Blue Hopi Heirloom Corn
‘Blue Jade’ blue corn (Photo credit: tacobel_canon)
We have not only elected to raise heritage breed of animals, but heirloom crops and vegetables as well. Our most successful and probably our current favorite is Blue Hopi heirloom corn. There are many advantages to growing heirloom corn and other heirloom crops. These include the ability to collect the seed to use as seed stock for the following year. We also know that several crops will adapt to their soil and conditions. The particular heirloom corn seeds that we saved from last year grew really well in the near drought-like conditions. We also happened to grow the corn in poor soil. As a result, the seed that we saved may be better suited for low rainfall years and for soils that are not amended often. The ears that grew on our Blue Hopi heirloom corn, were all about 18 inches long and full of kernels.
So why grow the corn, especially when we are raising mainly grass fed beef and free range chicken eggs? The main answer is to feed the chickens during the winter months when there is very little for them to forage on. This winter we found ourselves either without farm fresh eggs (we did an intentional forced molt) or buying organic, non-GMO corn at a really high price.
English: Dried blue corn kernals for sale in Amecameca, Mexico State (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sol del guacamole (Photo credit: hale_popoki)
We would also like to try out growing this heirloom corn on a larger scale than in the past. We have only grown a few small rows, but look to expand that to the medium-sized patch. We can also utilize the corn to make our own corn chips or tortilla shells. This Blue Hopi corn is noted for being one of the better producers of corn meal, as far as corn goes. The main problem with the corn is the color, as many people are used to the traditional yellow or white corn varieties. There has been an increase in the past few years of organically grown, blue corn chips. Another issue that is presented by the heirloom corn is that the stalks are a little weaker than many F-1 hybrid varieties, which means that it is likely to blow over in a wind storm. For us, this is not much of a problem because the corn will be harvested by hand. It does present a problem for large scale production of the heirloom corn (or open pollinated corn), since many large, monoculture farms use so much equipment to plant and then harvest their crops.
Grass Fed Beef Hamburgers
Our recipe for grass fed beef hamburgers:
We start with the fundamental basics of well raised grass fed beef.
We then form the patties and add the following ingredients: powdered onion, black pepper, a touch of salt and some worcestershire sauce.
The meat needs to be seared briefly on both sides at first. This helps to seal in the juices. This is one of the differences with grass fed beef versus traditional beef. We then turn the heat down to low in order to slowly finish the process.
Notice how the meat is not dripping with greasy fat and that the fire underneath does not kick up. This is due to the lower fat content.
A closer look at the picture above does demonstrate that there is some fat and flavor in there. Look at how the meat is shining on the top and appears to be “wet.”
Above is the finished product, well almost……
Sorry for the blurry picture, but here is the finished product on our plate. Coupling the Burger with a nice side of fries and green beans, which are naturally grown.
GRASS FED BEEF BASICS
So what does it mean to say Grass Fed Beef? Grass fed beef animals tend to be animals that are not fed grain. The staple food that is fed to these animals lies in the form of pasture or forage. The remainder of the feed intake is through hay, which can include legumes such as alfalfa. Pastures that are utilized for forages should include several types of grass, such as timothy and endophyte-free fescue. These foraging pastures also tend to contain one or two types of clover. Some producers also choose to mix in alfalfa to their fields.
Marbled beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A lot of traditional farming techniques use grain as the basis for production. These larger farms and feedlots push grain in order to maximize the rate of gain. They also feel that they are increasing the quality of the product in some instances. An example would be the premium that is set up due to marbling of steaks. “Marbling” essentially refers to the small streak of fat that can be notes running in between the muscle fibers (also known as intramuscular fat). Our understanding at this time is that the intramuscular fat is laid down mainly due to the rate of gain, or average daily gain. So the question becomes, can a grass fed animal produce at the level of a grain fed animal to produce the intramuscular fat that gives a “great” steak its flavor?
It appears that the answer to that question is yes. By combining intensive grazing with a quality of pasture and forage, a grass fed animal can gain adequately to produce marbling. This is one of the things that we are currently focusing on here at Heritage Breed Farms. We are researching how to better our fields and forages to produce an optimum rate of gain. As an update, our spring bull calves are growing at a rate of about 2.75 pounds per day on just pasture and their mother’s milk. This is a great rate of gain for grass fed beef.
Thankfully, we have a large field that is dedicated to alfalfa, which is high in calcium and protein. This will allow us to add some extra growth in as we raise and finish our calves. Our small barn allows us to separate our herd into as many as four pens. This will potentially allow us to push some alfalfa to the calves that we are finishing. If the calves continue to grow at their current rate of gain, we can expect to finish them in under two years. In fact, they should be ready at about the 18 month point, which would be just as the weather begins to turn and the grass becomes limited.
Eye fillet of grass-fed beef. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hopefully, that sheds some light on the basics of grass fed beef. Once again, there are some related articles that we have included below. You can also find more by searching grass fed beef on our site or by clicking on the grass fed beef tag in the tags section.
Sample AD for Grass Fed Beef.
English: Diagram of cuts of beef, highlighting the sirloin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All Natural Grass Fed Black Angus Beef for sale. All animals on this farm are fed with hay only. No Corn, no feed, no antibiotics, no hormones, no pink slime.
It’s your body, eat healthy!
This package includes 2 T-Bone steaks, 2 Sirloin steaks, 4 cubed steaks, 1 roast, 18 hamburger patties, and 3 – 1 lb 10 oz packages of hamburger for $100. (18-20 lbs total)
These are the common British cuts of beef. Based on Image:Beef cuts.svg (american cuts of beef); See also Image:Beef parts HE.svg (Hebrew version) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I saw this ad today on our local Craigslist site. I was wondering how that compares to a “traditional” cow in terms of pricing. That is $5.00 per pound for 20 pounds of beef. This does include processing.
The hay wagon was all loaded up and placed into the barn. The only thing remaining is to unload and stack the hay.
This wagon is what is used behind a kicker baler. I am not certain why anybody would make small square bales without a kicker baler. Removing bales from the baler and stacking them on a flat bed wagon is an extra step in my humble opinion. The only reason I can think of is that this type of wagon costs more than a flat hay wagon due to the metal sides.
Massey Ferguson tractor with a square baler and a hay wagon, making rectangular hay bales somewhere in Sweden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Some would argue that small square bales are behind the time, as round bales and large square bales tend to rule the day. Many farmers put up haylage (I think the spelling is correct). A large round baler looks similar to the one in the link below.
Round baler (Welger RP 220 Profi) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One strategy that we may use is to monitor the amount of hay that we have as the calendar turns to 2013. If we have an abundance, we may consider selling some of the hay in February. Having watched the hay cycle this past winter, the hay prices seem to go up as people begin to run low. We faced this situation last year and ended up buying some inferior hay at $2 per bale. This hay is a nice alfalfa hay mix, so it is rich and good for dairy cattle. If we don’t sell it, we will likely use it to finish our Red Poll steers next year.
I am excited to see the newest Red Poll journal included in mu post vacation stack of mail! Good times ahead reading all of the articles. I will try to pass on tidbits as I learn them.
We are still researching and building our foundation herd, so gathering as much information as we can is vital. The National Red Poll meeting appears to be slated for Louisville, Kentucky this year. I think the date is set for sometime in November.
Until next time!
First off, let me appologize for the cheesy title, but I had to do it…
For those of you that have been following our blog for the past few weeks, we have been looking into buying hay. We purchased approximately 75 bales in the fall. These bales were all purchased via Craiglist and chosen based upon a low price. I paid $2 per bale.
So about two weeks ago, we noted that we were going to run out of hay. We began the search for more hay. We took inventory and noted that we were feeding between 1/2 bale to 2/3 of a bale per cow per day. With the 3 heifers, that means basically 2 bales per day.
In our previous post entitled “Success,” (http://heritagebreedfarms.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/success/) we proclaimed that we found more hay. The seller had 1000 bales for sale at $2 per bale. I called and found out that the seller was actually a client and an acquantance. I arranged the purchase of 100 blaes, which should be enough to get us through until the grass is growing well enough to at least compensate the cows and supplement their feeding. I left my phone number with the seller and then awaiting the timing for the pickup. After waiting several days, I attempted to call the seller multiple times, but was unable to get ahold of him. I was losing hope at that point.
We began to look around for more hay, with the one remaining bales rationed for the next day. Off went some emails and texts to various people that we know so that we could buy more bales. Thankfully in the middle of that, the seller called back and we were on our way. We picked up the bales around 7:00 P.M.
Upon picking up the bales and then returning home, we tried to get the hay wagon into the barn. At that point, a lesson was learned—-the wagon that we borrowed was a wagon to catch bales of hay from a kicker wagon. The importance is that the front axle is reticulating (not fixed like a normal trailer). My weak attempts at backing the trailer were near comical. As soon as the wheels to the wagon began to turn, the wagon would basically jack-knife.
This began the unloading of 100 bales after the kids were in bed. O-yeah and in a light rain, which actually let up during the unloading. Finally at 12:30 A.M., we unloaded the last bale and headed inside. one project done and two tired workers. But thankfully we got “Baled Out” in the nick of time.
Lush Green Pastures will be here soon
Since this is the first year that we have been feeding cattle, we had to make a guess at planning enough hay to feed through the winter. Thankfully this has been a very mild winter, which allowed our cattle to graze more than they normally would be able. As we get to mid-February, we are anxiously counting the remaining bales and longing for the lush green pastures as pictured above. I counted this evening and the remaining 16 bales are not going to be enough to last, especially with another cold spell predicted.
We have to begin the adventure of locating extra bales to purchase. A quick check of Craigslist revealed several possibilities for hay in the surrounding area. Hay prices are near their seasonal high this time of year due in part to shorter supply. Once first cutting hay is done in the area, the prices should begin to settle back into a lower price range. This fluctuation in hay prices, may be beneficial to us later on in our production. We may be able to sell some bales at various times of the year depending on our supply.
We are hoping that our small hay field will produce enough hay to tide us over through next winter (with maybe a few bales to sell at a later date). The fields at our farm have been certified organic for the past four growing seasons. We are not going to certify them again this year, as we are not going the certified organic route. The next question to answer is going to be how to get the hay put up. We are starting with no equipment, but are able to rely on the good graces of our neighbors. We will probably have them baled in the small square bales once again, but we could handle round bales if we can single-stack them and roll them around the storage area into a place to drop the daily ration down to the cattle below.
The sunny day today, makes us long once again for the time to plant and watch things grow.
As previously stated, we feed our cattle mainly forages. These come in the form of grasses, clovers and legumes. Our cows enjoy year-round access to pasture. We also supplement with hay, especially during the dull autumn days and into winter. This will last up until the spring, when the pastures once again begin to flourish.
During the shorter, finally colder days of February; we have been studying and planning how to bolster the nutritional content of our pasture. This pasture will serve as the main source of food from April though September and on into October. We are researching which plants (white clover, alfalfa, and various grasses) to add into the pasture. We also believe (see postings about you are what you eat) that the key to the whole process is the soil. We will begin soil testing in the early spring and then will begin the process of building the soil through natural methods. This will likely include organic/ all natural fertilizers, increasing organic matter, and lime. We may add manure or possibly turn the soil over and replant.
We have to recognize the Hartzler family for their help and advice as we go forward headlong. We have learned a lot just through simple discussions with them. The Hartzler family runs a dairy operation in Wooster, Ohio. They supply organic, all natural, hormone free milk in traditional glass bottles. We highly suggest stopping in to enjoy some of their famous chocolate milk and some heifer trails ice cream. The Hartzler’s provide us with soil testing and some of the amendments, such as organic pelleted fertilizer.
We have found through this winter that our two year old bred heifers consume roughly 1/2 bale of hay per head per day. This varies based upon the quality of the hay that we provide them. It also fluctuated based upon the amount of grass that they eat in a given day. We provide constant access to a mineral block. This compensates for some of the things that our soil lacks. Two of the main soil deficiencies are vitamin E and Selenuim. Many farmers in the area administer vitamin E and Selenium injections within 24 hours of birth to prevent the White Muscle disease.
Prior to purchasing our cows, we read and researched information about how much hay a cow would eat in a given day. Various places put that amount to somewhere between 1/3 of a bale to one entire bale per head per day. This varies dependent upon the total density of the bale and the quality of the hay that is contained within that particular bale. We plan to go on the 1/2 of a bale per head per day model from here on out. These are of course the traditional small square bales, not the big round (like the ones in the top image) nor large square bales. We have also discovered that we need to add straw bedding in smaller amounts as the cows seem to find the straw a delicacy for one reason or another.