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Thistle Hill Farm

Thistle Hill Farm Thistle Hill Farm is nestled along the banks of the Rappahanock River in Fauquier county with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. We sell registered Devon seedstock as well as healthy and delicious grass fed beef.

Operating as usual

05/02/2022
Off to summer camp…

Off to summer camp…

…go eight Thistle Hill yearling heifers. Once again Mary Perrine and Don Ferro have volunteered their adjoining pastures.

It’s a lovely setting at the base of Cobbler mountain and the girls and we appreciate the hospitality.

The two farms get lawnmowers and entertainment for the grandchildren and the heifers get loving care and civilizing and are well away from the bulls.

David

So glad spring is here!
04/28/2022

So glad spring is here!

The waiting game……seems to be a subtitle for much of the year at Thistle Hill.  Right now we’ve confirmed the pregnancy ...
04/25/2022

The waiting game…

…seems to be a subtitle for much of the year at Thistle Hill. Right now we’ve confirmed the pregnancy of the cows we artificially inseminated(AI).

X2a is one of the AI recipients. She’s carrying a calf sired by Grantland Granite of John Forelle’s Folly Farm. That herd was dispersed several years ago.

Grantland was the name of Bob Grant’s herd and Bob was an important figure and treasurer of the American Devon Association. Gearld Fry bought his herd and Granite wound up with John Forelle.

I saw him at Folly Farm in about 2005 at the very first meeting of the North American Devon Association in Albany, New York. Welcome to Thistle Hill.

Other recipients have been confirmed in calf by the famed Rotokawa 688 who probably more than any other bull launched the resurgence of Devon. He was the grand sire of the outstanding English cow Cashtiller…perhaps the prettiest Devon ever. He also sired our Thistle Hill Hope…another beauty that was the dam of more Thistle Hill calves than any other thanks to many flushes.

We also have confirmed pregnancies by Rotokawa 663 and the superb English bull Cutcombe Jaunty who has been key in our herd’s development.

That rounds out the AI recipients who’ll be calving in October. But there are six calves coming from our companion embryo transfer work…calves by Champson Defender and the famous Potheridge President.

How will our pastures contain all these big egos!

David
reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

Tomorrow……the good stuff.  Serious grazing has begun with the herd working the paddock on the left…the electric wire in ...
04/20/2022

Tomorrow…

…the good stuff. Serious grazing has begun with the herd working the paddock on the left…the electric wire in the center keeping them from “the good stuff” on the right!

Look carefully and you’ll see the herd in the back of the paddock. And just beyond some hay for added fiber. Spring grass is very “washy”!

David

The spring green-up……is well underway at Thistle Hill!  And Nala seems appreciative of the work we’ve done to improve th...
04/18/2022

The spring green-up…

…is well underway at Thistle Hill! And Nala seems appreciative of the work we’ve done to improve the pastures.

The over-seeding we did a year ago has really taken hold. Perennial rye and and cereal rye and several clovers have all thickened our sward significantly.

Not apparent but a big contributing factor we feel certain was the conditioning of the soil with the work of turnips, radish and cow peas.

The cover in the area pictured here was very thin and the soil quite sandy. Our hope is that continued rotational grazing and the addition of more cover crops will put this pasture on a par with our very best.

David

One percenters….these pigs are in the one percent of pigs raised outside in pastures. They were out exploring and foragi...
04/15/2022

One percenters….these pigs are in the one percent of pigs raised outside in pastures. They were out exploring and foraging today.

-Carolyn

A Star is born……we’ve seen unusual activity around the picture we posted recently of our guard donkey Jenny.  She and he...
04/14/2022

A Star is born…

…we’ve seen unusual activity around the picture we posted recently of our guard donkey Jenny. She and her partner Jack have been faithful servants of the Thistle Hill herd for about 20 years…and all they ever get is a hug and a scratch. Well Jenny demands them and here Mackenzie Mason is happy to oblige.

David

Hi-tech preg check……Dr Kiel Hausler of Rose Hill Vets using ultrasound to preg check one of our young cows.It’s a little...
04/11/2022

Hi-tech preg check…

…Dr Kiel Hausler of Rose Hill Vets using ultrasound to preg check one of our young cows.

It’s a little more reliable predicting calving days and it has the added benefit of revealing the sex of the embryo.

The wranglers are son Church to the left and son-in-law Curt to the right.

Putting more than 50 cows and calves through the chute can leave you pretty wiped out.

David Edward Schoumacher

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

Three little maids are we……enjoying a snack while their Moms are being preg checked.Actually they’re not entirely in the...
04/07/2022

Three little maids are we…

…enjoying a snack while their Moms are being preg checked.

Actually they’re not entirely in the clear. They’ll also being getting their shots tho that’s not the trauma their male counterparts have to endure. This is also steering day!

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

Two young bulls……pictured at just over a year old…that we held back to monitor developmentH242 (nearer the camera) and H...
04/05/2022

Two young bulls…

…pictured at just over a year old…that we held back to monitor development

H242 (nearer the camera) and H243 were chosen to grow out here at Thistle Hill…selected from a class of about a dozen bulls.

H242 in the foreground doing well in the early stages. We’re particularly pleased with his heart girth. He and his herdmate, H243, were both sired by a pure English bull in our inventory, Essington.

H243 is descended from the Champson Tulip line, one of the most renowned in England. Tulip has been a little elusive for us so we are keeping an eye on this young bull.

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

Just friends……we hope.  Our cover bull Prince…who is causing something of a stir in Devon circles…and is our cover bull ...
04/01/2022

Just friends…

…we hope. Our cover bull Prince…who is causing something of a stir in Devon circles…and is our cover bull this year.

Prince is on the left…sharing some unrolled hay with a cow we hope he doesn’t get to friendly with. WMD2 is the female…a cow we hope is carrying a Potheridge President embryo.

The job of the cover bull is to find any cow that is open…that is where the embryo hasn’t taken…and finish the job. By the calendar two cycles should have passed without heat…so we’re hoping this Tête-à-tête-is just a coincidence.; that she is indeed carrying the Potheridge embryo.

We won’t know for sure until there’s a pregnancy check…in fact, not until there’s a DNA reading.

Either way we have high hopes for the calf. President was probably the most famous bull of all time but his progeny have all but disappeared. Prince is an English bull from the Tulip line, almost as well-known.

In all we implanted a half dozen Potheridge President embryos this year. One recip definitely went into heat and was serviced by Prince. We’ll be sure to post the final results.

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

This weekend one of our bull-renters delivered a litter of six piglets to Thistle Hill Farm. It was cold and gusty, and ...
03/29/2022

This weekend one of our bull-renters delivered a litter of six piglets to Thistle Hill Farm. It was cold and gusty, and I was glad their hay-filled pigloo didn’t blow away.

These four brothers and two sisters are Tamworth Berkshire crosses. Originally from central England, Tamworths are known for their red color and long abdomen, which makes for wonderful bacon. The Berkshires are black, sometimes with white spots, and produce meat that is not only full of flavor but tender as well.

Our pigs, unlike most pigs who when conventionally raised are in pens where there’s not even room to turn around, will be reared in a pasture and given a non-GMO feed to supplement the grass and acorns in the pasture.

- Carolyn

We had an exciting day yesterday. Son Church was home from his first year at Cornell veterinary school and we had one of...
03/27/2022

We had an exciting day yesterday. Son Church was home from his first year at Cornell veterinary school and we had one of our favorite vets out for a day of vaccinations, ultrasounds, weights and castrations. We’ve been waiting with baited breath to hear the results of our January AI’s and ET’s…and we are thrilled with the news: 3 Potheridge Presidents, 3 Champson Defenders, a Cutcombe Jaunty, a 663, a 688, and two Grantland Granites.

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA

Our guard donkeys……have asked for equal time with the farm dogs we featured awhile back.Jenny, pictured here, and Jack a...
03/25/2022

Our guard donkeys…

…have asked for equal time with the farm dogs we featured awhile back.

Jenny, pictured here, and Jack are our miniature donkeys…a kind of early warning system protecting our herd from stray dogs and coyotes.

They stay with the herd year around no matter the weather. They’re incredibly low maintenance…and they survive on the grass alone…no supplements and never seem to get sick. They’re 20 years old now and still going strong!

David

From the kitchens of Thistle Hill……and yes while we have two kitchens…son Church continues his triumphs on the Kamado Jo...
03/21/2022

From the kitchens of Thistle Hill…

…and yes while we have two kitchens…son Church continues his triumphs on the Kamado Joe grill.

This time it’s a pork belly smoked by that apple wood tree we harvested a few weeks ago.

Church recommends scoring the fat side diagonally and then rubbing all sides with Bone Suckin’ Seasoning and extra brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Place over indirect heat and smoke until the meat reaches 200 degrees.

My preference is to hold off and make a midnight sandwich. While pork belly isn’t very popular in the States, I have Asian friends who consider this the peak of American cuisine! It is also very popular in Scandinavia, Latin America and my native Alsace-Lorraine.

Red Devon Cattle Forum Red Devon USA reGenerative Grazing Group

Our cows……are built around the great English cow Tilbrook Cashtiller.  She won three consecutive national grand champion...
03/16/2022

Our cows…

…are built around the great English cow Tilbrook Cashtiller. She won three consecutive national grand championships and a host of ribbons and silver. And to top it off three of her sons were the top selling bulls in the annual Devon breeders sale. We’re indebted to Tibrook’s Gavin Hunter…who again today is serving as president of the British Society …for permitting us to flush Cash twice!

TDA 7 was out of that first flush 12 years ago and not showing her age. Her sire was another British champion, Cutcombe Jaunty. Cashtiller is gone now but we have several of her daughters and granddaughters and other descendants in our herd…and some embryos for the future.

TDA 20 is a special cow with Essington and Cutcombe genetics…and is a Cashtiller granddaughter as well. Brian Drake of Essington Park was a leader among English breeders for 50 years and a respected judge for the British Society. His herd was small compared to many but the quality was unmatched by any herd we’ve ever seen.

TDA 23 was an English pairing and an early use of Ashott Barton’s Falcon…a stunning bull we found on Ivan Rowe’s Goldings farm. We mated him to a cow from Brian Drake’s Essington Farm. There are no two more experienced Devon breeders in all of England than Ivan and Brian. Both lamented the dilution of the Devon breed with outside genetics and after 70 years in the business gracefully exited the Devon scene.

WMD 2 has joined us through a circuitous route. Her dam was the daughter of a beautiful cow, Lakota’s R6. Mom was sold to Bill Ketner’s farm in West Virginia and while hauling a bull one day Church spotted 2…and the rest is history. Her sire was the English bull Highwayman. The result is this cow who looks more traditional than some of her herdmates. Note the deep Ruby red hair coat!

F212 is another Highwayman son out of M180, a cow that deserves a webpage of her own. Before we began our English concentration, M180 was practically a bull machine! Many years the sale of her progeny paid the herd’s feed bill. Visitors think her name should be Thank God since we always related that we had about 10 bull calves before (thank God) a heifer, 212, came along!

TDA 18…another Cashtiller daughter. She’s out of 7 (see above) and sired by Thistle Hill Highwayman so she’s got all our great English lines in this one package. An obvious candidate for eventual flushing.

With more than 40 females of all ages this is by no means a complete inventory of the Thistle Hill herd…English and American…bred and open younger heifers.

To arrange a visit at this perfect time of year in Virginia contact Church:

(214) 802-1283

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA

A sign of spring……along with Forsythia and Daffodils…baby piglets.  And again this year we’re  importing our “weanlings”...
03/14/2022

A sign of spring…

…along with Forsythia and Daffodils…baby piglets. And again this year we’re importing our “weanlings” from Indian Summer Farm in Forest, Virginia.

Berkshire is probably the leading pig among the heritage breeds and these are 3/4 Berks. But we also like the leaner meat, and particularly the bacon, the Tamworth produces…so these piglets also have Tamworth in their background.

Our thanks to Indian Summer Farm for once again sharing their pig crop!

David

Address

12345 Cresthill Rd
Hume, VA
22639

General information

Thistle Hill is nestled along the banks of the Rappahannock River. The Blue Ridge Mountains dominate the western horizon and, on our farm to the East, are the low ridges that have been in woodland for the past century. It is a pleasant scene that attracted our family many years ago when the roads were still gravel and not heavily traveled. And we have been here since, tending the pastures and trying to be good stewards of the land.

Telephone

+12148021283

Products

Grassfed and antibiotic/hormone free Red Devon meat
Red Devon Seedstock

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Our Story

Our family has always believed that healthy soil, healthy grass, healthy animals result in healthy meat and healthy families. And our pastures are the source of our own healthy meat. We do not use petro-chemical fertilizers or sludge from the city or herbicides, pesticides of any kind. We do use foliar fish oil mixed with kelp or organically- certified sea minerals to constantly build up the soil to maintain the good microbes that promote a healthy stand of grass. Mostly, we use our cows as “four-legged fertilizer spreaders”, recycling 90% of the nutrients they consume right back into the soil. We are constantly testing our soils, our forages and water to come up with that remaining 10%.

We seek to maintain a low carbon footprint by staying in sync with what Nature has given us and encouraging the diversity that was meant to be. So when you purchase Thistle Hill Beef you are not only giving yourself and your family pasture perfect beef that is tender, flavorful and healthy, you are also making a responsible choice for the environment.

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This Saturday and next Saturday (12/14 & 12/21) 10:00-2:00! Come out to our Holiday Market at our Chapel Hill Farm Stand- there will be fresh baked sourdough bread, regenerative meats for your holiday meals (from us, Thistle Hill Farm and @carolinalambnc ), krauts and jelly from Two Chicks Farm , sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, farm-y hot pepper and rosemary wreaths and holiday cheer from farmers and dogs! 413 Bowden Road, Chapel Hill. Be there or be without holiday cheer.