year to sustain our herd of roughly 100 horses through the winter? Submit your guess between now and Christmas. The closest guess will get a little prize sent their way!