Geof and Jane Gledhill own and operate Cedar Grove Windy Hill Farm in northern Orange County. Geof bought the farm in 1977 and began his farming operation by converting what had been annual row crops to perennial pastures. About 10 years later, Geof met Jane and they were married and raised three children on the farm. While working full-time as an attorney, principally representing Orange County, Geof began raising feeder calves for markets inside and outside the state.
It wasn’t until he retired from practicing law full-time that Geof considered finishing cattle (i.e., raising them until they are ready for slaughter) and selling them locally. Recalls Geof, “I sold my first finished steers to Weaver Street Market in 2010. I’ll never forget the satisfying feeling of knowing that meat from animals I raised would be available in stores where my friends and family shop.”
Half of their 40-acre farm is open land and the rest is forested. Less than 2 acres of open land was recently planted in blueberries, figs, sweet cherries and Asian pears and will soon be followed by blackberries, red raspberries and kiwis. Milk goats and honeybees are also an integral part of the farm and are managed by Jane, who works as a Certified Nurse Midwife (for more information about her home birth practice, visit www.ncbirthway.com).
The bulk of the farm enterprise is dedicated to beef production. Geof expects to finish fewer than 10 cattle per year and pays close attention to not over-stocking their small farm. One of the biggest changes Geof made when he started finishing cattle was intensifying his approach to pasture management. Whereas he used to rotate his cattle between two 10-acre pastures, Geof now rotates them through very small paddocks. Notes Geof, “Moving the cattle frequently helps me protect and rest the pasture and promote the growth of seasonal forages so there is something growing even in the heat of summer and a good part of the winter.”
During harsh winters and periods of drought, Geof supplements the cattle’s diet non-grain concentrates such as soybean hulls. He has also experimented with spent brewer’s grain leftover from beer-making at nearby breweries. Says Geof, “The cattle love the feed but I am always glad when it rains and the grass is growing.”
For more information about Cedar Grove Windy Hill Farm, send an email to email@example.com.