Field walk. Meet the moos! Taste great beef. Saturday, July 15, 10AM-4PM @ Bull Brook Keep

How much grass can a cow eat in a day? How fast does a calf run? Do you know how grazing improves the land? What top nutrients are in grass-fed beef?

You can find out this Saturday at the Eat Local Co-op Farm Tour! And Bull Brook Keep is one of the 27 rural and urban farms welcoming visitors to our farms that day.

What you’ll see and do:
– Move the herd at 10AM, 1:00PM and 3:00PM
– Gather wildflowers during a field walk
– Hear how 100% grass diet benefits pastures, cows and people
– See how our BueLingo cattle thrive without grain, hormones or subclinical antibiotics
– Taste some really delicious beef


We’ve got lots of parking, and there’ll be a porta-potty for your convenience. We are an easy, and very scenic, drive (here’s the map) from the Twin Cities and any point in Polk or St. Croix counties.

So grab your sunglasses, cap and sun-screen and come on out. We’d love to learn about your food journey.

Sylvia & Dave

Video

New calf, sights and sounds from Bull Brook Keep

Spring has arrived on Bull Brook Keep. We greeted our first calf, a little bull, yesterday morning. He’s now tagged #82, and he the cow are doing fine.
I’ll be at the CSA Fair at the Farm Table Restaurant in Amery, WI tomorrow afternoon, March 25, 12noon-4:00.
I thought you might enjoy some pics and videos, old and new, from the farm. This brief slide show includes a short video clip of the new calf.
I hope to see you at the Fair.

Sylvia

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Morning mist rising above snowy Bull Brook Keep

BueLingo cattle relax as the sun and mist rise

Our BueLingo cattle thrive not only in the warmth of summer, but in every season. They walk the pastures, and get fresh air and water every day of the year. This helps them stay healthy and contented, and helps produce great-tasting beef with high nutritional content.

Dave and I manage our herd and farm in harmony with nature – farming with a tiny carbon hoofprint (R).

We hope you’ll come visit us at Bull Brook Keep, home of 100% grass-fed beef. We’re a beautiful ride from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.

Sylvia

How long has it been??? What’s happening on this city-girl’s farm.

What happened?? Where did the summer go?
Well, if your life’s anything like mine, your Monday-Friday went to work and family. And your weekends, if you planned well and were able to add a dash of good luck, were spent doing lots of chores. You know – the laundry, food shopping, buying school supplies, banking, and repairing this-and-that. Hopefully you took some time for coffee with friends, and maybe dinner out with your sweetie.

A few 2016 calves

A few 2016 calves

The growing season started with the arrival of our spring calves. All our new little BueLingos were born out on our pastures and unassisted. This season also required that we up our game and manage our pastures for a slightly larger herd. This summer’s frequent rains helped keep the much-needed grass growing.
We began harvesting in July, and will take our final two beeves to the custom USDA processor in a month or so. (Those two animals will go exclusively for ground beef and summer sausage.)
Today, we get ready for an annual right-of-passage – tagging every calf, and castrating the bull calves. Once castrated, the male calves are called steers, and they’ll graze for two years to harvest age and condition. Until that time, all the cattle will enjoy the best of care: 365 days a year on grassy fields, sunshine and fresh air, a 100% grass diet, and the company and calm of their herd. It makes for contented, healthy cattle, and, ultimately, great-tasting and highly nutritious beef.
And that’s the heart of it: health and happiness – for the the cows, the land, and for you and me.
We all benefit from farming and living with a tiny carbon hoof print (TM)*, truly sustainable farming.
Thank you for visiting the farm and sharing the story of your food journey. I really enjoyed making frequent deliveries in Amery, Polk and St. Croix counties, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.
I look forward to meeting you. Please visit. And until then, enjoy the cooling fall weather.
Sylvia

*tiny carbon hoofprint is a US registered trademark belonging to Bull Brook Keep.

Storm drops cow on farm? Feeling a bit at Oz.

Squinting, I picked up my phone to check the time: 5:15AM. Why was I awake? Then I remembered last night’s storm: lightning, rolling thunder and walls of rain driven by high winds – gusts that tore tree branches ripped up my tomato plants.
The little bull calf must have been frightened. He’d been left in the field after I moved the rest of the herd across the driveway and to a fresh paddock. Darn calf. It just wouldn’t stay by its moma. It kept running around me and double-backing to the old field. Crazy kid.
5:15AM. Sunday morning and the cows were mooing like crazy. The unhappy moma bellowed the lead, and the rest of the cows provided boistrous backup.
I pulled on my patched jeans, a tattered black t-shirt and an over-sized white shirt (to keep off bugs), and headed out to find the calf and coax it in with the rest of the herd. Correction: I would try to coax it back to its mom.
(Herding a calf and herding cats have a lot in common.)
Wearing my shin-high Muck boots, I was half-way across the wet field when I noticed a strange white patch moving within a shadowy stand of poplars. It bobbed about five feet above the grass. What was that? The little bull calf only reaches my waist, so it wasn’t him. Not only that, but all my cattle – BueLingos – have either black or red faces.

BueLingo calves

BueLingo calves


The white patch kept approaching.
I stopped cold. Was that a man in our field? The white patch loomed closer. When it stepped out of the trees, I saw it for what it was – a white-faced Hereford cow. What in the world? Where did this thing come from? And how did it get into our fenced-off field?
As I was mulling this over, I also spotted our errant calf. Both he and the hiefer (young female) were standing across the driveway from the rest of the herd. They were separated by 30 feet of gravel driveway and two lines of electric fence. So all this noise wasn’t just about the calf, it was also about the strange cow.
I yelled at Dave (he was on the deck enjoying a first cup of coffee), to let him know about the visitor left by last night’s storm.
Dave responded with his usual, “What in the world?”
Visiting Hereford heifer

Visiting Hereford heifer

We guessed this young Hereford was spooked by last night’s pyrotechnics, wandered over from the neighboring farm, and found (or made) a breach in our perimeter fence.
We took a breath. Seeing that both the Hereford and our little Buelingo were safe, the first order of business was finding the hole in our fence line.
I searched for an hour before church services. Nothing. Dave and I resumed our inspection after brunch. Nada. Our theory: the heifer is a jumper.
If you’ve never seen it, it’s a sight that stops you in your tracks – a 1000-lb bovine easily clearing a 5-ft fence. Breath-taking.
OK. The heifer is safe. The little bull is safe, if temporarily separated from its dam. Our fence line is intact.
Next step: knock on a few doors and find out if any of our neighbors is missing a heifer wearing an ear-tag marked #1.
It took us just a couple of tries. The worried owner lives just across a main road from our farm. She’d been frantic when she discovered her pretty red heifer missing this morning. Mystery solved, but the issue’s far from resolved.
Getting the Hereford back to her farm may take a bit of time even though her pasture is just 1/4-mile from us. It could take two days or two weeks to have her join with our herd, calmly move through rotational paddock changes, and finally make it back up to our corral. Once in the corral, we would get her into a hauler, and make the minute-long drive back to her home farm.
BREAKING NEWS: Just got a call from the Hereford’s owner. Seems the heifer jumped fences, trotted along the busy county road, turned into her home driveway and jumped back into her own field.
Theory proven. Issue resolved.
Just checked my phone. Storms forecast for Thursday.

Video

Video: moving cows to fresh pasture. Great beef starts with the soil and grass.

My husband Dave and I are committed to a handful of values: living in thanksgiving to God, nurturing our marriage and family, producing delicious and nutritious beef, using agricultural practices that regenerate soil and pastures, improving our financial sustainability, and contributing to a thriving local community.
These core principles matter to us, to our neighbors and to our customers.
Moving our cattle from paddock (small field) to paddock is one of the things we do to regenerate soil, reinvigorate our grasses, and promote the health and growth of our BueLingo beef cattle. This practice, called rotational grazing, accomplishes several things at the same time: it puts fresh, sweet grass under the noses of the cattle; their hoof action churns up the soil and exposes dormant seeds to sun and rain, thereby increasing the diversity of plants in the field; the herd deposits fertilizer as the move; and it avoid spending money and fuel to move feed to the cattle and to remove waste from a barn. At the same time, the cows move as a herd across open fields. This is important because cows are social creatures – they are most calm and healthiest when they are with their herd. Because they are on pasture, the herd is also in open sunshine and moving on springy grass and soil. This promotes strong bodies.
I hope you enjoy this very short video of moving the herd from one paddock to the next. Although it takes time and effort for me to set up the electric fences for the temporary paddocks, moving the herd is easy because they’re always eager for fresh grass.

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Siggy – the stubborn puppy

An ongoing adventure story for children of all ages

Siggy is making progress

Siggy is making progress

Siggy is now nine weeks old. He loves running around with the big boys – Chevy, a nine-year old German Shorthair Pointer, and Parker, the five-year old English Setter. Siggy runs and jumps on them and wants to play with them all the time. Sylvia, Siggy’s master, knows playtime is important for little puppies. She also knows that Siggy must learn some basic lessons so that he will grow to be a useful, obedient and safe worker on the farm.

Chevy and Parker are also working dogs – they help David hunt for pheasants, grouse, and woodcock. David spent many, many months training Chevy and Parking to do their jobs well. Both dogs come to David when he says “here,” and they stop moving when they hear the word “whoa.” When David says “heel,” both dogs will walk close to David’s left leg. They do not run ahead of David, nor do they trail behind him. This is important because it means David can prevent the dogs from running into traffic, or from being distracted from their job – hunting.
Right now, because he is very young, Siggy has not learned to obey Sylvia’s commands. In fact, Sylvia knows Siggy is very independent and can be a very stubborn little dog! He will not always come to her when Sylvia says “here.” This is a problem because Sylvia wants to keep Siggy safe from traffic and from large animals that can hurt little dogs. He must also learn the very basic commands before he can begin to learn to be a herding dog that will work with the free-range chickens, and perhaps, the grass-fed BueLingo cows as well.
Sylvia wondered, “What can I do to train Siggy better?” She asked her friend Claire for some advise.
Claire knows all about training puppies. She told Sylvia, “Don’t put Siggy’s food in a bowl any more. Instead, feed Siggy from your hand, and only give him some food after he obeys your commands.”
Sylvia thanked Claire and began to do this several times every day. For example, early in the morning, Sylvia brings Siggy to a quiet spot and gives him a command. She says “sit,” “here,” or “stay.” When Siggy obeys her command, Sylvia feeds him some of his puppy food directly from her hand. Siggy is learning to obey!!
Sylvia knows that there are many, many months of training ahead, but now Siggy is making progress.

For all story installments, click here.

Video

About spring-time farming. Deep Roots Radio, May 17, 9-9:30AM Central. Calf video.

Calving began yesterday with the arrival of two red and white BueLingos. Just one day old, they’re walking around on firm legs and nursing heartily. This means spring chores have zoomed forward to include tagging and, in the case of bull calves, castrations. Yup, that’s how you get the steers that’ll graze for 24-30 months and reach 1,100-1,300 lbs.

BueLingo heifer born May 15, 2015

BueLingo heifer born May 15, 2015

Red and white BueLingo born May 15, 2015

Red and white BueLingo born May 15, 2015

We’re also brooding several dozen Freedom Ranger chicks. That means that we’re caring for them in a warm and controlled environment until they’re ready to be put on pastures. That’ll happen this week.
And, of course, there’s lots of fence to build and repair. And maybe start sketching out a larger chicken coop??
Tune in to Deep Roots Radio Saturday 9:00-9:30AM Central,as Dave Corbett and I chat about spring-time farming. We’re on WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and www.wpcaradio.org.
See you on the radio!
Sylvia

Video

Siggy meets the chickens

An ongoing adventure story for children of all ages.

Today’s the day, thought Sylvia. Today, Siggy, her little Corgi puppy, would meet the chickens on Bull Brook Keep.

Chickens spend the night in their safe and snug coop.

Chickens spend the night in their safe and snug coop.

The chickens live in a chicken coop not far from the farm house. David, Sylvia’s husband, built the chicken coop so that the birds would stay safe from foxes and raccoon, weasels and snakes, and wandering dogs.
The chickens on the farm are now a year old. The hens weigh about eight pounds and the rooster weighs more than 12 pounds. He’s very big indeed. And to think, they started out as tiny little yellow chicks that could fit in your hand.

Taking a look before stepping out into the new day

Taking a look before stepping out into the new day

The rooster was not only big, he was very protective of the hens. He guarded them from anyone or any animal that might come near. He would do this by jumping up and trying to scratch with his back claws, or talons. He could also peck and hurt your hand. Despite this, the chickens were very useful on the farm. They provided eggs, and meat, and they ate insects that would bother people and cattle. They would eat ticks!
Next year, if he learned his lessons well, Siggy would be in charge of the chickens. Sylvia would give him a command – “Round them up, Siggy” – and Siggy would herd the chickens into their coop area. But right now, Siggy is a little puppy with a lot to learn.
So today, Siggy took a first step.

Siggy surveys the birds

Siggy surveys the birds


Sylvia stood close by as Siggy met the chickens for the first time. Sylvia stayed near because the rooster might want to peck at the little puppy.
When Siggy got near the chickens, he did not bark. That’s good because Sylvia and David don’t want their herding dog to scare the animals they have to work with.
It was a good first meeting.
Soon, Siggy will meet the biggest animals on the farm – the BueLingo beef cows.

For earlier Siggy stories, click here.

The reluctant lover

Spring 2014 Farm Update He called to say he’d be an hour late. A tiny inconvenience, but unavoidable. He’d had to drive to Eau Clare earlier in the day. Fortunately, the breeze was gentle. I didn’t mind standing in the bright sunshine. When he arrived, he pulled the long trailer up close to the milking parlor and disappeared inside the barn. Five minutes. Not a sound. Ten minutes. Birds sang over the alfalfa field. Fifteen minutes and nothing coming from the barn. What was going on? I paced, but made sure I stayed away from the barn windows. I didn’t … Continue reading