Alan Souther, Alleghany County
Written by: Amy Ager
Alan’s truck was in the driveway and the trailer in the shop so Sam Dobson figured we might drop in on him and visit for a bit. The timing was good as he had just put the calves back in he weaned the day before. Only took an hour and a half to do it on his own but sure as Christmas as we were standing there we figured out which one had knocked down the gate between them all. That problem child put his head through the bars to do it again. These calves looked beautiful and just as nice as the calf crop he sent us last year. I was thrilled to see the excellent condition of the 27 calves that were going to be picked up in 3 weeks to make their way to their next pasture for grazing.
We were trying to remember back when we started working with Alan and how we got connected to him in the first place. I figured 2011 probably, as I remember writing him checks about then, but Jamie recollected after the fact it must have been 2006.
It’s been a long 18 year journey of building community through agriculture. Understanding the farmers we work with, dialing in the genetics, the transportation logistics and what customers want to see on their plates has earned us the equivalent of a masters education in agriculture and business.
Mountain farms such as these are a great piece of the supply chain at Hickory Nut Gap. The weaned calves that come out of the mountains in the late fall are worked at Sam Dobsons new state of the art facility of which you can tell his is very proud by the grin on his face when we walked through the process together with some calves that had been dropped while we were out visiting the other farms.. The calves get an updated ear tag to be part of our program, wormed and the appropriate vaccinations. Trucking is arranged with Leith Trucking and sent to a farm with warmer winters typically in eastern NC, Clemson University in SC or to northern GA. The great benefit of raising calves in the south besides the abundance of water is that we can utilize the microclimates of our region to produce a high quality grassfed beef product. The care HNG farmers put into their genetics and animal husbandry practices shows all the way through to the eating experience. Not only are we building soil through regenerative grazing practices, we are also supporting small family farms and creating an agricultural system that is adapted to our region while maximizing the benefits to the people, the animals and the planet.