Humane Certification & Videoclick here to learn what it means to be animal welfare certified.
In the space of two weeks, we went from the best grazing weather to a surprise 10″ snowfall, which brought grazing to an abrupt and stressful end. The cattle cannot find the grass. Three weeks early, we need to feed hay. Will we have enough? The summer was so dry that the second cut of hay was barely worth the effort and expense.
A tale of adventure: We had planned on celebrating the end of a successful season of grassfed beef production, as soon as we loaded our last two British White cattle into the trailer. But the trucker was late, arriving after dark. The driver backed into the barn and opened the trailer gate with bright lights illuminating the interior of the trailer in an otherwise pitch black barn. The heifer was drawn to this novelty and slowly climbed in to check it out. (We closed the divider gate behind her.) But where’s the steer? We shone our flashlights into every corner of the barn, until we saw the twisted gate. Free into the night! Given the escape route taken, he either turned right and was up a quarter-mile-long dead-end farm road, or he turned left with access to West Shore Road. We could be up all night! We jumped into the ATV and tore up the dead-end lane, hoping for the best. Had we closed all the gates? The ones leading to the 80-acre north field? And there he was — looming large in our headlights, but just as quickly stepping outside their focus and floating away like a ghost — a fast ghost. Quick! Call for help to close off the West Shore Road access, putting up electric fencing so that there was only one lane, and it led to the barn. Then out again in the ATV to find our steer and guide him in. After that, it was easy. He seemed to want to go back to where he would not be so alone in the dark. Shakespeare said it best: “All’s well that ends well.” We DID get to celebrate.
A visit from other farmers is always special. The Papineau family spent some time with the herd, took a few photos of calves and the kids tried out our cattle scratcher.
In the name of agritourism, we are now offering 2 campsites. Our Saturday camper jumped in to help with farm chores, like feeding milk to our bottle-fed calf and setting up temporary fencing for the next cattle move. We can be booked via hipcamp.com or our own website https://healthherofarm.com/farm-stay/. We can accommodate 2 families or a small group.
If you have been thinking about purchasing a side of beef so that you can have the best possible beef at the most economical price, please contact us. NOW is the time to reserve your side, as supplies are limited. Our cattle are certified 100% grass fed, as well as Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World. Perhaps you have already tried our Porterhouse or rib steak at Hotel Vermont or enjoyed our stir fry through the Intervale Food Hub’s Omnivore CSA share. If you order a side of beef, the steaks and roasts can be cut to your specifications, and you can decide how much ground beef versus other cuts you want. We deliver your order to your home free of charge. Our price is $4.20 per pound (hanging weight), plus butcher fees. If you get together with friends and order the whole beef, it’s only $3.95 per pound, plus butcher fees. There’s a lot of good press about the benefits of grass-fed beef, and this is a great opportunity for you to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Buying in bulk gives you all the steaks and roasts for the price of ground beef. If your freezer space is limited, we also offer several size packages on our website to stock up and save. Please contact us to sign up for a year of really great beef!!!
Here’s our story — how we raise our cattle and produce such great beef. It’s all about the love. Matthan, who is working for us this summer, did the photography, along with his wife Catie. We think you will enjoy this:
The video is also on
Youtube, with perhaps better delivery speed.
comes bounding to meet us. Her mother is nursing her twin brother, who now weighs 150 pounds to Fiona’s 105 pounds, but it’ll all work out. We have been visiting our friendly neighborhood dairy farmer to tap his bulk tank for raw, whole unhomogenized milk. The thrice-daily warm bottles have now dwindled down to one big feeding in the morning. Fiona has been observed to chew the cud and drink water from the stock tank, so with fingers crossed we are watching her carefully and hoping she transitions to 100% grass-fed in a few weeks. [By the way, we had named her Fiona after the Shrek heroine, because she is spunky and she is effectively an ogre in her mother’s eyes.]Fiona is our morning delight! She sees us approach with her bottle and
Graduation! The bull calf has found the teat, learned to suckle and is packing on the pounds. We drive the calves out to the herd, and mama follows with laser focus. As expected, the herd welcomes excitement and gathers to greet them. What we didn’t see coming was the challenge for herd dominance. The cow had only been away from the herd, to bond with her calves, for three days. But the new leader is not about to give up her place. These cows weigh around 1700 pounds each, so the action is earth-shaking. After a little head-to-head shoving, everyone settles down to graze. Now for the sad back story… The heifer twin has been rejected by her mom and we have become her only source of nutrition. Although “Fiona” can bask in the sun, play with the other calves and nibble inquisitively on grass, she has to wait for the bottle to fill her belly.
One of the joys and challenges of farming is not knowing what you will find when you step into the field each morning. Twins!
They are somewhat rare for cattle, and as we soon heard from another farmer, you often lose one. The little heifer was up and about, somewhat confused and trying to suck on any animal standing still. But mama was kicking her off. And then the little bull calf, clearly the focus of mama’s attention, was listless. So we wait and watch to see what will unfold — best not to intervene needlessly. After a couple of hours without any signs of mamma nursing either calf, we activate our emergency plan. We steal the calves in the ATV and head towards the barn. Mamma follows the script of trailing along, in huffing indignation. Once in the barn, we secure mamma in the squeeze chute and bring the calves to nurse. The heifer shows a fine enthusiasm, but the milk is not coming much, and the bull calf’s nursing gene has clearly not kicked in. We try various positions with him, and finally are able to coax him to take a few sucks. But none of this is enough. So we start to thaw the spare gallon of colostrum we have kept for such an emergency. Calves need this within the first few hours to establish healthy immune systems, and basically to survive. It’s an immune system in a bottle at this point. We get maybe a quart down each little throat, using the calf bottle, and resolve to try again later.
What a joyous time of the year, when we turn the cattle out on pasture and get to see the calves nursing. These are the first three — a little bull calf and two heifers. Many more to come, with visions of easy calving. Joan attended the “calf clinic” and hopes she doesn’t need to use any of her untried delivery skills.