We had some AWESOME visitors to our farm in 2017!  When the group of folks pictured below showed up one cold Saturday morning in November, we were a little over whelmed.  So what brought this large group out for a visit?

Read, Brennan and Post Families from the Omaha area visiting November 2017.

Post, Brennan and Read Families from the Omaha area visiting November 2017.

Mothers On Mission

The three Mom’s in the photo above had done their homework.  They care about what they feed their families.  The questions they brought to us were to the point:

  • How do we care for the animals?
  • What else do the cattle eat besides grass?
  • How do we manage the pastures?
  • What kind of grass is this?
  • What about the fat profile of the meat?
  • Do you spray the pastures?
  • How do you move the cattle?
  • What about the water for the herd?
  • Do the cattle get any medicine or shots?
  • When are the calves born?
  • What are the best ways to prepare the meat?

We did our best to answer each question.  The Pass – Fail test comes when our guests visit the herd.

  1. It doesn’t take long for anyone to decide if the animals are calm & satisfied versus stressed or lacking care.
  2. You don’t need to be a range scientist to see if the pasture is overgrazed.
  3. A simple walk across the pasture will tell you if the land and water is protected.

Seeing the pasture and herd is KNOWING.  Know Your Farmer Know Your Food.

Back to our visiting Mom’s

We applaud the Mothers and Grandmothers that visited our farm over the past few years.  The impact THEY are having on the “food industry” is a welcome change.  Successful Farming noted this change on this February 2016 Magazine Cover.

meet your new boss

Real change is happening

After the families pictured above left our farm, we had another visitor scheduled this same cold November Saturday.  Our next guest was a woman who works for one of the largest food processing manufactures in the world.  She was interested in what was happening in our pasture.  As with all our visitors, we had a great time discussing farming, food, environment and “the herd”.

When she disclosed who she worked for and what she did, we asked about any changes her company was going through.  Our guest was quick to point out that her “customers” were demanding the removal of many processed food ingredients.  The number one priority, removal of artificial food colors and dies.  Her company is responding, change is happening!

Change starts one bite at a time

Years ago when Sheila and I first felt the need to change our food buying options, it seemed overwhelming.  The first farmer we purchased clean food from locally was quick to discuss our feelings.  He told us to just keep it simple.  Make easy changes to your food purchases.  Grow into the change where it makes sense when the timing is right.

This advise was spot on.  Slow and steady wins the race.  We all vote for what kind of “food industry” we want with each bite.  We are moving the food industry one bite at a time!

What about our visiting guys?

We really need to talk about the guys pictured above.  These husbands had taken the wives out for a special Friday evening the night before visiting our farm.  Where did the ladies take the guys?  HA, I had to laugh, the ladies get a night out on the town and the guys get a cool morning walk in a pasture!  Way to go Men, supporting the ladies!  What a fun group.

What about the kids that came along?

The kids pictured above had a sense of wonderment that us adults need to stop and recapture more often.  They had some great questions also.  What can these kids learn from their parents?

My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.  Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.

Proverbs 6:20-21

When these kids become the next wave of food purchasers, all we can say is, watch out and Thank You MOMs!

We urge you to take four minutes to watch “NRCS: Pasture Management“.  It really does a nice job describing some activities we practice here at DS Family Farm.  These practices work for both pasture health and animal health and ultimately your health!

  1. The depiction of Rotational Grazing at 1:20 into the video is excellent.
  2. There is a discussion of excess manure at 3:00 which is not an issue in our pasture grazed only system.
  3. We are not “organically certified” but follow organic practices in much of our operation.

Overall, a nice video by the folks at USDA.

We continue to learn and adapt to raising beef in nature’s image.  Our Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grassfed beef are not pampered.  These steers were never separated from the rest of the herd and fed a high energy diet to lay on fat.  The fat that these animals do carry should have an Omega 6 to 3 ratio below 2:1.  We will again test following harvest to verify quality as we have done the past two years (check our “About” page for details).

We have been blessed with another year in this endeavor.  We thank our customers for their continued interest in what we are trying to do.  We thank the Lord (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for the gifts he has entrusted us with.

Unfortunately, our beef is not normal.

Looking at a “normal distribution” of HOW all beef is raised in our country, we are definitely weird!

Normal is for the masses, we like being weird!  No status quo around here.  Actually, if you look at the pattern of nature and IF you consider nature normal, then yes we are normal.  That is why we say, “unfortunately, our beef is not normal”.  We hope in the future that pasture raised beef will be the norm, until then, we choose to be weird.

Fortunately our weird is some folks normal.  We are currently seeing great demand for our beef and are happy to spread the word and connect interested customers with other weird beef producers.

Weird vs Normal beef:

Weird vs Normal Beef

The problem with normal food.

Seth Godin points out that “Normal diets made it easier for mass food manufacturers to generate a profit.”  We have seen the results of the Standard American Diet (standard = normal).  Our society has reached a point where some of the masses are realizing that their diet is directly linked to their overall health and they are seeking out healthy/weird food.

“We are all on a diet, be on a healthy one!” – Dr. Joseph Mercola

Being weird is not easy, as Godin also points out, “Do the hard work – be real.”  For real health, you are going to have to do some work!  Raising REAL BEEF, in natures image requires some hard work and commitment.  Give us a call and come see some Weird Beef.  As Dave always says:

“Be Weird!” – Dave Ramsey

(If you have comments, please leave a message on the DS Family Farm FaceBook Page.)

How is our beef different from 99% of other beef?  We keep the herd in MOTION.  This requires planning, implementing and tracking.  Grazing guru Joel Salatin says it this way, “I’m just the orchestra conductor, making sure everybody’s in the right place at the right time.”  His way of saying we are practicing “precision agriculture” 3 R’s; right place, right time and right amount.

The high-tech “precision ag” tools we use every day:

  1. Braided poly/stainless steel/tinned copper wire
  2. Electric pulse fencer
  3. Grazing Schedule – digital maps

The poly wire (1) and electric fencer (2), keeps the herd IN the right place.  Our grazing schedule is the tool that keeps everything in MOTION (right time).  Folks have developed many different techniques to create and keep up a grazing schedule.  We do it with digital maps, very simply, in what is called a geographic information system (GIS).

DS Family Farm Grazing Schedule in a Geographic Information System (GIS).

DS Family Farm Grazing Schedule in a Geographic Information System (GIS).

The most important part of our Grazing Schedule are the principles behind our moves.  We use the GIS to help us follow these principles:

  • Provide a fresh pasture break nearly every day of the year.
  • Prevent re-bite on any fresh grass regrowth.
  • Graze, followed by plant rest AND recovery.
  • Rotate date of use each year.
  • Current animal needs, including wildlife.

Here is a simple example how our Grazing Schedule works:

Deciding where to move next using digital maps.

Deciding where to move next using digital maps.

  • View on left, today end of March 2017, the herd is near the large solid orange triangle.  The yellow lines outline the paddocks we have grazed this winter (no grass to graze in these small blocks).  The larger open areas with question [?] marks are where we could go next.
  • In the view on the right, I turned on black lines and “dates” that show our grazing during this time period from a year ago.  Last year at the orange triangle (where the herd is now) we grazed in June meeting our principle of not grazing at basically the same time of year.  I have placed a yellow [X] over areas that have a [?] mark in the left photo.  We want to avoid these areas based on the timing we grazed during the previous year and some other factors.
    • So the remaining open areas in the right view are options for where we will graze next.

If you look again at the right view map, note that our “moves” or “paddocks” are rarely the same (yellow lines versus black lines).  Most cattle grazing across the country is on permanent pasture areas getting grazed the same year after year.  At DS Family Farm our cow herd grazes different patterns across the landscape every year, creating chaos and diversity.  We feel this is better for the grass, animals, wildlife and overall ecosystem of our pasture.

We schedule cows to move! This is why we call our beef “Pasture Grazed” and not just “GRASSFED”.

Grazing paddocks 2014 - 2017, chaotic and on the move.

Some grazing paddocks, 2014 – 2017, chaotic and on the move.