Farm News – 2011

October 30, 2011

Fall is in full swing here at the farm, bringing soaking drizzles, occasional wind gusts and lots of beautiful fall color. It was a weird year for weather, and a bit deja vu’, with a very late-arriving summer, very little summer heat, and a mild fall. To date we’ve had only one slight frost, which is strange for those of us on Frost Pairie. (Normally, first frost comes by October 15th, although two years ago it was in September!) The weather forecasts call for below-freezing temperatures a couple of nights this week, so I’m hoping that’ll mean an end to the multitudes of flying insects that bombard us as we step out under the porch lights to leave for work in the dark. So far, the cattle have had plenty to eat on the leased pasture so are happily still hanging out there. We installed fresh, bright “No Hunting” signs a while back to offer a reminder to folks to keep their guns pointed elsewhere, and so far there we’ve not had any issues. Elk season starts this weekend, so Paul and his male-folk will be doing their man event in the woods, while I hold down the fort and do some fall projects at home. We both love this time of year, especially the hearty meals and warm fires in the fireplace (or pellet stove, in our case!), perfect for snuggling up with the latest issue of Stockman Grass Farmer. Speaking of good reads, check out this great article about the Scottish Highland breed (featuring the president of our regional breed association) from National Public Radio!

Hope you’re staying dry and cozy!

Best,
Paul and Amy

September 25, 2011

Fall has arrived at Skookumchuck Farm, and it’s very welcome. Those of you who follow the farm blog know that Paul and I experienced a most heart-breaking loss this summer with the late miscarriage of our twins on August 5th. The month was difficult, to say the least, and it’s taken us a while to feel any semblance of normal. With the arrival of fall, though, comes mind-clearing breezes, and while we’ll always love and never forget our daughter and our son, moving forward feels like the right thing to do.

So, this weekend Paul got busy helping to hang fresh “No Hunting” signs at our leased pasture so none of the local hunters decide our horned cattle look more appealing than elk or venison. He also helped change some fencing around so the fold can access the green growth on the hay pasture across the creek. They are looking very healthy and robust, and were mighty pleased to be moved to fresh grass. Our two 2012 beef steers, Cowboy and Clyde, are developing very nicely on grass alone and should be fantastic next fall when it’s time to butcher.

Meanwhile, cooler weather invites us to plan hearty, soul-warming meals, and beef figures in highly for Paul and me, of course. I envision roasts cooked slow in the crockpot while we’re at work, stews, and, of course, steaks and winter vegetables. I hope to post recipes on the site in the near future, but in the meantime, you can find good meal ideas at AllRecipes.com.

Bon appetite!
Paul and Amy

July 29, 2011

Summer this year feels a little like Groundhog’s Day – a sad repeat of last year. We’ve had above average precipitation and below average number-of-days-over-70-degrees, which makes for nice grass, stressful haying and poorly performing summer vegetable gardens. Still, this summer has a been a good one! Our cattle are happily munching away on lovely grass on our newly leased 10 acre pasture, where they’ll stay until mid-November (or later, depending on the grass and the soil). That gives us time to do a little bit of work on the property without the curious cattle getting in the way. Good news, too, given how much our lives have changed since May – and will be forever changed (in a most spectacular way!) You can read the details on the farm blog. 🙂 These changes have led us to make some changes, including selling off the laying hens to Amy’s farming friend to simplify and reduce the unnecessary chore burden on Paul. We’ll probably have layers and sell eggs again in the future, but it’ll be awhile, and that’s ok. Locals, we can direct you to several nearby farms who regularly have eggs for sale if you’re interested.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Warmly,
Paul and Amy

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter to you and yours! Typical of Western Washington’s weather, today’s will bring chill and wet to all the family Easter Egg hunts – unless folks wised up and held them yesterday, which was a sunny day with highs close to 70 degrees! On the farm, much is changing. Just as spring encourages plants to grow and change, so are we. We’re purchasing two new females to join our fold, and we’ll post photos just as soon as the girls come home to Tenino. They’ll have a brief stay as we get to know them here at home, and then they’ll join the rest of our fold at our newly leased summer pasture 10 minutes from home. To have the opportunity to consider growing our fold, something we’ve dreamed of doing, is amazing and exciting. We plan to grow slowly since our winter pasture – just 2.5 acres – can only handle so many bovines (and we want to keep our neighbors happy!), but oh, the possibilities!

We wish you a joyous holiday and hope Spring is chasing those winter blues away in your area.

Best,
Paul and Amy

March 27, 2011

It’s hard to believe we’re already a full week into spring. Mother Nature has teased us with a couple of fantastically warm, sunny days, followed by weekends of more snow on Paul’s jobs (he’s currently logging at 2,500 feet) and torrential downpours with a side of hail and wind locally. Still, the flowers on the ornamental plum tree and the fuzzy volunteer daffodil heads indicate a change in the season. We know summer will be here before we know it…so it’s time to get busy!

For us, that means spring cleaning around the farm, planning the vegetable gardens, trying to keep up with the sudden onslaught of farm fresh chicken eggs, and this year, once again, starting to plan for show season! We don’t want to count our chickens before they’re hatched (er, calf before it’s born), but we tentatively plan to show Sheila and her June 2011 calf at three shows, and will possibly bring Cowboy and Clyde to the Puyallup Fair, where we’re allowed to show prospect steers. It’ll be a lot of work getting ourselves and the critters ready for show, but we have a lot of time to work on it…just as soon as the rains stop and it warms up a little, that is!

Happy Spring!
Paul and Amy

February 25, 2011

Heard this morning: crunch, crunch, crunch, the sound of my footsteps in the snow that fell yesterday and froze overnight. Heard this afternoon: drip, drip, drip, the sound of all that snow melting and running off buildings, cars and plants as the sun broke out in a huge grin. Yes, it’s definitely winter in Western Washington, and a La Nina one at that. Just as we’d been cautiously ready to welcome spring as the crocuses bloomed last week, we now hang our heads in realization that winter isn’t through with us yet. The cattle, of course, could care less, happily hanging out underneath the big evergreen tree in the pasture, chewing their cud. Yes, unfortunately, they’re still on pasture, safe from all the mud that’s plagued our sacrifice paddock all winter. We planned to move them into the paddock this weekend, but we’ll have to see how the ground looks. It’s a fine line, keeping our cattle comfortable while allowing the land a break so that grass can grow in the spring. For Skookumchuck Farm, the transition of winter into spring brings with it the closure of our beef season until 2012. We’d like to thank our loyal customers – and a couple of new ones! – for their business. We hope you love your beef as much as we do! (We’ve got rib steaks on our menu for tonight…yum!)

Warmly (yes, please keep warm!),
Paul and Amy

January 10, 2011

It’s the New Year, full of bright opportunities, fresh starts, and the promise of spring! This New Year finds us preparing for our 2011 beef harvest, contacting repeat customers and generating new business from folks anxious to try our Scottish Highland beef. This time we’re harvesting two animals, allowing us to both fulfill our customers’ beef orders and make room on our property for new genetics so that we can improve our herd.

If you’re interested in trying our beef, you’ll want to contact us as soon as possible. We’re nearly sold out of both ground beef and quarters this time, and will not harvest again until Fall 2012!

Happy New Year to you and yours. May all your days be prosperous and joy-filled!

Paul and Amy