Whitney Farmstead Newsletter August 2019

This summer has been full of plentiful rain, and our pastures and hay fields are taking in every drop. They are lush and continue to regrow again and again after each grazing with awe-some vigor. We added more grazing ground this year, which is helping us reserve the richest (alfalfa-clover-chicory-ryegrass) and closest to the farmyard pastures for our small dairy herd. 

Each year, as we hone in our systems, our everyday chores of pasture moves, water, feed and mineral systems, are carried out with more ease. Tweaks to our system are less reactive (A leak in the water line! Cows broke the hose, again!) and more thoughtful and lasting (at least I'd like think so, we'll see how these tweaks endure the coming seasons and years).

We took two much needed weekends off from the Ann Arbor farmers market. We will be back at markets regularly now through the holiday season. You can find us at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on Saturdays 7am-3pm and the Webster Farmers Market the 2nd and 4th Sundays from 12-3pm. Our Maple Syrup supply is still going strong this year, thanks to a record season! 

Besides the farmers markets, our Maple Syrup can be found at the Liberty Argus Farm Stop, and will be making its way soon to the Packard Argus Farm Stop as well. 

Meat CSA, January-June 2020 

We are proud to offer a nearly year round (10 months out of the year) diversified meat CSA, and now is the time to start thinking about signing up! January through June 2020 is our next share. This CSA will offer pastured-woodland Red Wattle PORK, 100% grassfed BEEF and LAMB, and a limited amount of pastured chicken. We are committed to feeding our pastured pigs (and chickens) organic grains, our own hay, pasture, and milk, and nuts in the fall. Our heritage breed beef and lamb is 100% grassfed. Pickups for the CSA are at the farm once a month OR from the farmers market (Ann Arbor or Webster in April-May-June). We are excited to offer this option -A Farmers Market Pickup- because we LOVE our farmer market regulars and if you already come to market, it makes sense to get all you need there. With this option you get the perks of the CSA (deals, potlucks, farmwalks), while still attending the farmers markets as usual. You can also do a bit of both, a farm pickup one month and a farmers market pickup the next. The CSA helps us have upfront funds and commitment from members when we are raising the animals and paying for feed and processing. All the share size and signup info can be found here:

General Farm Going-ons: Americam Milking Devon Cattle

A few years ago a farmer in Northern Indiana came across my watercolor painting of an American Milking Devon cow, which had been printed in a wonderful publication called the Small Farmers Journal. She reached out wondering if we wanted to purchase a young American Milking Devon bull that she had reared, specifically mentioning his docile temperament, hardiness, and ability to thrive on grass. Before long this young bull was integrated into our herd, and we have gotten some beautiful offspring from him.

However none of these offspring were pure Milking Devons, as we didn’t have any females. We hoped the right opportunity would come along, as we wanted to be part of the breeding effort to preserve and maintain this beautiful hardy breed. The Livestock Conservancy has a great description of the breed, which you can read here:

The right opportunity came sooner than expected, when the same farmer from northern Indiana reached out this spring, needing to rehome her cattle and sheep. Thus in early June, 10 registered Milking Devon females came to join our herd. 
Along with the cattle came a flock of Katahdin Hair Sheep. After our experience with our wild Icelandic sheep flock, who thought electric fences were a tease and whose thick beautiful wool insulated them perfectly from any shock, we were a bit nervous (we never ever again wanted to hear the words: the sheep are out!). 

When we decided to take a break from sheep a couple years ago, we made a promise to each other that we would NOT get sheep again until we had proper fence built.  We did not keep this promise! But thankfully thus far the Katahdin Sheep have been immensely well behaved and mild mannered. And we built them a good sturdy fence in record time.  

With the addition of these livestock, our breeding flock and herd is just where we want it to be. Our beginning years of searching for the right livestock for our farm is over. 5 years into farming, maybe this is a sign that the beginning phase of our farming journey is coming to a close. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has carried us through these first 5 years, and are excited to begin the next phase!

All the best, 
Malaika, Matthew, and Able 

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