The Future of Agriculture: Mark Shepard to Speak at Sylvan Dale Ranch Jan. 8-10

If you’re at all concerned about the food we eat and how we grow it, you’ll want to attend this special workshop with Mark Shepard, acclaimed author of Restoration Agriculture, on January 8-10 at Sylvan Dale Ranch.

Mark is one of the world’s foremost authorities on perennial eco-friendly agriculture.  Topics include soil restoration, multi-species grazing and water management, all keys to meet the challenge of sustaining Northern Colorado’s rich agricultural heritage in the face of unrelenting development pressure.

The program includes a site visit to Sylvan Dale’s Big Valley, where Mark will apply his concepts to a real-world project we’re calling “Living West.” It’s purpose is to establish collaborative enterprises in agriculture, housing and education that contribute to the preservation and rejuvenation of a 500-acre working landscape, sustained by renewable energy, recycled waste, and water conservation.image002

The workshop is sponsored by the Heart-J Center for Experiential Learning and Spring Kite Farm.  I hope you will join us by registering for this exciting event.  For the full schedule, click here.


David Jessup, Sylvan Dale Ranch



Heart-J Beef Score High in Tenderness

The results are in, and our pure grass-fed beef scored a win.

Every year we retain one small rib-eye steak out of most processed animals to send to a local meat lab to be independently tested for tenderness. Out of forty-one steaks tested, forty scored as tender. The breakdown is as follows:

Very Tender (Shear test score less than 3) 61%
Tender (Shear test score 3-4) 27%
Medium (Shear test score 4-5) 10%
Not Tender (Shear test score greater than 5) 2%

We’re pleased that our Heart-J Beef score high in tenderness, it confirms we’re on the right track in our beef-raising practices. For a more complete discussion of the factors that contribute to tenderness, see The Grass-Feeder’s Dilemma.

Of course, tenderness is a consideration mainly for steaks, about 25% of the cuts in a side of beef. Ground beef—about 40% of what’s included in a bulk purchase—is always tender, because it’s, well, ground.

And the remaining 35 percent of the cuts, mostly roasts and stew meat, are wonderfully tender when properly cooked, slow and over low heat. Six to eight hours in a croc pot is great.

For cooking tips, download our free Heart-J Beef Cooking Guide.


Troubled Teen Cattle Drive

By David Jessup

The Yearling Cattle are the troubled ones

There’s no such thing as a routine cattle drive.  Just ask the group of Sylvan Dale Ranch “adventure riders” who helped move sixty yearlings from their winter pasture back to the main ranch on Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Seven of us saddled up at 9 am, the spring sun warming our faces, the deep blue Colorado sky and crisp air thrilling our senses.   We figured we’d be back by noon.  We figured wrong.

As we rode toward the winter pasture, we took note of the problem areas we’d encounter on the way back:  several driveways, a home with an inviting lawn, a stretch of county road with occasional cars, a highway crossing, and a steep, red-rock ridge to cross.  The yearlings had made this trek in the opposite direction six months ago with their mamas.  Now they would be on their own. Read more