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  • Writer's pictureJosh Pearson

Farm happenings

Good afternoon!

It's been a little bit since I've last been able to update everyone and we always have so much going on. If you've stopped by the farm store in the last week, stop by again. Just pull in and turn around so that you witness our mowed lawn and can get last week's vision of the knee high weeds out of your head! * update, since I started writing this, the lawn has taken over again... I think our weed wacker, tractor, truck and ourselves were all in need of repair last week so things got a bit out of hand. Luckily a nice neighbor stepped up and helped me hack down the small tree sized pickers that were taking over behind the barn. I swear, where one thorny plant grows, they all decide to grow. There were some seriously scary looking plants back there. You almost needed a shield and a sword to fight them off. This August we will need to sell as much of our pork as we can, in order to make room to store the lamb and beef we are expecting in October and November. We do not have a walk-in freezer so this is the primary reason for us selling things in bulk. We know not everyone can buy in bulk every year, but we cannot afford to run a walk-in freezer for a very seasonal supply. Just one of many small farmer challenges. As you probably know, we began raising British White Cattle two years ago. We started with just four cows, and now have 27, including the calves and the Bull. We never intended to have quite this many, so we are looking forward to having some beef, and selling some breeding stock soon. Beef will be something new to us, and we don't plan to produce it on a large scale, but to just have beef for our family that we feel good about, and then some extra for friends and customers. To raise cattle for beef takes about two years and requires that you keep not only the breeding stock, feeding them year round and grazing them, but it also means that you then raise that calf. You keep them with mom for the first year, weaning them before the next calf comes in May. That following year you raise them through the summer, and then that Fall, they become beef or breeding stock. This means that you have three years' worth of calves on the ground, before you get any payback. This is all new to us, and we are figuring out what type of cattle program fits our needs best. Preferably one that doesn't bankrupt us when we buy hay.. For example, instead of raising each calf for that time, you can sell the calves to other farms who want to raise them for their own purposes after they've been weaned. This means you save on hay that second winter, and only ever have one to two years worth of calves on the farm. I think this route is more appealing to us. We love the cows, but we don't necessarily need to raise each calf, and then pay to process each one, taking on all of the costs, and all of that risk, in the hopes that we can sell it. British White cows are dangerously addictive. Each one comes with interesting markings and I'm always trying to find a calf that has the perfect dipped black, inky ears and nose. Every calf on the ground each spring is cuter than the last, dopey the first 48 hours, and then wild and wary on day 3. One of our cows, Lizzy, hides her calves really well. So well, we often don't know if she's calved until the calf is a few days old! It's hard to tag and band a calf that's already found its footing and can outrun us. Josh had to sneak up on one of them in the tall grass just to get a good first look at her, and make sure she's healthy and eating alright. She probably wasn't very happy to see the farmer up close and personal like that, but she's better for it. Our current plan for the Beef, which should be available in October, is to sell it in quarters. If you're interested, we will only have 6 quarters available. They've only ever had grass or hay or alfalfa pellets, no grain, and so it's as natural as we can make it, and better for you in return. It also means it will taste different than corn fed, commercial beef and be a bit leaner as well. Every breed produces a different product. We chose British White cattle because we believe in building soil, and having a positive impact on our environment, and raising a breed that would produce amazing beef on just pasture alone was our goal. We have high hopes for our products and sincerely hope it is enjoyed by everyone who tries it. If you are wanting to try our beef this fall but don't need a quarter share, you will be able to get it in the farm store for a limited time. We will let everyone know when it's available at the farm store via newsletter and facebook. The proper care and maintenance of our grasslands is not only important for farmers, but it is vitally important for many of our native birds and animal species. Mowing for hay or as a maintenance tactic only accomplishes the destruction of brush or the creation of winter forage. Obviously hay is a critical food source, but mowing a pasture is also destructive towards native birds who lay eggs in nests on the ground, for the owls who hunt the rodents who hide in the tall grasses, and the list goes on and on..So how do we cohabitate and still raise enough food for the growing population? Cattle and other ruminants, if properly managed, can maintain a pasture, fertilize that pasture, mow it, regrow it, and then in turn become a part of the food chain themselves. During all of this activity they cohabitate in harmony with the small native animals and birds who then thrive under their care. Right now, in WI we are losing our grasslands to housing development and urban sprawl. We also see that drought conditions have a harder effect on pastures that are mowed short for hay so climate change is also a leading factor in the loss of habitat of this kind. Rotating the areas that are meant for hay, and leaving some wild areas for grazing would offer safe places for the animals and plants every year while also building resilience to erosion, adding soil and improving the plant life. This would benefit the hay crop and the animals who live there. Our farm is doing what we can on our little slice of heaven, to make the world a better place than when we found it. Customer support of our products is supporting not only our efforts to grow good food, but more importantly, our efforts to learn more about our environment, share our experiences with the community and to be able to learn how to farm in healthier, earth friendly ways. Maybe if we can do it, others will too. For products this fall, you can expect bulk lamb orders October-November, beef in October, and pork as it's available in the farm store. We do not plan to raise more pigs, but have three remaining which will likely be sent to market this fall. Please email us to sign up for lamb, and/or send a $200 deposit per order, stating what you are ordering. We are very pleased to say that we don't need to increase our prices for lamb this year. For those who are new, we sell bulk lamb in halves or wholes by the hanging weight. A lamb's hanging weight is about 60% of its live weight, bones in. By paying the "hanging" weight you also cover the processing of the animal and at pick up, you receive fresh frozen pieces, individually wrapped, weighed, and just like anything you'd see in the store. The final product weight is about 60-70% of the hanging weight. We hope to see our whole lambs weigh in around 60 pounds, halves then should be at 30 pounds average. We charge $10/lb for halves and $9/lb for whole. There is a bit of variation obviously but this should give you a sense for the overall cost. Your deposit will be subtracted from the total at pick up. Lamb may seem fairly expensive to those who aren't familiar with the animal or the product, but when you have to cover the entire cost of one animal, by selling a very small amount of meat, it starts to add up. Luckily, lamb is rich in nutrients and in flavor so you can savor every bit of it, and make it last. Please note that if you split an animal with a friend, how you order it from us, as a half or whole, is how we are charging you. The discounted rate does not apply if you split the whole with someone as it makes more work for us after the fact. Products are received from the processor the way customers order them from us. Changing the order at pickup leads to confusion so please either deal with your split privately, or just order what you are paying for and send your friend our way to set up their own order. We appreciate it, and so does my non-mathematical brain. At the farm we are currently focusing on cleaning out the barn, the entire 60+ foot long building full of's super great. If you stop by and see our cars but can't find us, check the barn! Careful though, I might give you a shovel and put you to work. I'm really looking forward to hitting the interior with a pressure washer and getting splattered with the back spray... Happy August! Esme, Josh, Nori and the organized chaos that is Turner Road Farm.


Turner Road Farm89420 Turner Road Bayfield, WI 54814

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