Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Category: Soil

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]