May 20th marks the first day of grazing; a good few weeks later than previous years but we will take what we get. The cows are happy to be eating the lush spring grass. Our farm is divided up into many different mini-pastures and the herd is moved daily to ensure they eat the highest quality of grass each day. Ideally, we try to move the cattle between 2-5pm when the sun is at it’s peak and the BRIX measurement is at it’s highest.. The sun builds up the nutrient density in the grasses so the cattle can absorb them more efficiently. When the cattle move to a new pasture, they feast ; and this is how we can “finish” on grass.
In October, 2012 I was privileged to be able to purchase the entire herd of 10 Registered Angus cows from Rostock Farm in Harriston, Ontario. These were some of the best cattle I have ever seen and the owner of the farm was Warren and Janice Ross. I knew Warren from childhood as my dad and I visited his pristine pastures one time and talked with him at various cattle meetings. Warren milked cows in earlier days and then switched to the Angus breed later on in life. He contributed much to the Ontario Angus Association with well selected genetics; he exampled himself as a respectable Angus breeder, excellent farmer, and a first class meticulous role model.
When he offered his cattle for sale, I jumped at the chance and he was gracious enough to not only sell them to me, but also calve them out for me as well. Those same calves are giving birth to their own calves this summer.
On Monday, May 19th, 2014, Warren passed away in Palmerston. I will take to heart all that he has taught me. I am proud to own part of his life’s work, that being his cattle that graze in my fields.
Two new events happened this year.
April 15, 2014 marks the date when Blackview calved out their first Wagyu/Angus Calf.
We purchased the cow from Grazing Meadows Wagyu last fall and we are happy with what we bought.
Tim Prior is the owner of Grazing Meadows. Wagyu cattle and grazing are his passions and he has been gracious enough to spend time educating me with what he knows. Young Farmers need more guys like Tim.
Wagyu calves are born real quick and they get up onto their feet within a half an hour. On a beef farm, it is important to be able to calve without pregnancy troubles and without assisting the calf with basic actions like nursing. As in nature, the mom and calf should be self-sufficient and able to do perfectly well on their own. The farmer just needs to provide the basic needs; such as food, water and an appropriate time to calve (no winter calving here, we calf when the wildlife have their young).
The second new event this year happened as a result of purchasing an egg incubator from Donnyweir Farm near Caledon. Gerald is the owner of Donnyweir and is an amazingly pleasant man to be around. He has a long history of Poultry Stardom – meaning that he owns a lot of trophies and awards. Naturally, I purchase my poultry from him. He is a wealth of information and wisdom and has become a good friend. Once our ducks and geese began hatching, we put the egg incubator to work. So far, we have a nice roster of ducklings and goslings -much to the delight of our young neighbour kids. Lately the ducks seem broody, so we’ll let them hatch out the remainder of the eggs. But what fun it has been!
Ducks and geese are very pleasant and amusing animals to have on a farm. They are rather quiet and easy to gather up into their pens after a day’s grazing, unlike chickens – herding chickens is like herding cats! You can actually watch muscovy’s bite into the air grabbing bugs and flies. They love to bathe in puddles and they wonder around the yard protecting their young. Come out and see them sometime!
Until next time,
Bill & Michelle Parke
New Year – What have we been up to?
Winter has come and gone, much to everyone’s hope. Our soils received a good dousing of snow and with that came a good cleansing that only a long frost can bring. We, as a family, escaped some of that winter havoc. We had planned a sort of hiatus, a getaway, perhaps even a life experience. The goal: to create margin, to learn, to take some time for our family. What did we do? We went away.
As a farm owner, I wanted to visit other farms, meet other people in agriculture to see how they view farming. It was time to finish some reading and do some planning – things that I am unable to find time for while here in Canada. As a Dad I was able to spend everyday with my kids- learning more about them, playing more with them, and giving them more attention and time. And as a person I enjoyed taking a break from life for a moment to meet a variety of different people – all of whom I hope to spend time with again.
But now we are back, hitting spring head on with big dreams and ambition.
New Direction – Where are we Headed?
Beef Cattle. Grass fed Beef has been our “bread and butter”. I have been around cattle longer than I can remember. I will work with cows as often as I can. As a kid, I collected farm magazines and cut out the images of cows and would tape them to my wall (that memory was just recalled, I might be embarrassed later). My Grandpa had blonde and white cows. My Dad had black and brown cows. I loved Horned Hereford’s when I was young, but then changed my preference to Aberdeen Angus. If a local auction barn sold cattle I would attend if I could. That would be “fun” for me. Get the picture? I am a cattleman.
It wasn’t until I heard Mark Schatzker speak at a beef conference, that I sincerely was “set on fire” about raising and selling the best beef I could possibly grow. His book, “Steak” is a superb read. It makes you hungry for meat that is rarely sold anymore – good and flavorful steak. The good news is, good steak can still be raised and you can enjoy it as well.
That’s where we come in. Our goal is to produce the most naturally delicious beef. It just so happens that delicious and nutritious can be had in the same beef. Might I invite you this year to take part in trying some beef cuts that we will have on offer starting in July. We begin with Purebred Aberdeen Angus steers, fed and fattened on grass. Near the end of the summer, we will have some Wagyu cross Angus beef available. Wagyu is a highly marbled, black, Japanese beef breed (http://www.firstlightfoods.co.nz/grass-fed-wagyu for more information).
We are really excited to offer you both Wagyu And Angus beef cuts for your family’s table.
Up and Coming newsletters will go into more detail of what we all are trying to accomplish, but here is a snippet:
Pasture raised Pork, Free Range Eggs, Pastured Poultry (including turkeys, Ducks and Geese), Pasture Raised Veal, Tomatoes & Strawberries.
New Website – What will it do for you?
Friends are great. One of my wife’s friends pulled me aside and said, “My husband could build you a website, just ask him”. So I did. And Voila! I love the site.
My goals for the website derived from these observations: If a farm advertisement didn’t have an email or website, I didn’t contact them. If they didn’t have updated information on their site, I didn’t know if they were still active farming. If purchasing from them was tough, I gave up.
My hope is that this Blackview Site addresses everyone’s needs with uptodate online information, easy shopping and quick mobile access.
So, in this new year, stay with us. We’re excited to have you on board!
Bill & Michelle Parke