Author Archives: Lucia

Duke, our Canine team member

Coyotes and coywolves have become more prevalent in our area. Sometimes they come onto the farm and kill our livestock. Meet Duke, our guard dog. He’s a good fellow with us humans but doesn’t allow predators near our flock. Duke is 3/4 Central Asian Shepherd and 1/4 Akbash. He comes from an experienced trainer and he knows his business. We’re so grateful to have him here at the farm now


Beechtree Farm Cattle in the News

It’s way too simplistic when people suggest “stop eating meat” as an action to reduce carbon emissions. Animal agriculture plays an important part of the solution. It’s HOW the animals are raised that makes all the difference.
Attached is an article by the D&R Greenway about a research project in which Beechtree Farm is participating.
Kudos to Charlie Huebner and Bobby Strickhart, our farm helper, for the hard work of moving our cattle over to St. Michael’s.

“Cattle Return to Play a Key Role in Ground-breaking Climate Project at St. Michaels Farm Preserve

Cattle are grazing again at St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell.
For the first time in five years, cattle are grazing in contentment at St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell, this time as part an innovative carbon sequestration project. Early this month, 15 head of Hereford and Devon cattle from Beechtree Farm in Hopewell were brought to St. Michaels Farm to graze in the lush fields created by our partner Soil Carbon Partners (SCP).

At the heart of the project is a test of the effectiveness of soil amendments–a combination of minerals and microbes–in raising the productivity of the grasslands and their capacity to store carbon. If successful, the experiment will show how agriculture can help reduce the problem of climate change.

The role of the cattle is to replicate the healthy ecosystem that nourished bison on Western prairies. The impact of the cattle on climate will also be tested to see whether methane emissions from cattle are reduced when they consume nutrient dense forage growth from the enriched pastures.

Lush Grasses Growing in Test Areas

SCP’s Ed Huling shows off the tall forage growing at St. Michaels Farm Preserve.
Despite spring rains, followed by a hot, dry spell that required irrigation, SCP planted forage grasses on fields treated with their natural soil amendments. Three independent researchers from Princeton University, the University of Vermont, and StewardGreen are comparing results in test areas versus untreated control areas.

In the first months following the application of soil enrichment materials, the dry weight of newly planted forage grasses is more than 300% greater compared to control plots. Growing more food on less land is essential for combatting climate change, because if food production per acre can be significantly increased, we would no longer need to cut down forests to feed humans.

“We are very grateful for D&R Greenway Land Trust’s ongoing and active support of this Climate Project through use of their fields and managing their land to accommodate our farming activities. We also appreciate the warm welcome, curiosity and understanding shown to us by community members.”

Ed Huling
Managing Member
Soil Carbon Partners

Cattle Have It Made in the Shade!

The new grazing cattle enjoy the shade of a moveable “cow umbrella.”
“Eleven years ago, when D&R Greenway opened
St. Michaels Farm Preserve, the cattle of Jon and Robin McConaughy’s Double Brook Farm were pastured upon the fields where the new Herefords and Devons graze today.
We have missed seeing cows since they left five years ago.
You could say we’ve been waiting ‘til the cows come home.”

Linda Mead
President & CEO”

35 years at Beechtree Farm

With a spirit of gratitude and joy Charlie and I celebrated living here at the farm for 35 years.We gave two anniversary presents to the farm, a new tractor and a new barn roof.

Grassfed Beef

Most of us by now have heard about the health, environmental and humane reasons why grassfed beef is far superior to industrially raised beef. There’s something more and it’s important, that is FLAVOR. I’ll never forget that first time I tasted our meat. It was an epiphany moment and I knew we were on the right path with our farm. “Wow, So this is what beef tastes like!” Those of you who wear glasses, do you remember the first time you marveled at the details on first putting them on? What a joy to taste those notes of flavor that came through in that bite of beef

Some of my favorite comments I’ve heard:

From an 80+ year old woman, “I bought your ground beef at the Whole Earth Center and I had to come to your farm to meet you. I’ve been eating hamburger all of my life. I love hamburger. Young lady, I just want to tell you that yours was the most delicious ground beef I’ve ever tasted.”

From a mother of small children: “My kids will eat your ground beef without smothering it in ketchup. It’s so flavorful, we don’t need all the extras on top.”

When I asked a woman how she liked the brisket after the Passover holiday. She looked at me with tears welling up in her eyes. “I didn’t know that meat could taste that good.”

Grassfed beef, Grass-fed beef – so tasty. And very good for you too.

Back to the soil…

In grass farming, manure is an asset. It’s remarkable how quickly the cow “patties” break back down replenishing and reinvigorating the soil. It saddens us to hear that manure from industrial farming pollute the waters such as in the of the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Feast for the eyes

One of the great benefits of grassfed cattle is seeing these beautiful animals ls in their natural habitat. This lovely sight feeds heart and soul as well as body. 

Lambs almost all born

All but one of our ewes have delivered their beautiful lambs. Today is a big day because  the shearer comes. This time of year is intense in the lamb shed. But it’s also a great time for us as we work so closely with the sheep and become more closely acquainted with each other. Soon they will be out all day happily grazing on the pasture and won’t be eagerly greeting us as we bring armfuls of hay. 

The Explorer


We were just headed over to our friend’s house for dinner and a game of Mah Jongg when an observant tenant at our second farm up the road called to tell us that our steer had taken off right through the high tensile fence and went into the preserved woodlands behind the farm

These are not the happiest moments as a farmer, to put it mildly. Off we went in pursuit of this loco-yearling steer. Despite my considerable frustration, I found myself happy to be in the beautiful springtime woods for several hours before it started to be too dark to keep looking  So I called the Hopewell Police and Animal Control Officer   Then we did join our patient and kind neighbors for the fun evening we’d planned

Sure enough the next day several people reported  seeing the steer calf  We called the number provided and a friendly woman told us the calf had jumped into her pasture and was hanging out with her older Polled Hereford cattle. So we loaded rails, wire and step in posts in the trailer. Three hours later we finally slapped five after we successfully loaded him back on the trailer  Turns out Kelly and husband Frank had just moved to their new farm three miles from where #16 had escaped  We enjoyed meeting them and talking about farm life.  It occurred to me how lucky we are to be farming here in central Jersey with so many helpful, kind and interesting people nearby And maybe it isn’t time to throw in the towel and escape to a more manageable life. So thank you #16 for introducing us to some new folks.  But don’t get any other ideas of escaping! Charlie fixed that electric fence charger too.


More than grass

“Exclusively Grassfed”  and “Grassfed Goodness” are slogans we use to describe out meat. But as I gaze down while walking our pastures I am amazed at the diversity of plants our animals are eating. In one square foot are a myriad of plants, all offering different nutrients and minerals. Plantains, dandelions, burdock, shepherd’s purse, ajuga, chickweed. violets and a vast variety of clovers thrive in the field. All of these contribute to healthier soils and healthier animals. And speaking of clovers, very often I’ll find the four leaf variety!


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