As most people sit in front of the fires in the winter staying warm livestock are foraging and battling the cold winds and tucking in barns out of the wind. As you well know grass doesn't grow in the winter but animals still have to eat! Farmers spend most of the summer preparing for the winter months. We are putting up hay, preparing feeding areas, and all around prepping for the colder winter months. Below is some of what happens when we start prepping for the winter. Enjoy!
This blog was actually ready in December but I never got around to posting. Therefore, better late than never.
It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything to our blog. I seem to be able to post a quick note to Facebook easier than sitting down to actually write something that makes sense. Winter is fast approaching and we’re getting ready to welcome new lambs and kids sometime around Christmas. Calves will be arriving a little after that. Before the lambs and kids start arriving I plan to get a few things done in preparation.
Quite often kidding and lambing is done in the middle of winter. In the past, here in Kentucky, lambing was scheduled to happen after all the tobacco was stripped. There was more time on the farm to devote to the lambs but the main reason was that the tobacco barns were used to house the new mommas and their babies. Though we no longer raise tobacco, we still use the tobacco barns for the sheep and goats. When new lambs or kids are born, we like to pen them in a small pen, usually a four foot by four foot area, so that the lambs or kids are close to Mom. It gives mom and babies a chance to bond and get a good imprint of each other pending being let out with the rest of the herd. It lets the yearling ewes and does that have never had babies before get a chance to figure out what they need to be doing to be good mommas and keeps the babies close by so they don’t wander off.
We’ve fresh wood chips in the lambing pens, or jugs. Not sure why they call them jugs but they do. I’ve still got to get the feed pans attached to the walls of the pens. Heat lamps need to be inspected and repaired. Cords need to be inspected and places where goats and sheep chewed repaired. Light bulbs may need replacing and it’s just better to do all this up front instead of at one o’clock in the morning when we may need a heat lamp. We use them for newborns on really cold nights. Last year during the subzero weather I made the mistake of putting two lamps side by side for the kids. Then next morning I got to the barn and the kids were all in a pile under the lamps but unfortunately the one on the bottom was dead. Smothered by the rest jockeying to get the warmth. I hate it when my learning experience brought on by something dying. I know better this year.
The ewes and does are starting to bag up. That’s a farmers term for the udder starting to fill with milk. We’re starting to watch the field during the day and check the barn before we go to bed to make sure everyone’s ok. Their job is to have babies. Our job is to help them keep those babies alive. And we take that job very seriously.
Fall brings on great autumn colors, group gatherings and fall festivals! Quarles Farm has bundles of our locally grown beef packages, which is USDA certified, for Churches, Youth Groups and larger families for all types of fall gatherings. With the weather getting cooler what better way to celebrate any event with Quarles Beef as the safe and local meat of choice.
We offer the perfect solution to your chili or spaghetti supper where you are feeding a large number of people with our 20 pound ground beef package for 80 dollars. You can choose if you would like the packages in 2 pound packages or 1 pound packages or a combination of both. Orders should be place with Quarles Farm by September 25 for this special pricing.
Looking for something a little more home style to grace your table? No fear, we have our stew meat that we can supply for your functions at the low price of $5.50 per pound. You can’t go wrong with our stew meat if you are making BBQ for a different twist on the pot luck or making Veggie Soup or surprising everyone at the table with a great tasting homemade stew! Quarles Farm can package the stew meat in 1 or 3 pound packages depending on how many you are planning on feeding. Orders should be placed to take advantage of this pricing by September 25.
For more formal settings try our chuck roasts cut to Crockpot size in order for your congregation to split up the cooking chores and have a uniform presentation of one meat all ready at once. You can’t beat coming together for fellowship with great people and great food. Roast will be cut in to two pound packages and run $6.50 per pound. Orders should be place by September 25 to receive this special pricing.
You can place orders with Quarles farm at anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org we will confirm your order and set up a delivery date at this time. Depending on the quantity order we might ask for a small deposit on the order. We will also take orders by phone until 9pm every night at 1-502-803-7292 if no answer please leave a message and we will get back with you as soon as possible.
We were sitting down the other night after the rain ran us out of the hay field when one of our family friends called us to tell us that we had made it off the cutting room floor and were on the Secrets of the Bluegrass Chefs. They had come to the Douglass Loop Farmers Market back earlier in the summer to tape a show based on products purchased from the market. Quarles Farm was proud to supply the beef that was used as well as June apples and Candy Onions. Both Chefs came to our booth and bought product and we can tell Kate was so excited to be on T.V.
If you are looking for great steak cuts or even ground beef or chuck, swing in and visit us at the Beargrass Farmers Market and the Douglas Loop Famers Market in Louisville. If you are in Lexington, never fear, we are at Cheapside Market every Saturday morning with your coffee and breakfast ready to roll and we can help you fill your bags for lunch and supper. We have great selections of your beef, produce and can always finish off the meal with a great bread from the table for desert!
I was wandering around on the net the other day and came across a great post
from a friend on how her family processes a beef carcass on their family
farm. This got me thinking about how our animals are processed from live
animals to the final product that you see coming across our table to your
freezer and into you skillet. I do have some pictures that were taken down
at Boones Butch Shop in Bardstown Kentucky of our carcasses after they have been
harvested and hanging for two weeks before they are processed into steaks and
We schedule harvest dates with Boones Butcher shop
several times a month so we can keep our beef freezer in good supplies.
This requires me to have calves ready to go at anytime depending on the amount
of beef in the freezer. Since the farm is about an hour away from
Bardstown we get up to get the calves on the trailer early in the morning
around 6am. We do this so the steers arrive at Boones by 7am and are ready
to process before it gets too hot or a back up is created at Boones. We do
not like to stress our calves in any way they are led into the trailer with
their morning feed and are led off the trailer the same way. From the time
they get off the trailer at Boones they are in his hands for the next
phase. The cattle are slaughter in accordance to the USDA in the presence
of an inspector. Once on the rail Quarles Farm likes our claves to hang
for 14 days at the least.
I like to go down and look at every
animal that we slaughter to see what kind of meat the animal is going to turn
out like. This helps with decisions that we make when breeding our cattle
for the next generation. Our main goal in addition to providing your
family with great tasting beef is a better cow and calf. I am able to keep
the records on each animal that goes from the pasture to the program in regards
of behavior, feed performance and quality of product. The
Quality of product is looked at when I have Boones Split the Carcass for me to
get a look at the ribeye. We look for marbling though the steak, we like
more marbling for the least amount of feed. This saves us the producer
money and you the consumer with a cheaper better tasting steak.
the point that I look at the carcass the animal has been hanging for two weeks,
after I look at the animal it is then cut and packaged and back in our freezer
by the end of the week. You are looking at a product that travels about an
hour from the farm and is back at the farm within three weeks. You are
always looking at fresh local product when dealing with Quarles Farm
We have made the jump to the sheep business today! Quarles farm made the purchase of four Katahdin ewe lambs this morning and have brought them home to the farm. We also purchased four ram lambs that we will be selling for meat later this fall. We chose Katahdin sheep for our herd because they are a meat based breed with great mothering ability and best of all they have hair instead of wool. So we don’t have to worry about shearing sheep. Katahdin sheep are also very tolerant of heat and humidity which as we all know is a summer time staple here in the Bluegrass state. All our future ewes are twins so we are looking forward to having four sets of twins next year since twining is a very heritable trait with sheep and something that we desire.
We have two red, one white and one black and white ewe, the ram lambs are all white with the exception of one which is black. The ram lambs are going to be offered for sale at a later date at our farmer markets outlets or by special order. In the area of pasture management cattle and sheep compliment each other in that cattle eat mostly grass and sheep enjoy mostly weeds in addition of some grass. Having raised Lankins the lamb earlier this year we are looking forward to have little lambs next spring in addition to our spring calving run.
Come out to a Market-
So we’ve been selling at the Farmers
Market for several months now, but we still have customers who walk up and say,
“We had no idea you set up here”. On that note, we thought we would let you know
at what markets we participate. In addition to the Markets, we also take
internet orders and orders by phone both for limited delivery to Frankfort or
pick up on the farm. Just drop us an email or phone call we can help you
out. In addition, we can also have larger orders ready and totaled for
pick up at any of the markets in case you are in a hurry. Advanced
orders also help us out by allowing us to make sure we have your order in
stock. Since we have so many markets on Saturday mornings, it is
sometimes difficult to make sure each market is fully stocked, especially if you
need ten pounds of hamburger for the family cook out the coming
week. That being said, we do strive to make sure each market has a
full stock of all our products. If you are looking for a particular
product, just ask. A helpful family member or farm employee will be
happy to assist you.
We now take Credit cards at most markets, the Daylily Garden and off the farm
sales. However, please note that in order to keep our costs down for you the
customer, we do charge a convenience fee for credit card
Downtown Lexington at
Cheapside Park in the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion
7:00 am until 3:00 pm or sell
There is free parking in the parking garage
Can use EBT and Credit
cards at our booth
Douglass Loup Farmers Market
2005 Douglass Boulevard,
10:00 am until 2:00 pm or sell out
EBT and Credit Cards at our booth
St. Matthews Farmers
4100 Shelbyville Road- Beargrass Christian Church
8:00 am until
12:00 or sell out
Credit Card use is available at our
Frankfort Farmers Market
Wilkinson Blvd, Frankfort KY 40601
7:00 am until 12:00 pm or sell out
EBT and Credit Cards available with the
Southland Drive Lexington Farmers
Southland Drive near Sav-A-Lot
10:00 am until 2:00 pm
EBT and Credit Card use available at our
Lexington Farmers Market at University of
Near the intersection of Alumni and University Drive
until 6:00 pm
Credit Card use available at our booth
Apologies we have been super busy at the farm with the lack of rain, amount of hay needing to be cut all adding up. This all comes with the veggie garden and the opening of the dayliliy garden during the weekend. We have worked hard to get more of the hay in and are down to around 100 acres left to cut bale and move to the hay sheds. We will then start hoping for the second cutting but at this point we are not holding our breath.
We preg checked the fall herd cows the other morning before it got too hot and are pleased to announce that we will be having all 40 cows return to the calving schedule around the 1st week of October with new babies. Our 10 heifers will be gracing the fields with new babies the second week of September. Now the only thing that we are waiting on now is weaning last year’s crop off mom to give them a rest. Saying this most of the cows are weaning their claves off and are always laying under the shade without a care in the world. We will take the 2011 fall born calves and start feeding the heifers for replacements and the steers for the Quarles Quality Beef feeding program. You will start seeing these steers in the freezer early next spring!
We are also working toward getting our spring cows sent out to our summer grazing farm for a month or two so they can harvest the grass and come home before the cold winter winds start blowing though the hills of Franklin County. We will look at weaning the spring in late October to help ease the cows into the winter depending on the rain. In the mean time we are hauling water so cattle do not have walk as far and we are able to utilize each part of the pasture by forcing cattle to graze next to the water. We are rotational in our grazing and are not wasting any bit of grass or weight gain which is better for everyone involved. Plus I am keeping my cows fat and happy, and fat happy cows don’t wonder far from home.
I know its short and to the point but if I get a chance I will work on a longer post…
Here at Quarles Farm we run dual calving herds, one group in the spring and one group in the fall. In the past our spring herd is generally the larger group of cattle calving since green grass is starting to grow in abundance. We calved this way in the past to provide the farm with two different times in the year that we would receive a pay check from the sale barns. We are changing with the markets, increasing our fall herd to capitalized on the market demand while keeping our spring herd at a stable number around 85-90 head. This year we are looking to increase our fall herd from around 35 head to around 50 head if all our brood cattle are bred. The reason behind calving all the cattle out in a short amount of time is many all rolled into one. When calves are all born at the same time you are looking at a more uniform calf crop in both size and weight gain when everything is bred to the same sire. It is easier to calve a large number of cattle in a short amount of time on the labor end; we would all rather lose a week’s worth of sleep verses three months. When your cattle are more uniform in size, age, and weight you are always looking at better prices at market because you have better bargaining power in sheer numbers.
Planning for a calving season for a group of heifers really starts a birth on our farm. We watch for calves that are up and moving within an hour of birth and easy handling when we go to tag the calf, if she is crazy acting when we try to tag her, she goes on a list of heifers to watch for brains and attitude for later in life. (We do not like crazy, head throwing cattle) We watch entire calf crop for animals that are not performing or gaining weight and mark those cattle in another list for potential culling later both on the cow and calf’s part. The next true test for our young heifers comes at weaning time, we start watching closely at this time for mental and attitude problems while we are developing heifers. Since we hand feed our heifers twice a day at this point problem children are quick to stand out and be eliminated from the herd. It takes one bad apple to sour the entire group of heifers.
When heifers turn a year old we go though the herd and pelvic check the group and cull select animals that do not meet the standards that we have set for the herd. Late born heifers are generally never kept because of age and growth. We like to have heifers that are at least measuring 165 cm meaning that they should be able to have a calf weighing 75 pound unassisted. This is the low end, we would like to see heifers anywhere between 180 and 225, and this comes in handy later on in life when we breed them back to Simmental bulls. So starting from a group around 40 head or so in the spring herd we generally try and breed around 30 heifers each year to serve as replacement s in the herd. We then sync the heifers to all come in heat on a certain day and breed though Artificial Insemination. With heifers I generally try and calve around two weeks before the cows so I have plenty of time to devote to them if needed. By the time all is said and done we generally have around 25 heifers calving in each spring the same with the fall herd. Any heifer that does not breed during this time frame is eliminated from the herd.
I will be honest and admit I tend to baby my heifers when it comes time to calves to be hitting the ground. Being that it is the second week of February I have a barn bedded down with a hay ring and water. Anything that looks like she might have a baby in the night is locked up in the barn so the calf would be protected from the elements. I check our heifers every three hours when they are close so if anyone needs assistance it can be given, heifers tend to give up easier and sooner than older cows. When a heifer calves, then next test so to speak is given, how they act when I go to tag the calf, some aggression is allowable since it is her job to protect her calf but she must allow for the calf to be inspected, vaccinated for ecoli, and tagged if she expects to make in long in the herd. We do not employ man eating cows. From there the heifer is monitored on her performance of raising the calf to weaning and breeding back.
These are all factors that I look over when choosing when cows are bred back into the herd for the next year. One heifer that would be raising a nonperformer calf and breed back with the second calf may not stay on the farm to deliver another poor performing calf; While the heifer that raised a tremendous calf and didn’t breed back might be rolled into the next herd depending on her genetics and body condition. Cows that have been established in the herd might be eliminated on the sole cause of her offspring throwing problem children or lack of performance once off the cow. Now that we have been selling beef by the cut I have taken the knowledge that I have gained by looking at the finished product and doing more with the bloodlines that produce that better steak and have stronger marbling for that great tasting steak you have come to know, expect and select. Next time I will go in to how I select sires for our herd based on the information that I have on hand and where I look for the direction of Quarles Beef to take.
Things have been a little busy around the barnyard the last couple of days. We have new babies hitting the ground every day and are working hard to get fences fixed and cattle moved out to spring grazing. Grazing spring re-growth can be gratifying and very dangerous all at the same time. Generally farmers do not have problems when turning cattle out to pasture in the spring. We just open the gate and watch cows and calves buck, kick and jump before settling in and getting down to business of harvesting the grass. Spring 2012 is proving to be a different kind of year where all farmers are very careful about when cattle are turned out on pasture.
The mild winter has led to an explosion of white clover which is covering the pastures with lush rapid growth. While this is good for nutritional value this can also be very deadly for all age groups and types of cattle across the board. Generally the white clover is slower coming on due to soil temperatures allowing the other cool season forage to get ahead and balance out the pasture as a whole. Right now in several fields the white clover has overshadowed and taken over for the time being; this is making it the only forage that the cattle are consuming in large quantities. White clover is known to cause what is called Frothy Bloat. To make a long story short it creates suds in the rumen, largest part of the stomach. This does not allow the gas (methane) to be released. This builds up, putting pressure on the lungs and essentially suffocating the animals. This type of bloat is really quick and has been known to kill animals within an hour of being turned out on predominately clover pastures.
Farmers can take several different measures to keeping this problem from occurring in their herds. Methods from using bloat blocks, keeping cattle on dry lots, or ,clipping pastures can be applied. If the right management tools are in place, farmers can reap the benefits of the clover and still have a complete herd at the end of the day. We use a combination of dry lots and timed grazing to feed our cattle when it comes to lush green white clover.
This year only two of our fields have been overrun with white clover, so I went out the other day and established a fence across 1/3 of the field. I called our fall heifers and calves from their field where they had been camped out around the hay feeder all day. I waited till the late afternoon when I had gotten home from the mill so I would be there when they were grazing and also so all the dew/ moisture had lifted from the clover. Wet clover causes bloat much easier than clover that has had the dew dry off for the day. Having the heifers around the hay ring all day assured me that they were pretty much full of ha,y which helps keep the chances of bloat at a minimum. We always try to keep hay in front of cattle in the spring to help with digestion. I let the heifers have the field for an hour before I pulled them off and gave them their nightly grain. This type of management assures that our cows stay healthy and happ
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