Farm News – 2014

October 17, 2014

Wow, Fall has arrived with a bang! After an incredibly long, dry summer, the Fall rains and cool temps are a very welcome relief. It’s so wonderful to see our dry brown pastures and lawn greening up with the edition of some nice rain. There’s been quite a bit of rain, really, and some wind. There was even a rare tornado in Pierce County last week. Freaky! The cattle are still on our leased pasture, which has remained in good condition despite the dry summer. Our three calves are growing nicely, and the mamas look like they’ll go into winter in good condition as well. We still have some fencing work to do here at home before everyone comes home for the winter; working outside in all weather is just one of the perks of farm life. Another perk, at least for those of us raising beef cattle, is yummy meals made with homegrown, all natural beef! Stews, soups and casseroles are some of our very favorites in this house, although we enjoy BBQ’d burgers year-round, too.

Hope you all have a wonderful, snuggly Fall!
Paul, Amy (and Asher)

August 22, 2014

Just like that, summer is almost over! The last several days have begun with ground fog, moist air, and that smell…sort of earthy, cool, always reminding me of the nearness of Fall. The light, too, has taken on a distinct golden hue and a deep slant. Finally, tomatoes and other garden produce are ripening, just when we were giving up hope. Asher loves tomatoes of all kinds, so it’s fun to feed him wholesome produce we’ve grown ourselves. Beef, too, has been gracing our barbecue grill as steaks and burgers. Soon enough, it’ll be time for hearty casseroles and stews. We’d like to thank all of you who purchased beef from us this year. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

In other news, our 2014 calving season came to an end earlier than expected with the uneventful (and surprise) arrival of Bestla’s white heifer calf on August 12th. Our vet thought she was due in the Fall, based on the size of her calf at palpitation; knowing that he estimates our calf fetuses small, we subtracted a couple of months, which put us at late August. Well, we were all wrong. Bestla had her little guy early in the morning of the 12th and has taken excellent care of him. He’s adorable, and as of yet unnamed. (If you have suggestions for names starting with “C”, please them to us through our comments feature!) She joins Xara’s red heifer calf, Caris (“Cari”, currently 6.5 months old) and Xoe’s dun heifer calf, Caliente (“Cali”), born July 17th after our first long heat wave (but, of course, on the first day of rain). Xoe’s calf had a rough start, having not really nursed for several hours after birth, thanks to her pain in the rear half-sister, Elodie, getting in the way. As it turned out, we had to catch Xoe and milk out her colostrum, then bottle feed it to the calf, and then Paul and I worked really hard at introducing the calf to the teat. She was slow to catch on, but now she seems just fine. One of Xoe’s teats remained so large that the calf never was able to latch onto it, so we let it go dry rather than milking it out and risking infection and long-term damage to that quarter. We’ll watch it and be prepared for issues in the future.

We hope this summer was everything you wished for, and all the best as Fall settles in.

Paul, Amy (and Asher)

July 13, 2014

It’s been a busy summer so far at Skookumchuck Farm. We’re in the middle of an early heat wave, thankful that the fold is on summer pasture, where there’s nice cool creeks, lots of shade trees and plenty of grass to eat. With the cattle gone, we’ve started a fencing project. When we moved here in 2008, the paddock, which we’ve used as a winter sacrifice area and which houses the barn (and hay), had an odd mix of inappropriate fencing. It worked ok for awhile, until braver animals decided to jump over it, use their horns to stretch it, or scratch their chins on it. Over time, it’s buckled and fallen and is generally a big old mess. A few years ago, I came home from work to find young Xoe nearly on the road in front of the house, and Clyde and Cowboy, our steers at the time, in the side yard munching away. They found a break in the fence and got out, 4×4 style, by climbing over the compost pile! It’s time for a change. We have a bull now, and we wouldn’t trust that fencing with a calf, let alone a bull. Paul has been busy ripping out our southern fence line along the side yard, which we’ll replace with a wooden privacy fence all the way to the corner of the paddock. The paddock fence itself will be replaced with hog panels, which will easily stand up to Highland horns, and hotwire along the inside perimeter for good measure. Meanwhile, we’re on calf watch, with Xoe being checked a couple of times daily; her udder is full, she’s gone slab-sided, meaning the calf is positioned for delivery, and she’s been wandering off by herself the last couple of days. We expect to have a calf, our first out of Albie, our bull, any day now. Bestla will calve in the next couple of months, joining Xoe’s calf and Caris, Xara’s February heifer calf. We sold Xara’s 2013 bull calf to a great couple who live a couple of miles from us, so we see him from time to time. We also continue to adjust our herd size. We will have sent three to the freezer this year, one for attitude, one for breeding problems, and a steer. We learned that lesson…it makes no sense to hold onto under-performing animals, and by making room, we can better refine the genetics in our herd to get us where we want to be.

Hope you all have a happy summer, and if you live in Western WA, stay cool! This heat is tough!

Warmly (!),
Paul and Amy (and Asher)