Monday, July 22, 2019

Most of the News...

I see it's been a while since I wrote a blog post.....not real sure how/why that happened other than too much happening too fast.  By the time I find time to write a post, it seems irrelevant.  I'm not sure how that happened either....

I do hope all of you are checking out the Instagram or Facebook feed as I have been posting lots of baby pictures there.  You don't need an account, just click on the little Instagram button on the side of the screen and you will get there.  I never understood the appeal of Instagram until I got my "not-phone", it takes seconds to do what takes hours (sometimes days) to do with the blog. 

Anyway....let's see if I can wrap up the past few whirlwind weeks.

First off, there is my baby unicorn/dragon, Qilin, who is growing like a weed. 

He is into everything and I am endlessly fascinated by watching his brain develop.  Babies are always fun and each one is different, but this is my first mule and he is very different.

Qilin has moments of pure donkey, moments of pure horse and others that are uniquely mule.  If you are only used to either horses or donkeys, I can see where people might get in trouble with mules.  If you are going to work with them, I think you might be better off having experience with both species or none with either. 

There is a bit of a special relationship building between these two....

Albert and Ramsey are still unsure whether or not they want a crazy redhead baby joining their cool-kids club and Emma treats Qilin like the baby he is, but the Mighty Benjamin is looking like excellent BFF/uncle/babysitter/playmate material.  I couldn't ask for a better mentor so I am all for it.

Here is a question for all of you....if I post pictures on Instagram, do you want me to post them here too?  There will be a bit of lag time and I may not write much, but do you want baby spam on the blog?

I do have LOTS of baby spam:)

Lots and lots of baby spam:)

Aside from baby news, this happened last weekend, just after I stacked two tons of coal....
I've been meaning to put a real floor in my hay shed for ages now, but the timing has to be right.  I have to feed out the old hay, build the floor and then fill it up with new hay.  I thought a lot about how to do this job and finally decided to make each sheet of plywood a seperate, free-floating "pallet" that I can lift up one at a time and lean against the wall if I ever want to put round bales in here.  I can't drive the tractor on the floor so it has to be movable, but I wanted it solid so I don't keep twisting my ankles in crappy pallets.

I had the lumber scheduled for delivery last saturday (just after the coal) and my hay guy called me about an hour before it got here and said he had hay for me and could he "come right over?".  I begged him to wait a few hours I got just enough of the floor done so we could cover it with hay. You know when you have unexpected company coming and you run around like crazy trying to clean the house before they get there (if you don't know what I mean, you can't be my friend:)?  It was kind of like that only I had to strip the shed down to the ground and then build as fast as i could without dying of heatstroke.  That kind of day.

Super glad to have some hay in the barn though. 

Over on the other side of the hill at Farm Buddy's place, Natural Borders Farm, there are more babies growing like crazy.

Crackhead Jane finally had her calf a couple of weeks ago and promptly disowned it, as she always does.  FB wouldn't put up with such a bad mom if Jane wasn't such a good milk cow.  Albeit a neurotic, oxytocin-addicted nutjob.  I believe those are the politically correct terms for a cow who freaks out at the sight of her own babies and instead fixates on FB as her "calf".

Her calf, June, is doing very well and is happy to slurp down gallons of mom's milk via a proxy.

This year, the farm is covered with purebred Belted Galloway cattle.  From a distance, they look like an explosion of Oreos. 

Between them and the balage, it looks like we are raising Oreos and Marshmallows.  And, we have a few cows who look like they live on Oreos and Marshmallows...

"You're not talking about me are you?"

We have lost a couple of beef customers this year because they have been convinced that buying Bison is healthier. 

Warning: rant ahead!

The only thing that seperates Bison from beef cows is that Bison are generally raised in pastures, on GRASS, while commercial cattle operations finish the cows in feedlots on GRAIN.  Because Bison are raised on GRASS, their meat is healthier and the grassland is better for the environment.  Grasslands sequester as much carbon as trees and grazing animals raised on GRASS produce less methane, which totally negates the whole "beef is bad for the planet" nonsense (beef raised in feedlots is bad for everything.  I'm not letting the vegetarians/vegans off the hook either, because if you think a 10,000 acre field of soybeans, corn, spinach or kale is healthy, better for the environment or more humane, you are misinformed).

Cattle raised on GRASS, using intensive rotational grazing like we do, have the same benefits as Bison raised on open prairie.  Since we have destroyed nearly all of our open prairie in order to grow corn and soy, most Bison are just in big fenced pastures without the benefit of rotational grazing that they would do naturally if they could. Since they can't, these heritage Belted Galloways (or any cow raised this way) are going to be a lot healthier than the Bison some slick salesman has conned you into overpaying for.

If you really want to have healthy beef, that is good for you, good for the land and good for the planet you should buy it from a farm like this one. 

These farms don't get gov't subsidies, don't worry about idiotic tariffs because they only sell locally.  They are what our farm culture is based on and they are barely hanging onto existence because they can't compete with corporate agriculture and they don't get handouts.

We will have beef available this Fall if anyone is interested.  Send an email to Elva at

By the way, there are no purebred Bison left, they all carry cattle genetics now because they have intermingled with beef cows that are overpopulating the last of our country's rangeland.  Yet another reason to stay away from corporate agriculture.  Go for the Oreos instead!

I thought I was done ranting, but not quite....these Three Little Piggies are refugees from a factory farm.

The guy we used to buy piglets from is out of business (not enough people supporting small farms) so we bought these guys from a guy who works for one of the huge pig factories.  If you look close at the photo you will see that their tails were cut off, their teeth were clipped and they were weaned at three weeks old.  Factory farms do that because the pigs are raised in such crowded, stressful conditions that they will mutilate themselves and each other.

These three factory rejects are the lucky ones.  They now have a 50 foot barn to play in plus pasture outside, deep bedding, toys, milk from Crackhead Jane and four meals a day. 

OK, rant over. 

Maybe that is why I am finding it hard to blog lately....I try to keep this a positive place, but I have a number of rants brewing and they are crowding out the rest of the words. 

I think I only got through half of the "news", I will try to write more tomorrow.  Try to be nice to each other, it is all too rare out there in the "real world".


  1. Qilin is even more beautiful now. Do you really feed them on the ground? My animals would pee on it and waste it if I didn't use nets.

    I watched a documentary comparing German factory pig farms and a slightly better farm in Sweden, where they don't have to cut the tails. Both are factories but in Sweden they give the animals about twice the space and this little bit more space seems to make a huge difference. You could see that in Germany, the piglets couldn't even turn around if another one was chewing on its tail, there simply isn't space. Also, in Sweden they gave each pen an armful of straw every day. Just a little bit but it entertained the pigs so much they didn't have to chew on each other.

    This year in Germany the government required all meat labels to display a ranking, a score, of the animals' living conditions before slaughter. Pork is so cheap here, and all that cheap pork has a grade of 1 meaning factory with very little room to move. I appreciate this effort at transparency, putting a little guilt in our cheap meat.

    (Sort of related - all tabacco products must now have labels with images of diseased organs. Even non-smokers are subject to these awful photos in the check-out line. I wonder if it makes any impact on consumption.)

  2. I’m glad for the update and appreciate your behind the scenes perspective into the industry.

  3. Baby spam is okay with me. I love seeing him.

    Poor piggies. And that cow name is crazy.

    All of ya'll's animals are blessed to be owned by you 2.

  4. Yes to Instagram and yes to baby picture in the blog. I cannot see f@acebook per security settings. maybe you can tell us more about Qilin's moments?

    M in NC

  5. Baby pics are great for IG but the relationship between Quilin and Ben is definitely blog fodder. Also, I feel that we can never be informed enough about sustainable farming and the ratio of cattle or veggies to methane production. All good blog fodder and please, rant away with a few happy mule pics.

    Sorry Elva that you lost a few beef customers. Hopefully Kris's 'rant' will clear things up for folks. Did you buy the belted cattle?

    1. I purchased fifteen Belted Galloway steers this spring, but I also have been breeding my cows to a Belted Galloway bull for two years. There is a farm near to me that raises registered Belted Galloway cattle, and they do a very good job and are kind to all their animals.

  6. "YES!" to baby spam and all the rants.

  7. Thanks for the update. I could rant with you. Lately I've just been unplugging because I can't take it anymore.

  8. Delrene from Carlsbad, CaJuly 22, 2019 at 8:29 PM

    I check all the places. And this might get posted twice. First I tried with the google and now I’m doing it with the URL. I don’t really understand all this. But the baby mule is too cute.
    And I wasn’t aWare of how horrific the sweet pigs lives were before you rescued them.
    Horrible factory farms.
    All the animals look so healthy and happy.
    Thank you for your responsible farming. ❤️

    The pictures are wonderful. The more

  9. What Shelley said, in all respects! And, if I lived closer to you, I would definitely be one of Elva's customers. (I don't eat meat unless I know that the animal has had a very good life - and death.)

  10. You can't get a good informative rant on Instagram. Love your posts and you can repeat photos any time.

  11. Mules are definitely their own kind of equine. I love their thought process and how they solve problems. I've had donkeys and horses, but my love is the mule.

  12. O my goodness gimme that beautiful baby <3

  13. Rant is like that some times. Heard that fast food places are making a non meat burger silly is that:(

  14. Hi - I stumbled upon your blog when I was searching for info on the foot problems asssociated with Cushings in donkeys - you post such HELPFUL tidbits throughout your blog! I've been lost for the past three hours in the previous years of your blog, and when I discovered your mule-baby, I was hooked!! I'm actually writing to thank you for your rant about bison, and offer a small rant in return: So many of us city-folk try to make good choices, but it takes time to dig down to the truth. For years, I've spent all my time and money in dog rescue volunteerism of one kind or another, and 15 years ago something occured to me that made my head explode. Being concerned about dogs and how they are treated, while ignoring the treatment of the animals with whom I feed me and my dogs, felt like a double standard that is just plain wrong! After finding out about the long distance transportation, crowded feed lot handling, and massive slaughterhouses that "process" thousands of animals per hour I decided that it was a form of cruelty that our society imposes upon sentient food animals, so I started frequenting local farmers markets. I interviewed everyone who sold meats to see if they knew the actual animals who were the source of the products for sale. Most didn't. When I found someone who did, I'd ask them how the animals were handled for slaughter; I finally found a beef producer who trailered his animals to a neighboring farm's private abattoir for same day slaughter. It's so difficult to ask those questions and talk about handling of food animals when we are trained by our supermarkets to ignore everything that comes before the plastic-wrapped package! When the only decision available to a shopper is between a plastic wrapped package of beef, and a plastic-wrapped package of bison, folks think they are making a good decision by choosing bison. As you so clearly explained, responsible shoppers need to be making the real decision, not the one to which their supermarket restricts them. Finding a local farmer takes too much time for most busy people, so I'm looking forward to the day when someone invents a way to connect local small farmers with individual stores that are simultaneously part of the supermarket chains but still able to source as much as possible from their local small farms. I think that is what is needed so that small farms survive, instead of ending up like the pig farmer you mentioned. It will be more expensive, but I believe enough shoppers will pay more so that they are able to make the decision that really matters. Thank you again for your great blog - I hope you continue to put lots of pictures here. My name is Loretta and I live in Alberta, Canada; sorry I have to comment as Anonymous, but I closed my google and facebook accounts because I'm getting weird in my old age. I'm going to try to figure out how to follow your blog; I hope I'll be able to.