Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

The Class of 2021…

…the next batch of piglets have arrived at Thistle Hill and will “graduate” next March!

Thisthill Farm Pigs

We’ve pretty much settled on crosses of Berkshire and Tamworth for our purposes…both are heritage English pigs known for their bacon and hams.

We’ve also found they’re easy to handle…no minor attribute when dealing with pigs.  Their predecessors incidentally are now in our freezers and you can order cuts.

Of course you can also reserve one of the Class of 2021…a half or whole!

Contact Church at

(214) 802-1283


November sunrise…

Thistlehill Farm Sky

A crisp fall morning on the farm…as Church does the early morning rounds of the pastures.  The Blue Ridge in the background.


A true confession…

…I must admit I never liked pork much until we processed the first pigs raised at Thistle Hill.  The difference between that pork and the factory-raised pork in restaurants and supermarkets was unbelievable…greater even than the gap between store-bought vegetables and the garden variety.

Recently Carolyn prepared one of our ham steaks and it was delicious.  She reports she used only some hot mango chutney sauce and cloves…cooked at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  The result:

Thistlehill Farm Ham
Photo by Carolyn Matthews

Not to be outdone, grandson Church thawed some pork chops for his dinner.  Even the best steaks would have trouble competing with this!

Thistlehill Farm Pork Chop
Photo by Church Humphreys

Since that first experience…I’ve tasted other pasture raised pork and it’s been excellent too.  But as with our beef, I think Thistle Hill is blessed with its soil and water…its terroir…making our meats just a little tastier.

You can order your pork now by emailing Church at


The final three…

…and we finished with about a third of our calves being females…which is good news for our meat customers!

THF 24 is a pretty sturdy heifer at 78 pounds.  The dam is a lovely American cow, 256, and the sire is British, TDA Essington.

THF 25 is a very sound bull calf…out of one of our top American cows, W64…and again sired by  Essington.  Birth weight 80 pounds.

THF 26 is our lightest calf this season…just 45 pounds.  Mom is small and a heifer.  She wasn’t sure what to make of the whole thing at first but now the little heifer is packing on the pounds.  Sire is our English bull, Ransom.

Our vet tells a Church that calves have been averaging heavier because of warm temperatures this Fall.  That’s been true in our herd…several really big calves would seem to have driven up the average weight.  Maybe Church can total them up and give us the average.


THF 24
THF 25
THF 26

A refresher course…

In grass finished versus grain finished beef.

An increasing number of people seem to be turning away from industrialized beef and trying the grass finished version.  Farmers too are increasingly marketing their own products…not willing to accept the take-it-or-leave-it pricing of the national processors.

Just a few…like Walter Jeffries in Vermont, Joel Salatin in Virgina and Greg Gunthorp in Indiana…have gone all the way and have vertically integrated their operation, including everything from production to processing to direct marketing.

At the forefront of that group is White Oak Pastures in Blufton, Georgia…a giant operation with 150 employees and 10 different kinds of animals under production.  Its webpage includes a review of its practices and why it turned to focus on grass-finished beef.


Fall at Thistle Hill…

…is the most beautiful time of year.  Well, except for the dogwood and rosebud trees in the Spring.   Mackenzie Mason used Church’s new drone to check out our 200+ acres of woods and captured some of the colors.  There’s a brief glimpse of their home about halfway.


The three latest…

…and the ratio continues to favor bulls over heifers, two to one.

THF 21 is a bouncing baby boy and then some…95 pounds. The dam is from our favorite “2” line and is just fine despite the oversized bundle of joy.

THF 22 is the son of an English heifer. He’s by an English bull…Ransom. In fact this 70-pound bull calf combines bloodlines from four great English herds…go back a little farther and it’s really an all-star line-up. We’ll be keeping an eye on him.

THF 23 is a heifer, finally. She’ll be going into our American herd…her mother was bred to the English bull Essington. Birth weight 75 pounds.


THF 21
THF 22
THF 23

We’ve calved 21…

…more than two-thirds of the way though. And for those keeping score, it’s 14 bull calves and 7 heifers. Two of the cows here are with their first calves.

THF 18 (top photo) is one of those births. The dam by a Thistle Hill cow and the sire King David, who is English. Birth weight 75 pounds.

THF 19 (middle photo) is a 70-pound bull calf out of our very first English cow, TDA 7. Sire is Essington…so this is a pure, traditional English Devon.

THF 20 (bottom photo) is another calf born to an American Devon heifer. The weight 60 pounds and the sire King David.


THF 18
THF 19
THF 20

Falling behind…

…with calves coming faster than we can post them…or tag them!

THF 15 (top photo) comes jammed with many of our best pure traditional English genetics…Ashott-Barton, Goldings, Cutcombe, Essington Park. He’s a 75-pound bull calf out of our English herd.

THF 16 (middle photo) is a 65-pound heifer destined for our American herd. Her dam traces back to the Lenoir Creek and Lakota herds…sire is English.

THF 17 (bottom photo) is a cross pairing we really like for our meat production…a combination of Devon and Senepol. The quality and yield just can’t be beat!


THF 15
THF 16
THF 17

Another convert to…

…sous vide cooking.  The young son of a friend recently was given a sous vide cooker for his birthday.  His very first attempt at a ribeye steak (grass fed if not Thistle Hill) was a smashing success.

Ribeye Steak
Photo by Stephen DeCelle

Incidentally, if you’re one of those who prefer your meat more well done. Your just increase the settings

We were late to using the sous vide method.  Son-in-law Curt introduced it to Thistle Hill about two years ago.  Being a traditionalist,  it took awhile for me to be converted but there’s no doubt this technique of slow-cooking guarantees a perfect steak every time!

Heating in water results in a more tender, moist steak evenly cooked.  Grandson Church likes to marinate the meat first overnight…but this young man is a chef after my own heart…just a dash of salt and pepper and get cookin’!  

PS:  but still,for that old-time feeling nothing can compare with cooking over a fire with a group of friends, adult beverages in hand!  And for that you best have a Thistle Hill steak.  Give Church a call!