2016 in Review
Wow – I can't believe it's already the second day of the New Year! I know it's cliché, but where did 2016 go?
The year started with some major changes to my diet. I was dealing with a chronic inflammation issue and was at my wit's end with trying to get a diagnosis and relief. By way of a suggestion from a physical therapist and my naprapath I took an E-95 food panel test to see if maybe something I was eating was causing chronic inflammation. Come to find out I have an intolerance for wheat, gluten, dairy and chicken eggs. So, this was cause for some major change in my life. I've stuck with it and have lost 40 pounds and feel much better in terms of reduced inflammation. Thankfully, beef was not on the list of foods to avoid! There are a lot of great blogs out there that offer gluten-free cooking and vegan baking recipes such as The Pretty Bee and The Minimalist Baker (two of my favorites).
This is another reason why I'm proud that our beef does not contain any additional growth hormones nor antibiotics. And why we also believe in keeping our animals free range with plenty of room to move around on real grass pasture 24/7 (or access to fresh hay 24/7 in the winter). Our beef is fed corn from corn that we grow on our farm. My husband plants, harvests and grinds the corn we give our cattle. So it never leaves our farm. Corn-fed beef tastes better than 100% grass-fed beef because there is some marbling which creates unbelievable flavor that you just can't get with something 100% grass-fed. We also firmly believe that happy animals produce better tasting meat.
We firmly believe that happy animals produce better tasting meat.
We had a very successful calving season which started at the end of March and lasted, well, right up until the end of November with a surprise calf. Along the way there were some wild encounters such as when I mistakenly touched a calf I shouldn't have. We were moving the cows and their babies into another pasture and I had a chance to touch a calf that was standing nearby. Normally this mom is a little wild anyway and I normally am not around when she calves, so I've never had the chance to imprint her babies like I do with some of the others. He was right in front of me and I reached out and touched him. Mom saw and did not like so she charged me. Had Karl not been in the field it would have turned out much worse. I froze when she charged me and I remember putting my arm straight out thinking she would stop. Nope. I just froze. Karl yelled RUN! Had he not, it would not have been pretty. Plus, I had on a pair of rubber boots that were just a little too big. I remember running and praying that I didn't fall because she would have trampled me. So, lesson learned the hard way! I already knew the rule, “You never come between a mom and her calf.” Now I can add, “don't assume you can touch a calf and mom will be ok with it” “Truly most of our animals aren't wild. This particular cow has some shorthorn in her, which makes her a little more “hot” and I should not have trusted her as much as I did.
Another wild story involved a twin calf that was born in May. This was mom's third time calving, so she was still relatively new to this mom thing. She delivered twins, the second set born on our farm! She decided to accept one of the calves, but not both. So, I went to check on the rejected calf, but I wasn't sure exactly where he was. I ended up finding him, but was too close. He jumped up and bolted through our fence into the cornfield. Thankfully the corn was not up very tall, but he was like a deer and he ran off so fast. Karl, I and his parents searched the cornfield, but could not find him and it was getting dark. I prayed that he would be kept safe through the night and we would find him in the morning. We went out to look in a nearby hay field where he was suspected to be. Sure enough, on our way we spotted him in the cornfield. It looked like he was trying to make his way back to the pasture he had bolted from. Next problem – how are we going to capture or corral him out in the middle of a huge cornfield with no fences??? We devised a plan, said a prayer and it worked! Somehow we managed to get him inside the cab of the truck while I held him in place so he wouldn't topple Karl or the steering wheel. For not having any milk after being born, he sure had enough energy – he was very feisty! He is now our bottle calf and is doing very well. Very healthy and an easy keeper.
The last surprise was a heifer that had a calf. In the farming industry, a heifer is a female bovine (more commonly called a cow) that has not had a baby yet. A cow is a female bovine that has had a baby. A steer is a male bovine hat has been neutered. And a bull is, well, you know… So, getting back to this heifer. She was in a group of 2015 calves that we were feeding out. Karl noticed that she wasn't eating her feed and went over to check on her. To his surprise, she was calving! So, all by himself he had to get her in the barn and, of course, she was in the farthest spot from the barn! We are so grateful to New Hope Vet Clinic in German Valley because they dropped everything and came out to assist in pulling the calf because he was not coming out on his own. God had his hands all over this situation. It could have been worse in so many ways with a first time mom who is very young. She could have had major delivery problems, he could have been stillborn, he could have signs of being an inbred which is typically neurological problems (his papa is also his grandpa), the mom could have rejected him and not let him nurse, etc. For natural breeding, our bull is with the group of cows typically for most of the year. We put him in a separate pasture to ensure we don't have any calves in the winter months. We like to calve from March until October. Gestation for a cow is about 9 months, same as a human. So, we were just a bit too late in weaning the heifer from her mom. The bull was just paying attention... Can't fault him for doing his job. For now, mom and baby are doing wonderful. She's a very good mom – attentive, stands quietly while he nurses. He was a BIG, baby boy, but he is very healthy.
Our wish for 2017 is to continue educating the public on the benefits of buying beef from a generational small farm – benefits like individual attention to animal welfare and health, free range access to grass pasture and hay and farmers who value the gifts God has given to them to take care of animals and the land.
Blessings to you and your family for 2017!
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. If you have any blog suggestions or questions please contact us! We'd love to hear from you.
Karl & Tara Hagemann