Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Updates on our Cattle-Summer 2014

Earlier this year we made the difficult decision to sell some of our breeding cows to streamline our herd.  Although we were sorry to see them go, the remaining animals are thriving.  We got two beautiful calves this April-a robust bull calf, shown above, with the same markings as his mother Cupcake, and a petite, adorable, and sweet heifer calf from Duchess.  The four steers from last year are filling out well-two will be ready to go to the butcher this fall, and the others will spend the winter with us and go next spring.  Next month the cows will be bred again for 2015 calves, and our bottle baby, Clementine, will become a mother for the first time!

Pigs in the Woods

  Rooting is a natural and necessary action for pigs, but standard commercial farming practice is to raise them on concrete, so they don't "ruin" the land.  HFF pigs love to root for nuts and other tasty treats-it adds to their varied diet and helps us turn the soil as we slowly work on developing our "silvopasture".

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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Monday, April 14, 2014

New Piglets!

We finally have our new piglets!  We were lucky enough to find a breeder specializing in heritage breeds, and these are a mix of Berkshire, Old Spot, Tamworth, and Large Black.  They are still a little too small to go outside, but by the end of April they will be in the woods/on pasture.  For now, they eat a mix of locally grown oats/corn, Poulin organic pig feed, and all the vegetarian kitchen scraps they want (they love strawberries and quinoa!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hard to say goodbye….

When Neel and I started talking about farming, and specifically raising meat animals, one of our bigger concerns was if we would be able to emotionally handle raising these animals and then bringing them to slaughter, or, in the case of the chickens, slaughtering them ourselves.  It turned out that it wasn't as bad as we thought; we knew our animals had a great life, we bring them to the butcher ourselves, they walk calmly off the trailer and start munching on hay.  Our butcher only takes a few animals at a time.  When its time, the animal is calmly led into the slaughter room, and instantly killed.  We know exactly what happens in the life of these animals, the whole process, from birth to death.  And we ensure that they get the best care throughout.
On Sunday, we sold a few of our cows.  We have another that is scheduled to be picked up next weekend.  This was a carefully planned out decision; we know that in order to get the most out of our land and our grazing animals that we cannot continue to grow our cattle herd indefinitely.  We have spoken to the new owner's-talked about their farms, or similar interests, etc.  They all seem to be decent and like-minded people.  However, watching the trailer pull away on Sunday was one of the most difficult times for us since we started farming.  Because we can no longer guarantee that they will continue to get the same care and respect.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  
If that is how we can predict the fate of our cattle, then we are right to worry.  Any google search will yield thousands of images of animals in the U.S. being mistreated and abused, of the horrors of industrialized farming and feedlots.
Is that what our sold animals have in store for them?  Probably not.  The people who are buying our cows are people who also have small farms, who also believe in sustainability, who respect animals for what they provide for us and treat them accordingly.
So we do what we can:  continue to run our farm, to talk to people about farming, to support other farms and businesses.  To hope to effect change and be part of the bigger movement against industrialized farming, that will some day allow us to sell an animal without the fear that it could end up on a feedlot.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Summer's New Calf

We were pleasantly surprised on Thursday to come home for work and find Summer and her new bull calf resting in the woods.  The little guy was all cleaned up, had nursed, and was already jumping around and giving his mother a hard time!  Unlike her last calf with our Scottish highland bull, who is solid black, this calf is a beautifully marked reddish-brown.  Just look at those eyelashes!