Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Free at last…

Thistle Hill Farm - David

…with everyone in the family safely vaccinated, I was finally able to escape my senior residence for the first time in almost exactly a year.

Naturally it was this year’s calf crop that interested me most.  They’re five months old now and a rewarding bunch of prospects.

THF 3 - daughter of TDA Cashtiller 4 and our Essington bull

Church’s favorite is THF 3…the daughter of TDA Cashtiller 4 and our Essington bull.  She’s the latest in our line of pure traditional English calves.

Bribery heifer

I was taken by this Bribery heifer..a combination of four great English herds.  She’s two-years old…and perhaps in-calf.  And she was the last mating Wooz and Church selected on our final visit to England.

Champson Defender calf

We were in agreement in selecting this Champson Defender calf as our top bull prospect.  We’re particularly excited to see the impact he might eventually have on our herd.

But a word of caution…in our experience calves change a lot in their first two years… particularly bull calves.  And almost every year a late bloomer comes along and surprises us!


A new wrinkle…

…to cooking steaks.  Church introduced me to grilling on a soap stone.  It’s pretty simple and pretty much guarantees even cooking.

We cooked a filet and two boneless strip steaks…all from a 10-year old cow.  Tenderness and the flavor could not have been better!  We have pretty well satisfied ourselves that for our personal eating we’ll stick to the older cows.

Will the day ever come when the government does away with the 30-month nonsense?  The rule that older cows cannot be butchered goes back to the “mad cow” scare in England.  Just what caused it was not conclusively proven but millions of cows were slaughtered “just in case”.

In recent years there’ve been only a handful of cases reported world wide.  And we also now know younger goes can carry the disease.  Even in England traces of Mad Cow have not been seen for years.

Additionally it came a truism that older cows were “tougher” which justified rushing animals to market.  It’s all a part of the better living through chemistry which had infected the beef industry.  And Bill Gates!


Fugitives from our storm…

..for a nice set of Thistle Hill steers.  They had just been shipped to Jimmy Acres Farm near Semora, North Carolina when the snows hit.

Brother and sister Jake and Anna Tommerdahl originally were going to fatten the steers for us but I guess they fell in love and immediately offered to buy them!  That’s the way it is with Devon.

Church met the Tommerdahls when they and he were Fellows at a Grassfed Exchange meeting in California.  Until now they’ve been farming produce and chicken and pigs.  This is their introduction to bigger livestock though Jake had interned in cattle operations before.

Perhaps best of all it’s confirmation of the value of the Grassfed Exchange and particularly their fellowship program for young farmers!

Read all about the Tommerdahls and their sense of mission.


This is SO important…

…we all have chemicals in us that weren’t around a hundred years ago. Even in the smallest of quantities these endocrine disrupting compounds can lead to major health problems like diabetes, obesity, and infertility. The end of the article has some tips on how to limit your exposure.


Ahead of the storm…

…Church is seeding clover just ahead of our most recent snow storm.

Thistle Hill Farm Clover
Photo by Curt Humphreys

For our “civilian” readers, the clover serves several important purposes:

It provides additional forage during the summer slump in the grass growing season.

It counter-balances the toxic effect of the endophyte which is more prevalent in fescue in the summer.

And it fixes nitrogen in the soil to such a great extent that we haven’t had to fertilize in a dozen years.

All this without plowing.  The nighttime freezing and daytime thawing…coupled with the melting snow…provides the ideal growing conditions for the seeds.

And the snow did come just as Church was finishing.


Bill Gates…devil or…


Gates is by no means the first well-meaning billionaire to float his save-the-world schemes.  And in the process cause as much harm as good.

Not surprisingly he has a technological solution for everything and that has put him cross-wise with the regenerative ag movement.

Gates’ recommendation now that rich nations all abandon meat for the artificial stuff is nonsense but it’s getting a serious hearing.  

Our neighbor down the road Joel Salatin neatly skewers the pretensions of Gates in his latest blog.

At Thistle Hill we’re satisfied with our 20-year experiment of doing things naturally.  Raising grazing animals on grass without chemicals…fertilizers or poisons…producing meat that is good for the consumer, the animal, the land, and the farmer.

 And as Alan Savory has demonstrated in Africa, regenerative agriculture offers the best hope for that continent’s starving population  .   

Only a monstrous ego living in a bubble would think changing nature instead of working with it is the magic answer. 


A winter wonderland…

…at Thistle Hill captured by MacKenzie Mason.

A bunch of hams…

…is what we’re raising…not baby beeves! I’d swear whenever Church unlimbers his iPhone our calves “assume the position” and proud mama poses in the background!

Photo by Church Humphreys

THF 3 is a young heifer combining four of our pure traditional English Devon bloodlines: Tilbrook Cashtiller, Cutcombe Jaunty, Essington Buttercup and Ashott Barton Falcon.

I’ve said before that I think this year’s calf crop may be our finest…and I place this five-month old heifer at the top of the list.

My guess is she’s destined for our own herd but we encourage you to talk to Church about the entire group. After all you get to check out our new 4-wheeler!


A new arrival…

…and making it easier to check out Thistle Hill Devon…is this Kawasaki Mule four-wheeler.

Kawasaki Mule four-wheeler.

She seats six comfortably and in just a few days we’ll be adding an enclosed cabin and heater! Visiting Thistle Hill has never been more pleasant…
year around!


The more things change…

…the more alike they seem.

And the more Monsanto…the chemical giant…gets its tentacles into the White House…left or right.

We try to stay non-partisan here, but Biden’s new Agriculture Secretary is warmed-over bad news!