Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Category: Soil

Winter feeding…

…takes several forms at Thistle Hill.  This is my personal favorite because we’re feeding the soil as well. The cows follow behind the tractor as it unrolls the bale of hay.  They’ll eat up to 60%..the rest becomes organic matter enriching the soil…feeding the microbes and, in turn, the plants. Oh and tonight the new […]

Grass is always greener—II

Just a quick add…pictures of the turnips we’re getting (with our hound) and the radishes.  Add in the roots we left behind and you get an idea of the wonderful impact in the soil! David

A good omen…

…as a rainbow finds daughter Carolyn inspecting one of our newly-seeded pastures.  It’s been 10 days since we seeded a cover crop of ryes, clovers, turnips, radishes and cow peas. It’s the cow peas clearly winning the germination race but if you look closely you can see the ryes breaking the surface. We let the […]

Upgrading some pastures…

…and using a no-till drill. In addition to clover, which we often spread, this year we’re mixing in perennial rye, cereal rye, turnips, radishes and cow peas. We’re doing several pastures hoping to extend the natural grazing season.  Not only should it mean extra nourishment for mama and calf in the winter slump but some […]

The magic of grazing…

This photo by son-in-law Curt Humphreys captures the harmonious relationship among soil, grass, animals and sky that is an on-going process on the pastures of Thistle Hill. There are no losers in this kind of farming…the soil, the grass, the cows and the environment all prosper.  And the farmer does, too. It’s easy to lose […]

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 […]