Adventures in Silvopasture

A couple of weeks ago, while bringing in a wagon-load of firewood from the north pasture, I glanced over at the fence and saw this:

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A Bitternut Hickory nut, impaled on a barb. “Huh,” thought I, “that’s wild. I’ve never seen that happen before.” I pointed it out to my dad, who agreed that it was wild, and who also had never seen that happen before. Then we went back to loading firewood.

So a few days later I was in the south pasture, moving the cattle into a new paddock. I glanced over at the fence, and saw this:

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Yeah. I know.

Silvopasture (it’s complicated, but basically, pasturing animals under trees) has many benefits, including shade and diverse fodder for animals, habitat for beneficial insects and other wild critters, and carbon sequestration*. Apparently, it also generates bizarre, tree-related coincidences.**

Happy fall, folks!***

 

*My source for this information is Steve Gabriel’s fabulous book Silvopasture.

**Unless someone’s messing with my data. But Katherine swears she didn’t do it.

***Yes, it’s here. No sense trying to deny it.

Update on the Rolling Chicken Cottage

The running gear is sanded, painted, and ready to go! I’m excited to start building!

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I just keep finding more sources of inspiration for this project. Joel Salatin’s amazing work at Polyface Farms was the main source for the Rolling Chicken Cottage idea, but lots of farmers are making really cool innovations in agriculture right now. For example, dad and I just recently found out about The Main Street Project, which is pioneering a new model of chicken-based regenerative agriculture. Their chicken habitats have really got my brain gears turning.

Now I just have to figure out how to wreak terrible vengeance on coexist with the huge raccoon who’s been hanging around the coop. Hmm.

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Our current chicken coop. Hopefully we’ll have the Rolling Cottage finished in time for next year’s chickens, and this coop can begin its exciting new career as a tool shed.

‘Tis the Season to Order Your Beef

That’s right, folks! Want to escape the heat, humidity and blood-sucking insects? Why not grab an iced beverage, settle down with your favorite communication device, and order some lovely, delicious beef? Four of our eight beasts are already sold, so don’t dilly-dally! A scrumptious year of juicy steaks, tender roasts, and savory hamburgers awaits you!

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Our favorite beef roast recipe. Why? Because we get to set it on fire!

2018 Price List

Beef by Hanging Weight* (Combined orders are priced as the total order.  Find a friend. Browbeat a family member. Save $$)

By the ¼ steer        $4.25/lb.

By the side (1/2 steer)    $4.00/lb

Whole steer and above    $3.75/lb.

* New to this way of buying beef?  OK, “hanging weight” is how much a beef carcass weighs at the time it is halved and hung in the cooler to age and dry.  It is usually about 60% of the live weight. What you end up with in your freezer has a lot to do with how you want the beef processed once aged and ready for final cutting or processing as dried beef, summer sausage, hot dogs or whatever you choose.

For questions, to request more information, or to reserve your beef, email Peter or Marie Kilde at kildegaardbeef@gmail.com or call (715) 441-0191.

A Little Farm History

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Dad was rooting through some old papers the other day, and one of the things he unearthed was a Kildegaard Farm brochure that mom designed in the early 90’s. Here’s a quote from  the brochure:

“Kildegaard’s mission is to farm in a way that demonstrates the best of these interwoven social and environmental values:

  • Care and appreciation for the earth and all its wonders
  • Environmentally and economically sustainable family scale agriculture
  • Humane treatment of livestock
  • The preservation of agricultural biodiversity
  • Education of the eating public and dialogue with fellow farmers
  • The production of safe, healthy, wholesome food for people”

A few things have changed since dad wrote that mission statement in ’91. Fence lines and forest edges have shifted. We built a house. My sister and I, still unborn when those words were first printed, are now stepping up to the wheel. Still, after decades of change, our mission is still the same: agriculture that’s good for people, animals, and the environment.

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The illustrations for the brochure were done by Evy Abrahamson.

Wow, the nostalgia is getting a little thick in here. Maybe I should open a window.

Seriously, though, I was thrilled to discover this thing. Getting the farm enterprise restarted has been a pretty daunting project, with the usual number of misadventures and sticky problems. This brochure makes me feel less like I’m trying to start a stubborn fire, and more like I’m picking up a torch.

Also, I’ve been inspired to make a brochure for the 2018 season. I haven’t got mom’s professional expertise, but I’ll do my best. If I survive the attempt, I’ll post the finished product here on this blog.

I Love ROPS and Roll

I will not apologize for that title.

In the ten years I’ve been living at Kildegaard, I have never once actually operated the tractor. I do recognize the absurdity of this. I may be at risk of losing my farm girl license. It’s terrible.

Here’s the thing, though. Our old Yanmar has a pretty narrow wheelbase, and between the steep hills, old furrows, sinkholes, gigantic anthills, hidden logs, and other interesting topographical features that add so much to Kildegaard’s particular charm, there was a real risk that the tractor would roll over and squish somebody. So dad never let us kids ride on the thing.

That was then.

This is now.

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We won this Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) in a drawing at the GrassWorks Grazing Conference last January, and now it’s all installed and ready to go. This is thanks to The National Farm Medicine Center’s ROPS Rebate Program. The ROPS program reimburses farmers for up to 70% of the cost of setting up rollover protection. It’s a really excellent program, and you can learn more about it at www.ropsr4u.com. The Dunn County News interviewed Dad for a story about the program, which you can find here.

Anyway, we think it’s pretty cool.

Now I just have to learn how to drive the thing…

Stay safe out there, friends!

Rolling Coop Part 1

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Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “When did Marie become a cyberpunk?”

Okay, so maybe I don’t know what you’re thinking.

Anyway, while I do appreciate a little cyberpunk from time to time, in this case the mask isn’t just a fashion accessory. I picked up this only-slightly-rusty running gear over at Smith Auction, and cleaning it up is the first step in the construction of a ROLLING CHICKEN COOP OF AWESOME! (Other possible names include “The Chick Wagon” and “The Heart of Gold.” I make no excuses.)

We’re hoping to have the coop finished in time for next season’s chickens, so that we can run them through the pasture after the cattle as natural de-thatchers, manure spreaders, fly control, and fertilizer. The system is modeled after Joel Salatin’s incredible work at Polyface Farms, and we’re excited to see how it works out at Kildegaard!

I’ll post updates here as the project unfolds, so stay tuned for drama and adventure!

2018!

Hello, farm friends!

It’s been a busy spring, but now that the the seeds are scattered, the cattle are ensconced in the pasture and the chicks are camped out in the coop, I thought I’d sit down and give you guys an update on some of the things we’ve been up to in lieu of updating our website…

We decided to try frost seeding the pasture this year. We had a weekend set aside for the project, but when the scheduled time rolled around, thee snow on the ground could still be measured in feet. We decided to put it off another week.

Spring may have been late, but boy did it ever make up for lost time. The morning we started seeding, the pasture was still covered in over a foot of snow. By evening, most of it had melted. Here’s a hot tip learned from experience: if you’re planning to spend the day tromping through the snow in short sleeves, wear sunscreen. A hat will not cut it. That radiation is coming at you from every direction.

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We did get the whole pasture seeded, though, and we fixed the fence and the water, and generally set up a warm welcome for this year’s steers. After several weather-related setbacks, we finally got the last of our steers delivered at the end of may.

We wrangled the cattle into the pasture with a minimum of adventure, and they made themselves right at home. The ground was still pretty soft from the rain, though, and the trucker got stuck on the way out. We hooked up the little tractor, and scattered gravel for traction, but all in vain. Fortunately, our neighbor has a big tractor, and he was kind enough to bring it over and rescue us.

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We’d hoped to get the rolling coop finished in time for this year’s chicks, but now we laugh bitterly at our naive former selves. Ha. Ha. We did find a nice piece of running gear to build the thing on, though. In the meantime, we have a few chicks set up in the old coop, which we had repurposed as a tool shed, then re-repurposed as a chicken coop, then re-re-repurposed as a tool shed. Now it’s a chicken coop again. What can I say? Nature is cyclical.

Well, that’s the big news, anyway. We’re still here, in this place where we are blessed to be. I plan to start updating this blog more regularly, so do tune in from time to time!

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Marie Kilde

Kildegaard Farm

 

Welcome To Kildegaard!

Our site is still under construction, but feel free to click around. Check out our “About Kildegaard” page to learn a little more about our farm, or navigate over to our beef page to learn more about how you can buy grass-fed beef from us. Check back soon for farm updates, blog posts, and information about our collaborative partnership for carbon sequestration and development of ‘locally and/or regionally invested carbon offsets’ with LICO2e™. Do contact us if you have any questions!20170528_194627