It all starts with our mother cow herd – but where are they?
If the rich Animas Valley grassland provides the finish for our market animal, where are the mother cows that produce these market cattle? We lease public lands to graze our mother cow herd. In the summer the cows graze on the San Juan National Forest north of Dolores, Colorado area about a two hour drive from the Animas Valley. From there they are trailed for three days by horseback down the mountain into Disappointment Valley, and on to Slick Rock, Colorado for the winter grazing.
Then we begin the cycle again. We try very hard to emulate nature in all that we do. This means we calve the same time of year as the elk and deer. It also means we want our cows the same color as the elk and deer that have adapted in our area for thousands of years.
Our cowboys are educated about the importance of grazing as a tool to improve the land. Hooves of domestic cattle and wildlife disturb the ground, plant seed, and fertilize as they forage. Here in the Southwest, in contrast to the more tropical regions, grass will not form a protective ground cover unless disturbed or eaten. This cover breaks up rain drops, shades the ground and is critical to healthy soil organisms. We understand the importance of this and find cattle the best tool to achieve this soil building.
We have selected cattle that will harvest and thrive on the lush green grass of the high altitude meadows. The Slick Rock area is harsh, fragile country with a high percentage of rock components to negotiate. Cows that thrive in that environment must be small and have tough feet and strong constitutions to harvest the forage. They are well adapted to harvesting and converting rangeland into protein for human consumption.