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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

Audio

Rancher Gabe Brown on regenerative, holistic farming on any scale, and profitability even in transition

I hope you enjoy this Deep Roots Radio interview with North Dakota rancher Gabe Brown on the principles of regenerative farming that will yield health and profitability even as you transition your operation – large or small.

Gabe will be in Amery, Wisconsin February 9th for a full day workshop in which he will describe how he, wife and son have worked to transform their 2,000-acre, diversified farm to a healthy, profitable business while improving soil and regenerating the landscape. In addition to raising and direct-marketing grass-fed beef and other livestock, Gabe grows and sells cash crops from his sustainable farm.

Go to hungryturtle.net to register for the workshop. I hope to see you there!

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.

#GrazingItalyUK. Farming for different reasons. Two young men.

Nov. 13

It was a wonderful day and a half at Nicharee organic farm, just off the eastern coast of Ireland. Clouds rushed overhead and the wind whipped at ground level. The constant buffeting took me back to my childhood summers on the beaches of Staten Island.
Bill Considine was a wonderful host. He made sure I walked his meadows, heard about his organic philosophy, and experience a bit of the song and heart of his homeland.
Because November gusts are cold and it often rains several times a day, we bundled up against the chill and pulled on high rubber boots to visit with cattle and drive out over wet fields. After a couple of hours outdoors, we’d come in to warm our hands around hot cups of tea.
Thanks, again, Bill.
An unexpected treat was meeting a couple of Woofers now interning on the farm. (Woofers are men and women, usually young, who travel the world to work and learn on established organic farms.) Bill invites several Woofers to the farm every year.

Left: Antoine with his husky/German Shepherd mix Nao, and Edoardo with Bill's dog SoLow

Left: Antoine with his husky/German Shepherd mix Nao, and Edoardo with Bill’s dog SoLow

Edoardo Giorgi is a young architect from Italy, and Antoine Marellaard, from Brittany, has herded and milked sheep in the rugged Pyrenees. Although I speak neither French nor Italian, we were able to push through and exchange a few ideas. I heard that each is struggling to build practical skills, including conversational English.
In fact, acquiring fluency is the reason Edoardo is in Wexford. Although he studied English in school, he’s realized total immersion is the most efficient strategy.
Antoine originally intended to spend just a short time in the area, but Bill convinced him to stay longer. I sensed that Antoine is also searching for something, but I’m not sure of what that might be.
During my short visit, the young men worked to build a cement column to support ancient wooden beams holding up the slate roof of an old stone shed. They mixed cement during a brief break in the clouds and got a good part of the task done.
I wish we had had more time to talk. What more will they do on the farm? Where will they take what they’ve learned? Would they like to visit my Wisconsin farm?
I sure would like our paths would cross again.
Sylvia

Feeling Laura Ingalls

My husband Dave likes to joke that when I was a kid growing up in New York City, I read Little House on the Prairie and decided to become a farmer.
While I love tales about clever people creating new communities (whether in the past or in some distant future), the truth is I knew next to nothing about Laura until I was in my 30’s. I became acquainted with her and Ma and Pa as I read to my children in our South Minneapolis home. I was captivated by the resourcefulness and skills demanded by the times. I was drawn to the self-reliance and community inter-dependence described in those children’s books. (And yes, we made the pilgrimage to her home and bought the stiff-brimmed bonnets.)
Fast forward a whole lotta years and here I am, a baby boomer from the Bronx raising beef cattle on Bull Brook Keep, our northwestern Wisconsin farm. (A far cry from a full career in business suits and awful commuter traffic.) This morning’s chores included moving our beef cattle to new pasture, feeding and watering the chickens, exercising the dogs, and meeting with a customer to deliver cuts of beef equaling 1/4 steer.* And of course, I went through the early emails and reviewed my digital photo files for possible uploads to my website.

Cabbage fermenting to sauerkraut

Cabbage fermenting to sauerkraut

Later in the day, Dave and I enjoyed a dinner of home-grown, grass-fed beef Bourguignon. And in the evening I sliced, brined and packed cabbage into half-gallon jars. In a couple of weeks, it’ll ferment to sauerkraut.
French sourdough boules

French sourdough boules

It’s late, and I just pulled a couple of French sourdough loaves from the oven – a weekly demand and a much-anticipated ritual.

It is very, very late and I’m tired. The tomatoes, peppers and onions on the kitchen counter will have to become salsa on another day. I’m ready for this day to be done.

Yes, I’m feeling Laura Ingalls Wilder…like a bad ass Laura with Internet coverage and in-floor heating.
Sylvia

*We offer our 100% grass-fed beef in variety packages (ground beef, roasts and steaks) in a range of sizes starting at just 25-30 lb. Reserving an order is easy online. We deliver to drop sites in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.

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.

May 9, 9:00-9:30AM CT live w grass-fed rancher/author Cody Holmes.

Well known for his development and workshops around management intensive rotational grazing, rancher Cody Holmes is also the author of Ranching Full Time on 3 Hours a Day. In the last few years, he’s expanded into multi-species grazing, delivery and farmers markets. Now he’s working to build a local food hub based on real foods.
book_cover_small_ranchingJoin me for this conversation with Cody Holmes.

What: Deep Roots Radio live conversation with Cody Holmes.
When: May 9, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio 93.1FM and www.wpcaradio.org

I hope you’ll tune in.

Sylvia

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how it's grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how it’s grown