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.

It is with great distress that we announce the passing of one of our founders and mentors, David Schoumacher, who passed...
03/26/2023

It is with great distress that we announce the passing of one of our founders and mentors, David Schoumacher, who passed away quietly in his sleep, March 24, 2023, at the age of 88.

David received two Emmy awards in his career as a journalist, reporting on the Vietnam war, Watergate, several presidential campaigns, the NASA space program, and the assassination of President John F Kennedy. He was the evening news anchor for the Washington Bureau of ABC News from 1976 to 1988.

David also served our country in the Air Force and the Air Force reserve, flying tankers and tactical bombers until 1971.

In 2001, a widower, he married a neighbor and longtime friend, Elizabeth “Wooz” Matthews and moved to her family farm, Thistle Hill Farm, in Hume, Virginia. After a close call involving a black Angus cow and a grandchild, they made the decision to look for a more calm natured breed to work with, and settled on Ruby Red Devons.

The foundation of the herd initially came from Jeremy Engh at Lakota Ranch, and Charlie and Martha Trantham. Wooz became the registrar for the North American Devon Association, volunteering hundreds of hours to register the purebred Devon’s across the country. David joined the board and passed on his wisdom regarding communications and marketing.

At one of the World Devon Congresses in England, David and Wooz forged a partnership with John Forelle and Nancy and Bill Walker, developing a plan to import embryos from purebred English Red Devon cattle whose lineages could be traced back hundreds of years. They became fast friends with international Devon experts, including Gavin Hunter and Ivan Rowe, Brian Drake, Margaret Elliot, and Juliet Cleave, as well as Ken and Pru McDowall from New Zealand. Eventually, David and Wooz bought out their partners, maintaining a vision for Thistle Hill to become a repository for some of the best English Ruby Red Devon genetics.

David passed on his love for the breed and the business of cattle farming to his stepchildren Carolyn (Curt Humphreys) and Church Matthews. His grandson Church Humphreys ( the grandchild mentioned above who became the impetus for switching breeds) is carrying on the torch for the Devon herd at Thistle Hill, continuing the English lines, as well as introducing genetics from the grandfather of American Devon, Potheridge president.

We are forever grateful to David for his love, enthusiasm, and mentorship, and feel his loss greatly.

03/08/2023

Oh!! The joy of small pleasures!!!

Video by Curt

The End of Breeding SeasonThis weekend we took Prince out of our herd of cows, and rejoined him with two of our rental b...
03/07/2023

The End of Breeding Season
This weekend we took Prince out of our herd of cows, and rejoined him with two of our rental bulls who came home from West Virginia and Lynchburg. I always have a little trepidation at the reintroduction of the bulls. There is a lot of posturing and bellowing- I feel almost like I’m in Jurassic times as the earth can shake with their bellowing! Sometimes there is some fighting as they decide who’s the boss…and once that’s decided everything’s quiet again.

After an unseasonably warm day Thursday, we are back to winter temps and a little snow today. The cows were glad to get ...
02/25/2023

After an unseasonably warm day Thursday, we are back to winter temps and a little snow today. The cows were glad to get in this pasture and loved what green grass there was. This morning Curt gave them another bale of hay, unrolling it so that it could eventually add to the soil’s organic matter and bring some more nutrients to the soil, as well as to all the cows and calves!

Photo by Curt

Last weekend one of our neighbors brought out a portable sawmill and we milled some poplar, oak, cherry, pine, and apple...
02/19/2023

Last weekend one of our neighbors brought out a portable sawmill and we milled some poplar, oak, cherry, pine, and apple (bottom right). The pine was one that had been planted by my parents 50 years ago and fell down in a windstorm this fall. The apple tree produced apples when I was a girl and had died in the last 5 years. Very satisfying to be able to produce lumber for fencing and other needs!

Prince, our current herd bull. Pure English, out of Ashott Barton Tulip, by Cutcombe Jaunty. We were pleased with his ca...
02/11/2023

Prince, our current herd bull. Pure English, out of Ashott Barton Tulip, by Cutcombe Jaunty. We were pleased with his calves from last year.

It’s like he already knows he’s a star at five weeks old! One of the Potheridge President offspring striking a pose toda...
11/29/2022

It’s like he already knows he’s a star at five weeks old! One of the Potheridge President offspring striking a pose today.
He’s the result of a strawof President semen in a tank from Don Minto’s farm, mixed with eggs from one of our English cows ( Essington Buttercup x Millenium Falcon).

-Carolyn

Just the latest……a summing up of a half dozen great lines combined just on the sires side here.  A special delivery to T...
11/19/2022

Just the latest…

…a summing up of a half dozen great lines combined just on the sires side here. A special delivery to Thistle Hill today.

Our natural service calves will be coming now that we’ve concluded with our artificial breeding portion of the herd. It’s been a memorable season for Church who concluded his second annual efforts with successes such as Potherridge President, Champson Defender and Tilbrook Sunset. Add in some bulls that have only recently passed their first birthday and Thistle Hill now is the repository of the most complete traditional pure English champion Devon’s available anywhere.

Why not treat yourself to a Thistle Hill Christmas.

David

From embryos under the microscope in January to live Potheridge President offspring! The Traditional Devon gods smiled o...
10/25/2022

From embryos under the microscope in January to live Potheridge President offspring!

The Traditional Devon gods smiled on us today. So far we have two Potheridge President heifers and one bull. Rounding out the four thus far delivered embryos is a heifer out of F21 and Champson Defender.

Potheridge President semen has been in short supply since he was imported to the United States in 1968 when he became the first Devon bull to become a certified Meat Sire and became one of the most influential bulls in North American Devon history. We were fortunate enough to find two ampules of his semen in an old tank purchased from Don Minto. We used one ampule this past year, split between two cows. The embryos can be seen in the top photo; the second shows yesterday’s bull calf and the third last night’s heifer.

Champson Defender was the champion bull among a group of 28 show bulls at the Devon Cattle Breeders Society spring show in 2008, declared “everything a Red Ruby Devon should be with total balance, tremendous presence, evenly distributed natural fleshing…and outstanding locomotion.”

The biological mothers’ bloodlines are impressive too, including Essington Buttercup 165th, Cashtiller, and Millenium Falcon in their forebears.

We are beyond thrilled to see these babies thriving!

-Carolyn and David

Watch that first step……frozen 70 years ago…tucked in an ampule…and speculated about ever since!  Who dare risk cracking ...
10/19/2022

Watch that first step…

…frozen 70 years ago…tucked in an ampule…and speculated about ever since! Who dare risk cracking the seal?!

One of the very few samples of semen from the famed Potheridge President. Brought to the United States and put into closed-herd competition with the other great breed sires of the day!

Potheridge President emerged the clear winner and Devon beef became the industry standard for quality.

With all the other great names in our herd Thistle Hill is proud of its burgeoning reputation as home of pure traditional English Devon anywhere!

David

We were thrilled to find this sweet girl by her mama’s side yesterday afternoon …she’s the result of an AI with semen fr...
10/05/2022

We were thrilled to find this sweet girl by her mama’s side yesterday afternoon …she’s the result of an AI with semen from Rotokawa great 688. Mom is out of Cashtiller, sired by Cutcombe Jaunty.

Can you find baby Jules?My brother and I looked for an hour before we spotted her on the left. After I took her photo sh...
10/04/2022

Can you find baby Jules?

My brother and I looked for an hour before we spotted her on the left. After I took her photo she hopped up and moved to a spot not far away…in the second photo. She was very difficult to spot…but is about halfway down on the right. Her mom must have told her to stay put!

We find that the first few days of life the newborns will spend much of their time curled up and sleeping, and are sometimes difficult to find.

Carolyn

Baby Jules!Our first calf of the season is almost 1 week old, and she is a gorgeous heifer out of TDA4, out of Cashtille...
09/30/2022

Baby Jules!

Our first calf of the season is almost 1 week old, and she is a gorgeous heifer out of TDA4, out of Cashtiller sired by Cutcombe Jaunty. Jules’ father is Highwayman, out of Golding’s Norah and sired by Ashott Barton Millenium Falcon, so she has a terrific pedigree.

We are expecting great things out of this little heifer!

In the photo on the left, by Keith Kay, she is being weighed with her adoring mama looking on. 62 pounds. As Mary Poppins would say…perfect in every way!

Carolyn

In praise of Devon……it isn’t often a Devon develops a hoof problem.  But if it happens a half-mile from the working chut...
08/25/2022

In praise of Devon…

…it isn’t often a Devon develops a hoof problem. But if it happens a half-mile from the working chute, it sure is nice to take the portable chute to the middle of nowhere and know she’ll load without a fuss. Not even some portable panels were necessary.

Vet Tom Massey arrived just after the picture was taken and TDA 15 was cleaned right up.

David

We were delighted yesterday to have a visit from two thought leaders in the Devon world, Jeremy Engh and Dr. Jerry Engh....
08/03/2022

We were delighted yesterday to have a visit from two thought leaders in the Devon world, Jeremy Engh and Dr. Jerry Engh. I didn’t hear everything thing said, but I did hear the word “spectacular!”

- Carolyn

President of the Devon Cattle Breeder’s Society Gavin Hunter and his wife Jane were recently thrilled to be invited to a...
06/30/2022

President of the Devon Cattle Breeder’s Society Gavin Hunter and his wife Jane were recently thrilled to be invited to a garden party celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee. Gavin, owner of Tillbrook Grange, is the breeder of the prize-winning Cashtiller, who won all the major Devon shows and whose bull calves topped the sales three years in a row. We were lucky enough to persuade Gavin to allow Cash to become one of the foundational cows of our English herd. He continues to provide advice and friendship to Thistle Hill Farm.

-Carolyn

The Thistle Hill Alumni club……posted by Brooke Henley on Facebook today.  Brooke says she watched the calving from her w...
05/20/2022

The Thistle Hill Alumni club…

…posted by Brooke Henley on Facebook today. Brooke says she watched the calving from her window while enjoying her morning coffee.

The sire is Thistle Hill Equinox…with seven bull calves and four heifers so far this year. Two to go.

Our relationship with Brooke and husband Tom and their Spring Pastures farm in Maryland goes back many years. They’ve built their herd around Thistle Hill genetics.

Equinox is the son of our THF Churchill and the grandson of perhaps the finest cow in modern Devon history, Tilbrook Cashtiller. Not only did she win best of show every time she entered but her bull calves topped the English sales three consecutive years.

David

Photo by Brooke Henley

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

05/17/2022

Summer camp…

…for our 1.5 year old heifers. They’ll eventually be bred here at Slainte Farm and return home to calve.

For now it’s a welcome break in their routine and fresh grass!

Video by Curt Humphreys.

And btw congratulations to our partners Mary and Mike on their recent marriage!

David
reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

Loving this pasture!!Photo by Church Matthews
05/16/2022

Loving this pasture!!

Photo by Church Matthews

King of the hill……all English but made in the US!  Our herd bull Essington…the result of a mating of Brian Drake’s Butte...
05/11/2022

King of the hill…

…all English but made in the US! Our herd bull Essington…the result of a mating of Brian Drake’s Buttercup and Shiamala Comer’s Falcon…two leading English herds paired here thanks to embryo transplants. Essington is six years old.

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

Update: Defender……who seems on track to become one of our key herd bulls.Right now Defender is on lease to the Rohwer’s ...
05/09/2022

Update: Defender…

…who seems on track to become one of our key herd bulls.

Right now Defender is on lease to the Rohwer’s Sun Eats Farm in Maryland. Since he has taken charge Church has developed a thriving business supplying bulls to farms who can’t quite justify a full-time sire of their own.

And of course it helps us manage our large battery of bulls. It also develops progeny history and of course gives a bull more opportunity for what a bull does!

Defender is new to the US…Church imported his semen and AI-ed to a Cashtiller granddaughter to give us the first American Defender.

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

What’s for dinner……a juicy beyond organic hormone and antibiotic free sirloin steak.Curt went overboard with his seasoni...
05/05/2022

What’s for dinner…

…a juicy beyond organic hormone and antibiotic free sirloin steak.

Curt went overboard with his seasoning on this one:

avocado oil and then a rub of black pepper, yellow mustard, coriander, lemon peel, garlic, celery seed, dill, Chile, cardamom, and salt!

Lightly and quickly grilled.

In a word: delicious.

David

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

05/02/2022

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

reGenerative Grazing Group Red Devon USA Red Devon Cattle Forum

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

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12345 Cresthill Road
Hume, VA
22639

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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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