Dear Friends and Partners,
Welcome to Alderspring’s weekend edition newsletter!
In this letter is Glenn’s weekly story, a suite of pics about work on the ranch this week, what’s happening in our freezer, and a recipe to cook!
And, as always, if you have any questions, observations, or comments, just shoot us an email to Kelsey at help[at]alderspring[dot]com.
Next shipping day is September 20!
Place your order by Sunday at midnight to get it shipped out on Monday!
Looking for this week’s featured cuts? Head to the page below. Scroll on down for Glenn’s story and other newsletter stuff!
This week’s cuts include hot dogs, top sirloins, ground beef, and…introducing grass fed organic ground lamb! Yep, ground lamb is back!!!!
This Week on the Ranch
It’s walking a tightrope this week on the ranch. There’s frost in the forecast, and our beeves on grazing through the lush pastures at headquarters. And there’s alfalfa in those meadows. In some places, there is a lot of it. The problem that arises is that alfalfa can cause breathing problems with cattle and sheep when it freezes. In another day, it’s fine, and excellent grazing. But on the morning of frost, it can be risky. And that requires the utmost attention.
Then, the grass has to be carefully managed for fall; before frost, some of the plants in the pasture lose much of their value. Most of the grasses keep growing, but some dry out and die. So that means that you want to graze as fast as possible to capture the nutrition you can on the frost sensitive plants before you lose them.
So it takes a lot of careful movement of hotwire and water tanks to maximize the five hundred head of beeves’ wellness and the grassland yield. It actually takes math—measurement of grasses and acreage determination. The crew has to struggle again through algebra and trigonometry every day—just to hack what fall weather can dish out.
It’s complicated, but so worth it. The beeves are looking better than ever. They follow us eagerly through the graze to see what we can give to them this day. It’s fun. Who knew that working with cattle could be so enjoyable?
We did. That’s why we do it.
Quote of the Week
“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”―Louisa May Alcott
Glenn’s Story This Week: A Beaver’s Tale
As we made our way through the switchbacks cut into the rock pasted against the cliffy bluffs, the crystal clarity of the Salmon River rolled lazily by below. An orange sun worked its way down to the horizon. Like us, I think the sun may be getting tired of forest fire smoke. The fires keep going into this month of September–yes, this is the one we have been looking forward to since July, because it is by now that we usually find ourselves free from smoke.
But this year, the driest year ever in recorded history, it is not to be. I looked in my rearview mirror of our 4-wheel drive truck; a plume of powder dry volcanic ash dust lifted lazily skyward, and then was swept away by the persistent breeze. Caryl and I are taking a drive up to our upper ranch–the 700 acre Little Hat Ranch. It’s up in the mountain foothills, surrounded by our grazing country. It’s about a 45 minute drive from headquarters.
We were heading up a more than a little hopeless; the drought was taking its toll on more than the grasslands—even the wildlife was likely to pay a price. We were about to verify if indeed that was the case…
Featured Weekly Cuts
A quick summary of this week’s deals (as always, only you newsletter readers have access to these discounts)!
- Ground lamb!!!! Ground lamb is back in! Certified organic, 100% grass fed, and for the rest of this week (until Sunday at midnight), you can score an unprecedented 12% off on it! Limit 5 lbs per person to spread the lamb love around! Don’t worry, this is not our only lamb harvest this year, so you’ll have an opportunity to get more bulk in a few weeks. Consider this a sampler!
- Ground beef. Flash sale for just this weekend on ground beef to go with the ground lamb deal!
- Top sirloin steaks. 12% percent off (highest discount we’ve offered on these in a while!)
- Osso bucos. Get this flavorful little bone-in cut at 12% off this week.
- And all the hot dogs also at 12% off!
Remember, our inventories are VERY dynamic! Our goal is to turn it over 2 times a month to offer you the very freshest product right off of Alderspring’s pastures.
How we raise our sheep!
For those of you who want to know the ins and outs of where your meat comes from and how it’s raised, here are some answers to common questions about how we raise our sheep! We always want to be transparent with you.
If you have any other questions, comment at the bottom of this page or send an email to Kelsey at help(at)alderspring(dot)com. Just replace (at) and (dot) with @ and period (we formatted it this way to reduce spam).
- Are they organic and grass fed from birth? Yes! We get them as weanlings from a partner of ours in Montana. Our partner is certified organic and 100% grass fed just like us, and they send us their lambs when they are weaned. They don’t feed any grain to the sheep…just grass, hay, and mom’s milk! We then keep the sheep on pastures just like the one you see above. Steffanie, one of our awesome hands here at Alderspring, moves them every day or two to a new break of grass so that they always have access to fresh green grass. Every pasture they graze is of course certified organic–the same grass our cattle graze!
- Do you use antibiotics, GMOs, or parasite controls? Nope! We don’t use any antibiotics, parasite controls, wormers, etc, nor do we remove tails. Sheep are actually some of the most medicated animals on the planet, but they don’t have to be if managed differently. We haven’t had a single sheep that has required doctoring despite our avoidance of parasite controls and medications. This is due to a combination of factors, including putting the herd on diverse pastures so they can self-select nutritionally beneficial plants that optimize their health, moving frequently so that pasture-based parasites don’t have an opportunity to take hold, and low stress handling (when it’s time to move, Darrin and Steff simply open the gate and call them. No herding, pressure, or stress).
- Do you shear the sheep? No, these are Katahdins, which is a breed that doesn’t require shearing. They naturally shed out their warmer wool coats when it gets hot outside!
- Are they raised in a way that’s good for the land? Yes! As with our cattle, we seek to mimic nature in our practices. We use a grazing method called “rotational grazing.” This method increases soil biological diversity, soil organic matter (that’s carbon sequestration!), pasture plant species diversity, and the health of the animal doing the grazing. There really are no downsides, except that it’s more labor intensive for us humans (hence the reason rotational grazing is not a more widely adopted practice).
- Do they graze with the cattle? No, we keep the sheep and cattle in separate herds in separate paddocks. They’ll rotate over the same areas, but at different times and a few weeks apart. This is because we don’t want to create grazing competition between the two where they compete for desirable plants. We want free choice for everybody!
Here’s Steffanie building a night pen for the sheep out of this mesh hotwire. Why do we fold them into this small night pen every single night? To keep them safe from coyotes. A hungry coyote looking for a lamb dinner will first sniff at the fence before trying to push through (dogs always sniff at something new like this). He’ll get zapped in the nose by our electric fence, and hence will leave our sheep alone!
Weekly Happenings: Photos from the Ranch
Here’s Annie saddling up this past Tuesday to ride out with Maddy and Linnaea to gather the herd off green pastures, then bring them into the corrals to weigh individual animals one at a time. We do this so that we can compare to weights at the beginning of the summer and see how the herd did, both on range pastures and on the home ranch!
Annie and Maddy gathering up the herd while Linnaea stands outside the gate on her horse to be ready to turn them towards the corrals.
Linnaea (3rd sister) and Annie (6th sister) ready to get to work and get the job done!
Here, Maddy gives the Clyde pup a lift on her horse George. Thankfully, George has pretty much seen everything at this point and having a dog on his saddle doesn’t bother him much!
Annie managing the gate. It’s often easiest to sort cattle going through a gate because you can cut the gate back and forth to let some in and stop others from coming in.
The Buster dog and his son, Stewjake (he was so named by the 4 year old granddaughter). Buster has been showing Stew how to do cool things, including roll around in the mud.
And that’s it for this week! Thanks again for partnering in what we do!
Glenn, Caryl, cowgirls and cowboys at Alderspring
We’ve been crafting our pastured protein here in Idaho’s Rocky Mountains for nearly 30 years and delivering it direct to our partners for nearly as long. This is wild wellness, delivered from our ranch to your door.
Your partnership in Alderspring helps us maintain what is unique in today’s agricultural world; Alderspring is a Carbon NEGATIVE and Climate POSITIVE operation. We ran the numbers, and our cows help us capture more carbon in the ground each year on our irrigated pastures than we release!