Rain – at last

Farm Update – Monday
It was the downpour that woke me this morning. What a welcome sound! After four weeks of dry – only 1/4” rain that entire stretch – we needed this inch-and-3/8 on our fields. The seasonal pond just below the house has gone from dust to ripples. And, somehow, a small flock of geese knew it would reappear.

Taking flight

Taking flight


It’s stopped now. Clouds scurry overhead and the air is filled with the rustle of grasses and leaves pushed by cool gusts from the north. Everything feels scrubbed clean, refreshed. Calves are kicking up their heels and running circles around their dams.
Thank you, God.

Elvis is in the building!

The herd sire returnith
Although I’ve witnessed the scene several times now, the simplicity and unvarnished single-purpose of it continues to amaze me.
Dave and I met the cattle hauler at a neighboring farm late in the afternoon. The hauler had, in fact, gotten to Turnip Rock farm five or ten minutes ahead of us and had already backed the long, aluminum trailer to the cow barn. He and Josh, owner of Turnip Rock, were in the old barn coaxing my BueLingo bull, Full Throttle, away from the Jersey cows he’d been “keeping company” with since late May.
I stayed out of the bull’s line of site; I didn’t want to spook him. If you get a bull walking in the right direction, you don’t want to halt his movement for even a second.
Fortunately, both Josh and Tracy (the hauler) are experienced, and Full Throttle soon clumped heavily into the trailer.
The four-mile trip to Bull Brook Keep was uneventful and Tracy began backing the trailer to our gate. The rest of our cows, heifers, steers and calves silently watched from several hundred yards away. Their heads were up, eyes bright and ears forward.
The trailer was nearly to the gate when Full Throttle let out a loud, long trumpeting bellow: he’d gotten a whiff of the waiting herd.

Full Throttle, registered BueLingo bull, herd sire

Full Throttle, registered BueLingo bull, herd sire

The herd immediately responded to his call and came galloping across the farm. They stopped just a few yards from the trailer and waited as Tracy opened the doors and Full Throttle calmly stepped down.
Herd mobs a welcome for Full Throttle
The bull was immediately mobbed by the welcoming herd, and he walked through the throng.
He was home.

Tune in. July 19, 9-9:30AM CT – Grazing guru Cody Holmes – how multi-species grazing benefits soil, livestock, and people

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Cody Holmes
When: Saturday, July 19, 2014, 9:00-9:30 AM Central Time
Where: Broadcast and streamed live on WPCA Radio, 93.1FM, http://www.wpcaradio.org

I was lucky. It was a cold early December afternoon, and Cody Holmes was at the front of the room. There were about 70 of us in that St. Paul, Minnesota hotel meeting space; men and women from all across the country, Canada, Mexico and Europe. We sat behind long tables, our legs stretched in front of us, and our attention intent on Cody – one of the top grazing gurus in the US today.
2013-06-16 13.06.04Cody and his wife Dawnnell operate Rockin H Ranch in Norwood, Missouri where they use sustainable practices to raise and graze about 1,000 head each of cattle, sheep, and meat goats. They pasture pigs and chicken, milk cows and goats for making cheese, and they sell eggs. Cody is also the author of Ranching Full Time on 3 Hours a Day.
On that cold afternoon, Cody described and showed us photos that illustrate how pastures spring to life when cattle are grazed appropriately. He talked about moving the cattle from one field to the next – rotating them – and about clustering them tightly – mobbing – so that hoof action pulls dormant seeds to the surface and natural fertilizer is distributed as the cattle dine.
That was in 2009. Since then, my husband Dave and I have implemented rotational grazing on our farm, Bull Brook Keep, and we’ve already begun to see the benefits. There’s more grass, more diverse plant life, the cattle are fat and happy, and we have repeat customers for our 100% grass-fed beef.
We realize there’s a lot more to do to improve our soil and reinforce cattle health. For example, we’ve just added chickens to our rotational mix. I look forward to tomorrow’s chat with Cody; to tap his decades of experience. I hope you’ll tune in as Cody Holmes shares insights with us.
Sylvia