The sun is shining and with that, the start of the 2022 grazing season! On May 1, our feeders, bulls and the cow herd headed out to their new pastures. Each group has reign over a different pasture for a variety of reasons. The bulls and feeders are on neighboring pastures near their winter barn and the cow herd is high on the hill overlooking what we consider to be the location with the most beautiful view of the farm (lucky mamas!). Half of the cow herd has calved already and we’re awaiting the final group of calves within the next few weeks.
(Cow herd on the left. Feeders on the right.)
In celebration of Earth Day this spring, we planted 40 trees on the farm. Our county conservation district sells tree seedlings each spring and we purchased 20 White Oak and 20 White Pine trees. The majority of the seedlings were planted in the sheep pastures to (eventually) offer shade to our flock. The rest were planted near the pond where our shiitake logs are spending the year.
The boys are enjoying the smaller (easier to handle) animals on the farm. We’re starting a new group of 9 layer hens to become eventual replacement hens for our small layer flock.
Pip, our 3-month-old Border Collie, is joining Dustin and Owen in ‘puppy preschool’ most evenings as she learns basic commands such as stand (stay), sit, and here (come).
As we emerge from wintertime, we are eagerly welcoming the arrival of new life on the farm!!
Our first lamb of the season was born on March 19th! This lamb marks the start of a whole new era for the Tis Well sheep flock because it is 100% dorper! Over the past 7 years, we have experimented with a variety of sheep breeds also including Border Cheviot and Border Leicester. As we hone in on our ‘end goals’ for the flock, we are confident that the dorper is the breed for us!
On April 6, our sweet Border Collie puppy came home to us! Her name is Pip and the journey it took her to come to the farm was quiet lengthy (but that’s a story for another day!) In the short-term, Pip will be loved and doted on by our sons and when she is 8-10 months of age, she’ll begin her homeschooling lessons to become a working sheepdog!
At some point in the near future, we would like to diversify our farm products and expand beyond beef. Dustin has been researching mushroom production for a while now and this winter, we took the plunge! In early February, he cut down a sweet gum tree and on March 26, we inoculated our logs with shiitake spawn! We’re using shiitake sawdust spawn from Field and Forest Products. After the tree was cut, the limbs were cut down to about 3’ sections. Next came drilling 1” holes (about 50 per log) The shiitake sawdust spawn was tapped into each hole and then sealed with wax. (A great toddler project, by the way!) We stacked the logs near the pond in the shade and if all goes well, they’ll begin fruiting this fall!
These logs would have otherwise been firewood, but if we can turn them into food-producing logs (that will last for years!) Why not try!? Beef & mushrooms this fall!
On May 1, we opened the barn gate to the feeders and are slowly strip-grazing them through an 18-acre pasture. I wish we would have taken a video of them at the time of their initial introduction to the spring pasture. They looked like a several ton load of kids in a candy store.
Without these feeders grazing this particular paddock of pasture, it would end up being brush-hogged once or twice throughout the course of the growing season. The cost: man-power, wear & tear on machinery and the usage of precious fuel. Their ability to graze it comes with nothing but benefits!
Conversion of free sunlight into lush, green grass for ruminants to break-down and metabolize into high-quality, nutrient-dense protein. They’re upcycling otherwise unusable nutrients for human consumption and converting it into a VERY nutritious food source for many families here in our immediate area. WIN!
Natural deposition of manure all over the land thereby recycling nutrients. The alternative would be time-consuming mucking out of the barn to then mechanically spread the manure on our crop land or on other pastures.
No doubt, for the feeders, a way more interesting way to spend the day than the alternative which would be in the barn 24-7. They did that all winter and I’m certain they felt well cared for simply being in a dry place to shelter that was out of the wind/snow but now that the weather is irresistibly beautiful, a change of scenery is probably something they’re also drawn to!
Last but not least, something that we, as farmers and business owners care about in order to be profitable and sustainable, cost savings!! Hay (to buy or make on the farm) comes with costs! The rent on this particular pasture is so affordable it would be foolish not to use it!
A new project we’re really excited to launch for the upcoming holiday season are our 2021 Holiday Beef Bundles! This has been a particularly interesting labor of love just to develop and we hope our future customers will be as excited about it as we are!
We know not everyone has access to a deep freezer! We know not everyone can financially commit to the purchase of a quarter or a half of a steer. We wanted to find a middle-of-the-road solution for smaller families with small freezers! Each holiday beef bundle option has been carefully crafted to include specific cuts of beef at a weight range and value suitable for a variety of potential customers. Take a look!!
Cozy Beef Classic- Includes beef short ribs, half of a brisket, chuck roasts and 10 pounds of ground beef. Expect approximately 20 pounds of beef. Valued at $150.00
Ground Beef Bundle- Includes 10 pounds of ground beef packaged in 1 pound packs. Valued at $55.00
Simple Steak Sampler- Includes Flank steaks, Delmonico steaks and Filet Mignon. Expect approximately 7 pounds of beef valued at $100.00 —SOLD OUT!!
Holiday Beef Bundle- Includes Delmonico, Filet Mignon, New York Strip and Sirloin steaks, Chuck, Arm and Rump roasts and 20 pounds of ground beef. Expect 35-40 pounds of beef valued at $300.00
If one of these bundles interests you and you would like to snag one (or several as gifts) then please reserve your holiday beef bundle today!
Once we receive your order, we will contact you to confirm your request. A 20% non-refundable deposit will be required 30 days prior to the beef pick-up date (early November, 2021). This deposit will be deducted from your final balance.
Thank you so much for considering the purchase of our beef!
A few weeks ago, we wrestled our little boys up to the pond to snap a few family photos…with the hopes of capturing their sweet personalities in a beautiful family photo! Here we go.
Seriously though, think ahead to the fall of 2021. Do you think you’ll have freezer space for some beef? Maybe you would even want to invest in a small deep freezer before hand? Would you consider letting these four faces spend a year and a half raising your beef? Learn more!
Pretty excited about this folks!! For YEARS now, we’ve wanted to raise and direct-market our own beef. We started learning the direct marketing ropes through our freezer lamb program the past 5 years and are so grateful to everyone who supported us through the purchase of lamb to fill their freezer!
With the purchase of our own cow herd last summer and subsequent breeding of those cows, we excitedly welcomed our first group of calves this spring/early summer. Prior to those calves even hitting the ground, we birthed the vision for what we’re calling our ‘freezer beef program.’ Check out all of the details here!
PATIENCE is the name of the game with beef. Here we are in late August of 2020 starting to take orders for beef that wouldn’t physically be ready for pick-up until September of 2021 at the earliest! That seems crazy, right!? When you consider the ‘life cycle’ of beef, it makes sense. We don’t breed the cows until they’re at least two years old, their gestation length is 9 months. The calves nurse/graze for about 8 months until they’re weaned and then we feed them dry hay and supplement their energy needs with corn- all of which grown right down the road by our dear neighbors. They’ll reach market-weight when they’re about 18 months old at which point we’ll take them over the ridge to the closest butcher shop. About 4 weeks later, they’ll be ready for your freezer!
Now- if you’re a planner and thinking about where you’ll be getting your beef NEXT fall, consider placing an order for some Tis Well Beef!
We’d be honored to feed your family the same way we’re feeding our family!
It is HIGH TIME we share some farm updates! (Though, if you follow our @tiswellfarm Instagram page, you’re already in the know with our updates!)
First and foremost, we welcomed our second son into the family on September 25, 2019. His name is Aaron and we cannot stop praising God for such a healthy baby!! We weren’t sure how life would be caring for two busy boys but being nearly 9 months in now, we can’t imagine life any other way! What an absolute blessing it is to watch our sons grow up on the same farm Dustin was raised on!
While our little family battled cold and flu and who knows what else on and off from early February until late March, we also welcomed our 2020 lambs. Thank goodness the Border Cheviot ewes are incredible mothers! No one required assistance during lambing and the lambs are all thriving and have been out on pasture since mid-April.
The initial transition of adjusting to life with two little boys took some time, but I (Chris speaking) am happily feeling more comfortable with my mothering role. With a few spare minutes each day, I’ve given myself a NEW JOB! I’ve deemed myself the Tis Well Director of Feeder Calf Management and Beef Marketing. …a ridiculously fancy way of saying when the boys are napping I’m drilling into production cost estimates, winter feed consumption estimates and marketing options for our 2021 freezer beef program! What that means is now that the 2020 calves are on the ground, I’m planning for their futures! Tis Well has never before been able to raise our own feeders to finish for beef UNTIL NOW! This year will be our maiden year for retaining feeders and finishing them. Between now and August/September of 2021, I’ll be planting marketing seeds in potential customer ears with the hopes of securing homes and freezer space for our 2020 calf crop!
With that, we invite you to check out our ‘Freezer Lamb & Beef’ page to learn more and if you are interested in stocking up your freezer with lamb this winter or beef next summer, holler!
Winter came on strong and fast this year here in Central Pennsylvania! A very wet year seems to be yielding a pretty aggressive start to the winter season. The littlest farm-hand, Owen, certainly doesn’t seem to mind all of the snow!
A few exciting things will be taking place shortly!
We’ll be accompanying Helder Designs at the 2019 Winter Craft Market at the Penn Stater Inn and Conference Center in State College, PA on December 1st to debut our handmade beef tallow soap! The soap making process started in early July when the first grass-finished beef steer (“Bobby”) was sent off to the butcher shop. Roughly 40 pounds of trim and internal fat came back home in addition to some fantastic beef and marrow bones and since then, I’ve been slowly rendering down the fat into pure, beautiful beef tallow. The tallow makes up 1/3 of the fat in the bars of soap. Olive oil and coconut oil complete the trio of fats and when married with sodium hydroxide and water, a lovely and smooth soap is made! We blended in some lavender essential oils and lavender flower buds (from our garden) into each bar of soap. Price per bar is $4.50.
Additionally, the 2018 lambs are heading to the butcher shop NEXT WEEK! Thank you to our 2018 freezer lamb buyers! We truly hope you enjoy the lamb in the upcoming year, especially this holiday season! …this also means we’ll be knee deep in cleaning lamb hides to get them ready for the salt drying process before they can head to the tannery. Let’s hope for some decent weather next week!
The Tis Well Farm team just expanded by one this past October and we’d like to introduce him to you! Meet Owen! Owen was born in the exact same hospital as his daddy…just 30 years and 8 days later. It was a Sunday evening, following a lovely day of walking around the farm, shooting walnuts out of the tree, tea time with some friends, a long bike ride (for Dustin) and an evening Western movie when Owen decided his time had come. Fast forward for your sake, and by the next morning, our little love had made his welcomed arrival. “Hi Baby” was the first thing I remember coming out of my mouth. What a joy the past 3 months has been…seriously! I can’t stop thanking God for blessing us with this little boy!
Owen was lucky enough to be with us when the 2017 lamb crop was rounded up and taken to the butcher shop and he’s been my trusty co-pilot for the delivery of the lamb meat to our buyers. Next month, he’ll be joining us as we start the 2018 lambing season.