Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Category: Pasture

A virtual hug…

…to three families who welcome Thistle Hill cows to their property.  We couldn’t operate the way we do without them. Mary Schindling Perrine sent this view of her farm…our cows in the foreground…Cobbler Mountain at sunrise.  Confederate raider John Mosby—the Gray Ghost—always made his getaways to Cobbler and the Union troops could never catch him. […]

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 […]

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 […]

End of the trek…

…we take this for granted now but it is quite an advantage to raising Devon…particularly Thistle Hill Devon. Here the herd has moved itself from one of our main pastures to another…perhaps a half mile with lots of tempting grass in-between…but they trust Church and don’t break ranks. (Looks like they’ve survived the winter pretty […]

A picture only a farmer…

…can love.  A spade full of our western pasture taken at random.  The worms (I count six!) confirm a lot’s going on out there.  We’re planning on improved organic matter readings with more hooves on the ground in the coming year. Here is what it looks like right now too…over in the eastern pasture.  Church […]

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 […]

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 […]

Grass update….

We’ve never gone into the fall and winter with this much reserve grass. It’s called stockpiling and Church is stockpiling about 70 acres which is just over half our total acreage. The best I ever managed was about 40 acres. This field was underwater the first part of the year. We think it’s switchgrass…a native […]