2016 Season End Summary!

November 28th and the herd is still Grazing!!  A few more daily moves onto fresh grass and then into the stored grass for the winter.  Overall, a pretty good year.  Here are a few of the most noteworthy accomplishments:

  • 29 calves born – unassisted!!  Great pasture calving season overall.  I didn’t witness a single birth this year.  Not because I was ignoring them or negligent but becasue I’ve got sneaky moms.  Even though there’s a vibrant local coyote population, there’s still 29 in good health – Start placing your beef orders for fall 2017 spring 2018!!!
  • Corral and cattle handling area expanded along with a scale.  This has made loading and sorting more efficient and lower stress.  The scale has allowed me to monitor growth on a monthly basis on the finishers and assist in culling decisions.  Weight gain during the prime pasture time varied between 1.2 and 3.5 lbs per day.
  • My wife and children started a facebook page – search Trick’s Creek Farm – There are some really good pictures!  Check in here or facebook for updates.  The “Farm Day” date for 2017 will be posted in both places!!
  • We put in another few thousand feet of fence.  It improved the security, versatility and efficiency of the pasture.  A few thousand yet to do but it’s heading in the right direction.
  • There was a longer than ideal dry spell in July/August (down right depressing).  For a period of time, everything was crunchy, dry and into dormancy.  Pretty grim outlook and thoughts for a number of weeks this summer.  Luckily things turned around near the end of August.   The fall has improved things but the water table is still well below average.
  • Some exceptional beef produced!!  Marbling is getting better as time goes on and it’s bound to improve.
  • After measuring the variety in cattle growth rates, consistency is more of a focus than in the past.  A Lowline Angus bull was rented for this year.  Beefy figure and an ideal size to breed with Dexters. The Lowline Angus – Dexter cross should provide a more robust beef shape and still retain a lot of the great mothering and efficency of the Dexters.  We’ll see how it looks in 2-3 years!  Along with aiming for consistency and decent growth rates, the bottom 1/3 of the cow herd got shipped.  A hard step toward making a better future.
  • Didn’t use a single dose of antibiotics this year – no reason to. I still haven’t been tempted to consider growth implants or ionophores etc…  Organic certification for the beef is still being considered but the commitment to more paperwork hasn’t been made.
  • The only non pasture crop this year was organic spelt.  Respectable yeild, quality and weed pressure.  Unfortunantely, the spelt market is overwhelmed currently because everyone had the same results as me.  – Eat more spelt!!
  • A cover crop was planted after spelt harvest.  A mix of more than 6 species that grew decently after the rain started.  The cattle enjoyed grazing it in mid fall.  It was a good experience.
  • No row cropping (corn,soy) this year !!!  Great from a soil health, quality and pasturing perspective but it certainly has an impact on the bottom line.  Not row cropping is the right thing to do in so many ways but I suspect prudent balancing of $$ needs will mean I’ll have to plough next year.  If everyone gets their friends to eat more Grass Fed Beef – I’ll gladly scrap the plough!!!
  • The Turkeys, Broilers and Egg Layers and piggies have done well.  I have one 25 lb turkey that’s not spoken for and 2 smaller ones!!  The eggs are exceptional (in my opinion).
  • Trick’s Creek Farm 100% Grass Fed Beef is being picked up by butchers in the GTA and KW area!  It’s really encouraging to have butchers/retailers actually taking the interest and time to deal with individual farmers.   It provides the consumer a level of integrity that’s not common in the marketplace.  If your butcher doesn’t know where the meat is from, why not?  It’s always a head shaker for me to see farmers from Montana featured on “Free From” beef at a large scale grocery store.
  • We hosted the fall meeting of the Huron Perth Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association at the Farm on Oct 1.  It was very well attended and the feedback was positive.  It was a great experience to show conservation and forestry minded neighbours what has been done around here.  The 165 ish year old Mill (still being used) certainly caught the attention of all.  The Ontario Woodlot Association is well worth looking into – great people, great mandate and great events!
  • A good season of forestry work and sawing this year.  Firewood consumption last year was weak because of the Hawaii style winter.   Custom sawing was great.  A number of really exceptional huge Ash slabs got sawn.  The photos of complete installations will be posted.  If you have any special projects in mind – get in contact.
  • Was invited to present to the Huron County Water Protection Steering Comittee.  The presentation was entitled “Farming, Forestry and Stewardship at Trick’s Creek Farm”.  It was great to be invited and to share the way in which the whole farm landscape is managed to achieve many goals.  Its inspiring to see the County Council’s interest in and commitment to balancing unchecked ag, community viability and the environment.
  • We had a number of customers visit the farm and every visit is a highlight in itself.  Its inpiring to have customers that care about what they eat and how it’s grown.  The world would be a much better place if more people made thoughtful decisions with their food budget!

 

 

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