A follow up to the Washington Post article yesterday

Mmm, bacon

Today we have a short follow up on the article posted yesterday in the Washington post. This one is about my favorite subject, bacon!

Basically, if it turns out the government and the dieticians were wrong all this time, what does that mean to the other demonized foods like bacon, cream, butter, steak, etc? It means that eating for enjoyment instead of convenience and low fat is actually better for you!

Now go fry some eggs and bacon and get your day started right!

What’s that? You don’t have eggs and bacon? You better give me a call then, because we have some right here waiting on you.

More good info on why fat is actually good for you

I’ve talked before about my diet and its results here, and here. I also wrote about fat and heart health here.  All these are old posts that if you’ve been around a while you’ve already seen but we have a lot of new customers so it may be worth going back and reading up a bit.

Bottle and glass of milk
Who knew, milk is actually good for you

Now, thanks to Ron who sent me this article, we have a pretty exhaustive article in the Washington Post about how the government is maybe realizing that demonizing wholesome products like milk and other real foods (like we produce here on our farm) might be bunk. The article goes quite a ways back and takes us through some of the science and history behind our current government dietary recommendations. It seems to do a good job of showing both sides but it leans towards what I believe in, which is that the high carb, low fat government recommendations most of us have lived with all of our lives are to blame for our current health woes.

According to the article, the current guidelines are up for review and it’s inferred that maybe we’ll break out of our current dogma since there is such good information coming out that maybe we were presumptive and simplistic back in the 50s when all this started. My personal opinion? Don’t get your hopes up. There are too many industries and professions married to the current system to not lobby to keep things like they are. What does that mean to us, the consumer? It means we need to read and understand what is going on and make our own decisions. The government is not going to make things better, you have to do that on your own.

We are finally going to be a legit cattle farm part 2

Once the concrete had set up, we moved the head gate into the shop and welded studs onto the load bars so we could bolt the head gate to the load bars. Once everything was bolted up and we’d done a test run (Miguel and I weighed each other, there was some mockery), it was back to the new concrete pad to set everything up.

Head gate with new load bars and new concrete pad
Head gate with new load bars and new concrete pad

The load bars are the blue things under each end of the head gate. Now the head gate sits in the air on top of the load bars. The load bars transmit the load to a display unit we hang when we need to weigh something big. When we aren’t weighing, we bring the display unit and cables inside to keep them looking new.

The new loading ramp area with the head gate
The new loading ramp area with the head gate

Here you can see the concrete ramp leading up to the head gate. On the far side we will be reinstalling the black corral panels but on the front side we’ll be putting a swing gate. This area will be our new loading ramp once we have it built. By opening the gate, and closing the head gate, the cows will make the turn and go onto whatever trailer we are loading to. This new loading ramp should be much easier to get to than our current one, allowing us to use bigger trailers and less foul language when we are moving cows. Both are pluses.

Loading ramp design drawing
The design of our new loading ramp.

This is our new loading ramp, or at least my design. I think I’ve spent twice the time designing it that it would have taken to build it.

It will not be permanently mounted but will remain portable. That way we can move it out of the way for daily operations and keep our work area clean. We’ll get to work on this new ramp as soon as I can go pick up the steel.

We are finally going to be a legit cattle farm part 1

Spreading concrete for our new cattle treatment area
Spreading concrete for our new cattle treatment area

It has been a few years in the making, but we are finally making some progress on doing this thing for real. Step one of being a real cattle farmer is you have to weigh your cows routinely. This tells you their average daily weight gain which is basically how you measure your effectiveness. It also helps you know when cows are performing, not performing, finishing, etc.

Now I’ve tried getting them to stand on my bathroom scale but they just won’t do it. Plus SWMBO likes to keep the scale clean and the cows, well, you know.

About a year ago I ordered a set of load bars and a display from a company I lucked across with a good price on weighing equipment. The whole getup has been sitting in the shop gathering dust since then, waiting for its day on the to do list. A few weeks ago we finally got around to it.

The way the load bar works is we take our head gate we already have, seen here. 20140703-144256-52976028.jpg

And we remove it from where it sits at the end of our corral. We have to pour a concrete pad so the new getup sits level and so we have a good place to work when cows are in the load gate.

About to pour concrete.
About to pour concrete

Miguel built a form for a new pad that he was happy with, but he didn’t like me getting his picture. Something about his time working for Pablo Escobar. I didn’t really follow it all, oh well. I’m sure it’ll be fine


A new ninja calf is born to mom, #22

Cute belted galloway calf with mom
New little Ninja Cow born at our new farm.

For those of you familiar with the Ninja Cow story, you might be surprised to learn that we still have one Ninja on the farm. The mom above, #22, is the last of the line for us. She’s the one and only Ninja who has behaved somewhat normally during her life so every time we’ve culled cows she’s been able to stay off the trailer. She’s actually 1/2 Belted Galloway (Ninja Cow) and 1/2 black Angus so she’s only half crazy. Being bred to an Angus bull should mean that we only get 1/4 crazy calves with little to none of the Belted Galloway markings however on October 3rd, we found this cute little surprise in the pasture. You can see he has almost identical markings to mom and with long curly hair like a full-blooded Belted Galloway. You can’t really see the hair in the picture but trust me, it compares very favorably to this picture. Yeah, he’s that cute. Do you see why the girls wanted these cows now?

Other than a little thinning of the belt, he has full characteristics of a 100% Belted Galloway. Let’s hope he acts like a Angus!

Cute belted galloway mom and calf
Mom, #22 and her new calf

He is a little boy so we’ll get him banded and tagged when the cows come back to the farm next week, along with his two playmates who were also born in the last 30 days at the Adams farm. It will be busy here when the cows arrive because we have to work every cow in the herd getting weights, body condition scoring, overall health checks, ear tags, and castrations where needed. It will probably take all day so hopefully we’ll have some nice fall weather to work in. Between now and then we have to build a new loading ramp, finish the corral, get the title to the new stock trailer, buy cattle panels to make a corral at the Adams farm, and rig up a mounting system so they can ride on the new trailer. Should be a fun week.

Once these new kids get their ear tags, I’ll repost with pics and tag numbers for your daily dose of cuteness. Until then, this is as cute as I can get in an open field.

Preparing the pig paddocks for winter with LOTS of wood chips part 2

John Deere 844 loader dumping chips
Dumping a load of chips from Miguel’s perspective

The way it worked is I would drive to the chip pile, get a load, then drive across the farm, through the pasture, and to whatever area Miguel was working to deliver a load of chips. Basically from one side of the farm to the other. Miguel was in the Takeuchi either spreading or piling the chips, depending on what we were trying to accomplish in that area.

Piling wood chips with a Takeuchi TL130
Miguel piling chips for a winter pile.

The chips do multiple things for us. They stabilize areas where the pigs have made things muddy. The give us good underfoot to walk on with the tractors as we come and go. But most importantly they provide warmth for our pigs for the winter. As a mulch pile breaks down, it generates heat for the pigs. To see more about how this works, check out Walter’s post at Sugar Mountain farm here. If he can make it work at his latitude then I think we can make it work in NC.

Pigs curious, getting in the way.
Pigs curious, getting in the way.

The pigs absolutely love the chips. From the moment we started they were into everything we did. Often I’d see Miguel nudging them out of the way, gently of course, so he could keep working. They weren’t worried about the tractor one bit. You can watch them having a ball here on this short video I shot while I was waiting on Miguel for a minute.

One pig I focus on is having a ball with a limb that we knocked down, chewing on it and playing with it. He’s the one that made me get my camera out but they were all pretty funny.

Boy powerwashing a huge tractor
Spork, helping out on cleaning up.

In the end we hauled about 500 yards of chips with our rented loader. That is on top of the 200 yards we’d previously hauled with our backhoe. That’s the equivalent of 56 tandem dump truck loads of chips that we’ve moved to our pig paddocks for their winter needs. We probably have another 100 yards of chips already on the ground at our original pile with more coming in every day. We’ll use the new chips over the winter to top off anywhere we see a need.

The pigs aren’t waiting for winter though.

Piglets passed out on the chip pile
Piglets passed out on the chip pile

Now whenever you look into a pig paddock, they are either eating, or they are somewhere on or even in the pig pile. If they get cold at all they burrow under the chips and disappear. The big pigs have carved out terraces and can be found lounging in the chip piles as well. The pigs are cleaner, happier, and warmer with all these chips, which means I’m a happy farmer.

Preparing the pig paddocks for winter with LOTS of wood chips part 1

All year we’ve been trying to collect wood chips from various tree service companies. They are routinely looking for places to dump and we had a good spot where they could get in and out easily. We’d managed to get a decent amount of chips but nothing really stellar. Then we ran across an Asplundh crew working right on our road. We made introductions and offered them a few cantaloupes we happened to have on the trailer that day. We of course told them we could take their chips.

“How many loads?”

“All you can bring.”

A knowing smile and, “Ok.”

Next thing we knew, we had two trucks dumping every day, all week.

Chip truck unloading at the farm
Another load coming into the farm.

Our pile of chips very quickly became a mountain. We moved chips with our backhoe every spare minute that we had and still the pile grew daily. We were getting buried in chips. Finally I had to call for help and called over to my old company to see if I could rent a loader for a day.

“What size?”

“The biggest you have or one with a chip bucket.”

“We don’t have a chip bucket but we had a big one just come back off demo.”

I ended up with this.

John Deere 844 loader
Yep, that’s pretty big. An 844 loader.

That’s me standing in front, at 6’5″ barely taller than the tire. The new Deere 944 loader is just coming out, but until it hits the market, this is the biggest four-wheel drive loader that John Deere makes. It’s a beast. We went from hauling chips at 3/4 of a yard per trip to about 8 yards per trip. This thing was literally wider than the road. If you want the details on how big it is, here are the specs.

Although I’ve run them before, I’ve never really run one in production and it was fun to operate a big yard loader with production in mind. The Takeuchi that we keep on the farm wasn’t as tall as the bucket on this thing. And it worked pretty good too, but that’s for part 2 tomorrow.

Your local source for beyond organic beef and pork