Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Gene Logsdon Country, Part One

I have been missing my goal for posting frequency on this weblog. Part of the reason is my natural verbosity, and an inability to master the art of  brief but frequent blog posts. Our friend at Auburn Meadow Farm wrote me today, and I realized that I have not shared any of my impressions of the ADCA meeting, show and sale.

The trip itself was eventful. Mapquest led me to Fort Wayne Indiana on a route past the hometown of one of America's greatest living agrarian writers, Gene Logsdon.  Gene Logsdon is on of the greatest influences on my life, my favorite author, and seeing the landscapes that formed him was a great treat. While I comment once in a while on his blog, my regard for him makes me somewhat starstruck. Part of me wanted to drop off a couple of pounds of  free samples of our  Gibsondale Cheese, but like many writers, I understand he shuns visitors.

As a major Gene Logsdon fan,  I was somewhat chagrined that the town of  Upper Sandusky did not honor their most famous son in their welcome sign. The town does remember  its original inhabitants, who apparently made their peaceful  last stand there. Gene often writes about homesteaders, agrarians and other rural folk as "Ramparts People", and the connection to the Wyandot Indians is not lost in his thinking

"The voice of the turtle can be heard again, ringing through the land, as the old Wyandots and Mohegans who once roamed my farm would say-a new surge of creative energy that moves the earth in a direction of self-redemption and sustainability that not the richest PAC nor the oldest institutionalized claptrap can stop".

Next Time......................How the Contrary Farmer changed my life

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hopeful Signs of Agrarian Revival

My off farm urbanist business occasionally requires me to be apprised of local news. In the last couple days while searching for local matters on google news I found two encouraging agrarian stories.

Hand mowing contests are returning to  Yankee country fairs. Even the Wall Street Journal  recently noted the Scything revival. 
The first one: of all places, the Wall Street Journal ran a story about Scythes as a superior alternative to the weedwacker. I have two Marrugg Scythes and love them. The article is a bit obtuse about the differences between Austrian style blades and stamped American blades. I would also question whether a scythe instructor is necessary.  Some reading and youtube watching followed by thoughtful practice can accomplish a lot and my mantra in life is the Chesterton quote that "anything worth doing is worth doing badly."  In spite of these small flaws, the fact that a major paper in darkest New York City is doing a story on scythes is pleasantly shocking. 

The second story is from the New York Times and discusses some the the economics of the growing small farm movement.   Apparently among other things, cheap migrant labor is not as plentiful as it once was, and  produce from small family worked plots may become more price competitive. If this trend continues,  my expectation is that large corporate agribusiness will respond by lobbying for more regulations on farmers markets and the small growers (all in the name of "food safety").
For now though, I am just encouraged.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

An Agrarian Hymn

We are having a dry year, though nothing like what the midwest is seeing.  "Oh that this dry and barren ground in springs of water may abound........." The musician,  Tim Eriksen,  captures the feel of what I imagine much early American music sounded like, and I love the agrarian imagery of this hymn.  I hope it inspires your Sunday too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gibsondale Cheese Company

 A Kerry and Holstein cow on their way in to make milk for the Gibsondale Cheese Company

I am just back from the 2012 ADCA annual meeting, show and sale. It was great time and the chance to talk to Dexter breeders from across the nation was well worth the long drive.  The trip will give me fodder for lots of blog posts, and helped sharpen the direction of my breeding plans

I unveiled Adam's current farmstead cheese lineup at the show, and the cheeses were well received. The farmstead cheese now has its own identity to differentiate it from the local cream line milk business.  With a bit of arm twisting, my talented wife prepared the website for the new endeavor; the Gibsondale Cheese Company.

The Gibsons were a prominent local farming family who settled western Pennsylvania from Northern Ireland in the years before the Civil War.  Where several of their farms met, was called "Gibsondale", and Gibsons are in both the Grossman and Dean family trees. (Sometimes I joke that local families are as inbred as our Kerry Cattle!). Dales are the term for a broad valley surrounded by low hills, and fit much of this area well.

We have no e-store yet for the cheese, but I would appreciate any feedback on the new website. I think "granny miller"-- AKA my lovely bride did a beautiful job.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heritage Beef for sale in Western Pennsylvania

I am a fan of traditional roasts, cooked slow with carrots, turnips, and potatoes. In my book, that beats a steak any day.  This fellow looks like he is hiding some fine roasts under that red coat. 
I am pleased to announce that our friends from Auburn Meadow Farm have beef for sale from their rare and heritage breed Milking Devon Cattle.

On the surface, eating rare cattle might not seem like a good idea, but its actually the best thing for the breed. Rare livestock were bred for a purpose, whether milk, meat, eggs, draft or wool. If rare breeds are only kept as part of petting zoos, or menageries to satisfy their owners' ego, they will remain rare. If rare breeds can find an economic niche related to their original purpose, they will recover. I think the American Dexter Cattle Association is a good example of this. Twenty years ago, Dexters were  endangered and hard to find. At present there are  4 farms I know of with Dexters just within 15 miles of me. Part of the reason is the promotion of the Dexter as a practical cow for direct sales of tasty beef. As a consequence, the Dexter has grown in numbers from endangered to recovering status.
Rare breeds also offer a chance to create a resilient agriculture adapted to local conditions. Auburn Meadow Farm lies only a few miles form us, and Western Pennsylvania is a good climate for growing British cool season grasses. Our summers are relatively cool and we get precipitation from both the Great Lakes and the upper Ohio River Valley. A climate that grows British Grasses well, should naturally be a climate for traditional British Cattle and both Dexters and Milking Devons are a good choice for this area.

 Milking Devons have died out in England, where they originated. They survived in New England  mostly because of Ox Teamsters dedicated to the breed. They are now about as rare as Kerry Cattle, and most people are likely to only see one at a farm museum like Sturbridge Village. If they recover, it will because dedicated breeders and educated consumers got together over some good meat.

I saw the price list and Auburn Meadow is asking a reasonable price for their beef bought in bulk. If I did not have parts of our own three steers and a lamb in the freezers I know where I would be buying my meat.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Getting ready for the American Dexter Cattle Association Annual Meeting

I will be at the annual meeting, show and sale for the American Dexter Cattle Association next week. It will be held at the Allen County Fairgrounds near Fort Wayne Indiana. Here is a link for show and sale information. I will be bringing about 120 pounds of farmstead cheese for sale (made with milk from the Craighill herd)--- if I don't eat it all myself during the drive.  

If any readers are near Fort Wayne, it will be a great chance to find out more about Dexter Cattle by seeing lots of them and talking to breeders from across the US.

Hope to see your there!  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dexter Heifer Calf and Rat Terrier

Short post today as our weather has cooled off again and we have lots going on! I wanted to call the  heifer calf above  Craighill Mary Ann McCracken, but I can only have 21 letters for registration purposes. I need to figure out a contraction. Miss McCracken is the is the daughter of Chautauqua Lully, AKA "Peewee"  who was pictured in the dairy barn a few days ago. If you like history, here is a link to her historical namesake, a great lady. the heifer is a very active lively calf, and a friend has dubbed her "pogo stick".

If starting this cattle blog has taught me anything so far, its that photographing live animals is difficult. She preened her head up, then down. I tried to take these pictures from the inside of a then empty hutch next door. Our young Rat Terrier came to see why the boss was sitting down in a calf pen. While there, she got distracted by a snack! Lizzie the rat dog will eat anything nasty. Her favorites are the rotten lamb tails she finds in the pasture from banding and the sticky, smelly turds that healthy new baby calves expel. Oddly, she will not eat scrambled or fried eggs. No wonder Gene Logsdon recently railed about dogs licking babies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Resilient Agriculture starts with Resilient Gardens

Readers Note: I found this review essay on my old laptop. I wrote it a couple of years ago for the now defunct Granny Miller site . I decided to get it back up on the net, as I  the two books were instrumental in my Kerry and Dexter Cattle project-- the idea of a more locally economic and ecologically resilient agriculture.  As there are more gardeners than cow keepers out there, I hope it will  be useful.

Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener and Steve Solomon’s Gardening When it Counts: A Review Essay

We have no TV, but maybe 2,500 books in the house. While we have no shortage of reading material, we do not have huge selection of gardening books. There are a few old favorites on the shelf: mostly works by William Cobbett, John Seymour and Gene Logsdon. There are some histories of plants and gardening. We also have some antique books from the era when the line between farming and gardening was a lot thinner.

I think there are two reasons for our dearth of garden books. One is that we garden pretty much the way I learned as a little kid agrarian, combining my experience with my wife’s natural green thumb.  My dad was known throughout our small community as an exemplary vegetable gardener. As my wife once said, it would be easier to list the things he did not grow, than those he did. Dad’s main garden was an acre of straight rows, located behind our house on the four acres Grandpa gave him when he married Mom. Growing up, it provided us with everything from French Horticultural Beans to Potatoes.

When my wife and I returned to the old house on the adjoining farm, we took over my grandparent’s old garden, a well drained half acre plot enriched by decades of manure.

The second reason I don’t own a lot of gardening books is that most really don’t help the reader grow better vegetables. Many garden books are simply picture book eye candy for gardeners stuck inside during Winter. While I appreciate pictures of greenery during the 67 days of February, garden catalogues can accomplish the same purpose for free. I also find that many garden books sell gimmicks rather than advice. Most Americans look at raising vegetables as back breaking toil, so they buy books that promise oodles of vegetables without the sweat.

There are  two more recent  vegetable gardening books that are actually worth reading and recommending. The first is Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food In Hard Times. The Second is Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self Reliance in Uncertain Times. These books came to my attention via people I respect on the Internet. The recommendation came from two men who actually know how to grow food. not self proclaimed experts (The Web is full of bad gardening advice). I learned about the Solomon from fellow agrarian blogger Herrick Kimball, who stated simply that was his favorite gardening book. Having avidly followed Herrick’s garden for years in his blog, his simple endorsement got my attention. As I was finishing it, I read a review of Carol Deppe’s book by another agrarian blogger and pen friend, Scott Terry over at the North Country Farmer. Scott is an organic dairy farmer, and from our correspondence, I think he knows his business. His review intrigued me when he stated, “I’ve grown all the crops covered in this book and I learned a few new things by the time I finished”. The folks from Chelsea Green publishing were kind enough to provide me an examination copy of Mrs. Deppe’s book, so I could do this comparative review.

Both books and authors share some similarities. Both authors were part of the 1970’s “back to the land” generation. They bring decades of real life experience to their subjects. Both gained most of their experience in the Pacific Northwest, and don’t pretend to know every detail about gardening elsewhere. However, 95 percent of the information in both books is pretty universal. Both are good writers with a quirky sense of humor. Both also advocate a traditional approach to vegetable gardening that involves:

  • Emphasis on the use of hand tools, especially the hoe
  • Growing basic staples like Kale and Potatoes to gain the most nutritious calories with the least effort
  • The importance of manure when it can be obtained (Both giving a positive nod to our famous neighbor Joe Jenkins’ Humanure Book)

These books both avoid foolish extremes of planting so intensive that the water bill results in $600 tomatoes, or the gimmicky no labor techniques that some praise but which don’t produce enough food to feed family though summer, let alone hard winter. Both authors also maintain a web presence to help others. Mr. Solomon is the founder of the online library at and Mrs. Deppe keeps a site updated under her name

Perhaps most important, both books also look at gardening as central to the family diet, not a garnish. Solomon describes this as being a “vegetabletarian” who does not shun meat, but frugally bases his diet on what he grows. For Mrs. Deppe, this information is presented around meeting the dietary needs of many people who cannot eat a typical American industrialized diet. We sell livestock, so I watch prices and trends with rapt attention. I believe that whatever happens in the future, the American cheap meat party is about to end. With high corn, high fuel, and low cattle inventories, there will be fewer steaks on the Nations’ grills this summer. Cheap meat is not the norm for human history, and we are about to return to normal. During the Depression, my family thrived on this farm. Nobody went hungry and there was extra for family members who moved back home and even hoboes got fed. However, even on a farm, meat was not part of every meal. When it did appear on the table, there was enough for a serving; seconds had to come from vegetables.  

Gardening when it Counts begins basic on soil fertility and the needs of various classes of vegetables. It continues with affordable options for soil building. This is essential to the new gardener who is turning over his turf for the first time, especially if that yard is a suburban lot. Most suburban housing developments had the topsoil stripped during grading, as the relative fertility needs of yard grass is low. The book then discusses some basics of Tools, including the essential need to sharpen hoes and shovels. This simple task is often the difference between pleasant hard work and drudgery (We have a few old hoes around here with three inch blades from decades of repeated sharpening. I don’t use them but cannot bear to throw them away)

Among the most useful chapters are Mr. Solomon’s insider’s look at the mail order seed business (He used to own a seed company), and his common sense information about compost. I have sometimes been guilty of buying cheap hardware store seed, but after reading this remembered why Dad always bought commercial grade seed. After reading this, my seed dollars will be more carefully spent. The chapter on compost will probably ruin a few myths among those who think that composted household garbage alone will grow top quality broccoli (Compost is not magic. The material used to make the compost influences its value as a soil amendment).

One of my favorite parts of this book is the thoughtful criticism of super intensive vegetable growing methods. Mr. Solomon continually points out through the book that plants need nutrients. There are useful diagrams of the subsurface root systems of most common vegetables throughout which show just how deep and wide roots must travel to obtain subsurface nutrients. As a stockman, I would describe the super intensive planting scheme as a “feedlot for plants”. Like a cattle feedlot, lot of inputs must be brought to the crowded plants to ensure growth.  I have read from defenders of intensive beds that nature plants that way. It does indeed, but nature’s concern is plant survival, not human survival. Nature’s approach often results in lots of scraggly plants, rather than a few good ones. I would urge the reader who doubts this to visit a woodlot that has been thinned, and one that has not. Man accelerates plant growth through management; that is the essence of gardening.

The Resilient Gardener begins with some of the best analysis about the common sense “prepping” that was once the American norm, versus some of the nonsense surrounding Y2K (and similar nonsense that is rearing its head again today).  Mrs. Deppe remembers when all but improvident families bought apples by the bushel in the fall and stored them in basements. In real hard times, buying and storing food bought affordably in season seems more sensible to me than expensive freeze dried foods. The author notes that expensive freeze dried foods will taste just as crummy in bad times as good. I also love that she advocates growing vegetables as a basic skill that is part of being a human adult. She also offers some sensible options to expensive land ownership, even in the expensive Willamette Valley where she lives. Her book represent a good lesson that anyone can grow some of their own food, even if they have challenges of health, age, or finances.

The book includes a very detailed discussion of the link between gardening and dietary needs. Mrs. Deppe suffers from some food allergies, and has developed her gardening around meeting her needs. This section of the book is very important for anyone who might be coping with both economic and dietary restraints.

Like Mr. Solomon’s book, this work also includes a section of basic tool use, but with an emphasis on working around natural physical limitations as we age. There is some great common sense advice about breaking up major tasks.

Mrs. Deppe also includes a section of poultry keeping as an adjunct to gardening which in her case means a duck flock. As this is a book about cheap living, she had some innovative thoughts on alternative poultry feeds.

The last half of the book discusses growing the staple crops of corn, beans, squash, and potatoes. I am eternally grateful for her passionate defense of the value of corn and potatoes in particular. Both crops have gotten a bad rap of late, mostly due to GMO corn and Americans’ over consumption of potato chips and fast food fries. Mrs. Deppe makes a good case that these crops should still play a role in the garden for anyone who wants to eat frugally but well. There is also some great advice on developing a breeding program for each of these crops and some recipes I cannot wait to try.

Which one to buy?
For the person who want to become a better gardener or is already a homesteader, I endorse both books. They are also uniquely valuable for both the new and the experienced vegetable grower. However, since this represents about a $50.00 investment many readers might only want one. In that case: Gardening when it Counts is best for the reader that is already fallen upon hard financial times. It is less money and the modest investment will pay for itself in the more produce from the first garden.

The Resilient Gardener would be more worthwhile for any reader that has health or dietary restrictions (food allergies, diabetes, etc). It also contains more recipes, poultry husbandry and some breeding information, so it would be better for readers who wish to mix animal keeping into their garden.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Survivalism versus Agrarianism

"If the people believe the prophets of despair, then indeed hope vanishes, for everyone seeks his private hidey-hole, endeavoring to content himself with ephemeral pleasures.
But if the people, not believing the prophets of doom and their self-fulfilling prophecies, still retain faith in a moral order joined to a social order-why, then indeed hope has not departed for it remains possible for men and women to brighten the corners where they are and to confront together the difficulties of the time. Given hope, great renewal is possible for a people".

-Russell Kirk

"The entire modern deification of survival, per se, survival returning to its self, survival naked and abstract with the denial of any subsequent excellence in what survives except the capacity for more survival still, is surely the strangest intellectual stopping place ever proposed by one man to another."

-Colonel Jeff Cooper

While talking to the North Country Farmer, I was pleased to hear that some preppers are beginning to listen to his show.  I hope that they listen to him. It seems that one of the fasted growing trends these days is an interest in “survivalism”.  This trend has not failed to even catch the attention of the old dinosaur media, like Time and Newsweek. The trend is equally visible in both “left wing” and “right wing” circles. The social and architectural critic James Howard Kunstler has taken up the cause of “peak oil”, and written both nonfiction and fiction about a dark post oil future. When I catch conservative talk radio between changing CD's in my pickup,most if it is now hawking gold and food for long term storage.

Part of this interest is a reasonable response to what has happened to our country and its economy in recent years. Only fools and the willfully ignorant could avoid seeing the fact that bailouts, debt financing, fiat money, and trade imbalances are leading to a day of reckoning. Personally, I am interested in some of the issues that survivalists find compelling. From the outside, my wife and I probably look like “preppers”. We own and carry guns. We store food. We use quite a bit of non-electric technology.  However, neither of us actually identify as survivalists (quite the contrary). I particularly  see a number of features of the “new survivalism” that I find somewhat disturbing from my vantage as an agrarian.

I have been fortunate in recent years to have gotten to know the Reverend Doctor T. David Gordon, a professor of religion with a strong interest in the area of media ecology. Among other things, media ecology looks at the way media affects our thought. 

I see among many “preppers” an undercurrent wherein mass media forms their vision of an apocalyptic future. Films such as Mad Max, I Am Legend, and Book of Eli portray lone heroes in a world gone mad. Part of this is a modern rendition of ancient heroes’ tales, but hero tales represent a poor model for everyday real-world survival. The lone survivor battling all odds is both a temporary situation for the participant and not the stuff of daily life. Among other things, those who survive alone against all odds generally remember on thing—loneliness.

Much of the modern survival movement also remains a form of consumerism. Instead of jewelry or electronic gadgets, the prepper spends on freeze-dried food, bullion, and gun related gadgets. One of the side effects of constant exposure to media advertising has been a belief we can buy our way out of trouble. Advertising often flatters a serious flaw in the American character: our nearly religious faith in the power of ever changing technology. (This may have been a factor in putting our country in the fix it is in). I see this reliance on technology over skill as perhaps the antithesis of common sense for one who wishes to survive. From my experience with the Appleseed shooting program, I saw a number of first time participants show up with very expensive tactical battle carbines, literally covered with gadgets. However, they were almost always outshot in every way by country boys and girls with bolt action .22’s. 

My greatest concern is that, if the world most people know begins to unravel, their only point of reference will be Mad Max. Shaped by media, they will act accordingly, and this attitude could actually create the dystopic future they fear. I never recommend TV, but those interested in preparing for trouble ahead would do better to watch the Waltons or Little House on the Prairie.   

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Saving Kerry cows with Ice Cream

We skimmed some cream off the milk in the refrigerator last night and made Ice cream in the Cuisinart I used to use to cool goat milk. It reminded my of this fun look at Kerry Cattle in their native home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Upcoming Radio Interview

This Friday Evening, I will be a guest on Scott Terry's Christian Farm and Homestead Radio to talk about my Kerry and Dexter project. Scott is a dairy farmer in northern New York who  is dedicated to both breeding, and the history of Jersey Cattle. I have had the pleasure of trading emails with him for years, but this will be the time we have ever had a chance to speak. Scott has a weblog that I follow here, and I bet the conversation will lead into some other interesting agrarian topics. If you would like to join us, follow the link above and call in Friday night.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Milking Dexter

Meet Chautauqua Lully, AKA "peewee". She is a friendly but feisty first calf heifer. This picture also gives some indication of the size of a Dexter relative to other dairy cows.  I believe she will be the first ADCA Dexter to be on a Dairy Herd Improvement test. I am no fan of the national DHIA, but the testing is an objective standard both of the quantity and quality of an individual Dexter's milk.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why we chose the Kerry Part Two: Adam and Phil

An old Kerry cow blooms again under the care of Phil and Adam Dean.

Our Kerry project was only possible because of a partnership with another farm, our friends Phil and Adam Dean. (Not affiliated in any way with  the Dean foods corporation)

People around western Pennsylvania have grown to love Adam's pasteurized creamline (non homogenized) milk in glass bottles, but may not know just how good they are as farmers and skilled cattlemen.

We are both five generations on our respective home places, and our farms lie only about nine miles apart, but I only got the pleasure of knowing them about seven years ago. 

When everybody else was complaining about fertilizer prices a few years ago, Adam and Phil were figuring out how to grow corn without expensive fertilizer.

When everybody else was trying the latest roundup ready corn, Adam was trying open pollinated corn and learning the lost art of running row crop cultivators.

Adam Dean making Cheese in his small, modern plant
Adam also figured out that there is not much a a future selling cheap milk through expensive cows. It is easy today to spend $20,000 or more on a high producing Holstein, but her milk is still only be worth $17.00 per hundred weight (about $1.36 per gallon) when commodity milk prices are low. Even before the Kerry project, their herd had some unique genetics.  They kept a family strain of moderate size Holsteins going that make more milk on grass.  They integrated Jerseys into the herd. They have experimented with crossing Angus and Simmental with Holsteins.

While the components of the Dean herd can minimize costs, the price of commodity milk is still inadequate. Adam saw that the milk had to leave the farm as  food; not a commodity. He went to cheesemaking school and  set up his own processing plant. 

Phil Dean and a little Dexter who kept following him around on out visit to Someday Maybe Farms. Can cows instinctively recognize good cowmen?

Their herd numbers remains small by modern standards and their cows are managed in an exemplary manner. The cows spend their days outside and nights in a traditional dairy barn. Even in the depths of our wicked Winters, every cow gets outside at least every other day.  Their barn is exceptionally clean and I have always been struck by how much they like and regard their cows. The result of Adam and Phil's cattle care and breeding is that their dairy cows live and remain in production three times longer than the national average.

I always liked raising bottle calves and feeding dairy steers. Deans' neonatal calf care was so careful, I stopped buying calves from  another dairy.  This eventually led to some long discussions about dual purpose (dairy and beef) cattle genetics and changing consumer beef preferences. We looked at a lot of breeds. After some research and discussion, Adam shocked me with his interest in milking Dexter Cattle.  It made sense when I learned that, as a cheesemaker, his interest is in the quality of milk, not just quantity.  It also broadened the pool for grass based genetics with their already excellent herd. .

We developed a plan to use my smaller farm as a place to raise young stock, and finish beef steers, and he would keep milking stock at his place. It presented me with an opportunity to do what I love: raise heifers and graze cattle. While looking for Dexters, the Kerry cattle opportunity presented itself, so we ended up with some of both.
In addition to being valuable in terms of money and genetics, our cows are living creatures. Each is  a unique being in a world where life itself is a miracle. I would not normally board cows to other people, but I do this as I completely trust the Deans' skill and commitment. I know something about cows, but am overshadowed by their cattle magic.  In particular, a couple of the Kerry Cows are older and have traveled around from farm to farm. They were not always well cared for (prior to being brought to the farm we got them). It has been a real pleasure to see them bloom under Adam and Phil's care.

I will have short posts for a couple of days then we will address the matter of horns! Part 3 on The Kerry cow's unique characteristics will follow after that.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Annie The heifer herd boss

Just a short post today as the weather is cool (about 60 degrees with a nice breeze) and its a great  day to do some hard work outside.

This is a picture of my Annie, that we took about 5 months ago. She is a Kerry heifer with bloodlines out of Wakarusa Ranch. Wakarusa is near Lawrence Kansas and is  is owned by Clay and Patty Adams. They also raise both Dexter and Kerry Cattle with an emphasis on Beef.  Patty has been kind enough to talk to me on the phone and is a wealth of knowledge about both beef characteristics and bloodlines of each breed. 

Since this picture was taken she has been dehorned and grown quite a bit.  As Annie is bigger than the Dexters she is definitely the herd boss. She lives with three Dexter heifers and each morning I let them out of the barn to pasture and bring them back each night.They like the pattern, and by sundown they are waiting at the gate to come home.  Cows like routine. Each heifer spends the night in her chosen spot in the loafing pen. Annie lays near her Dexter cousin Alice and about once a week she gets up, stretches, and defecates on Alice's back. If I was getting pooped on every few days, I would find a new spot to lie down!  

One of the things I like about this batch of heifers is their docility. When I was young, I thought wrestling wild cattle was fun. As I get older, I can't move as fast and I am much more cautious. With good calm stockmanship on my part, these heifers are much easier to handle than commercial beef heifers I have owned.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Why Kerry Cattle? Part 1

I have been corresponding with a Kerry Breeder on a beautiful farm in wales, the Cwm Gorphen Herd, pictured above. They asked how we got into Kerry Cattle. A part of the answer was opportunity. A  farm in Western New York (only about 140 miles away) had a herd available. They wished to sell the the Kerry Cattle in order to focus on their Dexters, Commercial Cattle and  many other endeavors.
The next part of the answer will focus on Why we chose the Kerry.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet Flora: A Kerry Angus Cross

When Adam emailed me this picture of Flora's birth, it was  a big day for us. Heifers are a cause for rejoicing on any farm, and I recently read there are fewer Kerry Cows in the World than Panda Bears. She is a fine healthy calf and much more lively than a comparable age Holstein. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure she is half Angus. The farm where we bought the herd also had a commercial Angus bull, and in Western Pennsylvanian country lingo, I think he "nailed" Maiya. Flora is a bit thicker legged than a Kerry, and at two weeks old she is showing no signs of horn buttons. While I would have hoped for a pure Kerry, Flora can still keep Kerry genetics alive and I suspect her hybrid vigor will help us in the long run. When she grow up, we can use her for back crossing or absorption breeding.   Maiya is getting older, but will hopefully have a couple more calves in her. She is kind of our Raquel Welch, and she looks great for her age.