July 2015

Summer! It’s been good so far.

We brought out cattle to the processor on July 1. Finally! These cattle were bottle raised by Emily and I back in the summer of 2013, our first summer on this farm. We bought them from James Ranch near Durango. Are we sad? No. We’re finally getting some significant cash coming in to the farm! Sorry cows, that’s the way the ball game works;)

Chicory in the pasture.

Chicory in the pasture.

The cattle were processed at Homestead Meats in Delta, the only USDA inspected processor in the area. I owe a big thanks to our neighbor Terry for loaning us his trailer and hauling these cattle to Delta. The cattle hung in the cooler for 2 weeks, then were cut according to our instructions. I am a roast fan, not so much for ground beef. So we have a lot of roasts. Hopefully farmers market customers have similar preferences. But it’s not quite roast season yet.

Here is our cattle price list and we still have a nice selection of just about all cuts. I’m hoping to sell out of this beef by Nov 1 or so. The prices are a little high, but please don’t think we’re getting rich off of this. The money goes to buy more cattle and minerals.

Another exciting thing for the month is we have a bull! We were able to lease a bull from a rancher in Fruita. We have 2 cows that need a bull. Finding a bull proved to be a challenge. Most of the cattle around here go to the high country for the summer. Artificial insemination was an option, but not something I wanted to do. Late in the game I found the bull in Fruita. Kind of a haul, but I think it worked out well. He’s a lowline Angus bull. Our cows are Hereford. So we should get black calves with white faces. Our biggest concern is this bull is small. 18 months old, our cows are 26 months old. But lowline cattle are just small. We’re hoping he can ‘reach’ the cows to do his job. We’re hoping for calves in June 2016.

Bull on the left, cow on the right...

Bull on the left, cow on the right…

Chickens have kept us busy all summer. We started chicks in the brooder in April, and finally kicked the last chicks out of the brooder at the end of July. Brooding is a lot of work and the closest things come to traditional confinement houses on our farm. We generally move chicks out on the pasture at 3 weeks old, turkeys at 4 weeks.

The Eggmobile!  Hens are under it finding noontime shade.

The Eggmobile! Hens are under it finding noontime shade.  Lots more eggs coming Oct 1!

Our first batch of meat chickens were butchered in early June, and they were a huge disappointment for us. Our second batch turned out nice and big, but they were about 3 weeks late for butchering, which means 3 more weeks of feeding large hungry birds and 3 more weeks of work. We have 1 more batch of meat chickens out on pasture now, ready for butchering in mid-late August. Thanks for Russell Evans and the students of Transition Lab for helping with chicken processing!

Meat chickens finding afternoon shade.

Meat chickens finding afternoon shade.

We also have some turkeys out there. We started with 15, we’re down to 11 now. 3 died in the brooder when they were little, 1 died in the pasture over a chilly, wet night. We have had rough luck with turkeys here over the years. Turkeys are great, but when they get bigger they are really susceptible to foxes and dogs. Fingers crossed, if these turkeys don’t work out for us we probably won’t do turkeys again.

Turkeys, ready for some grasshoppers.

Turkeys, ready for some grasshoppers.

Our garden is like a jungle! Pigs dig the gardens for us over the winter and till in heaps of organic material as they go.  Compare this picture to last months picture.

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I’m selling at the local Montrose Farmers Market every week, primarily chicken and beef. It’s been a lot of fun, I like meeting people and sharing stories.

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