The One-cow Revolution

a grass-fed homestead


We love to talk to people about farming!  Call us with questions and conversation; better yet, come visit.  If what you want is several hours of our time, see the classes page for our workshops and consulting —

82 thoughts on “contact

  1. I got your info from a friend and am interested in purchasing raw milk and kefir grains if you have them. Please put me on the waiting list.
    Thanks and God bless

  2. Good morning Beth and Sean

    My new computer cannot find your address. Can you please email me bath at

    Actually you can just give me an answer to my question if you have time. We got two little pigs they are Idaho pastor pigs. Can we give them free choice buttermilk? Do you have any other counsel as far as their diet.

    I hope you’re having a very Merry merry Christmas!


  3. Hi,
    I read your cow down story it was good. We are hobby farmers in Estonia, we got also many chickens 2 bigs, 2 cows. We do moust work ourself in farm.
    Sorry my english is little glumsy.
    We have same probleem with our cow she is down and we have lifter and Vet also visited and suggested to lift in some regularity. We gave her also Ca what Vet suggested. Cow is in good spirit and condition only legs needs some how training.
    Is there possible to ask info how exactly You did cow lifting any special times? did you trained her legs muscles some how? any regularity or specific actions, if yes what should be noticed?


    1. Hi, Rory! We are so sorry we didn’t see this earlier — we are not very good at social media. The answer to your question is that, under different circumstances we have lifted with a hip lifter — that’s a sort of clamp on the the hipbones which you can attach to a come-along (a hand-winch) — or, for a small animal, we’ve used a blanket with one person on each side. Big animals require a lift, and none of it is very easy or very effective. If we had a big animal down for a week we’d probably slaughter, but we had a young heifer down for four weeks once. She had gotten herself under an electric fence and spent the night that way — every time she started to get up she’d get a shock — and when we put her in the barn for recovery, she just wouldnt’ get up. We’d have put her down (shot her), only she was so upbeat, somehow we just kept feeding her, cleaning up her stall — then spring came and she looked out the barn door at the green grass and decided she had a good reason to get up. In a couple of weeks she went back out with the yearling calves and had a fine summer. IN the fall, though, we put her in the freezer — we don’t breed problems.

  4. Hi! I heard your interview on Paleo Valley Podcasts and was super impressed! I am starting a wellness group in January and want include some field trips in my program. Is that something we can plan with you? My husband and I are looking to buy a family farm in March, located in Wayensburg PA. I am looking to do some of the things you are doing. I will definitely get your book! Please let m know if we can plan a visit in the spring/summer months. Thank you, Lisa

    1. Hi, Lisa! Glad to hear from you. Yes, we’re happy to have farm visitors; contact us at Our spring Farm Day will be in late April or early May, and we’ll be posting that date on the onecowrevolution site as well. Let us know what you are thinking of —

      1. Great Thanks! I just signed up for your newsletter, so I will be looking at the spring date for your Farm Day! that sounds perfect! Thank you : )

  5. Hi!

    I read your book recently and one thing that stood out was your use of submersible pumps in streams to pump water to stock tanks, gardens etc. I’d like to do the same with a stream on my property – can you recommend a particular pump?

    Thanks so much for your time. Your book was inspiring!

    Gettysburg, PA

    1. Hi, Chris! Thanks for the note. As it happens, since practically everything on the farm is second hand, repurposed, or jury-rigged, our sump pumps have all been garage sale finds, submersibles with the draw opening on the bottom. When we put them in the creek, we just make sure 1) that where we have them, the inflow into the pool is faster than the outflow created by the pump (so it doesn’t suck dry, obvioiusly); and 2) that we aren’t sucking sand or pebbles (usually we just set the pump on a rock). Of course, when we pump from a larger reservoir, like an IBC full of spring or rain water, we can alternatively use a jet pump, and if the pools in our creek were bigger, this might be an option for creek pumping as well. The present weather patterns inspire us to remind you, as we remind one another, to make sure to drain both pump and hose after use, so nothing freezes. Best of luck to you! s/b

  6. I loved your living web presentation so much that I have watched all six sessions about half a dozen times because I notice more little details each time. One of those was when you mentioned ag school research showing that weeds mine and add deficient minerals to soil. Could you point me in the direction of some of that research? When I go to ag school sites and search for weed research it is all about herbicides *rolls eyes*. I could really use a proper citing for such research in a presentation I am putting together.

    1. Hi, we’re so glad you enjoy the videos. There are lots of sites referencing the ability of weeds to mine minerals from the soil; fewer commenting on the subsequent bioavailability of the concentrated nutrients. For example, the third paragraph of this blog post at Hoeggers references the ability of some weeds to concentrate minerals in a defficient soil ; a little further down some primary research is cited. The high concentrations of minerals in some weeds is a fact widely known, as, for example, Zn in ragweed; the grazier, by using animals to harvest those weeds and spread them as manure, makes them bioavailable to other plants which are not as capable of accessing them before they are chelated. We hope this helps!

  7. Hi! I attended your classes at the Mother Earth News Fair in NC in the spring. I’m attempting to rotate 4 yearling heifers daily but if I cut the pen down to one days size they get to wrestling and knock the whole thing down. Then they walk right out. I had to go out of town and have them two days worth and noticed it didn’t happen then. Do you have any suggestions for this problem? Also I’m having trouble finding an automatic waterer that doesn’t leak. Any suggestions? Thanks for your help and I really enjoyed the classes!

    1. Hi, Amber,

      Good to hear from you.
      How long have these four heifers been together? Sounds like they are pretty competetive with one another. If they have been together for less than a month, I’d expect that the shenanigans will level off soon, when they’ve got their pecking order worked out; but if they’ve already had time to get sorted and they are still doing that much shoving, then I would guess that they need a slightly bigger paddock. Is there, maybe, one bad actor in there? One heifer who just likes throwing her weight around? We had a Dexter heifer with horns who was just a pain in the backside to all and sundry until we polled her, and not so sweet even then; she made the whole herd wish it could get away.

      What shape are you making your paddocks? The situation you describe — shoving in a narrow space leading to broached fences — is to be expected, but not as a regular thing; however, if your paddocks are long and narrow — as mine are right now, because I need the cows to do a lot of trampling to increase impact — then it’s much easier for a shove to send an animal into the fence. Narrow lanes back to water are notorious for this kind of problem.

      How many joules on your charger? and is it doing its job? You’ve probably already gotten the fence tester out there and made sure the charge is carrying all the way through the fence, but, if not, that would be a good thing to check. If I have a group that is testing fence, I put them on our most powerful charger — 3 joules — and make sure that I’m not wasting charge on parts of the fence with no animals in them; or , in other words, I just charge the paddock, not any uninvolved perimeter fence. When I’ve had cows that habitually took out fence, I’ve always been able to alter their mindset in this way, with some concentrated joules.

      And there’s always the question of contentment! When I have fidgety cows, I make sure they have plenty to eat, plus water, salt, minerals, maybe, and shade, all on their own side of the fence. How hard are you having them hit these paddocks? How much residual is left after one day? Is it possible that they get fractious out of boredom, once the grass is no longer interesting?

      And don’t think that that 2-day paddock thing isn’t a working solution, either. If that’s the most sensible way to keep them from taking out the fence, you can always switch to two-day paddocks. The impact will be a little less even, but you don’t have to worry that they’ll be grazing new growth, not in such a short period. If you do elect to go to 2-day paddocks, though, you want to keep a good eye on that impact and make sure they’re not just overgrazing the clover and walking around the fescue and thistles.

      As for automatic waterers, is yours leaking because it can’t handle the PSI in your hose, or is it just a connection that’s not tight enough? There’s one spot on the convent land where we occasionally hook up to city water, and the pressure is immense, much too high for our Little GIant stock valves. We have to fill our tanks and then close down the spigot almost completely, which doesn’t actually affect the pressure, but at least ensures that if something leaks, it leaks slowly! It helps when we have the water tank at a higher elevation than the spigot, so back pressure is partly offset by gravity. For the rest of the farm, we mostly use Hudson valves and Jobe floats, which work well with our low pressure captured water systems, and only leak if we don’t get them tightened down after each move (moving tanks often loosens our hose connections).

      We love hearing from folks who are using their acres so well, for food, for fertility, for ecology — bless you!

      Shawn and Beth

      1. Hi Shawn and Beth,

        Just wanted to thank you for your reply. It was much more thorough than I expected which was a real treat. Yes, it’s one heifer that actually gets shoved into the fence. They have all been together for over 6 months but something about her makes everybody want to shove her. I only started the rotation about two weeks ago and I had them grass the poorest area first so the weeds there would get trampled first. So there wasn’t quite as much grass but definitely plenty. Now that they are on waist high thick grass they seem much more content. No bawling or even eating close to the line I noticed. I made the pens roughly 60 x 60 right now. I feel like it’s too big because you can see they are mostly stomping or laying down the grass rather than eating it but if they doesn’t stay in the assigned area at all that seems worse than the animal impact not being concentrated to that area. The first that they kept knocking over was probably closer to 50 x 50. I agree that it has something to do with this one because they used to do this to her in the open field also. In about 30 days the two oldest will go out with the momma cows and bull so this should definitely settle down the two I would think.

        I have tightened the pieces on the waterer to point I’m afraid of breaking them. It is county water and the pressure definitely played a part. I move the tank everyday with the pen. It is connected by a hose to a spigot. Even now the hose looks swollen at the metal neck with the reduced pressure. I think I’m going to try taking the pressure down even more. I’m trying to get my ducks in a row before I bring my full grown cows and bull to the farm.

        Lastly the cows I have are all larger breeds. I was currently basing the pen size on a 25 x 25 foot per cow calf unit but I thought I better ask if that is for a cow of any size or in my case the average cow will weigh 1400 lbs. Some are bigger and some are smaller but I’d say that’s a good average. I remembered you mentioned that it would be different if you had a larger breed animal. Do you have a recommendation for the amount of space I should a lot for each unit?

        Thanks for all your help! I have been spreading your practices to anyone who will listen so maybe one day I can get more people on board.


  8. Oh, yes, the size of a paddock is going to change with breed/size of animal, also with sex, state of lactation or gestation, time of year, etc. In fact, it’s a moving target. Your paddocks sound like they might be on the small side, which may be just what you want, but don’t worry about LOTS of trampled forage, that’s your future soil. How many acres total are you grazing, and how many animals do you have/

    1. So total I will have roughly 40 but right now I only have about 5 fences that I’m getting my feet wet rotating these heifers. I’d say a little less than 4 acres is what I’m rotating them through right now because one acre was grazed to the ground while we fenced these approximately 4 acres. The grass was VERY thick and over waist high before I turned them in and the 50 x 50 section isn’t necessarily grazed flat it’s just laid down from them trampling and laying on it. I am concerned that new grass won’t grow back through this thick mat that’s laid down in the 30 days before they are moved back to the beginning. Does this sound like what you have going on also? Oh I’m in southern Indiana so you can get an idea of the climate and zone. Also they don’t bawl or even act like they are dying to get through but they seem hollowed out before I move them but I think that is me being paranoid because they spend more time laying down than anything so I figured if they were actually hungry they would be grazing since there is clearly a lot of grass left even if it’s laid down. Thanks for the advice!

  9. Hi
    When do you plant the mangel wurzel?
    Just received seed from baker creek. The packet said 3 to 4 weeks before last frost. Is that correct? Loved your book!

    1. Hi, Brian,
      Thanks for the contact. We’re glad you like the book! I
      Mangels are supposed to be sensitive to frost, so we generally put seed in the ground around mid-May, our average last frost date. However, they are just giant beets, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did just fine with a few light frosts while they are seedlings;hence the date Baker Creek suggests. They seem to be pretty flexible. This year we’ve even started a second planting in late June, hoping to make up for some of the losses we’re experiencing with our very, very wet summer. We always harvest these before October, top them (leaving an inch or so of greens) and put them into old feed sacks. Any later and they might experience storage issues if they get burned with an early fall frost. Once they are harvested, we stack them in the root cellar until December or so. They are supposed to cause digestive issues in pigs and cows if they are offered before January, but I can’t say we’ve seen it. Mangels are crispy and sweet, and our livestock love them. They store beautifully, too; we just finished feeding out the mangels from last year, and we didn’t see significant spoilage until some time in May, I’m thinking. Boiling a chopped mangel in water is supposed to produce a super tonic for young calves; I wonder if it wouldn’t be helpful with piglets as well, when they are stressed by weaning, or being moved to a new pen.
      We hope this helps! May we include your question in a blog post? There may be other folks interested in growing mangels.
      Blessings, and good weather — Shawn and Beth

  10. Love your blog and can’t believe I did not see it sooner! I used to blog about our farm and family on and now, being more advanced in years, a friend who reads your blog suggested I contact you. We are selling our 30 acre farm in Northeast Kansas, if you know of anyone looking to begin an awesome adventure as you did! We raised dairy goats, dairy cows, horses, chickens, rabbits and of course, cats and dogs. I miss the animals, but as I said, time does not stop and we all get old some day!
    Thank you for reading. Would not trade the memories for the world. We were blessed.

    1. Wow! Hi, Suzy, so glad to hear from you. Where in KS? We’re from TX and OK, ourselves, just found ourselves in Appalachia by the grace of God and now we don’t ever mean to leave. It rains here! And the ground is full of springs. (I know you didn’t mean us, just rhapsodizing.) So, are you familiar with Kevin Ford? and the Prairie Troubadour folks? They are all KS folks, agrarian-minded, family types. I could ask around. And for how much are you listing your farm?
      Momoften, who are the plus? Grands, or adopteds, or just spiritual children?
      Thanks for the contact, we’d love to stay in touch.

  11. Aw, thank you for such a fast reply! We’re in Atchison, just north of Fort Leavenworth. There is one cool possibility–the men who built our house and started the farm in 1890 were the Benedictine monks, and the Benedictine Abbey may be interested in it once again. They sold it in the 1960’s. I like to think of the farm as their “Super-Walmart” of the early 20th century. They raised cattle for beef and milk, pigs, chickens, had a garden, a vineyard for wine and beehives for honey and wax! They were so self-sufficient. Recently, some officials from the Abbey toured our place with the thought of purchasing it back and using it for a conference center. A few people have flown in from around the US looking at it not only as a home, but a wedding venue. It is listed for $799,000 and as you know, we farm people put way more into it than we’d ever really recoup. But I like to feel that we were so blessed there, and now perhaps God has someone new in mind. It just would feel really special if the Abbey “got it back.” We still would love to see it bless another family, especially one that could use it like you do with your property!

    The ten are our children, the pluses are two sons-in-law, a granddaughter, two more grandbabies on the way, some boarders here and there who have become like family, and then foreign exchange students from Korea, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Columbia and Thailand! People would joke that we were so used to such a large family that as our older daughters grew up and moved out, we’d invite a new “child” in. One of our daughters has special needs, and she has blessed us in so many ways–one of which is by bringing in “helpers” who have become like family, as well.

    That’s just a bit.
    I’m not familiar with Kevin Ford and the Prairie Troubadour folks. But we know others around here who are like-minded.

    Thank you for keeping it in mind! I’d love to stay in touch by email, if possible? I may have missed a link to your email.

    1. shawnandbeth@att.netwhich Benedictines?  I guess I could look it up, they’re probably the only ones in Atchinson.  I just happen to be on the stupid computer today because my number four son is planning his wedding and we’re working out details.  Pray for me!  I want son number three to be there, and right now the plan is for a date he can’t make.  Mama can’t express her opinion, but she can pray, right? Kevin Ford is a young man who kept a blog called, I think, the new catholic land movement.  He had a farm in the southeastern corner of KS (I think) and found out just how hard it is to ‘make a living’ on the homestead.  I think he’s in KC, or maybe Topeka, now.  The Prairie Troubadour folks are somehow connected with a KS Catholic college, I think — friends of friends who have been to our farm.  Isn’t everyone, everywhere, who doesn’t have a farm already, looking for one? Blessings!  Shawn and Beth Dougherty The Sow’s Ear Check out our new farm Air B and B and come visit us

      Watch the first installment of our Youtube videos with Living Web Farms

      Check out our new book, The Independent Farmstead

      The Doughertys capture both the soaring majesty and the down-and-dirty reality of farm life…. This book encourages and inspires all of us, no matter if we’re just wannabes or if we’re old hands. —JOEL SALATIN, from the foreword. 

      Library Journal starred review.

      1. Shawn and Beth,
        Oh, I know wedding planning! But for boys it must certainly be different! The link to the farm is:,-KS,-66002_rb/122710217_zpid/?view=public
        Our farm was called the “College Farm” for years before us, because it was associated with the Benedictine College and the Benedictine Abbey in Atchison. Benedictine College is a gem! I taught in the Nursing Program for a few years and for reasons same as selling the farm am now an online instructor for Washburn University. Both nursing programs are top-notch. Benedictine College’s, of course, has a distinctly Catholic mission statement.
        I will certainly check out your book! I’d love to know about your publishing journey…is there a post about that?
        Thank you for the email!

  12. Oh, Benedictine College, of course, stupid of me! Lots of kids I know have gone there. I can imagine the price would be enhanced by that location.
    I’ve never written about the publishing thing — at least, I don’t think I have! The journey was short, which was not what we expected. Chelsea Green Publishing is the best in the country for our sort of book, and lots of the books on our shelves come from them, so they were a natural place to send our first proposal. We were pretty thrilled when they picked us up. So, we know almost nothing about sumitting MS, because we only had to do it once! DG.
    We’d love to meet you if you come out this way!

    1. Hi, Terri,
      This is a great question. Deciding what genetics and cultural methods to bring into the herd — or just how the heck to get this cow bred so she’ll lactate — involves a lot of factors. There are a great many available sires filling straws out there, and it helps a lot if you can start by narrowing down the field. We can tell you how our decision-making is done, but in the end there is always some uncertainty.
      First, breed. You’ve got that already, since you’re asking about Jerseys. We have almost universally used Jersey semen, too.
      Then there are several factors that rank closely in importance. Grass genetics, for one — that’s all the resultant calf is going to get on our farm, so we select for a history of grass in the sire. Not that a grain-fed bull won’t sire calves that can do fine on grass, though — bovines are herbivores. But since we can select for a grass-fed bull, we do.
      Longer teats in the bull’s mother and sisters. This is important, because we are going to hand-milk these girls, and there are few things more frustrating than trying to extract three gallons of milk from an udder just a few drops at a time.
      High components in the milk of the bull’s mother and sisters. That should mean more fat and protein in our milk, too. Water we have already, from the house well; we don’t need watery milk.
      ‘Calving-ease’ genetics — in other words, the bull sires smaller calves. I’m not always there when Mama starts nesting, and I want her to be able to get that baby out without trouble.
      Homozygous A2 betacasein is nice, if you can get it; A2A2 cows bring more in the home dairy cow market.
      If we have a choice, we’ll select semen from a bull in an organic, non-medicated cultural practice, but as the language of regenerative agriculture is bought up by big business, terms lose their real meaning, so unless we can actually visit the farm, we can’t really know what the sire has or has not been exposed to. It’s a guessing game.
      Then there is consanguinity! With the way semen has been shipped around the country in the past few decades, the bloodlines have gotten to be few and congested — that is, most of those bulls are related to one another, so even if I change bulls every year, pretty soon I’m breeding pretty close to the line. This is a serious problem in modern breeding — a narrowing of our genetic availability — and one we are taking steps to avoid on our farm.
      Over the years we have used artificial insemination for most of our breeding, and I can’t actually say I have evidence one way or another for the success of our genetic choices! Mamas conceive, bear, and lactate pretty much the same whatever bull we use, of course. The one exception we can remember was the year we ordered special (all-grass, organic, Jersey, intensively grazed, A2A2) genetics from Nebraska. Twenty straws, plus shipping — it cost going on one thousand dollars, all told — and we only got two conceptions. Bad a.i. technique, or bad semen? We don’t know, but since then we order semen from Select Sires. They, at least, can absorb the loss if they accidentally send us inviable straws.
      All of that said, we believe that artificial insemination, and the genetic homogeneity it results in, is at best a poor second to bull-breeding. For the past two years we’ve kept a Dexter/Jersey cross bull to cover our cows, and this year’s crop of calves is lovely. As long as we have enough grass to spare for a bull, we hope to go on using one; if we ever have to down-size to our home farm (a scant seven or so acres of pasture set in another twenty of trees), things may change again.
      We hope this helps!
      Best of luck,
      Shawn and Beth

    1. Hi, Terri, thanks for reaching out. Great question! The ‘down cow’ post goes back — I don’t know how many years! — to our first dairy cow, Isabel, who predated our love affair with forage. We went by the book — sort of — and fed her grain, although our thrifty souls wouldn’t let us feed it at the recommended rates. So she, Isabel, did get grain, way back then. Today and for many years, our cows are and have been grain-free. I think the last cow that was offered a cup of oats as a treat was five or six years back, and she refused them — didn’t know what they were. Grain is unnecessary to a ruminant’s diet, and an ecologically sound food system has to be founded in the sustainable harvest of perennials. Since human beings don’t have a gut that can digest forage, that means we need to cooperate with grass-eating animals, helping them manage the pastures so we can share in their conversion of green leaves into milk, meat, and more runimants. Thanks for asking!

  13. Dear Sean & Beth,

    I’m emailing you because I’m thinking about becoming a farmer or rancher.

    I’ve lived in the city all my life and have been trained for a white-collar job (I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree two years ago). About a year and a half ago, I started speaking with a spiritual director, and I’m convinced, for many reasons, that I’d like to work the land. I researched “Catholic farming,” found you through New Catholic Land Movement, and am now emailing you to learn more about this vocation.

    Here are some of the questions I have:
    1. What steps should I take if I’d like to farm or ranch?
    2. Would it be wise to study at college, or would I be in too much debt?

    Thank you,


    1. Hi, David,
      Thanks for reaching out to us. These are great questions! While we are working on a longer answer, here’s a short one:
      Second question first: No school. Yes, it would be too much debt, but, more importantly, there isn’t a school for this.
      First question second: 1) Attach yourself to a piece of land. Smallish. And start managing it for food and fertility from the sun. Plant something, mulch it, make compost, grow food. If there’s enough land, graze something. Match your animal to your forage and topography. Move it every day. If it’s lactating, milk it. 2) Show up on other folks’ land and help out. Pay attention. Be critical (silently), and don’t copy anything that doesn’t flow from the soil, sun, precipitation, and the natural order of things. The time is past when we can afford to hot-wire nature to try to get a bigger pay-off for poorer work.
      We’ll try to expand this answer, but this weekend we’re off to the Mother Earth News Fair to talk about forage, and land, and fences.

  14. Hey Shawn and Beth…Mary Pat Acquaviva here (Pete’s friend) sorry to have missed you at MEN….I have one question …what in the world are we to do with Japanese Stilt grass? will the sheep eat it? seems they do not but have lots left of things they like better…its so invasive but to large in the paddock to pull…read about corn gluten meal but that seems like over kill…and time consuming and slows new seed germination of everything else…
    Would love to here your input here, or at

  15. Hi, Mary Pat! Of course we remember you! The beautiful sign next to the front door of our guest house always makes us think of you.
    So, I did some asking around among graziers, and everyone says their sheep and cows eat Japanese stilt grass just fine. Some mentioned that they had been able to eradicate it with grazing (if that is the goal). If your sheep don’t seem to be grazing it adequately, there are several tactics you can employ to encourage them:
    First, you could just minimize paddock size using temporary fence. Crowd them down onto smaller paddocks, ideally only one day’s grazing, and reduce their options. Let them graze it closer than you would allow them to do on a forage you want to keep. Bring them back often — as soon as it reaches a few inches in height — and graze again, to disadvantage it.

    Another tactic when an unfamiliar forage species is being overlooked by the animals is to bait it with something they like. Take away their salt block for a few days, then spray the stilt grass with a mild salt solution. Some stock salt dissolved in warm water and then applied with a garden sprayer (make sure it hasn’t previously been used for anything nasty) should increase the palatability. Or use a bit of molasses diluted with water. (This tactic carries a caveat: you have to know that the species you are spraying isn’t toxic. You don’t want to trick them into eating a toxic/medicinal species unknowingly; although forage-savvy grazing animals can eat many such plants knowingly, as self-medication, their ability to recognize the plant and determine dosage shouldn’t be compromised.)

    I would try making smaller paddocks first, as the most natural way of encouraging them to graze the stilt grass, as well as the least work for you. Least intervention is best. Best of luck to you.

    1. Great advice! we are actually in process of sectioning off off smaller paddocks for grazing and when checking just yesterday noted that they DO seem to be eating the stilt grass..especially after it has dried a bit…and I love the spray idea–my sheep all have a sweet tooth–I think they would eat a dead rat if I covered it with a bit of molasses water!
      Blessings to you both….Mary Pat…and I’m glad you gave the sign a good home!… 🙂

  16. I bought a jersey calf. She is maybe 250 lb. she has horns or nubs about 1 1/2 long. Is there anything I can do about the horns now. Can they be removed?

    1. Hi! Do you have an elastrator? You know, one of those instruments for putting a band on to castrate a bull calf? Put a band on each stub, and push it down as far as you can, until it slips down off the horn proper and around the base, where the hair is. Just get it down there as far as you can. Even better, you can put two bands on each horn; then if one slips off, you’re still in the good. It’ll take a while, but it will take those horns off.
      Some folks will saw the thing off, but that leaves a huge open sinus into the cow’s skull, from which she may or may not recover fully. Flies lay eggs in there, she may get a phenomenal infection, and so on. We’ve seen it happen. So, we just band them. And for all folks say about leaving the horns on, it’s more natural, cows need horms to proctect themselves, etc., while I nod to that wisdom, I’m even more attached to my eyesight, and a milking cow with horns doesn’t have to be aiming for you to land one in your face one day as she backs out of the stanchion. By all means, dehorn.
      Blessings —

  17. Hello Beth and Shawn!
    Andrea and Moses here from air bnb. Looking forward to meeting on Sunday!
    Thanks for your willingness to work with us!!
    Andrea & Moses

  18. Hello Dear Dougherties! We will begin milking our sweet milk cow this year and were hoping to get the children milking and cheese making supplies for Christmas. Do you have a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves” that you recommend? Blessings on your Advent! ~Hilary

    1. Hi, Hilary, We’re always excited when someone breaks the cow barrier and goes dairy! Sorry this reply was delayed — we’ve been sampling European cheeses in Rome for the past ten days — delicious, and much more akin to our own dairy products than to Kraft. Dairy tools we love — well, it’s nice to have some extra milk cans so you can store milk in bulk for a day or two without filling all your drinking milk jars. Three gallon cans are nice, four gallon cans are even bettter! You want a half-gallon strainer that takes filters, to make straining easier and faster. We prefer inexpensive dial thermometers to digital ones — no batteries to wear out — and the ones you can find at the hardware store for ten bucks or so are just fine. A BIG pot for cheese making — we have three or four five gallon pots, and one twenty gallon pot, but just one five would probably get you started. Our twenty gallon pot cost about $250, but depending on the value you place on your cheese, a big pot pays for itself in about two cheeses. Walcoren rennet tablets from Canada are real, organic calf rennet, and rennet isn’t cheap, but lasts forever. David Asher’s book The Art of Natural Cheese Making is a must for theory. A really long knife for cutting cheese is necessary. but we’ve never had a cheese harp and don’t aspire to one. We don’t wax cheese anymore; it doesn’t seem necessary, and it makes it hard to manage molds. We hope this helps! Blessings —

  19. Hi! Hope your trip is very blessed! We are new to farming and farm animals. We have a few milk questions that we cannot figure out or find answers to. We have a family dairy cow and milking has been going great, giving 5-6 gal/day with the beautiful cream clearly on top of the jars. In the past few weeks, the milk has a bad taste, and the cream is no longer seen on the top. We initially thought it might be the soy we recently added to her feed, although not a large an amount of it was given daily. Stopped it a wk ago and still not tasting good. Then we wondered if it was the hay and/or feed. The feed was changed in the past few wks so returned to what we previously used (just 2 days ago came to think of this when milk still tasted bad). (Can’t get the same hay at this time and someone mentioned maybe alfalfa in it could be a problem affecting taste?) We have ten kids here and are now frustrated and discouraged in resuming buying store milk when we were so pleased before, including sharing extra with our wonderful neighbors. At this time, some cream can be seen on top if a ladle is put in to check it but no clear line separating it from the milk like before. My biggest questions are 1.) why is this happening and how can we fix it and 2.) why does the milk taste good right after milking but after overnight in glass jars, it has a bad taste either immediately or a bad aftertaste??? Can you please help us out? We’d very much appreciate it! Safe travels home and have a blessed Christmas! Laura & John

    1. Hi, Palumbos, good to hear from you again! Sounds like you have a couple of issues. Would you like to call us for this one? 740-537-5178. There are several things we can think of as possible explanations, but it would be easier to go over them verbally.

  20. Hi Beth and Shawn,

    I attended one of your rotational grazing course a last summer and had great success. I had to mix things up a bit due to when I started, equipment available, time, etc. This spring I’m able to truly move everyone every day! My question is for 20 cow calf pairs (some are heavy bred, some have calves, a bull, and some are early bred, but to make math simple let’s call them 20 units), ranging in size from 800-2000 pounds, what is a recommended square foot per unit? I have it at about 900 square feet per cow/calf unit right now but could change it if I needed to.

    I don’t want to push it to hard because it was a crop field for decades and this is the first year it will be rotational for the entire year. We gave it a rest after October due to drought last summer.

    I’d really appreciate your feedback.


    1. Hi, Amber! Great to hear from you.

      This is a terrific question . Where are you? And at what stage of forage growth? How you want to graze is completely dependent on what your pastures are growing.

      I’m assuming you are at least a little south of zone 6, because around here people are just now putting animals out. We’re usually among the first in our neck of the woods, and we went onto green grass about three weeks ago.

      The issue of how much space to give your animals is a function of how fast you think your grass is growing, and how much residual you are trying to leave, as well as how many animals and acres you’re managing. (The acres are probably a fixed number — I assume what you have is what you have.) In early spring, when the grass is just coming on, we’re seldom actually looking at the grass we’ll be grazing in three weeks — it hasn’t grown yet — we’re calculating on what we think will be grown in three weeks, right? And we don’t want to mess that guess up too badly and then find we’ve got to either overgraze where we are, or get back to our first paddock too soon. Ouch, either way.

      That means that in spring our paddocks are huge, so we don’t hit them too hard. Consequently we’re moving over the pasture very quickly, which will bring us back to where we started very quickly, too. We’re watching to see that there is plenty of residual in each paddock when we leave, and checking the paddocks already grazed to see that we aren’t moving up on them too fast.

      We run Jersey and Jersey/cross cows and calves — paired and otherwise — and count 800 lb. as our unit weight. In May, all things being equal, they’ll be on about 320 sq. ft. of pasture per animal, which makes them something comparable to your larger animals on 900 sq. ft. of a less productive pasture. So far, so good.

      Right now, though, we’re running around the farm on paddocks something like five or six times the size they’ll be in May — maybe 1500 sq.ft. per unit per day. That’ll get us around the farm in three or four weeks total. It’s a juggling act, to build paddocks as big as possible without getting so big that the animals can be choosy and selective. We’re looking for paddocks with no really hard grazing lines, and enough leaf mass for regrowth.

      When we started managing our grass ten or twelve years ago, we hit it hard in the spring, with small paddocks. Maybe it wasn’t ideal, but by the time we got around the pasture those early paddocks had had plenty of time to recover!
      Furthermore, you might like to graze harder on your recovering pasture if what you’re hitting is perennial weeds — set them back and let the grass have time to move in.

      All of this is to share our thought processes with you, not to give advice, though. If there is one thing this farming teaches us, it’s that there are lots of permutations to every decision, and lots of paths to a desirable end. What I would say most emphatically is that if you are there, moving fence every day, the grass and cows are going to teach you more than any expert or book could hope to. You’re almost guaranteed success.


  21. +JMJ+
    My name is Casey O’Neal and I was just at the New Polity Conference in Steubenville Ohio this past weekend. At the conference I bought your book and had the privilege of meeting your daughter Mosha (not sure if I spelled that right) and she told me about the farm. Our community here in Knoxville, TN is trying to start a farming community and we are very interested in having you all come down and put on a conference for our Parish this summer about farming. Would this be something you would be open to doing? Thank you so much and God bless!


    Casey O’Neal

  22. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dougherty, I loved your Living Web seminar, and as a result I purchased your book. One of the best in my library. Will you answer a question for me please?

    Where do you go to get your Jersey semen. There are big outlets (Semex, Genex, Bovine Elite) that sell semen, but I was thinking to use a breeder that has registered jerseys that have been bred to a grass fed diet. Who do you use or who would you recommend (particularly for a hotter climate)? My understanding is that sometimes when it comes to the smaller breeders, the company that does the collection practices can be good or bad (impacting quality of semen), which would be a concern, whereas the bigger companies this is usually not a problem. Thank you very much.

    Ted Vicknair
    Alexandria, Louisiana

    1. Dear Ted,
      Thanks for reaching out to us. We’re glad you find the book and videos helpful.

      Your question is an excellent one. It includes half my answer. You are looking for Jersey semen and you’d like to get ‘grass genetics’ (isn’t it funny to have to check for ‘grass genetics’ — these are cows! They all have ‘grass genetics’ — what we really want is normal bulls that haven’t been selected to tolerate a high-carb diet), and you want to make sure the quality will be good.

      We have been in the same boat for sure. We used to use a local A.I. tech to breed our cow(s), until he stopped working and we couldn’t get anyone. Then a couple of our family members trained as A.I. techs (three-day course, nothing special) and we began doing our own. Initially we ordered semen from Select Sires because one perk of our $500 training course was $500 credit with that company.

      But we wanted the ‘best’ genetics, so after a few years we hunted around until we found a really wonderful Jersey farm in another state and ordered (for a fortune) twenty straws. Shipping alone was about $125, but we thought it was worth it, and it would have been if we’d gotten calves from even half of those straws.
      Instead, we got two.

      Whose fault? Who knows. I’m an adequate A.I. tech, and even a good one only expects somewhere around 75% breeding the first time, or so I’ve always been told, but a 10% rate seemed like maybe the problem was somewhere else. Back to Select Sires.

      Which is not so bad — they rate their bulls for everything under the sun, including ‘grass genetics’, so you can order that. But about four years ago we began bull breeding for most of our calves. We keep a Dexter bull, or a Dex/Jersey cross, and we never have a barren cow now. Since we have adequate grass for the extra animal, that works for us. But it won’t work for most one- or two-cow people, so we still A.I., too, mostly for other local farmers.

      Hope this information helps. Thanks again for the contact.



    1. Well, of course things change every year. As pastures improve, they carry more animals, more of the year. For the past couple of years the farm has carried eight brood cows, their calves and yearlings, and a bull. In the fall we sell/butcher some of the steers and bred heifers, but the base number has been eight brood animals. This has meant we have ‘way too much grass in the summers, so we have to build paddocks that encourage a lot of trampling. This year we’re finding we just didn’t have as many animals as we needed to keep the pastures in top condition, so we’re going into the winter with more cows/bred heifers than previously — looks like maybe we’ll carry ten. It’s a rolling decision while we see how much grass the farm grows in the next six weeks.

  23. I was wondering if you take on interns? I met you guys at the homesteading weekend in May earlier this year ( I was the “cow” for your moving between paddocks demonstration after which I got a very nice compliment from Joel!!) Anyway, my search for land is going slow, and I was hoping to get some hands on experience on the type of farm I hope to have at some point. I have watched several of your videos with Living Web Farms, and each time I watch you two give a talk about homesteading, I feel renewed in my need to farm that way!!!!

    1. Hi, Brigitte, Thanks for the kind words! Passing on our passion for and belief in inputs-free small farming is really important to us. But because several of our children are still young and at home, we seldom take on interns or apprentices. Folks often come for a tour, though, and we’re happy to show them around the farm. Lately, too, we have begun to consider short internships a possibility. If we decide we can do it, you’ll find that information posted to our website. Thanks for inquiring! All the best, the Doughertys

      1. Thank you for your reply! And I will add that I had been trying to decide if I should come to your talk at the homesteading event, and I am so glad I did! AI I am absolutely loving your book! So helpful, and so inspiring that I can do this, even for an old crone like me!!! The only thing that I am worried about is the always have back up issue. It is me alone (and dog, cat, ducks and chickens….) and milking would be completely on me. Something to ponder….

  24. What are your thoughts on purchasing bottle calves to start with. Have been homesteading for past twenty years but have had to limit ourselves to just chickens for now because of time restraints. Recently retired and now have time for more.

    1. We started off raising a lot of bottle calves, but that was because we had a cow that gave LOTS of milk! So calf milk was free. We got some good calves that way — not as good as mama-raised calves, at least not at first, but good animals that did well for us. We haven’t raised calves on milk replacer since we were children, partly because it is expensive — at least the cost of a bag of replacer per calf — and because it can involve a high attrition rate, since replacer is but a poor substitute for mama’s milk. Still, folks do it. If you’re looking to get an animal our harvesting your grass, this is one way to go about it. Good luck!

  25. My wife & I have been working a small homestead for a few years & struggling to figure out how to make it work & be self sufficient. With uncertain times ahead the need to make this homestead produce is certainly relevant. We attended the convention last week and we both were tremendously inspired by all the workshops, especially yours on both days.! We bought your book and are devouring all the info we can consume. I’m building chicken & rabbit tractors, setting up the fencing for our hefer & planning to bring a couple pigs to our farm.
    I have come to trust the idea, “When the student is ready, The Teacher appears.”.. I believe the time was right for us to hear your words and be guided where He wants us to be.
    Many many Thanks for showing us the way.. God Bless!

  26. Hi Beth, hoping this finds you well. We’ve met several times but don’t know each other! I’m interested in getting raw milk & cream, are we able to coordinate? I’m also interested in farming and potentially setting up a 45min tour with my husband.
    Many thanks

  27. Hi, Do you have any feeder pigs for sale this spring? If you don’t can you suggest someplace near by that you’d recommend that farms similarly to you. We are only about 1 1/2 hours from you.

  28. Hi Beth and Shawn. I’ve got your book, have read it at least 3 times (it’s full of highlighting and post its lol), and I’m watching any video I can find online from talks you have done. I understand you started with a very poor property, if I remember right, steep and rocky.
    I have a similar situation in NH, we are at the base of a mountain. Sandy, rocky loam. We have a lower area that is mucky (we know why…spring above, which we will be redirecting to the stream, as well as for garden and animals like you did). My question is this….any recommendations on seeds to broadcast to build up sod/soil/forage for future animals. We are clearing at least an acre this year, and will use dead wood and brush to help fill in the low spots, as well as bring in some well aged woodchips to help build the area up. From my reading, alfalfa is really good in wet spots. I would like to do a mix to help build diversity.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Hi, Stephanie,
      Thanks for contacting us. We’re glad you like the book and find it helpful.
      You’re right, this farm was in very poor heart when we came here. Since then we’ve used various methods to improve it, including grazing, adding organic matter, and redirecting water.
      Without seeing your land, we are only surmising, but it sounds as though you have a wet spot below a seep, and that you intend to throw a french drain across the slope above the seep to capture that water. Using it for irrigation and livestock is a good way to keep the benefits on the farm.
      As far as finding ways to make the wet spot more useful, we would not recommend using any kind of fill (wood, wood chips, or whatever) until you see the effects of draining the land above. It’s not impossible that, once it’s drained, the land will be useful as pasture without any further interventions. In any case, it is unlikely that you would actually need to sow anything in particular in that spot; once you dry the land out a bit, native and/or naturalized species already present in the soil will self-select for the new, drier conditions. If you want to hurry the process of re-clothing the land with volunteer species, you can, after the soil has dried out a bit, ‘bale graze’ — spread bales of native hay and graze animals in place — to add organic matter and plant seeds.
      Remember that anything you add may take a good while to break down enough to add fertility and encourage pasture plants to return. Wood chips, even rotted ones, unless spread very thin, are liable to act at first more as a mulch than as a fertility source. And since wood chips are slow to decay, when they are combined with a dry, silty soil they tend to dry out and and impede capillary movement of water.
      We’re not saying don’t add wood chips, dead wood and brush, or whatever; we are saying that you might want to make one change at a time, and take your time assessing the results.
      Stay in touch — s/b

  29. Hi, quick question that might not have an easy answer. What would you advise doing as far as growing vegetables in a small city lot with a NE Ohio growing season? My family wants to live more sustainably but we are limited at the moment in that we live in a small city lot and can’t own chickens, cows, etc. the one thing I know we can do is grow vegetables, at least in boxes. Do you have any advice? I have no idea where to start or how to make it sustainable and help get rid of reliance on industrialized farming. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

    1. We rely a lot on Eliot Coleman for garden wisdom. Will the city let you keep a couple of chickens or rabbits? They’ll go a long way to helping you build fertility. Most households can feed one chicken per person in the household mostly or entirely on table scraps.
      Does this help?

      1. Hi Beth, They allow both chicken and rabbits BUT they must be within a certain distance from any dwelling which means in a normal city lot, it’s impossible. So we are unable to have chickens or rabbits. I suppose I could have indoor rabbits but I was trying to avoid that just due to the smell. (it’s a smaller house). I appreciate the garden advice. I will look into Eliot. thank you!

  30. Hello. Would it be possible to buy raw milk from you? I’ve been wanting to get some for a while so I was very excited to find that you two are within a short distance of where I am for school. Please let me know if this is plausible and how we could arrange this if it is. Thank you in advance for your help.

    1. Hi, Philomena, Sorry, raw milk sales are illegal in Ohio. People who want access to raw milk have to buy and maintain a share in a cow, herd, or farm. Thanks for asking! Beth

  31. Hi there! Is there a way I could contact you? I have a question for you that is not farming related. I heard of you as I was researching options for our eldest son to get into the trades. I’d love the opportunity to talk.

  32. Hi,

    Where can I get a copy of one cow revolution? I have looked for it every where with no luck.

  33. I am a religious Sister in Atlanta. My sisters do not see the coming problems with food shortages etc. I would love to find some local Georgia farmers, preferably Catholic, to try to convince my superior to start buying from so we have resources and contacts in the future. I have tried to do a little gardening of my own but our property is very shaded and most of my time is in the chapel and with our patients. I loved your video on New Polity and have followed this renewal of Catholic culture there with great interest.
    God bless you both!
    In Christ and His Mother,
    Sister Catherine Marie Kauth, OP

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