What? You thought Seattle and other metros cornered the market on restaurants with wheels? Maybe not. This food truck is aptly just called “the feed truck” and it makes the rounds to eager diners every day Septemberish – Marchish. Or basically, when Mother Nature’s Restaurant is closed (the grass ain’t growing), the feed truck is open for biz. And the hungry bovines don’t miss a meal.
Meanwhile, the scene in Seattle isn’t that much different:
The feed truck forks over a mixture of forage based on the herd’s nutritional needs. It’s kind of like how we people (are supposed to, cough cough) design our diets – a mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients to support our health, growth or aging the best we can. Just in a herbivore-friendly way. In the picture above, the cows have followed the feed truck to a spot in the field they haven’t been trafficking much lately. This particular area will grow and be baled into oat hay this Summer. The cows doing their cow biz out here does nothing but aid that whole process.
On this day, the feed ration is a mixture of grass, oats, straw, and alfalfa hay that makes use of what we have available, and provides the cattle good nutrition to get through the Winter. All of the hay the feed truck serves was raised here on the farm-side of the ranch. Not all ranchers do or can do this, but many will try, because it is more economical than having to purchase all of the hay needed to get through Winter.
The other advantage we are enjoying is a mild Winter. When the temperatures are warmer, the cattle do not require as much feed. While cattle, unlike us, are built to withstand the elements, more extreme weather will challenge their immune systems and make them more susceptible to respiratory sickness that would require antibiotic treatment. If it can be avoided by providing our cattle adequate nutrition when the weather hits (and some years be blessed by fair conditions), it adds up to healthier cows and eventually, high quality beef.
Besides the weather, different groups of cows require more or less feed. Part of our herd calves (gives birth to ze babies) in the Fall (Late August/Septemberish), while the other part will be calving in the Spring (February/Marchish). Those gals have their soon-to-be-weaned 2012 calves with them and they are eating their fair share too.
On this particular day, a trucker came to pick up a load of hay just as we were getting back to the stack yard. Here Ranch Baby (and his sweet bald spot) supervises The Rancher giving the trucker a little nudge with the tractor to make sure he can get out of the slightly squishy stack yard and back to cows in another part of Washington with a load of winter feed.
ODDLY related, it is exciting to report that we have a finalist for the $100,000 Sutter Home Build A Better Burger Contest right here in Washington! Katie Sherill of Edmonds based her Korean-Hawaiian Taco Truck Burger entry on Seattle food truck Marination (featured above) favorites. Katie will compete for the grand prize $100k in Napa in May, good luck to her! You’re officially on notice to get your own winning recipe ready – entries for 2013 open April 1st! Learn more here.
Here is what’s happening on other farms and ranches this winter (hint: not everybody is enjoying such agreeable weather):