Menlo Park resident Wendy Millet spends a lot of her days with a herd of about 120 Angus and Hereford cattle who graze at TomKat Ranch, which just may make her Menlo Park’s only full-time cattle rancher. That her title — Director of the Ranch’s Educational Foundation — speaks more to her broader duties, is beside the point.
“I got into ranching because I love horses,” said the East Coast transplant who attended Harvard University, hardly a breeding ground for cattle wrangling. “Growing up, I showed hunter-jumper. During my college years, I got jobs at dude ranches during the summer, and eventually landed in Wyoming at a ranch that had cattle.
“My philosophy is to do what you love and figure out how to make it work. I also wanted to contribute to making a better world.”
That latter goal is being fulfilled due to practices of the cattle company, Leftcoast™ Grassfed, which raises grass-fed, grass-finished cattle. “The grass finish part is important,” Wendy said, “because a lot of what’s labeled as grass fed is not grass finished as well. Instead the cattle are grain fed before going for processing.
“We believe that completely grass fed is a better way of managing both the land and a healthy herd. How well we take care of the land, through rotational grazing, as example, is a measure of how well we are taking care of our animals.”
TomKat Ranch is located just over the hill from Menlo Park in the coastal town of Pescadero. “One advantage to being on the coast is that we get more fog,” said Wendy. “That results in more productivity from the grasses and the ability to stretch out the season.”
Leftcoast™ Grassfed sells its beef products at local farmers markets. Those closest to Menlo Park include the Portola Valley market (765 Portoal Road) on Thursdays from 3:00 to 7:00 pm and the Woodside market at the Elementary School on Sundays from noon to 4:00 pm. Assorted meat cut packages can also be ordered online.
Wendy’s duties at TomKat include educating school kids about local sustainable agricultural practices, a topic she, too, is passionate about. But that doesn’t mean she’s left behind her loves of horses. “My favorite time at the ranch” she said, “are riding days when we move the cattle from one field to another.”
Photo by Scott R. Kline