A Mid-June Hello

When you’ve gone off to visit the neighbor boys without permission only to discover that they’re not there anymore and now you can’t figure out how to get back home by yourself, PLUS you have to stand there and watch while the rest of your family gets fresh pasture and your human ignores you – it’s stressful for a cow.
Bonita did eventually come home, with some help from her human, after the rest of the morning chores were done.  She claims to have no knowledge of exactly HOW she ended up at the neighbors place and she left no clues behind either.

 

Here we have today’s sheep rotation with yesterday’s grazing and compaction on the right and today’s fresh pasture on the left.  The grass is taller than the ewes right now, but give it a few hours and they’ll all be visible again.  We’re coming into the hot and dry period of the summer and the grass will probably not grow much, if it grows at all, for some time.  Now we’ll see if what we’ve got will hold out until cooler and wetter days when the grass starts to grow again.

 

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Market Lambs Available Here!

 

Our Katahdin lambs are ready to become market lamb projects, and we couldn’t be more pleased.  Just look at them, ready to work with some students in our area and compete at the fair in August.  We have been monitoring their weights to make sure that they are growing well on their grain-free diet, and some of them are boasting a gain of over 0.6 pounds per day!   They’re growing really well and we’re hoping to see these guys and gals receiving some top-notch ribbons this summer.

When our children were growing and in 4H they enjoyed a broad variety of projects. It was awesome, and they learned so much. As adults now they all agree that 4H was not just fun but it had a huge positive impact in their lives. One of them even became a project leader after graduating from school while another settled on a career that is heavily influenced by his 4H experiences.

Even though our children are all grown and living successful lives far away, we still want to support and cheer on our community kids and their projects.  We want to give first pick of our lamb crop to local 4H and FFA kids who will use them for their market lamb projects this year.

We’re also wanting to offer a 4H and FFA discount to help the students get a great start.  We’re looking forward to visiting the fair later this year and seeing how well the students and our lambs worked together and to celebrate their success with them.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in our lambs for their project, please contact us quickly so you can come pick your lamb.

Benefits of a Riparian Habitat Area

We have measured and fenced off our pond Riparian Habitat Area recently.  In the past, the wet areas on our property were off-limits during the rainy season and we’ve kept the livestock away from the pond when grazing this area.  However we decided to set posts and mark the area more permanently this year.  This will bring a variety of benefits.

What is a riparian area?  Simply stated it is the banks of a creek, pond, river, or other water way. This area is prime habitat for the animals that live in or at the water, the insects and birds, and there are specific plants that thrive in the areas closest to the waterways.

Why is the riparian habitat area important?  Ensuring that the riparian areas under our management are healthy and thriving brings not only benefit to the land and all of the life that lives on that land, but it is good stewardship for those who live nearby and downstream.  A healthy and well-managed riparian area increases the biodiversity on the land by growing the numbers of various insects (most of which are beneficial), birds, robust aquatic life, and cleaner water (compared to water ways that are not managed with riparian habitat in mind).

Insects are  pollinators but they are also food – food for the aquatic life and for birds.  Beneficial insects outnumber insect pests by great odds and they are nature’s solution to insect damage because they consume the bugs that want to eat our crops, harass our livestock, and drive us crazy.  Chemistry has given us pesticides, but nature gave us beneficial insects and when we promote their habitat and ability to live they will do their jobs much more effectively thus keeping our crops and livestock in better shape which makes us happier.

Aquatic life is pleasurable but also necessary.  The jobs of certain fish in ponds is to help keep the water clean and free from vegetative overgrowth and algae in the water.  Fish also like to eat the insects that spend time on the water’s surface and lay their eggs on the water’s edge.  Frogs and fish eat the larvae as part of nature’s cycle of life.

Birds are an important part of the biodiversity on a farm.  Birds will hunt insects, particularly the ones that bite and harass our livestock.  Whether it’s a sparrow or a goose, they are a necessary part of the riparian habitat because they help keep certain populations in check and they spread their fertilizer around as they fly which spreads seeds and nutrients to new areas.  We often see small birds perched on the backs of our livestock as they have a very symbiotic relationship, just like photos of wildlife you may have seen.

Water quality is much improved when a riparian area is maintained properly.  Runoff water that flows into any waterway is filtered by the soil it passes through, but sometimes that water arrives carrying fertile soil from up the hill or other pollution.  As the water passes through a riparian area it is filtered by the plants, roots, soil, and even the tree litter that is laying on the ground, but it is also slowed down so it arrives in the waterway at a more gentle pace.  The water that arrives in the water way is cleaner after passing through the riparian area than if it were to go straight from field or road into the water way.  Nature has a fantastic way of filtering water through soil and vegetation so providing a designated area around the banks of the water really helps keep our water cleaner.

Riparian habitat areas sometimes feel like “a waste of pasture space” but when we can see past the grass that isn’t being consumed by our livestock and spy the biological diversity that is dwelling in that tall grass, and when we understand how it benefits the whole, we probably won’t view those areas as “wasted space” anymore.  It can take time for our perspectives to adjust and for my friends and neighbors who are irritated with the forced and regulated “set backs”, let’s call them Riparian Habitat Areas and learn about how they bring benefit to us in the long run.  Besides, when nature was put into place by our Creator He called all things good in the beginning.  There is much yet to learn from what was called good and we can work toward recreating that natural balance for the good of our land, our livestock, our neighbors, and our selves.  This is one step in that journey.

 

Additional Reading:

Why Bother With A Buffer?  The Benefits Of A Forested Riparian Buffer Zone
Riparian Zones

Regenerating Soil, Regenerating Ourselves

Wise Traditions is a great podcast that we subscribe to, we listen while we do chores or while we drive from here to there.  This week there is a great podcast called Regenerating Soil, Regenerating Ourselves with Paul Grieve and we wanted to share it with our friends.
Whether you are always on the lookout for the healthiest food for your family (as a customer) or growing pasture raised animals and tending your own vegetable garden (as a producer), I promise you’ll enjoy this podcast.

Spring 2018 Has Begun

While it’s still cool and very wet, spring has officially begun here at Tikkun Homestead because we have begun our pasture rotation.  Couldn’t be more thrilled about the season beginning!

The sheep have moved out to grass and the two goats have joined them, the hens have moved out of the hen house and into their two tractors for their journeys to the pastures to meet up with the cows once they move out of their winter quarters and onto fresh grass in a day or two.

Next on the agenda is tackling the weeds that are popping up in the garden.  Maybe today!

Pasture Raised Spring Lamb Available

Our spring lambs are growing nicely over the winter, eating local grass hay and enjoying time lounging in the sunshine on nice days, or in the barn when the weather is crummy.  They are eyeing the fresh grass growing slowly in the rest of the pastures and are very eager to get into those new pastures!  As soon as the pastures are ready they will leap and bound over to the fresh sweet grass.

What this means for meat connoisseurs is that our lambs are almost ready to make their way to your freezers for the second stage of their life’s purpose – to nourish you and your family!  To some this may sound a little bit shocking, but this is the circle of life and it is part of how we honor the lives of the meat animals we raise.  Each animal has a lofty purpose and part of that purpose is to feed our local community members.

Our lamb sells for $5 per pound, based on their weight at the butcher shop.  We use a local butcher’s shop for processing and his fees are separate from the purchase price.

Lamb will be available in April 2018,  just a matter of weeks away!

While you wait you can plan some of your new favorite meals by checking out some of our favorite recipes.

Winter Wet Land Update

We live in a wet environment and the last few weeks have been quite wet with flooding all over our region.  Usually we have inaccessible pastures during this time of year due to so much standing water.  However late last summer we replaced an old collapsed culvert and installed a new one under the alley way.  Today we took a walk in the sunshine to see how our culvert project has affected our troublesome locations, and I have to say that we are very pleased!

2017 Pasture 1, collapsed culvert center right

2017 Pasture 1, looking east

 

2018 Pasture 1 after culvert installation

2018 Replaced culvert on the right

Here we have two sets of photos from standing in the same general location 11 months apart.  To the left of the first 2017 image is the source of all of that standing water shedding from the hill and across the alleyway.  The high spot in the second 2017 photo is where the collapsed culvert was.  The standing water here was 12 to 18 inches deep and spilled into Pasture 2 for quite some distance as well.  This was a common scene as it looked like this for most of the winter and spring, and it took a long while for the ground to dry out enough to allow the cattle to graze through the areas with standing water.

The two 2018 photos gap a bit in the center, but  you can get a sense of how the two years look in the same location.  After a few weeks of heavy rain and flooding, do you see any standing water?  There isn’t any.  (the darker areas in the second photo is exposed soil)  The alleyway culvert is the blue/green spot on the left of the first photo and the replaced culvert is to the right in the second photo.  We walked through the areas that have been the deepest water and though the ground is saturated, it has shed the excess water perfectly.

2017 Alley way, looking west

2018 Alleyway, looking east

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the alleyway, Pasture 1 is behind the trees on the left in 2017.  It is hard to see from this photo but the standing water beyond the trees is 18 to 24 inches deep at this time of year in our seasonal high traffic alleyway. This is the primary access route from the winter pastures to the grazing pastures for the cattle.  All of this wet is a big reason why it has taken us so long to be able to graze the cattle in these pastures in the spring or bring the tractor into these pastures.  It has been frustrating, to say the least!

The elevation of the alleyway was also raised a bit to allow the culvert to drain the water underneath and toward the second culvert, and with all of that dirt work the exposed soil needed to be re-seeded and covered with old seedy hay.  As we walked through this area today the ground was firm, which told us that we will finally be able to get the cattle to their pastures at the start of the grazing season and mow behind them to manage the pastures much more efficiently.

We have been looking forward to getting this project done for several years now and we’re thrilled to have finally been able to accomplish this necessary task.  When we look at our land it’s hard to believe that our neighbors down the hill are still flooded and that the river is still so high.

Buyers Club

We have decided that we would like to start a Buyers Club for the meats that we raise.  We will start out focusing on our pasture raised broiler chickens and turkeys this coming season.  If this arrangement works well for everyone we will expand to include our lamb and beef.

We think that this Buyers Club will benefit your family as well as our farm.  How is that?
We want to offer our pasture raised poultry at a discounted price to those who will pre-order their chicken and turkey before the start of the 2018 growing season and secure their order with a non-refundable deposit. The deposit will be applied to the final purchase price.  Whether you want only a few chickens and a turkey, or you want to stock up your freezer to feed the family throughout the year our Buyers Club benefits you by letting you plan ahead, work with your budget, and pay throughout the season. This is your opportunity to get high quality, clean, and nutritious meat at a lower price than if you waited to place your order when the birds are processed.

A Buyers Club helps us so that we can appropriately plan how many birds to raise in the coming year and to anticipate pasture rotation for the cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry throughout the year.  And as part of the Buyers Club you gain a special sense of participation in the restoration that is taking place here on our small family farm – you can feel confident that you are participating in the restoration of our local ecosystem, cleaning up our area ground water, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, and providing clean and healthy meats to our local community.  We love raising healthy animals and we appreciate the idea that our animals have a job here on the farm with our holistic restoration agriculture practices, as well as a calling to nourish your family when they leave their home.

If you are interested in the details about our new Buyers Club, please contact us right away and we’ll get you the details.

 

What is Restoration Agriculture?

What is Restoration Agriculture?

Generally speaking it is a form of land and animal management that has as it’s core value the regeneration of the ecosystem that calls our land home. Hundreds of years ago our vast continent was home to incredibly diverse flocks and herds, flora and fauna, and fish and birds. Mankind lived well here too, but we utilized our resources differently than we do today. Our continent once consisted of vast grasslands, clean rivers, woods and forests – all of which worked as part of a fantastic system that we don’t see so much anymore. The early settlers were astonished at this rich land, a land of bounty, a land of hope and promise. Our land is not able to produce the vast quantities of crops that it once was and our animals are not thriving as they once were, and restoration agriculture focuses on how we can restore what we’ve lost.

Restoration Agriculture has grown out of permaculture, and permaculture is a blend of two words – permanent and agriculture. Permaculture focuses primarily on perennial crops (fruit and nut trees, perennial grasses) as opposed to annual crops (corn and soy). Many things that have become part of “the way things are done” are more destructive than we realize and as we learn more we are adjusting so that we do things with less destruction and more regeneration. The idea is that the ecosystem we manage; the land, soil, microbiology, insects, fish, birds, wildlife, and domesticated animals all work together for mutual benefit of every species – especially humans.

This is a holistic perspective, meaning that we recognize that the whole is made up of many parts that function independently and yet are vitally connected to one another. We understand that if one part suffers, the other parts can pick up the slack for a time but if that suffering part does not recover and dies off the whole is greatly affected. Like our bodies are comprised of many parts and systems, we understand that each system is interconnected and should one part or system ultimately die the whole is greatly affected. We instinctively understand that each of us is a single whole made up of many parts and systems. Everything in creation is part of at least one system or part, and that system or part is just a piece of a greater whole, and each whole is just a part of an even greater whole, and on it goes. Continue reading