Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Category: Environment

Our namesake…

…and a stubborn little plant!  The Canadian Thistle dominated our pastures 20 years ago…along with Rosa multiflora.  It’s taken a long time (and many grandchildren serving hard labor) to get both weeds to manageable proportions. We simply keep cutting them to ground level and eventually the plant gets the message and quits trying. The multiflora […]

Caution…grass at work…

…it may look like resting and that’s what graziers call it…but this grass is hard at work! The trick in grazing isn’t how much grass the cows eat…but how much they leave. Ideally we like them to bite off about a third…and trample a third…and leave the rest for regrowth. That’s what’s happening here. The […]

An excellent explanation…

…of just what holistic grazing is all about. About seven years ago we were introduced to the concepts of Alan Savory and even hosted a session here with Michael Mitchell-Innes.  It was a milestone in the history of the farm, particularly for Wooz, who had grown up here. In sum, holistic grazing puts the land […]

Strip grazing…

…and the main herd has settled in…changing paddocks with no more than a whistle.  I’m sure you could set up an automatic gate opener and they’d move themselves. There are 33 pregnant cows in this group.  The section already grazed is in the foreground.  By enlarging the picture you may be able to see the […]

Couldn’t have said it better….

…mostly I ignore the rants of vegans and the extreme animal rights people…because they’re beyond reason.  But I was tempted to sound off after Joaquin Phoenix used his Academy Award victory to launch a diatribe against those who eat meat. In fact commercial farming of vegetables is far more destructive of the earth and its […]

Not an approaching storm…

…but an approaching lime truck. Our pH averaged about 5.8 across the farm and we decided to bring it back up over 6.0. We’re adding one to two tons of dolomitic lime per acre…depending on what soil testing revealed. I think this is the best investment you can make in a pasture. It not only […]

The bottom of the barrel…

…the stockpile barrel, that is.If there is a key in cattle raising, it is to avoid feeding hay at $100 a ton for as long possible. Here Church opens one of our last stockpiled pastures and the cows don’t need a second invitation. Video by Church Humphreys Native grasses here for the most part but […]

Living in a resort…

…that’s what my 18 years at Thistle Hill have felt like. The farm has been in the family a lot longer…almost 75 years. And now a new generation…the fourth…is beginning to take hold.  Grandson Church Humphreys is managing our Devon cattle herd and showing the same appreciation for the setting in the Blue Ridge mountains […]

The system circles the wagons…

..for 20 years I’ve been railing against glysophate…a chemical herbicide that Monsanto has been selling worldwide under the trade name “Round-up”. A number of studies have identified it as a carcinogen and a few farmers have successfully sued Monsanto for damages. Now however the EPA has declared glysophate entirely safe, putting millions of dollars in […]

Starting second pass…

…after about 45 days rest. Grandson Church says too many weeds though that’s not apparent in the picture. We calculate we have about 54,000 pounds animal weight per acre…just about a quarter of what we really need to see the results off mob grazing. At this level the cows can still afford to be selective. […]