Friday, April 6, 2012

Soy Free Feeding...

I am trying to be better about updating the blog to let you know what is going on here... I have so much planned in my head and on paper, I just forget that you might want to know what we are planning and why we do things the way we do.

The last few weeks alot of our time has been spent developing a 'new' feed recipe for our pigs. I developed 3 guidlines for the feed that I wanted to follow:

1) Needs to be local - preferably grown by us.
2) Needs to be sustainable - able for us to continue producing year after year(no monsanto seed!)
3) Needs to be healthy for the animals and provide health benefits to those consuming the products

Affordability was also an issue, or I could have chosen to purchase our feed from Scratch and Peck feeds -  This feed closely resembles what I would like to feed the pigs, but at $0.61/lb before shipping, that would take ALL of the profit out of raising pigs. If commercial producers are currently getting $0.69/lb live weight while paying $0.15/lb for commercial feed I would have to chage $2.76 /lb live weight JUST to stay competitive with factory farms... Not to mention that heritage breed pigs raised outside grow a little slower which means that they consume more feed to get to market weight. That would defeat our purpose of trying to raise healthy food that everyone can afford to eat.

So my next plan was to formulate our own recipe. Scratch and Peck did provide a lable that listed their ingredients, which helped tremendously since I did not go to school to formulate feeds. With my list in mind, I knew we had to be able to grow the ingredients while adding as little off farm supplements as possible.

By growing all of the ingredients used in our pig feed, it will cut down on the fuel that would have been used to bring in grain, especially soy, which would have to come from eastern Nebraska or even further. It also means that we know exactly what was or wasn't applied to the growing grains, as we farm following Organic standards. Any corn included in the feed will be non-GMO open polinated corn, grown right here.

My research led my to Austrian Meat Theory on feeding pigs for the best quality meat(very different from American standards) and Niman Ranch pork raising protocols. Their standards state:
1) Antiobiotic Free
2) Hormone Free
3) All vegetarian diets (To comply with this claim, we cannot feed meat or meat by-products This includes, but is not limited to: animal fat, meat and bone meal, fishmeal, tankage, blood or plasma, or even eggs. This excludes milk products which are allowed.

Most feeds for pigs contain some or all of these ingredients to boost protein levels... Yuck!

We did however realize that the pigs would need some form of salt/minerals to help balance their diet. There are Organic premixes available, but for now I intend to go with a SeaLife kelp - see here:

So our final ingredient list for our ground feed came to:

Austrian Field Peas
SeaLife Kelp
Diatomaceous Earth (controls parasites and reduces odors)

We are also planting small pasture paddocks or grass/clover/alfalfa to get the pigs out grazing and they will be supplemented with hay and excess dairy.

We feel like eliminating the soy from their diet was the right choice -

We plan to feed our meat chickens the same ground feed with added calcium.

Two litters are due this month which means they will be ready to process Oct-Dec. The reservation list is filling up fast so if you want to try our pork, please contact us!

Nathaniel & Rylee McGowan

Saturday, March 24, 2012

We are still here...

Wow... it has been forever and then some since I posted! We had a rough winter(snowless as it was) here on the farm, but things seem to be looking up this spring.

Here are some basic updates... I will try to add more later.

Pigs - We are currently out of pork and will be until our next litters are born. Both of our Hereford sows seem to be within 30 days of pigging, which will give us pork finished around Oct. We have to gilts being bred right now, hoping for late July, early August piglets. We are developing our own feed for the hogs from grains that can be grown right here on the farm... Our pork will be SOY-FREE, recieve non-GMO corn, and be completely vegetarian besides milk (this means our feed won't contain any animal, fish, blood, or bone protein commonly found in hog food. And of course it will be hormone and antiobiotic free. We are also planting some small pastures of clover, alfalfa, and grasses along with annuals such as peas, oats, and millet to rotate the hogs on. Once the cows are in milk, pigs will receive whey from cheesemaking as well as any extra milk, and alfalfa hay to supplement their diets.

Cows - We still have Daisy, our original Jersey cow as well as a purebred Jersey heifer, two Normande/Jersey crossbred heifers, and a young Jersey bull. We attempted AI'ing Daisy after her 2011 calf was born, and did not see her return to heat for about 3 months. When we took her to the vet this winter, we found that she was not in calf... so she is currently in with the beef bulls, trying for and Jan-Feb 2013 calf. Our three heifer Roana, Belle, and Gizelle will also be bred for spring 2013 as well. Unfortunatly we won't hvae any milk this summer, but with baby #5 of our own due in June, the timing actually worked out well for our family. During this time we are working on our Grade-A dairy parlor and cheese room, which will be built from an 'up-cycled' refridgerated semi trailer.

I will try to update a 'little more often' with what is going on here and the progress we are making.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Solutions Office Services

I just updated our image with the help of Solutions Office Services, a new home based company my mom launched today! The services include but are not limited to:

  • Customer Billing

  • Accounts Payable

  • Payroll

  • Presentations

  • Clerical

  • Presentations

  • Proofreading

  • Computer Training

  • Software Upgrade Consulting and Implementation

  • Business Process Consulting

  • Customer Service Training Services

  • Here is my new business card that was completed today:

    I love it!

    You can view her website at and be sure to check back often for updates as she will be adding websites and printed products!

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Fresh from the Farm...

    Again, I haven't managed to update this for over a month, so I will try to cover and condense everything. Daisy our Jersey really WAS pregnant and had a beautiful heifer May 18th. Polly had a guernsey bull calf May 28th, a day after her due date. Polly is a very large girl, about twice the size of Daisy, and only milking about 1/2 of what Daisy does. We plan to let her raise this calf to about months old, then Sept 28th he will be weaned and we will finish her on pasture and corn for 60 days. Around Nov 28th we will send her in and fill the freezer with 2 lb rolls of hamburger - I am guessing at about 750 lbs worth, so if you want to reserve some let us know!

    We have planted 9 fruit trees this year, and plan to plant 10 each spring. This years additions were 2 North Star Pie Cherries, 3 Ranger Dwarf Peach, 1 Contender Peach, and 2 Red Delicious Apples, and a Pear of some sort.

    The meat chickens are growing nicely, and our Heritage breed Toulouse Goose and Royal Palm Turkey's have arrived. We are still waiting on the ducklings that Delaney and Eddie ordered. I did chores for Lee and LaDone while they were out of town, including gathering their eggs, so I have 6 RIR eggs in the incubator waiting to see if they hatch.

    We are branding the beef herd this Saturday morning starting at about 6:30 am, then Nathaniel and I will leave just before lunch (my favorite part ) and head over to the Open A Bar 2 Ranch for their open house. We are planning to bring a few hereford piglets and giving away ice cream cones, so be sure to stop by!

    And finally - they whole point of my post =) We have been making all sorts of things will all of this fresh milk, and so have our customers. I recieved a wonderful slice of chocolate cake and the recipe to go with it - which motivated me to move forward with something I have been thinking about for the last year... a Flower Field Farm Cookbook! I plan to include recipes I use frequently, recipes that you all contribute, old info from the farmer's almanacs as well things like how to render lard step by step and Grandma's lard soap recipes to go with it! Would like to receive as many recipes as possible for appetizers, main courses, desserts, canning and preserving, and milk products, and household items. You can e-mail them to me at or send them in the mail to:

    Flower Field Farm
    2310 Rd 18
    Harrisburg, NE 69345

    I plan to have these done by Dec 1st, so please have all recipes in by the end of October.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Baby piglets & Meat chickens

    You may have already seen the picture on our Facebook page, but we had our first ever litter of piglets.

    They are growing like weeds and super cute! One is already pre-sold. Our next gilt is due in July.

    Nathaniel and I have decided to add broiler chickens here as well. We are trying to diversify enough to farm full time, without getting to big to handle it all. We have decided to raise 200 broilers this summer in the milk cow pasture. Raising them in the pasture will help with bug control, fertilize the pasture, and give the birds a much more natural diet and life. Please email us and reserve your birds today -

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    2011 Baby Calves

    We are right in the middle of our calving for the year. So far our dairy x beef cow Magnus had a little bull calf in February. We were getting enough milk for the house here for the first few weeks. Delaney's heifer had a baby that she didn't mother, so we put the baby on Magnus. She is now officially a nurse cow, because if I am going to spend 15 minutes doing the milking routine, I want enough to make it worth my time! She does have some very good attributes. She has and excellent temperament - the best on the place, and very good maternal instincts. Magnus will be AI'd to a Normande bull called Uvray:

    This should produce a heifer that can join the milk crew.

    Daisy is due any day now - from her ultrasound this winter we had set a due date for the middle of April, but she was with the beef bull this year instead of being AI'd , so we really aren't sure when the baby will be here. She is bagging up good, so hopefully any day now! We plan to AI her to a jersey bull for a purebred jersey heifer.

    Polly is next to calve - she was AI'd by her former owners and has a due date of May 27th. She is currently bred to a guernsey bull, which will make the calf 1/4 brown swiss, and 3/4 guernsey. Hoping for a heifer!! Debating between using guernsey bull again or trying normande this time.

    Anna will calve last - she was AI'd to a brown swiss and is due June 21st. The calf will  be pure bred brown swiss, so a heifer would be great here too! She will be AI'd brown swiss again.

    We hope to move up the calving of the entire herd so that it only lasts 60 days from Feb 15th to April 15th. This may take 1-2 two years depending on how quickly each cow becomes pregmant after calving.

     Earlier this week I found a some normande x jersey crossbred bottle heifers for sale in Colorado, and since we were going down anyways, I couldn't help but bring two home. They were brought in from a grass fed dairy in Wisconsin, normande first calf heifers bred to jersey bull for calving ease. They have already starting their halter training, and will also be trained as oxen. They will truly be triple purpose, meat, milk, and work. I plan to use them in the garden for tilling as well as help harvesting. They will be used when we are able to do milking demonstrations or exhibits, and my pull a cart in a parade one day!



    Roana will be the neigh ox, while Belle will be the off ox. They are an awesome addition to the dairy herd!

    As far as beef calves go, we had 2 cows and 6 first calf heifers to calve this year. So far we have 3 heifer and one bull calf on the ground. 2 of our favorites had heifers and they will definately be kept. We also have 4 yearling heifer we saved from last year that we will be adding to the herd... (wait, our limit is supposed to be 10 hd - we need to lease some pasture!!!)

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Finally an Update =)

    I didn't realize it had been so long since my last post! It has been hectic here lately and the time just flew. Nathaniel has been gone for the last 3 days in Chadron taking a Select Reproductive Solutions class which means by the time he gets home he will be certified to AI cattle. I'm not so sure that the cows care if he is certified or not, but it would have cost about the same to pay our vet to AI the four milk cows as it cost for the class. This will allow us to breed all of our cows to some of the country's top bulls at a lower cost than actually owning 1 bull.
    Delaney has had a busy week as well. While Nathaniel was gone, she had Kindergarten Roundup on Thursday, where she learned all about the school, the busses, and the lunch room.Yep, we even got to eat at the school =) Aren't you sad you missed it honey? Our first beef heifer of the year also calved this week, and it happened to be Delaney's black girl with a white line down her back - happily named Stunky. While feeding we noticed that Stunky looked much thinner than she had a few hours before, and was already cleaning - but no calf to be found. The only calf we could find was with an old cow that had no milk, but tried to eat Nathaniel's lunch when he grabbed hold of the calf. After watching this pair the better part of the afternoon, we decided that cow had not calved, but infact stolen the calf from the heifer. We now have little Buttercup here at the house, and Nathaniels black milk cow Magnus has adopted her quite well for a first calf heifer. I am not getting as much milk for the house now, but when I look out the window, she has a black calf on either side of her nursing away.
    Our larger hereford gilt definately looks bred, and we turned the two younger gilts in with the boar this week. We now have 7 beef cows left to calve, 2 dairy heifers and 1 cow. We have 4 replacement heifers we saved from last year that will be first in line for Nathaniel to AI. Sheep are due in April too. I am excited for more babies!