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

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

Dec. 3, 9-9:30AM CT. Live, why bees matter

We’ve heard about it again and again: the bees are dying off, whole hives collapsing or just disappearing. Recent news stories told us the transplants we buy at local greenhouses contain pesticides that’ll kill bees. And we know that without bees and other pollinators some of our favorite foods will simply not grow. At all!

Join me and co-host Dave Corbett as we chat with Erin Rupp, executive director and founder of Pollinate Minnesota. What do bees do in winter? And how do they communicate with one another? And just what do they mean to the veggies and fruits eat?

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Erin Rupp, Pollinate Minnesota ED/founder
When: Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time
Where: WPCA RADIO, 93.1FM and streamed live on www.wpcaradio.org
Why: Many fruits and vegetables depend on pollinators, like bees, to carry pollen from plant to plant so that fruit and seeds will grow. No bees, no fruit! Learn how Pollinate Minnesota is working to protect and encourage these critical workers in our food system.

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.

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.

Sat., Aug. 15, 9-9:30AM CT, Deep Roots Radio – the health & eco-benefits of bison

What: Deep Roots Radio chat with Mary Graese of North Star Bison about the environmental and human health benefits of bison.
When: Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central
Where: Broadcast and streamed live from the studios of WPCA Radio, 93.1FM, and www.wpcaradio.org
Why: Millions of bison roamed America, grazing as they moved. Their grass-only diet, combined with the weight and hoof action of the huge herds, helped create the deep and fertile top-soil that was, once upon a time, six feet deep across significant portions of our continent. Today, many ranchers are capitalizing on the best qualities of bison to restore grasslands while producing excellent meat products.
Join us tomorrow morning, as co-host Dave Corbett and I chat with Mary Graese about the Wisconsin-based bison ranch she runs with her husband Lee and family.
I hope you’ll tune in.
Sylvia
About-Us-Bison-History

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

Connecting the dots between what we eat and how its grown

How to find your local farmer – July 4, 9-9:30AM CT, Deep Roots Radio

What: Deep Roots Radio interview with Julien Roberge, co-founder of Agrilliance, a website that quickly helps consumers find their local, sustainable farmers.

When: Saturday, July 4th, 9:00-9:30AM Central Time

Where: WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and streamed live at www.wpcaradio.org

Why: The demand for high-quality, sustainably-grown foods continues to grow in the US and worldwide. Consumers are concerned about herbicides, pesticides, GMOs, sugar, salts, and processing chemicals in their foods. Food lovers are also increasingly interested in the systems behind their foods: the environmental impacts, use of energy, antibiotics used in industrial livestock operations, and fair wages on the farm.
Agrilliance also sees these local markets as strong and viable ways to meet the needs of a growing world population, the challenges of climate change, and the political pressures felt around the globe.
Agrilliance is a new effort, web-based, to make it easier for thoughtful farmers and consumers to find their local markets. The idea is to build local connections in every community – worldwide.
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

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.

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.