August is the beginning of harvest for most of our Western Montana purveyors. For the ranchers, it’s the end of a demanding haying season. The Ranch cultivates hay pastures during the summer to produce hay for the winter season.
Former Barn Manager Kari Reasoner explained the importance of hay production in Granite County. “We have 74 horses and a small cattle herd. While we do produce some of our hay on property, we heavily rely on our wonderful neighbors to sell us a supply for the winter months. Small town living at its finest!”
Hay is for Horses (and Cattle)
Horses on average will eat 2-2.5% of their body weight in roughage. This is strictly hay and is the basis of their diet. During the winter when our horses are not used as often, we only feed hay as a maintenance feed program, so an average 1,000 pound horse will eat 20-25 lbs. of hay each day. For our herd of 74 horses, that’s up to 675,250 lbs. of hay a year!
The amounts produced are even more substantial for other hay operations in Granite County. One local ranch produces 2,500 round bales at 1,350 lbs. apiece. This results in over 3 million lbs. of hay produced in three short months. This amount is necessary for feeding large herds of cattle that eat 20 to 32 lbs. per day, with ever larger amounts for pregnant cattle to ensure good body condition and fetal health.
During the summer months when our guests are riding frequently and we are consistently working our horses, they require some additional supplement (just like athletes that are training for a game), so we created a feed program that tailors to each individual horse’s needs.
We use two main types of grain, one geared toward active and young to middle-aged horses, and the other is geared towards our older horses. Through careful measurement and additional necessary supplement for a few specific horses, we do our best to keep their systems healthy and prolong their lives at the ranch as much as possible.
Guests learn about horse health during special programming, such as Horsemanship 101 and Behind the Chutes.
Haymakers are for Humans
Meanwhile our culinary team produces ever-changing seasonal menus and artisan cocktails using local ingredients. Right now, our bartending team is preparing for our second annual Whiskey & Water Weekend next week – celebrating the water of life in our trout streams and in our snifters.
To honor the height of haying season, they are producing a special switchel-inspired Haymaker’s Punch cocktail or mocktail. Thanks to bartender Lindsey for putting her magic touch on this recipe and sharing it with our community!
Homestead Haymaker’s Punch
“Haymaker’s Punch” or switchel was common in colonial America, where it was used to quench hay harvesters’ thirst during the hot, long hours in the fields. It’s generally made with water, apple cider vinegar, molasses and ginger. We regularly make switchel for our Spa at Rock Creek patrons. Bartender Lindsey pivoted from the classic Haymaker cocktail recipe and put her five-star touch on the traditional hydration punch recipe, which can be served with or without local whiskey.
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp. fresh ginger simple syrup (see below)
1.5 oz. Glacier Distilling Wheatfish single-malt whiskey
1.5 cups water
1/2 fresh lemon juiced
1. Make a ginger simple syrup.
Bring 3/4 cup of peeled fresh ginger, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of water to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then gently simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Strain through a sieve, and then cool. Store for other uses in addition to the punch.
2. Add apple cider vinegar, ginger simple syrup, water and fresh lemon into a mixer. Shake well.
3. Strain into a Collins glass with ice.
4. Add whiskey. Stir. Garnish with a lemon round.
View our other cocktail recipes: