With all the excitement and drama surrounding Cebu, I almost forgot to update everyone about the most exciting development on our farmstead… we now have cows! That’s right, we’re real farmers!!
We had settled on a breed some time ago, deciding that we would raise Red Poll cattle. They are a moderate-framed, easy calving, heritage breed, all of which means that they should perform admirably on our farm. They are listed as “threatened” by The Livestock Conservancy, an organization that we reference often to keep heritage breeds at the forefront of all our operations. On top of all that, they are beautiful animals and generally thrive on grass-based farms like ours.
The one problem with choosing heritage breeds is locating viable options for seed stock, which I guess makes sense. In my searching I came into contact with a Red Poll guru named Dan, a 3rd generation breeder who has made it his mission to assist others with getting into the breed. After several conversations via email and phone, he and his wife Mary Jo invited me to come stay at their home in order to spend a couple days learning about the breed, the differences between grass/grain performers (even within the breed, there are certain types of animal who will do better on grass alone), and visiting farms to look at available stock. What a generous offer, which I promptly took him up on!
During that visit, we drove all over western Ohio and eastern Indiana, and I was able to purchase 7 cows, a bull, and 5 feeder calves as my herd seed stock. I couldn’t be more pleased with the animals I bought (actually, that’s not exactly true… I really wanted 10 cows to start, and I would have been more pleased if they were free). They are all pure-bred Red Poll, registered, and bred for spring-ish calving. The first batch was delivered by Dan on his way to West Virginia to buy a load of calves for his finishing operation, and I’ll pick up another trailer-load in the next few days.
Having animals on the farm changes everything. Things are more real now that I have something concrete to raise, market, etc. The pressure is on, especially since I haven’t been able to finish the fencing that I need to put them out on our stockpiled forages for the winter. Lastly, decision-making takes on an entirely different level of importance, with live animals and their welfare at stake. A little melodramatic, I know, but that is definitely how it feels. I love having cows on the farm, and get excited about the fact that they are really just the beginning; sheep will follow shortly, then pigs. Chickens and turkeys arrive in early 2014, then off we go to the races!
So, it’s official: for as long as this dream lasts, we now have grass-fed meat for sale (beef will be available starting in late summer next year)!! Alert all your friends and family in the southern Ohio areas of Chillicothe/Circleville/Columbus, and send them our way for their chance to get in line for delicious grass-fed beef. But tell them not to worry, at this point it is still a really short line.
But not for long.