“Any amount of rain is considered a blessing for this ranch,” says Connie of Grieb Ranch. 2013 was the driest year in local history and the driest one Carl Grieb has experienced in his 85 years. SLO County has been declared a natural disaster area due to the horrific drought that we are in. Here on the Grieb Ranch we are usually blessed by green hills by Thanksgiving and rain that continues to fall so that we can usually sustain the herd to produce grass fed beef with out supplementing them until February – since December is usually too cold for the native grasses to grow. Otherwise we have a “Feed Year” where we have to supplement the cattle more than usual if the rains don’t come.
This is our second major “Feed Year” in a row, so to adjust to this new way of life, we have managed our cow herd by selling off older cows and open cows (ones not pregnant). Fortunately cattle prices are high, but that reduces the stock to build next year’s herd. So with only a few cattle held back we stored hay at the top of the hill to feed them.
Recently some much-needed rain has fallen, turning the hills green again but the cows still need to be fed, even in the rain. Rain also makes the very steep hills of Grieb Ranch impassable with anything but a horse. So Connie got to ride bareback on a very muddy Mr. T who took her to the top of the hill where the hay was stored so that she could feed the cows. Once the cows were fed she turned Mr. T loose and then walked or slid down the steep hill home to tackle the next chore. Connie described her experience of sliding home like this: “Most of the time the walk/slide was a beautiful experience of sliding home except for the day of high winds – that was not so beautiful. I only had to ride up the hill to feed for 3 days, just after we got our first big rain in March. Being wet and muddy made feeding the 100+ pound bales of hay a real challenge!”
Keep praying for rain! “Even though we have had some rain and the hills may be green for the moment, we are still in desperate rain for the ground water supply,” writes Connie.
I think she just wants to go mud-sliding more often!