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.  Her company is responding to these Mothers, change is happening!

  • The number one priority of her company, removal of artificial food colors and dies.
    • Often times dies are hormone-disruptors implicated in many health issues such as ADHD.

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!

Raising Pasture Grazed grassfed beef from conception to table is not an easy task.  We may have four different animal classes in our herd at any one time.  But it all starts with the COW, the factory on our farm!

Cow Factory

THE COW FACTORY – here she is milking this year’s calf (far left) while grooming her calf from two years ago. Her two-year old calf on the right will be harvested this fall.

We make our cows work, they must:

  1. Conceive and raise a calf each year
  2. Raise that calf providing milk for 8+ months
    1. Refer to Weaning Weight Post 2015
    2. Weaning at an older age fully develops the calf’s rumen for grass based production.
  3. While milking a calf for 8+ months, she is developing her next calf inside her.
  4. While milking this years calf, she will watch over her previous two calves in a low stress herd environment.
  5. Graze our pastures in nature’s pattern to improve our pastures soil and grasses!

WOW!

We ask a lot from our cows, but they love their job from what we can tell.  They are definitely a factory when you look at all they crank out.  The cows do all the above listed items and all we give them are:

If a cow cannot do all five functions listed above (calf every year while grazing every day) she is removed from the herd.  No slackers allowed.  There are very few cows that can do what we ask of our girls.  We are just trying to mimic how nature works here in our small pastures.  There is a movement underway across this country with more folks farming in natures image.  This movement is called Regenerative Agriculture.  We are not just “sustaining” our natural resources but IMPROVING our soils and grass while creating product!  If you would like to support the Regenerative Agriculture movement,  seek out products from these growers.  Will these products be higher priced?  Most likely yes.  For the higher price you will get a better quality product and your health will thank you for it.

Let’s just say it takes an amazing Factory to deliver a product while at the same time improving its environment to repeat the cycle in the future.  Take another look at what is happening in the photo.  This photo is a great way to display why we are “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Grassfed Certified”.  Farming in nature’s image, trying to work within God’s design (without messing it up too much).

Cow Factory

DS Family Farm – raising beef using God’s design.  Letting Cows be Cows!  The steer on the right will be harvested this fall after living two plus years in the same herd with its mother.  Always on pasture, never confined to a lot, never fed corn or other grains.  Come see and taste the difference.

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.)

Our son Jacob graduated from High School this past weekend.  Congratulations Jacob!

Chickens started our “pasture grazed meat” business and Jacob has been the “pasture poultry” guy.  Raising chickens on grass requires a shelter.  Shelters provide protection from weather and predators.  We call the shelters “chicken tractors”.  There are many kinds of chicken tractors.  All chicken tractors have one thing in common, they must move to fresh grass daily.  Jacob has been our main chicken tractor puller!

Jacob our Chicken Tractor Puller, then and now and soon to be on to other things.

Jacob our Chicken Tractor Puller, then, now and soon to be on to other things.

Soon Jacob will be on to College but the tractor pulling will continue.  The old saying is that many things taste like chicken, but you haven’t tasted REAL chicken until you have tried a pastured chicken.  The ONLY way to get a chicken that has had the opportunity to graze is from a local farmer.  Taste the pasture poultry difference:

  • GRASS!
  • SUNSHINE!
  • Non-GMO grains.
  • No antibiotics.

All possible due to the power of the chicken tractor puller!

Never saw a chicken eat grass?  Check out the video at the end of the linked post below.

Ever see a chicken eat grass?

 

We advertise our beef herd as “Animal Welfare Approved” and “Certified Grassfed by AWG“, but what do these labels mean?  I don’t know about you, but when it comes to checking out claims, I turn to Consumer Reports.  In August 2015, Consumer Reports published a “Beef Report“:

Cover of August 2015 Beef Report. Current Consumer Report information is available at: http://greenerchoices.org/

Cover of August 2015 Beef Report. Updates available at: http://greenerchoices.org/

Let’s take a look at some of the report findings:

Consumer Reports – Sustainable Beef-Production Practices:

  • Cows are ruminants—their natural behavior consists of grazing. Allowing beef cattle to graze on well-managed pastures from birth to slaughter (often referred to as 100 percent grass-fed) is at the core of sustainable beef production. What’s good for animal welfare is also good for the environment and for consumers.
  • … pastures can only feed herds of a certain size, and in a properly managed pasture, the stressful and crowded disease-promoting conditions of the feedlot are eliminated. Healthier, less stressed animals need fewer antibiotics and other drugs to stay healthy.
  • Soils of grazing land can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Managing cattle carefully to ensure that pastures are grazed moderately means restoring soil quality and cutting greenhouse gases by keeping carbon in the soil as organic matter rather than releasing it into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
  • More water is conserved in grass-based systems compared with conventional ones.
  • Grass-fed beef isn’t just better for animals, public health, and the planet; it may be healthier for individual consumers as well.

If you have followed our past blog posts, the above findings are familiar information.  It is nice to have the credibility of Consumer Reports back up what we know as common sense observations in the natural world.

OK, but what about labels?

The 2015 Beef Report had plenty to say about labels.  From “Highly Meaningful” labels to labels that have no meaning at all.  Please refer to the full report for all the label categories.  A quick look at the first two labels under the “Highly Meaningful Labels” as “Verified” we find:

  1. Animal Welfare Approved
  2. Certified Grassfed by AWG

In a January 26, 2017 update at http://greenerchoices.org/, Certified Grassfed by AWG, is one of the four “labels to look for” when “choosing grass fed”.

Curious to read more?

Our farm is third party reviewed for Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grassfed by AWG.  For more information on these specific labels we direct you to these resources:

  • A Greener World (AWG) — “North America’s most trusted and transparent farm certifier.”
  • Animal Welfare Approved (Program of AWG), remains the only label in the marketplace to ensure the following:
    • Meaningful, verified, outdoor pasture and range based systems–not just a door at the end of a building or an outdoor concrete run
      • No cages, crates or feedlots–ever
      • Verified environmentally sustainable farming and ranching
      • Responsible stewardship of public resources like air, water, soil and antibiotics
      • Independent farms/farmers meeting the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada
      • Prohibit the use of hormones (like rBST), animal byproducts or routine antibiotics
      • Industry-leading high welfare handling and management from birth through slaughter
      • Independent standards for the inspection of slaughter plants
        • (January 2017 AWA Press Release)
  • Certified Grassfed by AWG
    • Guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.

This is all good and well, but remember:

We invite you to come see the farm and our animals for yourself.  Join other past visitors of our farm.  We urge you to know your farmer and your food.  We prefer to be certified by YOU, our customer.