The grass has been slow to grow up in northern Minnesota but the cattle are grazing and enjoying a feast of dandelions. We now have a respectable herd of 46 cattle, mostly Shorthorn and Hereford/Red Angus crosses.
I have been doing a lot of grass monitoring to determine what size paddock this many cattle need. We already know the biology in our soil is not super active as it had never been grazed before our arrival. But now that we have a real herd, we can reach more of our pastures with rotational grazing.
The more we graze, allowing the proper rest time, the more the soil biology will be stimulated to wake up and do the work of feeding the grass. The more the grass is eaten and regrows, the more it pulls carbon from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and stores it in the soil.
The more cattle we can get rotationally grazing the land, the more carbon is sequestered. The more YOU eat grass fed beef and lamb, the more we both fight climate change.
Lambing and the start of grazing are a very busy time of year. There’s been icy rain and snow, hypothermia, lamb sweaters, 3am bottle feedings, triplets, QUINTUPLETS(?!), hand milking, lambs snuggling with dogs, many healthy unassisted births, and lots of crying lamb babies.
This little lamb was from the set of quints. The two biggest took right to nursing but she and her even smaller brother were premature at 3.5 and 3 pounds and became bottle babies. I worked with her for a few days to see if she could eventually learn to nurse from her mama, but ultimately the bonding window closed and the ewe no longer recognized her as her lamb. She was a vigorous little thing but looked like a doll at half the size of all the other lambs in the pasture. When her mama wasn’t interested anymore, she snuggled up to Lena the livestock guardian dog’s tail.
Ultimately it became clear she and her little brother—who was still just learning to walk and having some trouble with a leg—needed to be raised as full time bottle babies by someone who could give them more time and attention. I felt fortunate to find a wonderful family just starting their homesteading journey who took them both and are showering them with love.
There are still a handful of mamas left to give birth, and a gaggle of 25 lambs bouncing around the pastures each morning and night. I post many videos of all the lambing action to my Instagram and Facebook stories each day. Follow along there to catch some major cuteness along with all the drama!
Happy Mother’s Day! The first lambs arrived this morning. It’s a perfect day for lambing; warm and sunny for the lambs but not too hot for the mamas. The livestock guardian dogs are doing a great job keeping watch, giving a few licks to bond, but not interfering with nursing or mothering by the ewes. And reminding me to thank all the mother figures who tend to the children—we couldn’t do it without you!
Keep an eye on our social media feeds for all the lambing action as it unfolds. This is just the beginning!
Livestock guardian dogs are full time shepherds. They know what is normal and typical activity on the farm and are suspicious of change and anything being out of place. They know when something is wrong with a sheep and will be nervous and sometimes refuse to eat until I find the problem. They are typically awake at night and sleep most of the day.
Lena is the leader of the guard dogs. Polly and Shadow are submissive to her, but she’s incredibly submissive to me. She grew up with Ziva but they now have a bit of a rivalry, and Lena prefers that Ziva stays outside the sheep paddock... which is fine because Ziva was never bonded to livestock as a puppy so she prefers to be around people more (and does her job by roaming and marking territory). Lena is incredibly bonded to her sheep…Read More
We recently got 16 yearling steer, 4 heifers, and the cutest little bull you ever did see named Woody. This will be a major jump in production for us, but now that we have fencing and soon will have water lines to the grazing pastures, I will be able to make big enough paddocks for this many cattle and I won’t have to haul water multiple times a day.Read More
Thank you for supporting us through a big year of growth... and a fair share of obstacles.
2018 Highs and Lows
- After a rough winter last year of frozen water tanks and escaping cattle, we got new permanent fencing and a frost-free winter waterer thanks to an NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program grant that rewards rotational grazing practices. So far this year, winter has been a breeze!
Did you know cows can help reverse climate change?
I know this idea goes contrary to much of what you hear about eating meat these days; the mainstream message has been that cattle are a major contributor to the methane emissions that fuel climate change.
The truth is a cow’s effect on global warming has everything to do with how it is raised. Cows and other livestock do put methane into the atmosphere, but when they are 100% grass fed and pasture raised in a rotational grazing system, the grassland ecosystem they are a part of sequesters more carbon in the soil than the methane they release…Read More
We're having a party to celebrate our new pole barn, fences, and all the people who have supported us in getting this far!
Tour at 4PM
(meet the cows, pigs, and sheep)
Potluck Meal at 5PM
(please bring a dish to share and your dinnerware)
Bonfire and Music into the Evening
(camping available for those staying late)
Many of you know that Jason has an intense work ethic and a gift for making seemingly insane projects happen in record time. Here’s his latest project!
He found this barn on Craigslist four hours away (near Trimont where I grew up) and all the stars aligned for it to be ours... as long as he pitched all the hay out and took it down piece by piece and figured out how to move it to our farm.
If you've never had pastured pork before, get ready for your first, amazing pastured ham!
If you had the butcher smoke your ham, that means the meat is already cooked and all you need to do is reheat your ham before serving. You definitely don't want to over-cook the meat as that can cause it to dry out; however, since your pork is heritage, pastured meat, this isn't as big a risk as with a traditional lean, grocery store ham.Read More
HAPPY NEW YEAR! This year we've had so much gratitude for you--our family, friends, and customers!
2017 HIGHS AND LOWS
- Jason finished building our home and we moved in just as grass growing weather and grazing began.
- We bred our 8 mature ewes and lambed our first flock of 9 bouncy, fluffy lambs on the hillsides outside our new house.
- We got a third, and then fourth livestock guardian dog to keep the livestock safe from coyotes and wolves...
While we loved our name, it didn't seem right to limit the full potential our new land holds. After a pilgrimage to the magical but deeply hidden Medicine Creek across the road and a year experiencing the new land's beauty and wonder, it felt clear that our farm is about even more than the good care of our livestock...Read More