It's All A Blur
The week started like many others, Sunday morning coffee with Monte discussing the plan for our week to come. Monte manages his calendar and I manage mine and that works out well most of the time until I realize his schedule includes my participation. Our farm was privileged to host a three day Soil Health Academy where Gabe Brown would be presenting along with Brian Dougherty and Luke Jones from Understanding Ag (more about the conference in a bit).
Monte drove to Moline to pick up our mentor, friend and guest, Gabe Brown. We prepared a dinner for Gabe and Monte's parents on that evening featuring our HCR (Henry County Reserve) Pork Chops. The biggest of which weighed in at a whopping 1.65 pounds! That's pretty much a 2 for 1 right there.
The day started with all hands on deck for a cattle move. The herd was brought into the corral where the steers and heifers were sorted off and moved to a field of cover crops where they are eating a salad bar of beautiful green leafy plants. Before loading on the trailer Remington brings a group in and one by one they come into the scale. Monte and Matthew were running the gates so each one can pause briefly to be weighed. Their weight and ear tag are recorded and a quick look over to make sure all are in good health. Grazer does his part by making sure they get right into the trailer. You can see him give a little nose nudge in the video after Monte opens the gate to the trailer. We use two trailers to keep the loading process moving. While one driver takes a load to the new location the other trailer is being loaded. Today Bob got to a fuber...that's a Farm Uber.
After loading the cattle that needed moved it was time to check the collars on each of the momma cows. It's so routine for them now they just walk in and let us check the collar. We make sure each one is working properly and check for comfort to make sure it is fitting properly. The calves all wait patiently for moms to come out and then they pair up again and walk back out to the pasture together.
While the team finished up the cattle move Monte had three guests from the Nahant Marsh Education Center come out to research and identify native plant species we are seeing in our back pasture. They identified 60 different native plants in the short time they were there and even more than are non-native. The news of some plants found here really excited us and it's just by grazing that these plants are coming back. We will share more with you later when we get the final report.
That afternoon Matthew switched hats and began preparing a five star dinner for Gabe, Brian, Remington, his wife Anneliese, Monte and myself. Our grandson, Treyten, stepped in as sous chef and together they prepared a fabulous dinner of fresh salads (even kale that Owen picked from the cattle paddock hours before) with a little added crunch from some Grateful Graze bacon, Vaca Vieja Ribeye's, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans and mushrooms. For the finale...Crème de la Crème Brûlée made from our very own beautiful egg yolks. Owen and Joel had to help squeeze a few extra eggs out for me lol!
TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY:
The Soil Health Academy kicked off with training sessions in Geneseo and an afternoon farm visit where they looked at shovels full of soil and for evidence of what they were learning in the classroom. This was the schedule for all three days. Farmers attended from Spain, UK, Austria, Washington, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois. All are just beginning their regenerative farming journey and they were filled with questions about how they could implement the same practices on their farms. We spent every evening with the group at local restaurants unpacking all the information from the day. The status quo was shown the door! The question for this group of farmers is no longer what will these changes cost me? Rather, what will the cost be to my farm and the health of my family if I don't make the change?
On Wednesday I had the pleasure of guiding a private tour for a dear friend, Chef Robert Lewis, and his family. While Monte was in meetings I made some time to take them to the pasture and share our mission with them. Chef Lewis is a wonderful advocate for Grateful Graze and we appreciate him and all of our customers who promote what we do here.
With the academy completed I was hoping to sleep in just a bit but Monte woke me with a phrase he knows will get me right out of bed..."Honey you have to see this sun rise." If you know me at all, that means grab the camera because something beautiful is about to happen. So much for sleep! The cows and their calves were playing a little game of Marco Polo in the pasture right behind our house. The fog was so thick they couldn't see each other. But as the sun pushed through the fog we could make out the shape of cattle and it made for a pretty nice photo.
Friday was catch up day for a lot of other things that were put on hold through the week and to prepare for farmer's market. Of course while all the activities of the week were going on, the chores were being done, orders were being processed, shipped and delivered and all the daily activities were carried out by our awesome team.
We finished the week with QC Farmer's Market. Monte, Treyten and I all three were there to see some of our favorite people. We received a nice rain early morning so that made Monte available and we spent a nice day together topping it off at a family birthday party.
While we were away from the farm the guys brought Ivan the bull and four of our young bulls over to become friendly with the cows. We still use bulls for breeding because artificial insemination would require the cows to have a hormone injection and we prefer to keep it natural. I love in the video how big Ivan "strolls" up to the cows in true bull fashion and then right behind him come the young boys running in like a bunch of frat boys late to the party! All in all a great week spent with some forward thinking farmers, a great team and our awesome animals.
From the Farm,