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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

in “Farm to Fork” food programs

by Ray Stacey and Sue Camron of Ione, CA

“Farm to Fork” food programs are a revival of the past. Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company is now involved in developing “Old School” free raised Irish Dexter rose veal. We are trying to replicate ranching as it was 100 years ago. This is not a fast paced business venture; it does allow us to best use our ranch to provide old style food for those who are seeking food that has a history of quality.

Veal has had a bad name for many years, ever since the inhumane practices used in raising calves for veal became a national and international issue. As the owner of the Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company I am working to change the public’s perception of veal and promote pasture-based farming.

My calves stay with the cow after birth and self wean, are raised on a 40 acre ranch with lots of grass and sunshine and never injected with hormones, antibiotics or given any formulated supplements. We quarter fence our pastures so we can easily rotate our cattle.

I became interested in Dexters after reading an article about them in the Small Farmer’s Journal a few years ago. Irish Dexters originated in the British Isles. They are one of the smallest breed of cattle in America and they are a dual-purpose animal producing both delicious meat and quality milk.

The Dexters have proven to be a good breed for use on a small farm operation. I harvest my calves at about 11 months old and they produce a high quality rose veal. Grass fed veal is one of the healthiest meat sources. In addition to the health benefits of producing rose veal there are also cost benefits. Your animals do not need to be castrated, dehorned or branded and your veterinary bills are reduced.

Dexters can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed, the daily yield averages 1 to 3 gallons per day with butterfat content of 4 to 5 percent. It has been my experience that Dexters are not easy hand milkers. The results might be better if the animal was started very early with a lot of handling.

Dexters come as either horned or polled. They are a hardy breed and Dexters require less feed than other breeds because of their ability to utilize more nutrients from the feed they consume.

Irish Dexters are known for their ease of calving and are very good mothers. Breeding longevity is good with many cows calving as late as age 14 to 16.

A Dexter cow may be bred to another breed producing a quality cross and a good choice would be the Highlanders which share the same ancestry.

The Dexters are also resourceful, it was kind of amusing when I saw a cow that was able to lift up a barbwire fence to let her calf into the next field. Then there was the time one of the bulls decided my ATV needed a good ramming. I still have one puncture spot in the front of my ATV. There are lots of experiences to enjoy on the ranch and one of the sounds I enjoy most is hearing the cows call their calves.

When we market our rose veal it is sometimes an educational process when talking to our customers. We make sure our customers know that our rose veal is ethically produced and we have an open door policy on the ranch. Anyone can visit and see exactly how our Dexters are raised.

We sell our rose veal commercially to restaurants in Sacramento and the surrounding areas that are at the center of the Farm-to-Fork movement. There is a great interest in farm-fresh superiority and the rose veal from The Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Co. has been very well received.

There are other ways to sell veal such as to individuals, buyers clubs and farmers markets. Which ever way the veal is sold there are County, State and Federal regulations that must be met. You may also wish to apply for a U.S.D.A. registration number. If a rancher wants to harvest an animal for their own use these regulations do not apply.

In the future it is my goal to unite many small farmers in a Co-op that shares my interest in pastured-based farms and the humane treatment of animals. As a Co-op we would be able to supply yearly shipments of products, thus sharing some of the costs. In my area the local County Fairground is available with holding pens for animals that are being shipped.

With a Co-op it would be possible for ranchers to create a breeding program for their brood herd and share the bulls.

A Co-op would increase the number of people involved in the educational process, teaching people the health benefits of animals raised their entire life in a pasture.

“Research shows that meat from animals raised on pasture have more desirable proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), another fatty acid that has shown great promise in fighting tumors and breast cancer in laboratory test. Grass-fed meats contain higher levels of nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are critical to good health. With grass fed veal there is no marbleized fat.”

“There are good reasons why those who care about the environment support pasture-based farming: it eliminates the waste-management problems associated with confinement-feeding, reduces greenhouse gases in the air due to carbon sequestration, the grasses and legumes found in well-managed pastures are able to draw excess carbon dioxide from the air and return it to the soil as carbon.”

“Buying pasture-raised products from a farmer in your area helps keep an environmentally conscious farm in business, it creates a suitable environment for wildlife, which, in turn, provides the farmer with pollination and pest control.”

“Not only are pasture-raised meats better for your health, better for the animals, better for the environment they are also better tasting.The grass gives meats their unique flavor and texture.”

Resource: The Great News about Grass, www.eatingfresh.com, 2007 Eating Fresh Publications

I think people are starting to pay attention to where their food comes from and are learning the benefits of healthy food. As this interest grows small farmers will no longer be just a niche market.

Spotlight On: Crops & Soil

What We've Learned From Compost

What We’ve Learned From Compost

by:
from issue:

Our compost piles will age for at least a year before being added to the garden. We have learned that the slow aging is more beneficial to the decomposition process as well as not losing nearly as much nitrogen to off-gassing as happens with the hot and fast methods. Another benefit is the decomposition is much more thorough, destroying weed seeds, pathogens and any unwanted chemicals much better in a slower composting setup.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate Part 2

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 2

Finding just the right cover crop-tillage combination for crops planted the last half of June has always been a real challenge in our location. While surface-tilling mature rye and vetch in May works well for fall crops established in July and August, this cover crop-tillage combo does not allow enough time for decomposition and moisture accumulation for end-of-June plantings.

Purslane, Portahoopies and Plow Planted Peas

Purslane, Portahoopies and Plow Planted Peas

For those not familiar with this tasty, nutritious weed, purslane can be a real challenge to manage in vegetable crops for a number of reasons. The seeds of this weed remain viable for many years in the garden, and generally do not germinate until hot weather — that is, after many of the market garden crops have already been planted. To make matters worse, this succulent plant often reroots after cultivation. Purslane also grows so close to the ground that it is impossible to control by mowing.

Of Peace and Quiet

LittleField Notes: Of Peace and Quiet

by:
from issue:

Walk with me for a moment to the edge of the Waterfall Field. We can lean on the gate and let our gaze soak up the mid-summer scene: a perfect blue sky and not a breath of wind. Movement catches your eye, and in the distance you see a threesome hard at work in the hayfield. Two Suffolk horses, heads bobbing, making good time followed by a man comfortably seated on a mowing machine. The waist high grass and clover falls steadily in neat swaths behind the mower. What you can’t help but notice is the quiet.

An Introduction Into Plant Polyculture

An excerpt from What’s Wrong With My Fruit Garden
Companion Planting for Beginners

On-Farm Meat Processing

The demand for fresh, local meat products – with no taint of industrial process – is absolutely staggering.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Mullein Indigenous Friend to All

Mullein: Indigenous Friend to All

by:
from issue:

Mullein is a hardy native, soft and sturdy requiring no extra effort to thrive on your part. Whether you care to make your own medicines or not, consider mullein’s value to bees, bumblebees, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, who are needing nectar and nourishment that is toxin free and safe to consume. In this case, all you have to do is… nothing. What could be simpler?

Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Soil, Vegetation, and Acidity

From Dusty Shelves: Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide teaches us about soil acidity.

Prairie Grass A Jewel Among Kernels

Prairie Grass: A Jewel Among Kernels

by:
from issue:

Years ago, my brother advised against plowing the patch of prairie on the back forty of our Hubbard, Iowa farm. “Some day,” he predicted, “that prairie will be as valuable as the rest of the 40 acres. We know how to grow corn; but that prairie was seeded by the last glacier.” Left untilled by generations of my family, the troublesome treasure has now become a jewel among a cluster of conventional crops on the farm.

Carrots and Beets The Roots of Our Garden

Carrots & Beets – The Roots of Our Garden

by:
from issue:

Carrots and beets are some of the vegetables that are easy to kill with kindness. They’re little gluttons for space and nutrients, and must be handled with an iron fist to make them grow straight and strong. Give the buggers no slack at all! Your motto should be – “If in doubt, yank it out!” I pinch out a finger full (maybe 3/4” wide) and skip a finger width. Pinch and skip, pinch and skip, working with existing gaps and rooting out particularly thick clumps.

Cabbage

Cabbage

by:
from issue:

Cabbage is the most important vegetable commercially of the cole crops, which include cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, collard, broccoli, and many others. It also ranks as one of the most important of all vegetable crops and is universally cultivated as a garden, truck and general farm crop. The market for cabbage, like that for potatoes, is continuous throughout the year, and this tends to make it one of the staple vegetables.

Syrup From Oregons Big-Leaf Maple

Syrup From Oregon’s Big Leaf Maple

by:
from issue:

There is a great potential in establishment of a seasonal “sugarbush” industry for small farmers of the northwestern states, particularly western Oregon and Washington. Five syrup producing species of maples are found mainly east of the Rocky Mountains. The Box Elder and the Big-leaf Maple are the only syrup producing maples of the Pacific Northwest. Properly made syrup from these two western maples is indistinguishable from the syrup of maples of the midwestern and northeastern states.

Marketable Cover Crops

Marketable Cover Crops

by:
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Our cover crops have to provide the benefits of smothering weeds, improving soil structure, and replenishing organic matter. They also have to produce some income. For these purposes, we use turnips, mustard and lettuce within our plant successions. I broadcast these seeds thickly on areas where cover crops are necessary and let them do their work.

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

by:
from issue:

Most sugar cane is processed in refineries to give us molasses, brown sugar, and various kinds of white sugar. However, some South Georgia farms that raise sugar cane still process it the old way to produce the special tasting sweetener for their own food. One such farm is the Rocking R Ranch in Kibbee, Georgia. It is owned by Charles and Patricia Roberts and their sons. The process they use has not changed in the past 100 years. This is how it is done.

Making Sorghum Molasses

Making Sorghum Molasses

by:
from issue:

Growing sorghum doesn’t take much work, according to Buhrman. You plant it in the spring, work it a couple of times and that’s about all that’s required until late in the growing season. That is when the work begins. Before it is cut, all the stalks have to be “bladed” – the leaves removed from the stalks. It’s then cut, then the tassles are cut off, and the stalks are fed through a crusher. The crusher forces the juices out of the plant. The sorghum juice is then boiled in a vat for four to five hours until nothing is left but the syrup.

Low Tillage Radish Onions

Low Tillage Radish Onions

by:
from issue:

The radishes came up quick, filling the garden canopy completely that fall, and the following spring we found the plot was clean of weeds and rows of open holes were left where the radish roots had been growing. Well, we had a few extra onion plants that spring and decided to plant them in these holes, since we already had very clear lines laid out for us and a clean seedbed. What we got were the best looking onions that have ever come out of our gardens.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT