Drowsy Water

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Did Someone Say feast?

The time of year for feasts is here. At Drowsy Water, this feasting business is nothing unusual. Sure, we make sure our guests are well fed while they are here, we even serve them the traditional Thanksgiving feast meal on Sunday night when they first arrive, but the main feast at the ranch is not in our dining room.  If you really want to be impressed by massive quantities and the all-hours of day and night feasting, you'll have to head down to the barn and out to pasture to see the the animals enjoying their daily meals. The feast out there might not include the traditional dishes, but you'd better get ready to see more food go down than you've ever imagined.

Today alone, we fed 10 hay bales that weighed about 1050 pounds each.  We took one bale to the horses that are at a pasture at the ranch, one to the horses that are in the pens, one to the cows, one to the bulls, and six bales to the herd of about 80 horses up in Walden. We also fed about 50 pounds of grain to the calves, 50 pounds of grain to the horses at the ranch, and an assortment of grains and feeds to the chickens, the ducks, the goat, and the rabbits. We dropped off a 200 pound protein tub and a salt lick for the cows,  a mineral lick for the horses here, and a salt lick and a mineral lick for the horses in Walden.

There is some science and math behind all this feed.  Between years of experience from Ken and Randy Sue, Ryan's keen animal sense and constant research, and Justin's tendency to science and math the heck out of almost anything, Drowsy Water seems to have a feeding formula that works.  The formula is broken down by animal and then by food source. Read on for a summary of the breakdown.
First, by far the largest feasters around the ranch are the beautiful and beloved herd of 120 horses. This time of year, most of the herd is out to pasture. They've been grazing on hay meadows all fall and living the life of a horse on vacation. Most are fat and happy as the days start to grow shorter. As the snow flies, we start to feed them hay. We figure that at our altitude, each horse averages a consumption of about 32 pounds of hay a day.  Multiply that by about 120 horses and you get about 3,840 pounds of hay per day.  Yep, almost 2 tons. Every. Single. Day.
In addition to hay, a handful (okay, two or three handfuls) of horses get fed grain daily.  This time of year, we feed grain just to those that are older, have a hard time keeping weight on, or have special nutritional or physical needs.  In the summer, we feed grain to the whole herd. At peak season, we feed around 500 pounds of grain per day. And those pounds are carried by the wranglers, portioned out in 5 gallon buckets and dumped into individual feeders.  Just thought I'd clarify that...it helps explain why our wranglers always have defined arm muscles.  Like mentioned above, this time of year we're feeding grain just to the special group so we're down to about 50 pounds of grain per day--yep, only 50 pounds. (Please read that last bit with sarcasm).  All-in-all, we go through about 48 tons of grain per year.

The horses also get salt blocks and mineral blocks year round as well as a supply of 200 pound protein tubs throughout the winter.  Those little nutrients add up--we have our feed and minerals customized to our area to make sure our horses are getting everything they need to run happy and healthy while living outdoors at 8,200 feet.

Then we have the cows. Like the horses, the cows get fed hay daily once the snow flies.  Again, each cow and calf averages around 32 pounds of hay a day. We have about 31 cows, 29 calves, and 3 bulls.    That means we get to feed an additional 2,016 pounds of hay to the cows each day--we just added another ton of food to the daily total. We also feed pellets to the cows in the winter--about 50-100 pounds a day when they need it. And we feed grain to the calves, about 50 pounds a day after they've been weaned.  All told, we have about 4-5 tons of grain plus 1-2 tons of protein tubs each year for the cow herd.

Finally, we have the "small animals".  We have a goat, Corona. She eats hay, grain, and anything else she is allowed really.  She is pretty easy to keep as she'll eat along with the horses.  She would prefer to eat inside at a dinner table with humans, but that is another story.   We have 10 chickens and 2 ducks. They lay around 6 eggs a day and eat about 15 pounds of feed a week.  The rabbits (we have two of those) eat what seems like nothing compared to everything else, but adds ups to be about 25 pounds every few months.   The dogs eat too, and so do the cats.  Since those are more "normal" animals, I won't review their portions. (And, because we have so many darn dogs around here, going over their daily rations would be a sure way to make an already long story endless).

So while you think your family can out eat the next one, I think our family may have you beat. Enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Our family at Drowsy Water wishes you a happy a safe feast day!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Night STEAK Night

Friday nights at DWR, we get our steak on. On the grill, on an open fire, and probably some on our shirts too.  Justin’s been grilling up tri-tip steaks for the final dinner at the ranch each week for a few years now.  The steaks are mouth-watering good and something we’re proud to serve and happy to enjoy each Friday night while we sit and visit with our guests in the cool mountain air.

Steak on Friday is no news at DWR, we’ve served multiple varieties of steak for years.  But the Tri-
tip, I’m proud to say, are a little product from my roots.  My mom’s family still operates the Bar-7 ranch, homesteaded by my ancestors near Meeker, Colorado.   Meeker is one heck of a cowboy town.  Everywhere you go, you see trucks, cowboy hats, and livestock of one kind or another.   The White River that runs through Meeker breathes life into the valley and is home to some of the best fishing and hunting in the state, not to mention some of the best scenery.  Meeker breeds rodeo stars and athletes; it’s a town of hard-working men, women, and children and, usually, you can count on them to play as hard as they work.  Lucky for me, the town is chalk-full of folks I am related to.

As a kid, we’d load in the Astro van and head to Meeker a few times a year for weddings, funerals, family parties, and the annual branding of the calves on the Bar-7.  Throughout my childhood, the small town was synonymous with livestock, beautiful scenery, family gatherings and really darn good food.

My stomach growls as I think about all the delicious things I associate with Meeker: there’s my Aunt Annie’s kitchen full of homemade breads, rolls, and her famous popcorn balls at Christmas. I can smell the warm, savory scent of eggs fried in bacon grease that enveloped my cold nose walking into my Aunt Gretta’s kitchen after helping Uncle Mark feed his cows early in the morning and I can taste the crispy edges of the egg white crunch in my mouth and the creamy yolk that followed.  I can see our smiles and feel our relief as we sit down to a family picnic and the slow cooked ribs that filled our growling tummies after branding close to 200 calves each spring. There is Granny Pauline’s Pecan pie and date cake with lemon sauce, and Papa Jim’s pantry of home-canned Palisade peaches and snack size Baby-Ruth candy bars.

While many of those traditional meals and treats still welcome me back when I visit, a new tradition has emerged at family gatherings in Meeker: Ben Rogers, his grill, and his grill’s world famous tri-tip.   Ben, a long time friend of the family, built a grill trailer that he can hitch to a pick up and haul to different sites.  It’s a magnificent invention of welded metal.  He can grill all sorts of meats on the awesome machine, and my family’s meat of choice is his melt-in-your-mouth, full of flavor tri-tip.
Watching Ben and his crew (usually a handful of my cousins) on his grill is just as entertaining and educational as the meat is delicious.  The grill team dons cowboy hats and aprons as they carefully watch, turn, and slice the meat.  Before the meat every touches the grill, Ben marinates it in a rub and gets the charcoals burning hot, The secret to the best flavor, Ben told me himself, is the oak he uses in the grill.  I asked Ben how he came up with this whole meat-and-rolling-grill-rig and he told me about his college years at Cal Poly and the amazing flavor and character the outdoor meals had there.  He said when he moved back to Colorado, he wanted to bring the feeling and flavor with him and add his own Colorado twist.  Needless to say, he is on to something.

 Shortly after my first sight of Ben, his grill, and his tri-tip, I came running home from my cousin’s wedding to tell Justin not about the bride’s dress or the pretty flowers, but about the gorgeous meat.   My poor i-phone was near dead as I, fueled by one or two too many margaritas from the free margarita machine, went picture crazy with every angle of this grilling phenomenon.   Justin agreed to try the tri-tips, did his own research on the best way to cook them, came up with a tasty rub, and now, every Friday, he throws those big, beautiful hunks of meat on our outdoor grill and share the tasty results with all our guests.