Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Perfect for summer grilling…

…just in time for your family cookout: Thistle Hill steaks, ribs and burgers.

Thistle Hill Farm Beef - photo by Church
Photo by Church Humphreys

For the first time we’re offering individual packages…no longer only bulk sales! You owe it to your family to try delicious, healthful grass fed Devon beef.

Our animals are raised and finished without supplements, pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics.

Hamburger is wrapped in individual one-pound packages for just $7.50/pound. Steaks start at $15/pound. Yes, and there are bulk discounts!

Farm pickup weekends and by appointment. Email ahead and your order will be waiting but we urge you to allow some time to look around.

Fun for the kids and you’ll learn why Thistle Hill meat is simply better. Also checkout our pig pasture. Yes, pastured, acorn-fattened pork is coming soon, too!

Thistle Hill Farm complete price list. Or call or write Church at (214) 802-1283 or

Evening at Thistle Hill

Thistle Hill Farm
Photo by Mackenzie Mason

Post graduate work…

As if grandson Church didn’t have enough to do running the farm and studying for an advance degree in biology…he recently took a week to attend the Frank B. Graham Cattleman’s School in Kansas.

The week-long program covered every aspect of herd fertility and calving, including artificial insemination, preg checking and delivering a calf.

Church, pictured below with his classmates, is second from the right.  He aced his final exam with a perfect score; only the fifth attendee to do that in more than 20 years!

Frank B. Graham Cattleman’s School in Kansas

Not long ago Church was selected by The Grassfed Exchange as one of 12 outstanding young cattlemen in the country.  His goal is to become a veterinarian.

He is the fourth generation on the farm and Grandpa is bursting his “bib and tuckers”!


Second pass…

…after a 45-day rest period, we’re bringing the main herd to where we started six weeks ago.

Thistle Hill Farm Clover
Photo by Church Humphreys

The clover stand predominates…probably 60-70%. Church took the phrase “overseeding” too literally last winter.

We may adjust paddock size this time around. We could use more trampling effect. Again trampled grass is particularly beneficial in the hot weather as a kind of armor coating for bare soil. It also breaks down and is beneficial for carbon sequestration and organic matter. Wanna keep those microbes happy!

And all that clover adds nitrogen to the soil…saving tons of fertilizer which keeps the treasury happy!

That much clover dominated the regrowth of our grasses…but the cows will love it in the hot summer days to come.


PS to TDA 35…

……in the previous post “Introducing TDA 35” (see below)I talked about a moment 10 years ago when I first saw the young bull’s dam.

David and Ivan deciding on Goldings Norah 21st.

Moments after posting I recalled Wooz was handling the camera at that moment. So I dug into the archives and sure enough there it was. Ivan Rowe, my Cornish mate, pretty much owns all the pastures around St. Just…right down to Lands End at the southwestern tip of England.

The cow is Norah 14…and his herd contains 100 more just like her! Ivan gave us the pick of the herd and we chose her to mate with Millennium Falcon.

Read the next post to see one of the pure traditional English Devon now at Thistle Hill.


Introducing TDA 35….

Two year old bull - TDA 35

It was 10 years ago that I walked out in a pasture Cornwall, England with a grizzled old farmer named Ivan Rowe.  Ivan was introducing me to the best herd of cows I had ever seen! More than that he was offering me my pick to breed…flush the embryos…and ship back to the States.

It took at least an hour to walk through the herd but it wasn’t a difficult choice.  I spotted my candidate almost immediately and said “how about that one”?

“Well you did choose the best,” Ivan grumped.  And from that point on he’s always called me “mate”…the highest honor I’ve ever received.  Ivan is a lifelong judge of cattle, respected by the leading breeds.  For any breeder, especially an American, to be Ivan Rowe’s mate is better than any college degree.

The cow was Goldings Norah and we transported her to UK Sires near Penzance.  (Yes Gilbert and Sullivan fans, that Penzance!). The mating was to a bull that is the basis of our pure traditional English Devon herd:  Ashott Barton Millennium Falcon. 

The first flush gave us 16 excellent embryos; and the second another dozen.  No cow has been that prolific for us.  And the two year old bull, TDA 35, above is one of her progeny, set to go to work at Thistle Hill.


The next generation…

16-month old Thistle Hill Farm heifer.

…and a picture of the result of mating our oldest American cow with a young British bull.

The dam is 17 years old and still producing. But Church has decided it’s time to work in her replacement.

This 16-month old heifer will be filling some mighty big hooves. Mom produced a string of outstanding bull calves. So it was an easy decision to set aside F212 for the main herd.

The sire is Traditional Devon Highwayman…descended from the finest bull I ever saw in England…Ashott Barton Millennium.

So we feel we’ve bred the best of both worlds…English and American!


I see bacon in our future…

It was a moment of celebration…the day pigs made their renewed appearance on Thistle Hill pastures.

Thistlehill Farm Pigs

Nothing tops the flavor of fresh, naturally raised pork. I put it right up there with fresh off the vine tomatoes and off the stalk corn! Meat from these pigs will be available in the fall but you can reserve a half or a whole right now.

More on our new residents is on our home page.

Incidentally, try fresh corn sometime. Do what my wife’s farm family did years ago and carry a kettle of boiling water into the field…plop the ears right in…and have a feast. Fifteen minutes from stalk to stomach! Incredible taste!


Before it’s too late…

The question of foreign ownership of agricultural land has been simmering just below the surface for some years now. The US is fortunate that it has the resources to feed its population for the foreseeable future.

But some countries already are being forced to plan against starvation and increasingly are buying farmland here. The Saudis are feeding their dairy herds hay grown on land they own in Texas…and their farms are drawing water from California’s limited supply.

It’s estimated that foreign interests already own an area the size of Ohio…and that’s a figure two years out of date! The current controversies over borders and tariffs could well become insignificant compared to this question of survival.


Hanging out with the guys…

Thistlehill Farm Bulls
Photo by Curt Humphreys

…three of our bulls doing their own version of intensive grazing.  On the left Guardian, a Rotokawa-bred animal, and then two of our English bulls, Essington and Highwayman. The last two are both sired by the great Ashott-Barton bull, Millenium Falcon.

My guess is they’re all favoring the grass right there because an underground stream is just beneath.