Thistle Hill Farm – Blog

…doing what comes naturally

Still in his prime…

…Highwayman was one of our first pure traditional English bulls.  And he’s now pushing 10 years of age.


His sire was the famed Falcon and the dam Ivan Rowe’s Norah. We did the pairing in England and it was our most successful flush ever…26 embryos!

You can see one of his progeny by scrolling down to “Chip off the old block…”.

Like his dam, Highwayman is a smallish animal beautifully proportioned. We’ve found him ideal for keeping the herd to the moderate size we prefer.


Fighting the Coronavirus…

…not. Perhaps the safest spot in the world…a Thistle Hill pasture miles from anywhere.

Carolyn and David

Unfortunately, this is a picture out of the file. Daughter Carolyn is back in Dallas seeing patients at Baylor Medical Center. And they’ve got me locked up in an Assisted Living Home in nearby Falls Church.

That leaves grandson Church to keep the home fires burning. But if you promise to leave the virus at home you’re welcome to visit.

We want to add we’re particularly proud of our new granddaughter in law—Courtney Gentry— a care-giver at a nursing home in the Shenandoah Valley. I know from firsthand experience what a dedicated bunch these caregivers are.


Essington Park…

…makes its mark on Thistle Hill. A brother and sister from a famous English herd now are full contributors to our herd!


The culmination of a lifetime dedicated to the Devon breed, famed English herdsman Brian Drake volunteered his Buttercup cow…dam of this young cow now maturing in America. The sire is Millennium Falcon.

Now that she’s bred, she can reunite with the main herd…passing her full brother on the way.

Essington - Thistlehill Farm Bull

Son-in-law Curt Humphreys escorts four-year old Essington to a pen for return to the bull pasture. For the past 45 days he has served as the cover bull for almost 30 AI candidates. And that’s our most ambitious artificial insemination project to date!

It’s an honor for us to carry Brian Drake’s work forward. The Essington Park name goes back to before World War II…Buttercup long before that!

The Thistle Hill Alumni Club…

…features THF Magic…now 10 years old and still active in Louisiana.

Magic is the son of Rotokawa 93...grandson of Rotokawa 688

Magic is the son of Rotokawa 93…grandson of Rotokawa 688.  On the dam’s side he is out of one of the best bulls Lakota has produced, 48N, in turn traced back to the early Kinloch herd.

Before leaving here, and it was not easy letting him go, Magic made a major impact not only on our herd but on our thinking.  In many ways, we still seek to replicate him.


Couldn’t have said it better….

…mostly I ignore the rants of vegans and the extreme animal rights people…because they’re beyond reason.  But I was tempted to sound off after Joaquin Phoenix used his Academy Award victory to launch a diatribe against those who eat meat.

In fact commercial farming of vegetables is far more destructive of the earth and its environment than responsible grazing.

But Joel Salatin, a neighboring cattleman who is a leader in the grass fed industry, did the job for me.

The unappreciated steak…


…but not here at Thistle Hill. Others can have their filet or rib eye but no steak tastes better to me than the Delmonico!

Church liberated a couple of Delmonicos from the freezer the other day…and started with a short marinade.

He followed with his favorite cooking method which is Sous Vide and then a quick flash searing on the grill. The result using that technique is a perfect steak every time!


If you’ve wondered, the Delmonico was introduced at a New York restaurant of the same name back in the 1800s. The Baked Alaska also originated there…as did Lobster ala Newberg and clam chowder.

And if you’re a fan of the Delmonico, you’re in good company: Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain, “Diamond Jim” Brady and Oscar Wilde all shared your enthusiasm!


Call me Brexit?

Just a thought after all the hoops we had to jump through to get this little girl and her sister out of England.

F20 - Thistle Farm Calf

We spotted her granddam years ago but her owner—-Shiamala Comer—-didn’t like the wear and tear flushing eggs put on a cow.

Fast forward 10 years and Wooz finally convinced Shiamala to sell us a Bribery heifer. That she was to be a gift to grandson Church and that this would be Wooz’ last trip to England secured the deal.

Still we had to wade through a ton of export paperwork while we waited for our heifer to grow up. Finally we flushed her to one of our favorite bulls.

F20 is the result…just two years old and growing nicely. Her sister is doing well, too. Wooz’ persistence has paid off…though she didn’t live to see the little heifers

Church’s plan is to judge the first calves of the Bribery sisters and then flush one of them to secure the Bribery line in America.


Best meat in the world…

…well even we wouldn’t go that far!  But one of customers wrote that on his check last weekend.

Best Meat in the World

Church didn’t notice the comment until later.  But thank you John and Robin L!

Maybe no better meat in the world?


Chip off the old block…

…D168 is just four…a lovely blend of English and American genetics.

D168 Thistlehill Farm Cow

Dad is our English Highwayman from the Ashott Barton and Cutcombe lines. Again we’re pleased to see the deep ruby red coloring of the English Devon passed on to the next generation. The female side is thanks to the Lenoir Creek and Lakota herds.

Coincidentally, we just sold the 14-year old dam of this young cow. One of the things we like to emphasize at Thistle Hill is longevity.

A 14-year old is by no means our oldest. Just the other day a 19-year old quietly went to sleep and didn’t wake up. She had been a wonderful stress-free producer.

We were willing to go another calf with her but she quietly declined.


I’m confused…

…and understandably! About four inches of snow sandwiched between 60- and 70-degree days.

Thistlehill Farm Guardian Bull
Photo by Church Humphreys

One of Thistle Hill’s fine young American bulls trying to figure out the recent change-able weather. He’s a combination of excellent bloodlines from Rotokawa and Lakota. And he’s one we not only use ourselves but loan to small farms who can’t manage a full-time bull.

Contact Church for his and other availabilities.