When Mike Rose and Janice Boase bought the property overlooking Holiday Valley, they did not fully appreciate how tall grass could grow (8 feet by the way) nor that they would soon be in the business of raising grass-fed, Scottish Highland cattle.
A tractor with rotary mower was their first grass management solution, but it seemed important to seek a less mechanical solution. Goats were the first addition to the grass management team, however goats were quickly overwhelmed by acres of 8 foot grass and the tractor was called back into action. Bigger mouths and bigger stomachs were needed. Cattle might be the solution. Before taking on cattle, however, guidance was sought at the library and through the Thurston County Conservation District (TCD).
The TCD analyzed the soil and made recommendations for improving the soil and the quality of the grass. They advised Mike and Jan that cattle know how to do everything but raise grass. Mike and Jan need to raise grass and then let the cattle do the rest. So instead of trying to control the grass, Jan and Mike were seeking ways to grow more, high quality, pasture grass.
The Thurston County Conservation District provided strategies for improving drainage, managing manure, and rotational grazing. They lent a fertilizer spinner and manure spredder. On the recommendation of the TCD, Mike and Jan built a feeding shed and a manure storage shed. After two years work, the pasture is well managed; water quality is protected, and a small, but sustainable, herd of Scottish Highland cattle inhabit the property.
Jan and Mike chose to raise Scottish Highland beef cattle because of their smaller size, tolerance for the Pacific Northwest climate, and for the amazing quality of the beef. The cattle graze most of the year on the high quality pasture. Alfalfa hay is the winter feed. No grain supplements are needed. The herd is small and in balance with the land. After weaning, the animals spend their entire lives on the property.
Jan and Mike are now able to sell two steers per year for beef. Harvest is in early August. They seek local customers for their limited supply of grass fed beef. For more information on Holiday Valley Beef, contact Mike or Jan, at 866-3516 or visit www.HolidayValleyBeef.com.