Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 27, 28 Processing

The November 27, 28 round of processing was headed by the side bought by the Jeff Dahlseng family. They made a morning of it watching the processing and then visiting the cows before getting back to the first performance of the Nutcracker where Jeff plays trombone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

End of the Season

This Friday and Saturday we will process the last of the meat for this year. There are a few orders at the bottom of the list that it looks like will not be filled. Those will go to the top of the list for next year.

The other ray of hope is that we will be preg testing the heifers next week and if any are open we will have one more round of butchering that will be processed around the middle of December.

In the chicken division I thought you might want to see how 150 eggs a day are laid in a mere 20 nests. As you can see, it is with a lot of sharing. Also seen is how water delivery looks when the temperatures are below zero.

These eggs are available under the Tranquility Heights Farm label at the Matanuska Creamery in the Valley and at the Natural Pantry in Anchorage.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meat Customers Meet Cows!

The Bob Ormberg family and their friends went out to visit the cows after they picked up their side of beef. The cows were more interested in the carrots we took for snacks!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Meat Processing

The first round of processing is in the works. At the job is sister-in-law Darlene, Jeff, Nathan, Robert, Billy and myself.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sides for 10/13/09

Herd Sire Arctic Lad is shown as the sire of some of this year and next year's meat.

Processing will be the last week of October for these sides.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Meat Season Begins

The first 16 sides of beef are on the hook. Weights run from 236.5 to 308 pounds. We will begin calling customers on the top of the list. Plans are to begin processing this meat on Oct. 30. We should be processing for at least three three weeks after that.

Yesterday we had a visit from a potential renter so we took his dog down to meet the cows. I think they were confused by his colors thinking he was a small calf. They were very curious but at the same time very firm that he was not welcome to join the herd!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Barn Raising

Yesterday saw the feed lot turn into a structure in a single day. These 45 ft. cottonwood trees were anchored to provide shelter for the winter's hay supply.

The temporary roof is a 1965 cargo parachute!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Meat Schedule Begins

We have finally obtained a slaughter date for the first cattle. The first eight will go to the State slaughter house on Monday, Oct. 12. They will age for two weeks and we will begin processing up at the farm on the last week of October. If you are on the list we will begin contacting you as soon as we have hanging weights on the sides.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Organic Fertilizer

Today we applied 9,000 pounds of fish bone meal to a hay field we plan to certify organic next year.  So far we have put 18 tons on this year to improve the soil and build nutrients.  We were able to document a one point jump in crude protein  when we did lab tests on hay that had been fertilized with bonemeal compared with hay that had not been fertilized.  That is not much of a difference but I expect the difference to grow as years go by if fish works in hay the
way it did in vegetable ground with carrots.

I plan to try another technique in one of the fields this fall.  Outside one of the corrals where we fed the cows in the winter for many years there is a ten foot pile of manure and bedding that is full of earthworms.  I am going to run some of that through a shredder that will eliminate rocks and produce a uniform material that I can apply with a spreader.  I think introducing worms and castings and the old manure will produce some good hay.  We won't know until next year.

Another experiment is taking some of the old hay that was bad in putting the round bales on their sides to absorb moisture on top of the worm bed.  It's my hope that the worms will help decompose the bad hay and someday return to the fields!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Canadian Heifer Delivers Bull

As planned and a little later than expected, the Canadian heifer that we trucked up had a bull calf.  They are both well and not a little camera shy.  I think we will name him Arctic Alcan since he was born in Alaska and bred in Canada.  We'll call him Al for short.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pasture Byproducts

One of the benefits of  a good pasture is the berries that are more accessible.  Today a group of us picked currents and by day's end had a lot of currant jelly.

Friday, July 31, 2009

North Carolina Visitors

Earlier in the week we got a call from a family from North Carolina who had found our web site and wanted to visit the farm.  Yesterday they drove out from Anchorage (13 of them) in two rental cars and got to see some of the farm and most of the cows.  We checked the new Canadian heifer but she hadn't delivered her calf yet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bull Dozer

I think we've discovered the derivation of bulldozer.  The cows have started a practice I've never seen before.  The pasture has a number of depressions or bowls that have very little grass but an abundance of wild celery and other bushes.  It was so tall that a month ago you had a hard time seeing the cows when they were in these bowls.   Now I see that they have systematically started grubbing these bowls down to the ground and my guess is that the grasses they are eating (Timothy, brome, and bluegrass) will now get seeded in these lovely bowls.  That should vastly improve the pasture.  

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Great Hay

This past week saw lots of sun, wind and heat- a combination that insured that we get plenty of quality hay up for the cattle.  Proof of its quality was when a bale fell off the truck going through the pasture and the cows left green grass to eat the bale of hay!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Breeding 09 Begins

Our new bull began his work on July 2.  Typically we begin on July 1 but since the bull was new I had to wait until the cows got around his enclosure before letting him out in a totally new country and pasture.  

His first interest was green grass.  He had been living off hay since last fall since he has been in confinement.  The cows were very interested and you can see Chloe checking him out after release.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How not to make Hay

Here is what  you don't want to find when you go to hook up the mower.  The PTO (Power Take Off) wouldn't engage and after several tests on hydraulic pressure etc I disassembled the unit and found that the clutch housing in the PTO unit was badly broken.  It is now on its way via priority mail while we watch some very nice hay days slide by.


This is one way to get cows from a truck to the ground if you don't have a loading chute set up for truck heights.  Just jack up a stock trailer to the truck height and transfer them to the trailer and then unload them directly on the ground!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cow Trip to Canada

On June 17, 2009 Billy and I set out in our reconstructed Frieghtliner truck to bring home the new genetics we got on the internet in January.  We covered close to 4,000 miles in 6 days and included taking in an auction  near Grand Prairie to get the panels to contain the bull and bred heifer.  We also included a jog down to Edmonton to purchase a cream separator and butter churn. We had a good time touring around with George Ramsay at Ladywells Farm near Barhead, Alberta where we bought and loaded out our new bull and bred heifer.  Was really interesting to see how other people handle cattle. We got home Monday evening at 6 PM June 22 and were met by the Federal Vet who inspected the animals and gave them the green light to enter the herd on the farm.  

The photo is of the cattle in the back of the truck ready to cross the Yukon River at midnight on June 21- the longest day of the year.  

 There are a lot of stories in this story that will be fleshed out later and a photo album that you can access at:

All you need to do is select and paste this long address into your web browser and it will open up the photo album.  You should also know that any photos on these postings can be enlarged by simply clicking on them.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Feed Site

Here the cows are enjoying the new feed barn site.  We have the logs on site and the foundations set for a 30 ft high tee pee to store the hay for this winter's feed.

Cow House

Here is our potential site for a future cow house.  The design calls for  a house designed around a silo for feed and a feed area where the heat from the cows is used to heat the house.  The manure and remains from the feed will be collected at the very bottom to provide methane for cooking and hot water.  We are looking for statistics to help us with how many cows it takes to heat a home in Alaska in the winter- any suggestions?

Friday, May 22, 2009

First Flowers

These little blue bells were the first wildflowers I saw in the pasture this spring.

Today's Nursery

I think this is the first time we've seen all six calves in one place at the same time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Potatoes Planted

You might wonder what potatoes have to do with beef cows?  

For one thing this potato patch is part of their view from the pasture.  It also becomes part of their diet when there is a surplus of potatoes or there are some culls to get rid of.  These spuds are entirely organic with fish bone meal the only fertilizer.  Note the drip irrigation tapes hanging out from each row.  They will be hooked up to a tank of warm water when there is no rain.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Aspiring Cowboys Visit

This morning Dan Rowland, son of Keith and Lori Rowland, and his Granddad Ken went with me to check the cows.  We didn't have carrots to offer them but Dan had some cooky crumbs to offer them.  They checked them out but didn't decide to prefer cookies over fresh grass!

Arctic Cotton

I found Arctic Cotton by herself on Sunday morning with her water sack broken.  After church I found her with her little girl in a very contented state.  They stayed by themselves for a couple of days before coming out with the rest of the cows.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Yesterday the cows switched from drinking from melt ponds and snow drifts to the spring that is on the cliff over the Matanuska River.  The vanishing ponds indicate that the frost is going out and letting the water go into the subsoil.  We did provide an alternate water source this afternoon by filling a large stock tank up by the well.  That will probably be a preferred option for the mothers with very small calves because they have been known to fall off the cliff when they get to crowding.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Black Pair this year

Most of our cows are white now.  Ten years ago they were all black.  We still have some of the better black genetics but the bull last summer was white so we expected all white calves this year but Arctic Coal has a nice little black heifer as you can see!

Up in Smoke

A lot of last fall's hay didn't get baled because of all the rain.  In order to clear the way for quality hay this summer it is necessary to burn the old hay.  Another way to see your profits go up in smoke!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Arctic Bell has a boy

Arctic Bell finally had a bull.  They are both doing well.  This will be Bell's third gestation.

Her mothering technique is to nest the calf away in the brush while she eats and drinks.  Most of the mothers keep their calves with them but for the first few days it is confusing for both mother and baby when there are several newborns co mingling.  They seem to get it figured out pretty quickly though.

Princess Wilamina Obituary

For the first time I can remember we have lost a heifer in the calving process.  Princess Wilamina is the second calf of Arctic Chloe- the current matriarch.  She got in a bad position with her head down hill and had more than half delivered the calf in a normal presentation but could not finish the job.  The calf looked to be normal size.  The foxes, coyotes, and bald eagles are cleaning her up.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Snowballs with Black Points are here!

April 23, the day after our last snow I checked and behold there were three new baby calves!  They are about a week ahead of normal but not so early as to be worrying about lots of cold.  We are starting to see new grass and the weatherman tells us we should see 60 degree weather this week.  Its a great time on the farm with the new babies and the flocks of geese everywhere.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Genes

Meet the newest members of the Wolverine Farm herd.  They were purchased on an Internet auction in January and in June we will drive out to Whitecourt, Alberta to pick them up.  Because the borders were closed to cows for so many years because of mad cow disease it has been a long time since we brought in new blood.  These two animals will give us enough new genetics to breed for several more years.  The cow is bred to a different bull so if she has a bull we will have genetics from two different lines of white Galloway.  We will keep you posted on the progress of the long trip up to Alaska.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Koyuk Kindergarten Comments

Dear Tenriph, Angela, Kylie, Eugenia, Benjamin, Clorissa, Megan, 

Thank you so much for your interest in  our farm.  I was interested in hearing what you like.  I like bread too and also milk.  You can keep your bugs and spiders!  

Kylie either wrote two letters or there are two Kylie girls.

We have cows mostly.  The mama cows are very big with babies right now and in about a month you will be able to see them on this blog.  Our cows are white and black.  We only have one horse.  She belongs to my niece.  I have a cat that only has three legs because she got into a coyote trap.  She is a very happy cat but I am her only friend.

My nephew has pigs.  Usually they are born outside in the spring but in January one mommy pig had her babies in the house!

My nephew and his family also have turkeys and huge Pyrenees dogs.  They guard the other animals.

We don't have deer in this part of Alaska but we have lots of moose.  In just the last month we have had two moose die on the farm because they were tired of the long cold winter.

Thanks for writing me.  You can see your letters by pasting the following link into the address bar and going there with your browser: 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Galloway Breed

The beef program at Wolverine Farm began in 1985, a couple of years after the dairy was shut down.  The backbone of the breeding program has been the black and white Galloway.  These animals were chosen and have proven themselves because of their hardy constitution, even temperament, and tender meat.  They range outside year round, produce relatively small (70 lb) offspring, and demand minimal feed even in cold weather and wind because of their long hair.  Their feed needs are met entirely by forage and vegetables grown right here in Alaska.