About four months ago Dave borrowed a one-bottom plow from a neighbor and took the tractor to get it. This is an old tractor, a very OLD tractor and well, we are used to old tractors and equipment breaking down. Now we consider ourselves to be responsible, law-abiding citizens, but our little red tractor took the rules of the road to the extreme.
Dave thankfully took a back road to get the plow and return it. For on the way back, I noticed he was taking a little long. After calling him, Dave informed me that in fact he was stopped at a stop sign and was in no way continuing on his journey. You see, the little tractor that could really couldn't anymore and took a breather when Dave stopped at the stop sign. What an odd sight to drive down the road and see our little tractor sitting there enjoying the scenery. Thankfully, with the help of Dave's dad, they got the tractor off of the road and back onto the farm, where it feels content living out the rest of its years.
We currently have about 44 head of beef cattle (with 20 more on the way via the breeding process). We direct market our steers to the consumer. All of our sale animals have been born here, fed here, and will leave here only to be processed. We do not give our animals hormones or drugs to stimulate growth, just the best grass and corn silage we can offer. We grow our own food and do not feed commercial grains to our animals. Are they 100% grass fed? No. During the winter months we feed corn silage. It has tremendous nutrient value and keeps the girls happy and healthy all winter long. Our herd does have access to the pasture behind the barn all winter long. Just as soon as we can, we graze our fields in the spring. We are currently in the process of downsizing our animals, but increasing our herd. We are able to do this by switching breeds. We are introducing lowline angus to our herd. This breed is a medium-sized animal that excels on grass. We hope to be able to put more cows on our pastures while maintaining the same high quality beef. We have brought in a few lowline heifers and cows and will be artificially breeding our herd with some super bulls--Smoky Mountain Awesome and RKR Holliday-- as well as some new genetics we have acquired from Pharo Cattle Company --Machine and Bruce-- this year. In one year, lowline genetics can greatly reduce the frame score of our animals. We are very excited about this prospect. In the end, we hope to double our current numbers. Lowlines are also very docile and great mothers, which is necessary for ours and our visitors safety. Next year's calf crop should be our best yet!
Our philosophy still remains the same, to provide the healthiest meats we possibly can, but our end goal has shifted slightly. We hope to move to an all grass-fed system. We would like to extend our grazing season on both ends and have more pasture time. We plan to do away with our silage production and graze the entire year in the end. Is it possible? We are confident it is. There are others out there guiding us in the right direction who have already done it. It takes time and the right cattle. We have both. By selecting bulls from the ranches who are already doing it, our genetics will work. Time everyone has; the key is patience. We cannot jump into it all at once. We will be scaling back the forages grown and harvested and increasing our demands that our cattle do the work. How long will it take? Most likely longer than we want, but that answer depends on many variables, some of which are out of our control.