When the Meatme team visited Empire Valley Ranch this summer we snapped this photo of John Holmes in the tractor. At the time we were impressed to see that John was still at it at 8pm! What we didn't understand was just how crucial hay is and that 8pm was no record smasher for the Holmes family.
Empire Valley Ranch sits on 30,000 acres of protected land in the Churn Creek area of British Columbia, it's also where we source our grass-fed, grass-finished beef. Joyce and John Holmes consider themselves stewards of the land, as they manage their cattle and the land here year-round. What's unique about the grasslands is that they are home to a special native bunchgrass that is very high in protein and excellent for the cows to eat. The cattle happily graze on their natural diet of grass throughout the summer months and Joyce and John need to harvest the grass for hay to feed the cows through the winter.
As you can imagine, Joyce and John prefer to harvest the grass from their own land. It's cost effective and they know there's no chemicals or fertilizers used. If, for whatever reason, the ranchers cannot manage to bale their own hay, they have to bring it in from elsewhere and it's *extremely* costly, and not always clear if it's chemical-free.
We recently learned that torrential rain and looming snow jeopardized the Holmes' second crop of hay this year. When the forecast called for one final miraculous day of sunshine, followed by an early morning snowfall, Joyce and John decided to work through the night to bale enough hay to reap the final crop of the season. Honestly, they didn't put tools down until 4:30 a.m.!! And at 8:00am that morning the snow started, and it didn't stop for 3 days.
When you understand just how important hay is to the cows maintaining a healthy and natural diet and to supporting Joyce and John's livelihood, working until 8pm or 4:30am is the level of dedication it takes to run Empire Valley Ranch and raise happy, healthy animals.
Digital Marketer at Meatme.ca
(and newfound appreciator of hay!)