Saturday, December 31, 2016

Manger Scene

No bright lights, no loud sounds, no extraordinary miracles, no visible angels- just peace on earth.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What's in a Bale of hay does not stay in the Bale

When a chunk of metal this size (12 X18 inches) shows up in the feed bunker you have got to know there is a story and a lot of questions to be answered.  This is the arm of my hay Tedder.  I was not aware that it was broken so I went down to check it out and everything was intact.  That meant that this tedder arm was from two years ago.  That means that this hunk of steel evaded the baler two years ago and evaded being seen at that time or during fertilizing and that this year it probably went through the mower, and the tedder, and the baler and its slicer in order to appear inside a bale of hay.  My next move in the process is to check the slicers on my baler.  They either have to be broken or very dull!

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Weaning time is always a sad time.  This year the noise level will be lower because 10 of the mothers are joining the breed stock at Delta Junction.

Here is my notice to Tim.

I have 10 very unhappy mothers that are ready to load.  They have access to hay and water but not their calves.  If you give me an hour warning I will be there to help load.

For the record I will document who is coming.

#2 is the oldest tag but it got on the wrong cow.  It should have been on #26 who is staying and oldest.

#19 is a plain looker but her second calf broke 1100 pounds before 18 months.

#21 and #22 are always together and are good natured, eat out of your hand temperament.

#28 is probably the best beef frame in the herd.  She had her first calf late and it is going to have a rough winter.

#30 and #31 are also always together, curious and mild natured. #30 is named Easter because that was her birth date.  She also had the distinction of being born orange.  The birth sack broke and the mother #2 was eating a lot of carrots.  Easter looked like a mobile carrot for a few days.  Both #30 and #31 had first calves this year.

#36, #39, and #45 are also finishing their first lactation.  They have red points and have temperaments to match.

We got 2 inches of snow so I’m hoping your truck is 4WD.  There is one corner at the junction of McKenzie and Harding that could be tricky.  We can double up  with my van if necessary.

Have a safe trip and

God Bless

Thursday, October 20, 2016

On Farm Kill Floor Working!

This week we inaugurated  our kill floor.  Next year we should be able to entirely control our schedule.  Top picture shows the first group in the ally behind the knock box and the bottom shows them hanging where they will cool and age for two weeks.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pippy Long Stocking's Calf

Pippy is not a small cow but her 5 month old calf is nearly as large as she is.  One advantage of cross breed vigor.  Poppy is half Guernsey so she delivers a lot of milk- and this guy got it all.

Hercules #291

At one year Hercules is shaping up to be a nice bull.  He will be the lead bull next year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

First Harvest Casualty

If you have a choice it is best to not be the first man  behind the last steer going into the slaughter house.  I had successfully avoided the flying hoofs but forgot to account for the gate I was shutting and the last kick blasted the gate into my nose.  An instant blood bath and a couple of black eyes the next day.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Butcher Season for 2016 Begins

If you are on the list for a side of beef you will be hearing from us as we work down the list.  These are the live weights - the sides will be approximately 1/4 of these weights.

Price this year is the same as last two years- $4.50 a pound hanging (without skin or organs) plus $1.00 for processing into vacuum bags if you want us to do it.  You can e mail if you want to confirm you are on the list.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Generous Mommy

On this beautiful evening Cinderella was caught being suckled by this year's calf on the right, last year's calf on the left and a total imposter drinking from the rear.  She obviously has plenty of milk because the little one is not at all undernourished.

Monday, August 15, 2016

#28 delivers #80- a Bull

Remember the barren heifer that we questioned as either being "fat or finished"?  Well, she was pregnant!  Fooled me because she was not bagging up at all but she delivered a healthy bull- #80 on 8/15/16.

When is the last time you saw a bovine family picture- mom, dad, and baby?  They are even posing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Oldest Cow #26 has Heifer #79

Have been watching #26 for weeks.  She was obviously pregnant.  She didn't calve last year but the year before successfully delivered and raised twins.  She has to have produced a dozen calves.  A good mother.  Calf is a jet black heifer with tag #79.

Summer Good for both Cows and Calves

#22 with three month old heifer #68 are a demonstration of what happens when you combine good pasture, management, and genetics.  This calf is twice the weight I would have seen in my calf crop 30 years ago.  A year from now this calf will breed at close to 1000 pounds.

If I went by the books I have more cows per acre than should be sustainable but in most places the grass is still outgrowing the cows.  In places it is going to seed.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

#37 Has First calf- Heifer #78- Bull #57 is found

Heifer #37 had a reddish dunn pointed heifer while I was at the Republican National Convention.  They both are doing well.  The newling will be #78 and I'm going to name her Ivanka after Trump's daughter who spoke the night she was born.

Today I also found the bull #57 that had been missing before I left.  He had fallen into a deep trench I made for draining a low spot and the poor thing had been there well over a week.  I promptly got out a shovel and dug a way for him to get out.  He is very weak but I think he will recover.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Calendar Update

If you look back in the blog you will find the post about the soil profile that documents layers of loess and volcanic ash that go back at least 3500 years.

Since that time one of our customers loaned us a microscope so we could study the different layers to see if there are any chronological clues in the deposits.  I have learned that it is one thing to have a microscope and quite another to figure out how to use it and how to figure out what you are seeing  even after getting something in focus.  It is fascinating to see how the particles in this loess sample are so jagged and often transparent, probably quartz crystals?  I have not had time to compare the different layers.

I did take a dozen samples of the different layers to the soil lab testing facility at the University to have a soil analysis done and just found out that the office was shut down due to budget cuts.  So I guess they just threw out the samples.  We know for sure that they did not do any analysis.

I have lost contact with Dr. Wallace so we aren't any smarter about her prediction that the large volcanic ash deposit was from Mt Hayes.

I guess the need at this point is for an educated, experienced microscope operator so we can document slides of the layers of wind deposited soil.  I do not even know where to get lens cleaners, and slides and microscope supplies around here.  There are several lenses with the microscope but I can only get the lowest power to focus.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fat or "Finished"?

"Finished" is a trade word in the cattle industry for animals that have hit their peak weight without excessive body fat.  This three year old barren heifer has a lot of the beef frame we are breeding for but couldn't give us any calves.  She has been on the same feed as the rest of the herd- hay, grass pasture, and cull carrots.  I'm guessing the marbling will be great on this carcass but would need an ultrasound to know for sure how much body fat there will be.  She probably weighs 1400 pounds.

Grass "finished" beef happens naturally with the Galloway breed.  It only happens in most of the exotic breeds with antibiotics, hormones and high octane feeds that are forced.  That's the source of most of the commercial meats in the stores.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Youngest Heifer #45 Finally Drops a Boy #77- 6/23/16

I lost 45 for a couple of days and she showed up with a very friendly, curious red tipped boy 6/23/16.  I didn't have the heart to spoil his trust by grabbing him and tagging him.  We'll put #77 in his ear first time through the chute.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Breeding Duty 2016

Starting July 4 the genetics for next year's calves will be deposited by these two bulls.  #47 will lead.  His dam was from this herd and went to John Hett who bred her with a gentle giant that finished out over 2000 pounds.

After 30 days the cleanup breeding will belong to Hercules #291.  His dam is another of our cows that transferred to Aaron Seeger who manages the herd in Delta.  Hercules's dam was artificially inseminated from semen collected from the late registered Glenfiddich Pericles # 21137 from the Blegen Galloway herd in Canada. Pericles was a champion at beef exhibitions in Canada and the US.   His mature weight was 2566 pounds. Hercules is really developing well and is not yet a year old.  He will be the lead bull next year.

I go into some of this detail so you know that a lot of intentionality goes into managing a quality beef herd and producing dependable, good natured breed stock that is still good eating.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bulls Enjoy Dandelion Hay

I have been so thankful for this bunch of bulls this summer.  They have been out three times.  Twice they let themselves out by unhooking the gate.  They enjoyed grass from the road right-of-way and put themselves back by the time I showed up in the morning.  Last time I left a gate open and two of them walked out to mow grass and were very obliging to walk back where they knew they belonged.  The cows come up to tempt them almost daily but they have never gotten through those gates.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

#31 has Black Bull- #76- 6/4/16

#31 had been away from the herd for a week and finally showed up with a speedy little bull- #76.  Will probably name him Emil after Emily Hughes that got married on the farm today.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Easter #30 Delivers Stillborn Heifer

Easter #30 delivered a large heifer that might have been saved had I been there a couple of hours sooner.  Mom was able to get up after some struggles and will be fine.

On the brighter side on this beautiful day, the swallows are nesting and apparently using a lot of my home made nesting sights.  I looked out to find dozens of them outside the barn listening to the music being blue toothed through the boom box from my Kindle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sustainable Pasture Day- May 15

Official sustainable pasture day on Wolverine Farm- May 15. This is determined when the cows do not come back to the manger for our best hay. Kind of like the day the birds didn't come back to Noah's ark!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

#39 Delivers Heifer #75- 5/17/16

#39 Had her first calf- a large very strong red pointed white calf.  Mother was bleeding a lot so I left them to heal and bond.

By the 20th they were both looking great.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Tierra #2 Delivers her 12th Calf

Yesterday morning (5/10/16) Tierra #2 was missing so I knew she must be hiding her calf.  Spent most of the morning covering the expanded pasture twice when I found her up on a bench in an alder patch overlooking the river licking off a new born pitch black heifer that was instantly tagged with #74.  This is the first of the dozen that Tierra has delivered that was black.  Strange when the bull was white.  Black is a common Galloway color but I've been told white is dominant when there is a choice.  All proof that recessive genes do exist.  The heifer took its first steps and Tierra continued to clean her up.  She is an exceptional mother.

 I would need to check but I don't believe she has ever had a bull so she has a lot of relatives in the herd that 14 years ago was only 6.

Saw the first swallows of the season.

Friday, May 6, 2016

#36 Delivers #73- 5/5/16

#36- one of our red tipped heifers delivered a red tipped calf- #73.  She showed up at the feeder and then went off and hid.  When I found them the calf jumped up and outran its mother.  This will be one that got away.  If it is a boy I will name him Moses.  Like the Jewish women that the Egyptian midwives reported were "lively" so that they delivered before they could get to the scene and catch the babies.  That will be the reputation of #36.  I will reserve the tag and put it in next time the herd goes through the squeeze chute.  Will have to determine gender the hard way- by long distance observation.

5/7/16 determined he is a boy- Moses he will be!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Diminished- Beef Booby Trap



The only natural water in the early pasture cow lot is from a spring on the edge of a cliff 100 feet over the Matanuska River.  On hot days the cows crowd down there and over the years many of them have been pushed over the cliff.

The first time that happened- six of them went over.  One washed way and two drowned.  It took most of the summer to slash a trail and lead out the three survivors.

Yesterday I took the chainsaw and felled two cotton wood trees across the bottom end of the spring to create a barrier which will be reinforced with ropes.  Hopefully this will be the end of feeding our prime beef to the belugas.

Monday, April 25, 2016

4/25/16 #19 has #72 White/Black Heifer

Another gal just about got away.  Sometime before morning check and mid afternoon #19 slipped away and came back with a feisty white heifer #72.  I ran her down and sat on her only to find I had forgotten to put my tags in my pocket.  So I had to repeat the process half an hour later.  Also in the visits to the pasture today was the help of Granddaughter Remedy.  She is learning to stand quietly so the calves don't spook.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#21 Delivers Heifer #71- 4/20/16

This gal was still wet and shivering after coming from her mom's body temperature to freezing.  21 has always been a good mom and took good care of the white girl with black points- #71.

Yesterday the first robin of the year was seen and heard.

Monday, April 18, 2016

#27 has an identical Red Head Heifer- #70

Sometime between the morning check and mid afternoon this little heifer showed up and it took about half a mile to run her down.  She is white with red points just like her mom.  4/17/16.
- Mom is #27.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pippy Long Stockings has large red Bull- 4/17/16

Pippy Long Stockings #3 had a large red bull # 69 who appears to be doing well.  He stood up but mom didn't.  Will have to check tomorrow to make sure she doesn't  have milk fever.  She certainly dropped a huge amount.  Her dairy genetics are showing.  The downside of producing that much milk is that it throws the entire body into calcium deficiency and shock.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

4/12/16- #22 has classic Heifer- #68

Gentle #22 was at the feed manger this morning with a drying white and black heifer- #68. Calving so far is a communal experience with everyone getting in on the act.  Last year's calves are very curious and a little too helpful when it comes to milking the mother.  Most mothers repel the older calves but not #22.  We are going to have to watch to see that #68 doesn't get starved out.

4/11/16 Cinderella - First for 16 Generation

I was a month off in my expectations so was surprised to see Cinderella sneaking away with a very agile, strong, red and white spotted heifer.  I could get up to Cinderella with a bucket of treats but couldn't get even close to the calf.  Her coloring is distinct because of Cinderella's dairy genetics so she will remain untagged.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Coincidental to kicking the cows out of their winter feeding lot (which had become a mud hole) I see  a large wolf track that had been checking things out outside the corral.  This set is 4 inches across.  Nothing compared to the set of grizzly tracks not far away- they were 11 inches wide!  Might be an interesting calving year.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Business End of Beef Cows

The cows are finishing the end of this year's cull carrots.  Ten of these dames left for Delta today- #6, #8, #33, #25, #15, #18, #10, #7, #4, #16.

The 10 bred cows weighed 13,700 pounds.  The 20 yearlings weighed 13,400 pounds.

This begins the process of a conversion that will convert the home place from a cow calf operation to a feeder operation.  The ten cows were replaced with 20 yearlings that will be ready for the table this fall after a summer on open pasture.  In fact, after a couple of days they will all be kicked out of the feedlot to the open fields that are still covered with snow.  Those fields don't attract the cows much when they are covered with snow but we will be feeding remotely until the grass shows up.  That gets them out of the dirty winter lot where the new calves can have a clean start.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Unearthed- 4000 year old Calendar On Wolverine Farm

I have always been curious about the deep soil profiles that were exposed on Wolverine Farm every time we cut a new road or opened a new gravel pit.  Consistent through the length of the farm was the presence of two significant ash layers that I thought could be clues to the dates on the calendar on the left.  This cut documents 8 feet of deposits on the edge of the Matanuska River.  The most significant ash layer is 57 inches down from the top surface of the photo.  It is about 1 to 2 inches of pinkish ash.  The other ash layer is down 30 inches and is only about the width of a pencil at best.  Since we are within a hundred miles of dozens of volcanoes I decided that probably these volcanoes had their own unique fingerprint which surely had been studied.

Sure enough I contacted the United States Geological Society and Dr Kristi Wallace who specializes on volcanoes of SE Alaska suggested that the heavy ash layer was probably from the eruption of the Hays volcano around 1500 BC. That event blew out more than 4 cubic kilometers of the earth's crust into the atmosphere. This was about the same time the Jews were experiencing the exodus out of Egypt.

Dr Wallace has promised to visit the farm later this spring to help us interpret our calendar.

Evident in this profile is the first organic matter that started to appear in the wind laid loess.  Also evident in close proximity of the ash layers is clear evidence of large fires.  Was the ash enough to kill off a lot of the vegetation and set up the fires?  We want to study microscopically the loess itself to see if it changes from the top to the bottom and gives up any clues to source or age.  Some of these banks have stood solidly for over 50 years.  Studies of loess elsewhere suggest that our loess is the jagged triangular type that is more stable.

This is a story that you will hear more about in the future.  Can anyone give us access to a microscope?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Looking Ahead

I was amazed to see how long it has been since our last post!  We have completed our largest meat cycle ever and are collecting names for this fall's meat cycle.  Placement on the list becomes important when we have more orders than meat.  We were unable to fill about 6 orders last fall.

I just returned from Siberia and couldn't resist sharing a picture of the meat department in the outdoor market in Yakutsk- the coldest city in the world.  In the foreground you see quarters of beef from Brazil.  That meat was cheaper than the local reindeer.  It was even competitive with the frozen fish that you see standing up in the background.  If you look closely you will see that the local sparrows liked to warm their feet on the Brazilian carcasses.

The news at Wolverine Farm is that we continue to invest in upgrades to our meat processing.  We bought three certified scales and will have Phillips Scales installing them later this spring.  We are converting to a printer/scale that will print an individual label for each vacuum package complete with net weight and carcass number.  This will facilitate tracking the meat and accuracy.

Our slaughter schedule is set for this fall and looks like we will be filling orders from the first of October through the middle of November.