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.

 

Advertisements

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.

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.

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.

 

Weaning Lambs

Our lambs are now between 11 and 13 weeks old and it’s time to wean them.  The mamas have done a fantastic job of caring for their babies and it’s time for their bodies to stop putting so much energy into making milk and reroute that energy into getting back into good shape before we breed again in 3 months.

Once the babies are 8 weeks old their rumen (the part of their stomach that does all the work of digesting the grass) is fully developed and able to support them if they are weaned at that time.  Once they begin to nibble on grasses, their stomachs begin to learn to process forage as well as milk, but they’re simply not ready to survive on forage alone.  Mamas milk is required for life in the earliest weeks.  As the digestive system begins to mature and adjust to the increasing amounts of grasses that the lambs eat, they begin to derive benefit from both the milk and the grass.  We like to leave our lambs with their mamas for as long as we can.

We are weaning at this stage this year because the majority of our lambs are ewes and most of the mamas had triplets with two ewes and one ram.  If we left the babies with the mamas, they would naturally wean the babies on their own.  We are just stepping in this time to make sure that those mamas can get the most “bounce back” time before breeding again.  And the other reason we’re weaning now is that once the lambs are 4 months old, the boys are *capable* of breeding the ewes.  It’s not common, but it is possible.  In years when we have more boys than girls we will wean just before 4 months of age and leave the girls in with their mamas to be weaned naturally.  This year we opted to wean all the lambs together and put the girls back in with their mamas once their milk is dried up, leaving the boys to move together as one group and the ewes (mamas and lambs) to move together as a group.

Once everyone is separated and settled in, things quiet down and are peaceful once again.

 

Parasite Management & Supplements

Years ago we learned that Native Americans used pumpkin to cure kidney infections and rid the body of worms, and the leaves of the pumpkins may be crushed and rubbed on as a fly repellent. Not only this but pumpkins are safe for livestock to eat.  So we contacted some friends who had a pumpkin patch and asked if after the pumpkin patch season was over if we could buy some of their left overs.  They were thrilled to have someone help clean up the unwanted pumpkins and when we returned home with pickup truck loads of pumpkin we were delighted to find that the flock was equally delighted to have fresh pumpkin!  That winter we made sure they had a steady supply of pumpkins in their feed area.  With each new pumpkin they made games of rolling it around and breaking it open.

But, fresh pumpkin is a seasonal thing.  And what is actually helping with parasite management in the digestive tract is a compound found in the pumpkin seed called cucurbitin.  Cucurbitin affects parasites by paralyzing them so they can no longer attach to the body and they are expelled from the digestive tract naturally.  Continue reading

Pasture Rotation and Grass Compaction

An old idea in our home is the concept of leaving the grazing animals in their paddock long enough to “force them to eat it all” before moving on.  This is one concept that came from the big ranches up north where my husband spent his early 20’s working as a ranch hand.  Before going overseas, and when we had more cows than we do now,  when I was busy with the children and not as involved in the livestock side of things as I am now, this was a statement that was often heard.

However, we’ve restructured our small farm and I’m the primary “farmer” while the hubby works long days with an intense commute!  Even before I became the sole farmer in the family, we had moved away from the “make them eat it all” concept.

As you can see, they have left a nice amount of foliage behind and this is okay!  We are building soil and harvesting the grass via our grazing livestock who recycle the grass back into the soil.  Our perspective has changed over the years and we are excited to see how our land and our animals will respond to our evolving concepts.

The same concepts at work with the poultry, though in this location the grass is so tall that the birds simply cannot graze it.  Their tractors sailing through this sea of reeds is pressing the grass down and compacting it with the top dressing of manure.

They are almost at the grassy nole where the juvenile hens will be able to explore outside of their tractor for the first time.  The water trough for the cows are just across the fence from this little nole and the older hens will do their work with the manure left in the alley way.  While they reside on this little nole they will add their manure to the straw strewn about as a cover over the sparse grass that is growing in the sandy soil here.  This will not be their permanent home for the grazing season, just for a little while as they help build some soil in this location and move on to another spot.

 

TWO Weeks Update – 5/16

Boy, spring gets busy!  This is our regular weekly update but it spans two weeks.  In the past two weeks we’ve planted the garden, moved the greenhouse from the house down to the garden (with a nice foundation and a crushed gravel floor!), the cows have come down from their winter pasture and we’ve added a new cow and a bull to the small herd, and we got the big yards mowed (for our area and this wet spring, this is a big deal!).  I hope to write brief updates on each of the flocks/herds below but I also have one or two other entries planned.  Let’s see if I can pull all of this off!

Poultry:
Last Monday the Broilers moved outside at 4 weeks old.  I’m grateful for the delay in posting because it causes me to LOOK at how they’ve grown in the past 8 days – quite a bit!
The video was taken the day they moved out of the brooding house and into their tractor.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXw49_LpJU Continue reading