All posts by Denise Skidmore

Welcome John Deere and Case

Deer and Chase
John Deere and Case, their first night at Eddy Ridge Grassland

We’re hoping two years from now these guys will be competent “handy steers” who will help us put up hay.  In five years they’ll get the proud title of “oxen” and be capable of heavier work.  But for today their job is being babies, drinking milk and enjoying grooming, and getting used to life.

Deer is a week old, Case was born just over a day ago, his navel was still wet when I picked him up yesterday.  They are close relatives, and hopefully will grow up in sync to be a well balanced team.

Thanks to breeder Jason DeMay of Towpath farm for getting us off to a great start, and all my other farmer friends that have been advising me on my first calves.

Lamb Available

Now taking deposits for February butcher.

One crossbred lamb, cut to order

This year’s lambs are all full blooded Cotswolds, so those of you who got Tunis crosses from us before can expect a bit more meat in your boxes. Last year’s lambs ranged from 32-46 hanging weight pounds. There is still considerable variation in hanging weights expected, but we’re aiming for a higher average.

Cotswolds are a rare breed, listed as threatened by the Livestock Conservancy.  Purchase of lambs not useful in our breeding program supports the maintenance of the breeding group that will bring Cotswold genetics forward to the next generation.

We’ve lowered the price this year to $250 per head. This price covers the cost of a live lamb, transportation to Smith’s Packing in Marion, NY, and your payment to the butcher. The butcher works for you, according to the directions on your cut sheet. I can help you fill out the cut sheet if you wish. (I may have a copy of your prior cut sheet if you have ordered from us before.)

We accept requests on a first deposit come, first reserved basis. Deposits may be mailed to:

Denise Skidmore
4513 Eddy Ridge Rd
Marion, NY, 14505

Include a $100 check, and contact information so we can discuss your cut sheet.

Important Dates:

  • $100 Deposits due 1/22. (Assuming nobody else beats you to the punch.)
  • Cut Sheets due February 2nd. (I’ll help you with this after I get your deposit.)
  • Butcher day February 3rd, no refunds or exchanges after this date.  You can still talk directly to the Butcher about changes to your cut sheet.
  • February 10-17th The butcher finishes hanging and cutting and calls when the meat is ready.  Please pay your remaining balance of $150 before or at pickup.

The butcher is open during normal business hours MTRF and on Saturday mornings.

If the weather is below 20F, (and that’s iffy given our weather so far) I can bring your meat from the butcher to Perinton on a weekday for pickup, but please be prepared to come out to Marion if the weather does not permit me leaving food in my car.

Please e-mail me with any questions you may have.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

Lost Heritage Varieties

Still life watermelon with white swirls vs photograph of modern red watermellon.
Watermelon, then and now

Full story at VOX

What did this watermelon taste like? What did those swirls feel like on the tongue? Now maybe it wouldn’t become my favorite watermelon, but I’d sure like to have tried it once.

Preserve heritage breeds we still have to day for the future by buying heritage breed products, both vegetable and animal…

The insanity of the lawn…

Many people ask me why I got into raising sheep.

First of all, hubby and I wanted elbow room.  We’d both grown up in homes adjoining wild land, and realized that in today’s rapidly expanding suburban doughnut one must own their additional land to guarantee it stays wild.  (My grandfather found this out 80 years ago when the neighboring plots he had planned to buy got bought up and built on under his nose, this isn’t a totally new phenomenon in suburbs of larger cities.)

Secondly, this conversation sums up how I feel about lawns.

Clearing weeds the old way

‘Tis the season for many of our most troublesome weeds to flower, which is exactly the best time to control them by mowing, after they have expended their energy making flowers, but before they go to seed.  Our largest pasture was cleared by a contractor with heavy equipment, and the BCS is soon to get busy on the smaller pastures, but there are lots of little corners we can’t even get our BCS flail mower into that require really small scale equipment.

My scythe is in need of peening, so it is having trouble with the thicker weeds.  I decided to get out the string trimmer and give it a try.  I’d never before managed to start a pull-start engine, but farming has done a lot for my upper body strength, and I actually managed it, got a few feet into the mass, and realized I wasn’t cutting well because I was out of string.  So off to the store we went for more trimmer string.  When perusing products, we encountered the “Ugly Head Hybrid Trimmer Head” which claimed to reduce line breakage and convert to a light brush blade. We got the trimmer head home, and gave it a whirl. Hubby took point with the trimmer, and advanced on the burdock. He quickly realized strings were not sufficient and switched to the brush blades. I watched him for a little while carefully nibbling away at each stalk, and then I went and got my billhook. Before I could even propose a contest, he had turned off the trimmer and started to study the problem.

I cleared a good path with the billhook, then hubby asked for the billhook and I went and found the machete. In short order we cleared the patch together, and freed the tangled wreck of last year’s chicken tractor from the weeds. (Snow load did it in, the next model will be modular so we can fit it up in the loft out of season.)

The string trimmer may see some love again in some fence line maintenance, but for the time being she’s parked back in the garage. I guess I need to get around to setting up a peening log soon.  Sometimes the old fashioned way really does work best.

Joshua Rockwood status report

I’ve been keeping an eye on Joshua Rockwood’s case, because this sort of thing could make or break sustainable farming.  Animals belong outdoors.  They need access to shelter and water, but it takes a foot of snow before my sheep lose interest in pasture time.  When it’s 14 degrees out it’s not always viable to leave liquid water out 24×7, but as long as the livestock are generously watered twice a day they do just fine.

Here is the latest day in court for Joshua:

http://www.bedlamfarm.com/2015/04/27/a-good-day-for-joshua-rockwood-loaded-rides-and-management-fees/

Here is his GoFundMe campaign:

http://www.gofundme.com/pbp7go

And although I don’t believe they are involved in this particular case, here is a larger fund protecting the direct relationship between farmers and consumers (mostly focused on raw milk issues):

http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/

Busy Times on the Ridge

Yesterday was a bit of a blur.

I got news that there was a shearer in town, and he might be able to fit me in this week. I’ve now got an appointment, and have to rush some of my spring cleaning to ease that process.

I got another call out of the blue from a hay guy I’d tried to contract last fall. He’s got more hay customers and more equipment than he had last year, so he’s now more interested. We are both hoping to get hay harvested sooner than was done last two years, which increases its nutritional profile, and puts us another step towards a 100% grass fed operation. He is also willing to till and reseed rather than spray and reseed, so we can rapidly improve the field. (I’d rather improve with 3 cuttings, but he’s the one burning the gas and you get less hay per cutting that way although more in the whole season.)

Meanwhile, I’m on a 13 hour shift at work…

My husband finds the poor feral cat dead on the road. At least now I know what color it was, before I only ever saw a blur (black and grey tabby).

When I finally got home after 11 PM, did regular barn chores and then started cleaning and rearranging for the upcoming shearing day. The big deal there was that Hoppo and Rigel finally got to meet. Rams that don’t know each other can be a bit touch and go. We put them in one of the smaller stalls, and dumped a bunch of hay bales inside to make it harder to charge across it. Rigel is being pushy, Hoppo is hovering behind Rigel’s shoulder out of the main line of fire. They’ll take breaks from wrestling to grab a snack together. If I see them get too aggressive I’ll put halters on them and clip them together so they can’t back up and get a running start at each other. As rocky as the introduction period can be, in the long run it will be good for the rams to be buddies instead of being alone. In a couple months when the grass comes in we’ll put them out on one of the ram pastures together.

2 AM and I was finally able to hit the sack for a few hours before getting up to go to the city job again. Thank God for caffeine and flex time, I’ll be getting off a bit early today to pick up plywood for a shearing floor and do some barn cleaning and mapling before dark.

Tomorrow is shearing day. Shouldn’t take the pro long to do my little flock, but I need to work from home while waiting for him to show, and afterwards I’ll have 8 fleeces to skirt, sort, and put up for sale. …and then back to town to make a late meeting at work…