Fall is my favorite time of year; the leaves are showing color, the air is crisp and clear and it is also time for the fall round-up. Our Lowline Angus cattle have been grazing on the lush, green grass of our summer pastures since last May. As we prepare for the fall Harvest of Beef it is time to round the cattle up and move them back to our home ranch and winter pastures. You've probably heard of cattle round-ups in the old west where dozens of riders on horseback covered miles and miles of open range land gathering the cattle and then spent days herding them all home camping out under the stars along the way. Our round-up is a little less complicated. Since we get a lot of rain here – over 96 inches per year on average – our pasture grass is very lush and nutritious and will support a lot more cattle per acre than the sometimes very sparse grass in other beef cattle regions. Our cattle are in a relatively small (25-30 acre) pasture where we rotationally graze them all summer. By comparison, one of our ranching friends in Colorado needs 400 acres (which he still has to irrigate) to have enough grass for a herd smaller than ours. Our lush grass makes the grazing and round-up a lot less sprawling and difficult – which is a good thing since there are only the three of us to do whatever has to be done.
My husband Rick and son Alex built a new holding / loading pen just last week at the summer pasture. That is a huge improvement on our previous rather rickety set up and made the gathering and loading job a lot easier and safer for everyone involved, both bovine and human. The guys put some fresh hay inside the new pen and the steers and heifers trotted right inside. My kind of round-up! We backed our stock trailer up and loaded the first group for the drive home. Since our summer pasture is only a half mile down the road it is not a long journey. Our stock trailer is old and small so it takes several trips to move the cattle home. When we get back to our home ranch we off load the cattle into the holding pens – we have a new one of those too see pictures below– until we have them all back. The next step is to move each animal through the chute and onto the scale to check them and get an individual weight. Then the steers are sorted from the heifers and each group is herded down the hill to their winter pasture. The heifers (females who have not yet calved) are bred to our new bull Snapshot and will calve in the spring.
Next week the mobile unit from our Farmer’s Co-op will be here for our beef harvest. The steers have been finished all summer on our lush, healthy grass and the meat will be great. If you haven’t already done so, you can make a deposit on a Whole, Half, Quarter, Large or Small Family Pack here. The meat is scheduled for delivery in the Seattle area Saturday, November 23rd; you can see all the delivery information here. We do have a limited supply of our delicious grass fed beef available so don’t be left out.