This is our "rose garden".
These wild hibiscus are nestled throughout the wetlands, accented by button bush and an unending bed of rice cut-grass. Their brilliant pink bloom is transporting to behold. This flower has come to symbolize for us the ethereal nature of these wetlands and of the journey we find ourselves on. It also blooms faithfully on Susan's birthday, at the end of July, giving it a special place in our regard.
Responses from our last newsletter about "Letting Go" were humbling, inspiring, emotional, and rich with beautiful statements. We are still digesting the wealth of supportive words and concepts offered to us over the past two weeks. We are deeply moved by them and thank each of you for your eloquent thoughts. It was heartening to receive word from close friends and familiar customers but also from those whom we don't know well, but who follow from afar. One was a vegetarian from Northern Kentucky who is a writer. Another a landowner, who doesn't buy our food, but buys our ideas. Also classmates from years past. And then there was a post on Next Door from one of our oldest customers that a sent a wave of new ones to us...
As you know, our tagline is Health, Taste, Connection, and we have never felt more connected with our customers than over the past two weeks. That is a hard-earned privilege, flowing in two directions, which we don't take for granted and realize evermore how precious it is. And so, the question about whether a journey like the one on our farm with all of you is a business or form of art was fully answered and quickly revealed by your responses. It is indeed a form of art, and thus its beauty can take on unpredictable hues and shapes not confined by parameters of profit and loss. Profit is essential to long-term viability, but, I now concede, it was never the force behind our work. The force behind our work has always been a passion for land, animals, good food, and good people! What a privilege to manifest that passion as fully as we have over the past thirteen years.
We enjoyed a wonderful farm tour two Saturdays ago. Here, Scott is explaining how our woodlot hogs are managed. We also visited wetlands, cows, turkeys, and sheep. Beautiful day and great conversation, making for more rich connection.
Last week we weaned the calves from the cows. We sorted the cows into a lot with hay and moved the calves to the other side of a woven-wire fence that separated the two groups. The calves are ten months old by now, so are fully ready and thus not terribly resistant to this separation. The calves can go out to pasture to graze and then come back to the woven-wire fence to smell and talk with their mamas. But no nursing! They adapt quickly and within three days are more interested in grass than the udder. Hay for the cows helps reduce their production of milk, allowing them to dry-up more quickly than if still on pasture. Within four days, we moved cows to the other side of the farm, where they are very content to receive relief from maternal duty. They will begin calving in mid-September. Their calves are now mixed in with a herd of siblings one and two years older, making for a separate herd of nearly 100 beeves.
Given constraints on labor and management through this fall and winter, we are considering selling the cow herd and keeping most of the offspring. This is a most difficult decision, given how much time and energy we have invested in that herd. It accordingly deserves the best, and I am concerned I will not be able to provide it working solo. This is like sending children off to college; you know it is the right thing, but don't want to do it. We will have several years of beef inventory remaining, and then can decide how to proceed. We have posted this sale on social media and have received considerable interest. This mournful step is part of the pain in letting go, which we honor.
We moved a select group of our finishers in with the sheep flock, so they'd be more accessible for harvesting. We haven't run beeves with sheep in ten years. Will see how it goes. So far, they tend to separate themselves from the other.
Bob will be at Montgomery on Saturday, from 9:30 to 12:30. I will be at Madtree on Sunday from 10 - 12.
In the spirit of the ethereal hibiscus, we embrace you,
Drausin & Susan