Abundant Harvest at St. Benendict's Monastery

For more than fifty years growing hay for sale as horse and cattle feed has made a significant contribution to the support of the monastic community at St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass CO.

Gazing out in the early morning light over the mesa hayfields where he has worked as manager of the monastery ranch for 40 years, Brother Raymond Roberts says: “This land has been entrusted to us as a sacred responsibility to work, conserve and protect. Not every year may bring a great harvest, but for me every day here has brought great joy and blessing.”

While the majority of the 1500 acres of cultivated land is flood irrigated by open ditches for cattle pasture, the monastery has 6 dedicated hayfields, each of 40 acres, irrigated by lines of sidewheels, the longest stretching more than ¼ of a mile. In the arid climate conditions of Colorado, the success of the monastery hay harvest depends entirely on water from mountain snow melt.

Following several years of drought and poor harvests, heavy snowfall during the winter of 2018 provided an abundance of water for irrigation this summer. The result was a successful harvest of 330 circular bales weighing a total of 265 tons.

The increased moisture also significantly improved the quality of the monastery pasture land, providing sufficient grass to support 225 grazing cows and their newborn calves from May to October.