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

A crisp fall morning on the farm...as Church does the early morning rounds of the pastures.  The Blue Ridge in the backg...
11/24/2020
November sunrise...

A crisp fall morning on the farm...as Church does the early morning rounds of the pastures. The Blue Ridge in the background.

David

A crisp fall morning on the farm...as Church does the early morning rounds of the pastures. The Blue Ridge in the background. David

...I must admit I never liked pork much until we processed the first pigs raised at Thistle Hill.  The difference betwee...
11/18/2020
A true confession...

...I must admit I never liked pork much until we processed the first pigs raised at Thistle Hill. The difference between that pork and the factory-raised pork in restaurants and supermarkets was unbelievable...greater even than the gap between store-bought vegetables and the garden variety.

Recently Carolyn prepared one of our ham steaks and it was delicious.

...I must admit I never liked pork much until we processed the first pigs raised at Thistle Hill.  The difference between that pork and the factory-raised

…and we finished with about a third of our calves being females…which is good news for our meat customers!THF 24 is a pr...
11/15/2020
The final three...

…and we finished with about a third of our calves being females…which is good news for our meat customers!

THF 24 is a pretty sturdy heifer at 78 pounds. The dam is a lovely American cow, 256, and the sire is British, TDA Essington.

THF 25 is a very sound bull calf...out of one of our top American cows, W64...and again sired by Essington. Birth weight 80 pounds.

…and we finished with about a third of our calves being females…which is good news for our meat customers! THF 24 is a pretty sturdy heifer at 78 pounds.

In grass finished versus grain finished beef.An increasing number of people seem to be turning away from industrialized ...
11/13/2020
A refresher course...

In grass finished versus grain finished beef.

An increasing number of people seem to be turning away from industrialized beef and trying the grass finished version. Farmers too are increasingly marketing their own products...not willing to accept the take-it-or-leave-it pricing of the national processors.

Just a few...like

In grass finished versus grain finished beef. An increasing number of people seem to be turning away from industrialized beef and trying the grass finished v

...is the most beautiful time of year.  Well, except for the dogwood and rosebud trees in the Spring.   Mackenzie Mason ...
11/08/2020
Fall at Thistle Hill...

...is the most beautiful time of year. Well, except for the dogwood and rosebud trees in the Spring. Mackenzie Mason used Church’s new drone to check out our 200+ acres of woods and captured some of the colors. There’s a brief glimpse of their home about halfway.

David

...is the most beautiful time of year.  Well, except for the dogwood and rosebud trees in the Spring.   Mackenzie Mason used Church’s new drone to c

…and the ratio continues to favor bulls over heifers, two to one.THF 21 is a bouncing baby boy and then some…95 pounds. ...
10/29/2020
The three latest...

…and the ratio continues to favor bulls over heifers, two to one.

THF 21 is a bouncing baby boy and then some…95 pounds. The dam is from our favorite “2” line and is just fine despite the oversized bundle of joy.

THF 22 is the son of an English heifer. He’s by an English bull…Ransom.

…and the ratio continues to favor bulls over heifers, two to one. THF 21 is a bouncing baby boy and then some…95 pounds. The dam is from our favorite “

…more than two-thirds of the way though. And for those keeping score, it’s 14 bull calves and 7 heifers. Two of the cows...
10/27/2020
We’ve calved 21...

…more than two-thirds of the way though. And for those keeping score, it’s 14 bull calves and 7 heifers. Two of the cows here are with their first calves.

THF 18 (top photo) is one of those births. The dam by a Thistle Hill cow and the sire King David, who is English. Birth weight 75 pounds.

THF 19 (middle photo) is a 70-pound bull calf out of our very first English cow, TDA 7.

…more than two-thirds of the way though. And for those keeping score, it’s 14 bull calves and 7 heifers. Two of the cows here are with their first calves.

…with calves coming faster than we can post them…or tag them!THF 15 (top photo) comes jammed with many of our best pure ...
10/24/2020
Falling behind...

…with calves coming faster than we can post them…or tag them!

THF 15 (top photo) comes jammed with many of our best pure traditional English genetics…Ashott-Barton, Goldings, Cutcombe, Essington Park. He’s a 75-pound bull calf out of our English herd.

THF 16 (middle photo) is a 65-pound heifer destined for our American herd.

…with calves coming faster than we can post them…or tag them! THF 15 (top photo) comes jammed with many of our best pure traditional English genetics…A

...sous vide cooking.  The young son of a friend recently was given a sous vide cooker for his birthday.  His very first...
10/20/2020
Another convert to...

...sous vide cooking. The young son of a friend recently was given a sous vide cooker for his birthday. His very first attempt at a ribeye steak (grass fed if not Thistle Hill) was a smashing success.

Photo by Stephen DeCelle

Incidentally, if you’re one of those who prefer your meat more well done. Your just increase the settings

We were late to using the sous vide method.

...sous vide cooking.  The young son of a friend recently was given a sous vide cooker for his birthday.  His very first attempt at a ribeye steak (gr

...this veteran cow went to the farthest point of the farthest pasture to have her calf.Photo by Church HumphriesRiparia...
10/17/2020
Making it hard on us...

...this veteran cow went to the farthest point of the farthest pasture to have her calf.

Photo by Church Humphries

Riparian areas are great—and we have them all over Thistle Hill—but it makes it tough to find new calves. The mothers are often no help...looking

...this veteran cow went to the farthest point of the farthest pasture to have her calf. Photo by Church Humphries Riparian areas are great—and we have

Photo by Carolyn Matthews...is left to son-in-law Curt Humphries who is stuck with the jobs no one else wants...in this ...
10/15/2020
The heavy lifting...

Photo by Carolyn Matthews

...is left to son-in-law Curt Humphries who is stuck with the jobs no one else wants...in this case finding a missing calf and returning her to mama.

THF 13 is a blend of English and American genetics. Mom is from our favorite “2” line and the sire again was our Essington Park bull.

David

Photo by Carolyn Matthews ...is left to son-in-law Curt Humphries who is stuck with the jobs no one else wants...in this case finding a missing calf and retu

...by a giant in the field of regenerative agriculture.  No one has better captured the beauty of farming in sync with n...
10/12/2020
In support of a 50-year farm bill...

...by a giant in the field of regenerative agriculture. No one has better captured the beauty of farming in sync with nature than Wendell Berry. The Kentucky farmer, poet, writer and environmentalist writes in the Atlantic in support of the 50-year farm bill.

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/the-50-year-farm-bill/265099/

...by a giant in the field of regenerative agriculture.  No one has better captured the beauty of farming in sync with nature than Wendell Berry.  The

...not sure how Church managed to find this one in the dark, but he did!  And he’s special too.Photo by Church Humphreys...
10/06/2020
An overnight delivery...

...not sure how Church managed to find this one in the dark, but he did! And he’s special too.

Photo by Church Humphreys

His working number is 12 and he’s out of Church’s personal cow...a gift from his grandmother on our last trip to England.

The original dam was Ashott Barton Tulip, purchased by Wooz and then taken to Bovine Genetics where Stella Scholes bred and flushed her.

...not sure how Church managed to find this one in the dark, but he did! And he’s special too. Photo by Church Humphreys His working number is 12 and

...7, 8, 9!These three came in a bunch a week ago.  But THF 7 was camera shy and we waited until we had pictures of all ...
10/04/2020
Multiple blessings...

...7, 8, 9!

These three came in a bunch a week ago. But THF 7 was camera shy and we waited until we had pictures of all three.

THF 7 and 8 are bull calves...7 out of a cow in our American herd; 8 is traditional English. So is 9...a smallish heifer.

All three were sired by our Essington bull...a proud graduate of Brian Drake’s legendary herd.

...7, 8, 9! These three came in a bunch a week ago.  But THF 7 was camera shy and we waited until we had pictures of all three. THF 7 and

...a little heifer THF 11...weighing 70 pounds.Photo by Church HumphreysShe’s a three-quarter English calf and was an el...
10/03/2020
Today’s blessing...

...a little heifer THF 11...weighing 70 pounds.

Photo by Church Humphreys

She’s a three-quarter English calf and was an elusive little girl...still needs a tag.

The ratio is still tipped heavily in favor of bulls though...8 to 3.

David

...a little heifer THF 11...weighing 70 pounds. Photo by Church Humphreys She’s a three-quarter English calf and was an elusive little girl...still need

Photo by Carolyn Matthews...for Thanksgiving.  The advance guard of a flock of wild turkeys crossing Thistle Hill farm.W...
10/01/2020
Just in time...

Photo by Carolyn Matthews

...for Thanksgiving. The advance guard of a flock of wild turkeys crossing Thistle Hill farm.

We’ve seen the return of a number of birds to the farm since we eliminated all “cides” about 20 years ago. In fact there’s been an up-swing of all wildlife including our very own resident bear.

Almost all our pastures have adjacent riparian areas including water.

Photo by Carolyn Matthews ...for Thanksgiving.  The advance guard of a flock of wild turkeys crossing Thistle Hill farm. We’ve seen the return of a

Thistle Hill Farm's cover photo
09/30/2020

Thistle Hill Farm's cover photo

...pork is on the way.  Five pigs that look like they’ll be ready from now to Christmas.This year we’re raising mostly B...
09/30/2020
Lest we forget...

...pork is on the way. Five pigs that look like they’ll be ready from now to Christmas.

This year we’re raising mostly Berkshires...with some Tamworth thrown in. Most pig growers seem to eventually settle on Berkshires for the flavor...and all-around performance.

In the past we’ve favored Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot, but we thought it was time to try the popular favorite.

...pork is on the way.  Five pigs that look like they’ll be ready from now to Christmas. This year we’re raising mostly Berkshires...with some Tamwo

...the inspirational story of a retired businessman in Texas who is leaving quite a legacy.  It reminds me of Louis Brom...
09/28/2020
One man’s legacy...

...the inspirational story of a retired businessman in Texas who is leaving quite a legacy. It reminds me of Louis Bromfield...whose tales of Malabar Farm in Ohio got us interested in regenerative farming before it was cool.

Thanks to Shannon Kincaid, an artist friend in Dallas who suggested the link.

David

...the inspirational story of a retired businessman in Texas who is leaving quite a legacy.  It reminds me of Louis Bromfield...whose tales of Malabar Farm

...and son.  The bull calf is now a week old and shows promise.He certainly has the pedigree:  his grandmother was the g...
09/26/2020
Proud mother...

...and son. The bull calf is now a week old and shows promise.

He certainly has the pedigree: his grandmother was the great Tilbrook Cashtiller...who dominated English show rings for many years. And for three years running her bull calves topped the sales!

We think the sire was from another well-known line, Champson Defender. But we won’t be sure until we get the DNA.

...and son.  The bull calf is now a week old and shows promise. He certainly has the pedigree:  his grandmother was the great Tilbrook Cashtill

...the food you eat.  China is the leader in world pork production...that is when disease isn’t decimating their pig far...
09/25/2020
You should know...

...the food you eat. China is the leader in world pork production...that is when disease isn’t decimating their pig farms.

Somehow we suspect this innovation isn’t going to make things any better. And you need to remember, Chinese pork is now in our food system...and

...the food you eat.  China is the leader in world pork production...that is when disease isn’t decimating their pig farms. Somehow we suspect this in

...a combination of an English bull with the best of our American herd.  Dam THF U3 and sire from the wonderful old Essi...
09/23/2020
The latest arrival...

...a combination of an English bull with the best of our American herd. Dam THF U3 and sire from the wonderful old Essington herd in England.

...a combination of an English bull with the best of our American herd.  Dam THF U3 and sire from the wonderful old Essington herd in England. Wooz

...our first heifer calf finally...THF 3...posing with her two mamas.The birth mother is on the left...TDA04...a pure tr...
09/21/2020
A tale of two cows...

...our first heifer calf finally...THF 3...posing with her two mamas.

The birth mother is on the left...TDA04...a pure traditional English Devon. The other cow is a young cow whose calf was born stillborn earlier in the day.

TDA15 wandered around lost until this baby came along. Whether she thinks it’s hers or just wants to help, we don’t know.

...our first heifer calf finally...THF 3...posing with her two mamas. The birth mother is on the left...TDA04...a pure traditional English Devon.  T

...is one of our favorites heifers and she’s handling motherhood like an old pro.The baby is a 70-pound bull calf...a bl...
09/17/2020
Our latest mama...

...is one of our favorites heifers and she’s handling motherhood like an old pro.

The baby is a 70-pound bull calf...a blend of our American “2” line with the English bull Highwayman. The “2’s” were always Wooz’ favorite and Highwayman’s grandsire was England’s famed Millennium.

Mama

...is one of our favorites heifers and she’s handling motherhood like an old pro. The baby is a 70-pound bull calf...a blend of our American “2” li

...our first calf of the season is a pure traditional English Devon...THF 1.  He’s an 80-pound baby bull.The mom is from...
09/12/2020
Here they come...

...our first calf of the season is a pure traditional English Devon...THF 1. He’s an 80-pound baby bull.

The mom is from our great Cashtiller line...the cow that won three straight national championships over there.

The sire is a mystery though. The calf may be the result of an AI with Champson Defender or the cover bull who was put in a few days afterwards.

...our first calf of the season is a pure traditional English Devon...THF 1. He’s an 80-pound baby bull. The mom is from our great Cashtiller line...

...aka THF Prince...an English bull approaching his second birthday.This was the result of Wooz’ final pairing...selecti...
09/10/2020
Update on F100...

...aka THF Prince...an English bull approaching his second birthday.

This was the result of Wooz’ final pairing...selecting animals originating in Shiamala Comer’s Ashott Barton herd in England. We purchased one of her outstanding Tulip heifers and bred her to Jaunty..originally a Cutcombe bull that won many prizes.

...aka THF Prince...an English bull approaching his second birthday. F100 This was the result of Wooz’ final pairing...selecting animals originating in

...have spilled into print.  There are three giants in the chemical artificial burger fight...and it ain’t pretty.  Neig...
09/08/2020
The vegan wars...

...have spilled into print. There are three giants in the chemical artificial burger fight...and it ain’t pretty. Neighbor Joel Salatin is enjoying the fight, though, and you can read his blog...

David

...have spilled into print. There are three giants in the chemical artificial burger fight...and it ain’t pretty. Neighbor Joel Salatin is enjoying the fi

..son-in-law Curt Humphreys was out bushhogging the other day when he flushed two young coyotes.Photo by Curt HumphreysW...
09/01/2020
Scenes we’d rather not see...

..son-in-law Curt Humphreys was out bushhogging the other day when he flushed two young coyotes.

Photo by Curt Humphreys

With calving just around the corner this is a worry we’d just as soon not have. We hear coyotes howling fairly often...but from the nearby mountains. Actual sightings though are rare.

We’ve never lost a newborn to coyotes but others have.

..son-in-law Curt Humphreys was out bushhogging the other day when he flushed two young coyotes. Photo by Curt Humphreys With calving just around the corn

…in just a few weeks. For the first time our bull sire battery will be joined by Thistle Hill Essington…a pure tradition...
08/27/2020
Awaiting the final grade...

…in just a few weeks. For the first time our bull sire battery will be joined by Thistle Hill Essington…a pure traditional English Devon bull.

Essington - Photo by Church Humphreys

Essington will have to wait though for the first group of calves to finish...that will be this year’s AI group and the first by our grandson Church.

…in just a few weeks. For the first time our bull sire battery will be joined by Thistle Hill Essington…a pure traditional English Devon bull. Essington

...that’s how the self-proclaimed Lunatic Farmer Joel Salatin describes the latest advisory committee to the USDA’s meat...
08/25/2020
Fox guarding the hen house...

...that’s how the self-proclaimed Lunatic Farmer Joel Salatin describes the latest advisory committee to the USDA’s meat and poultry inspection division.

Salatin joins Greg Gunthorp in pointing out that the watch dogs include solely Big Ag and its academia sycophants but leaves out any representation from the “little guys”.

...that’s how the self-proclaimed Lunatic Farmer Joel Salatin describes the latest advisory committee to the USDA’s meat and poultry inspection division.

...takes a big jump with the purchase of about 100 straws of the top bulls ever produced by Ken McDowall.They’re all her...
08/21/2020
The Rotokawa renewal...

...takes a big jump with the purchase of about 100 straws of the top bulls ever produced by Ken McDowall.

They’re all here...688, 667, 982 and all the others in a purchase Church just concluded with veteran breeder Don Minto in Rhode Island. Don was in the group that first imported Rotokawa heifers and his Watson farm was a showplace for the Devon breed.

...takes a big jump with the purchase of about 100 straws of the top bulls ever produced by Ken McDowall. They’re all here...688, 667, 982 and all the

...with the auction of the Goldings herd in Cornwall, England.  Ivan Rowe, our partner in securing the fine English gene...
08/16/2020
End of an era...

...with the auction of the Goldings herd in Cornwall, England. Ivan Rowe, our partner in securing the fine English genetics, passed away last fall and this past weekend his incredible animals were auctioned.

Ivan, David and cow - Photo by Wooz Matthews

Back in 2010, Ivan gave us the pick of his herd...to breed and flush. The cow I selected was Norah 21 and Ivan smiled when I made my choice.

...with the auction of the Goldings herd in Cornwall, England.  Ivan Rowe, our partner in securing the fine English genetics, passed away last fall and thi

..at Thistle Hill farm.  The term may not have originated here but...Photo by Church Humphreys
08/15/2020
It’s a dog’s life…

..at Thistle Hill farm. The term may not have originated here but...

Photo by Church Humphreys

..at Thistle Hill farm.  The term may not have originated here but... Photo by Church Humphreys

Really excited to see how this young 3 year old boy does this fall. TDA 35 is a full younger brother to our older boy, H...
08/07/2020

Really excited to see how this young 3 year old boy does this fall. TDA 35 is a full younger brother to our older boy, Highwayman, and has been producing some amazing calves at one of our partner farms for two years now. Here's to hoping the trend continues!

...on a foggy morning.  Both are about 18 months out of American Devon dams...but their English sires have had an impact...
07/30/2020
Two little girls are we...

...on a foggy morning. Both are about 18 months out of American Devon dams...but their English sires have had an impact!

The heifer on the left is out of my personal favorite...R2...an almost after-thought purchase and a cow that was a trouble free producer of great calves for 15 years. This will be her last calf.

...on a foggy morning.  Both are about 18 months out of American Devon dams...but their English sires have had an impact! Photo by Mary Perrine The h

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.

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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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