Hello from Alden Hills, I hope you are having a good start to 2017! Usually the month of January at Alden Hills is spent reading books on anything farm/business related and just maintaining the daily chores that need to be done. This January, however, has remained busy for us as we have had a few “unexpected” surprises. Namely, that we had a new calf born last week (which, if you’re thinking that doesn’t seem like a good time of year for a calf to be born you would be correct). The new calf is a spunky little female calf that was up and going immediately after being born. Thankfully, despite the frigid weather she’s been a trooper and is doing great.
Because we feed only grass (or hay in winter) at Alden Hills, we are very dependent on weather and need to work with the different seasons as much as possible. This means that we try to calve in early June instead of earlier in the spring like a lot of farms. Calving in June guarantees that the weather will be warm, the ground will be dry, and the grass will be green so the mother will have plenty of forage available to meet her nutritional requirements. June is a little later than the traditional “spring calves” but mud can be the largest detriment to a newborn calf on pasture so we play it safe with an early summer time frame.
Calving in June means that we need to breed in August. An important tenet of caring for our herd is ensuring that the cows have time to revitalize and be ready to breed again. Two months is a good time period as it allows each cow the reward of non-stressful weather conditions and peak pastures.
Grass-fed farming can be a lot more work; tweaking our farm schedules to align with nature is very unpredictable and can be frustrating, but we think the reward is worth it. Healthy pastures supporting healthy cows with healthy calves is our goal!