Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Category: Soil

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. […]

The good, the bad and…

…alright, the ugly. We’ve certainly answered the question:  can you overseed fescue. Grandson Church did just that last January, using a small spreader between light late-season snowfalls. As you can see there was considerable success. You’ll also note some wayward red clover…perhaps in the bulk seed bag but also possibly from earlier years. This much […]

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 […]

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 […]

A familiar scene….

….if you’ve ever tried to spray fish oil.  Add in several other ingredients, and you have a recipe for a sprayer jam.  We’re fortunate to have a neighbor—Ira McDowell—who is a veteran tractor mechanic as well as an all-around handyman. That’s Ira unclogging the line from the outlet of the PTO pump while I “supervise”. […]

Saving the planet….

….not exactly a humble goal, but that’s what is at stake. The earth’s surface has been turning into a vast desert, releasing more carbon into the atmosphere every year than all the fossil fuel engines combined.  This “browning” of the planet is the cause of all the hunger, suffering and war than we can possibly deal […]

The secret ingredient….

….in Thistle Hill cows and beef. But it’s no secret, we’ve been saying for some time we think (next to Wooz’ care, of course) it’s our mineral program.  Visitors invariably remark that they have never seen a group of healthier, more vital animals than those at Thistle Hill. We do a lot of experimenting, try […]

Mob grazing…the soil report

It was a year ago that we began our experiment with mob grazing at Thistle Hill.  And here, agricultural land consultants Charlie Thornton (foreground) and Tim Woodward of Tellus Consulting help us consider the results. Tellus did a complete mineral analysis of seven of our pastures using Brookfield Labs in Ohio.  We tested three of our […]

All dirt is not the same…..

Water (not oil) may be our most precious resource but dirt isn’t far behind.  And with all the changes we’ve made to our pastures at Thistle Hill (and the addition of more acreage) we thought it was time for a complete analysis of our soil. So last week we brought in Tellus Consulting again for […]