Bedient Farms is bigger than most realize. It has also had many challenges over the years, but Angela Bedient and her little helper and young son, Elam, seem plenty capable of rolling with the tides.
Bedient Farms is located in Potter, NY and has a total of 650 acres. Two hundred acres is used for hay, but the remaining is split between farming and wildlife management. Angela strives to keep her herd of 200 animals on a 100 percent grazing method, utilizing 100 acres split into eight paddocks to be able to keep an eye on her steers, cow/calves, heifers and three bulls.
But the farm wasn’t always a grazing operation. Sixty years ago, the land was a part of a sawmill. And it was Angela’s late husband who made the move towards commercial beef. But when he passed unexpectedly in 2006, Angela was left with a large beef herd to manage on her own.
Angela did manage and soon found a new husband who had a common interest — beef farming. The only downside was his farm being located in Virginia with 80-head feeders.
Yet they were able to help each other, have Elam and continue what Angela had started — a beef operation focused on grazing and being profitable year-round. To do that meant to sell beef year-round and to be as flexible as possible, offering custom cuts, halves and wholes.
“We go to the Canandaigua farmers markets for customers,” said Angela. “They don’t have to look for customers.” This contact allows for sales outside of the markets as well, continuing sales past the farmers market season. It also resolves another bit of trouble.
“Butchers shut down in groups due to not being able to hand the load,” Angela said. The area has been plagued with this trouble recently, but she found a way to deal with it by splitting her orders up.
The animals are all mixed-breed. “They are heavy to Shorthorn — Angus, Hereford, Shorthorn for marbling. I have Blue Rhome heifers, too,” said Angela. She likes her Blue Rhomes because they perform well and stay healthy so she can let up on de-wormer and vaccinations.
To keep her year-round production and her grazing schedule on track, Angela has her herd put into divisions as well as places her animals into winter pastures. The animals which are close to birth or are ready to be bred are kept close to the family home. The ones who are also sick or otherwise need close attention are kept near there as well.
The same goes for her bulls, although they are moved around based on their need.
The animals in pasture are moved from one area to another and kept in place using temporary electric wires. This is to ensure the areas which need grazing are taken care of. This method of grazing reduces the need on man-power and equipment as the animals trample down the thistles or roses and eats the other plants. They are completely grazed, but they will receive some corn and silage if it is needed.
But Angela keeps in mind her desire to manage her land. “I don’t rip out hedgerows. We keep all the bushes in the pastures since they give relief from flies and provide shade.”
Angela says she found she needed fly spray without the bushes. But the natural habitat she has kept allows for birds and other life forms to naturally take on the pests. She says it is a balance between producing a product and being a steward to her land. She also has found this method to be easier in sectioning off her paddocks and lots.
If it seems like Angela follows organic methods, you wouldn’t be amiss. “We want to make the product affordable and accessible. We won’t certify to keep cost down,” said Angela. As maintaining organic certification has a cost and that cost is reflected in the prices consumers pay, Angela has opted to not certify.
With Leo Bedient, her husband, farming in Virginia, another need has come up — spending time as a family. “The plan was to have help at both farms and to go back and forth as needed,” Angela said. It was essentially trying to find a farm manager for either the farm in New York or the farm in Virginia.
“My family does help on the farm but we need people that will look at the operation like it’s their own,” said Angela. She said she is also looking for someone to manage it within her own standards, as in keeping up with her stewardship and organic production. But she knows what it means to be a farmer.
Angela said, “Farmers must be flexible and be ready to change at a moment’s notice.”