Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Category: Pasture

Watching grass grow….

The definition of “boring” may be watching grass grow but whoever said that was certainly never a cattleman. We’ve finally started strip grazing and here’s an after-action picture of the first paddock. The untouched grass is behind the electric wire in the background. This was the result on a half acre with 30 cow/calf pairs […]

Here they come…

The main Devon herd stretched out across Thistle Hill at sunset. No fuss or bother as they follow grandson Church for close to a half a mile. Do they understand that luscious green grass awaits? They do certainly trust Church’s leadership and sense of purpose. Outriders, sticks and herding dogs not necessary. Once they’ve regrouped […]

That didn’t take long…

What a difference five days makes. Grass is now 8 to 10 inches. We’ll have to move fast or risk falling impossibly behind. Grandson Church is erecting the stakes for one-acre paddocks and the main herd of 30 cows and their new calves will have an acre a day. Look carefully and you’ll see a […]

So Jim Gerrish knows….

…we practice what he preaches. The experts say the cows get about two-thirds of the best hay.  The rest is not wasted but trampled in creating organic matter and feeding the microbes. Add in the fertilizing the cows do as they roam around and our fertilizer bill is precisely “zero”. We do need a minimum […]

Did someone mention Valentines Day….

Our young bull Cutcombe must have gotten the idea somewhere because he took off overnight looking for love. Fortunately a neighbor spotted him early in his search and helped Church herd the young lothario back into the bull pasture. Fortunate too that his eight mates didn’t follow him on his quest. So no harm done…oh […]

The joy of farming….

Grandson Church is taking a post graduate course in biology this winter…and a course on everything else here at the farm. It’s easy enough rolling out the hay and makes for a nice picture but…but… The trick is to get the tractor started in zero temps and the bale positioned with the plastic wrapping off […]

Let’s call this before….

Christmas weekend opened splendidly with sunrise reflected off the Blue Ridge..captured by our designated early riser, daughter Carolyn. But if there’s a before there must be an after.  At the moment Carolyn took the before picture a passing motorist was also admiring the sunrise over Thistle Hill.  At least that’s what he told the investigating […]

It’s fescue weather….

We had a good solid freeze last night…the time of year that fescue pastures come into their own! The main herd has just moved into the next to last paddock. The green line is obvious but you can click on the picture to enlarge. Scientists say that the freezing temperature increases the sugar content considerably.  […]

Remember, the answer lies in the soil….

When we first moved to Dallas, we had an English gardener, Patrick Butterworth, who ended every letter, birthday card, and bill with the above phrase. Over time I have come to appreciate how incredibly apt this phrase describes so many systems, from the human body and how well it heals, to the garden, to the […]

We knew her “when”….

….Thistle Hill is fortunate in the company it gets.  I guess it’s because we try so many things and have become a real world laboratory.  We’ve hosted visitors from around the world and learned from them all. One who stopped by last year was Sarah Flack, a young forage expert.  She was writing a book […]