Author Archive

Pet Food & Accessory Savings

Sunday, January 17th, 2021

Shop your local Bear Creek Country Store January 17-23, 2021, and save on pet accessories, and select pet food.

You’ll find dog and cat accessories are 10% off. Save $2 off your purchase of any 30# bag of Exclusive Signature Dog food. You can find out more about Exclusive Signature pet foods on our website. Don’t forget, Exclusive Signature offers a frequent purchase program – Buy 8 bags, get the next one free! Stop in to get enrolled in this free program!

Shop your local Bear Creek Country store for January savings! Follow us on Facebook too!



Fruit Trees Arrive

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Fruit Tree - Apple Tree with ripe applesFruit Trees arrive at Bear Creek County Store in January 2021. Here is our selection of trees we are expecting:

Almond Trees

Peach Trees

Apple Trees

Plum Trees

Apricot Trees

Cherry Trees

Pear Trees

Pecan Trees

We are also expecting blackberry plants.

If you are looking for specific plants or a larger number of trees, give us a call and we’ll add them to our order.

Looking for tips on planting your trees? Establishing fruit trees in Texas takes some effort, but these time-tested tips from a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert can guide the way from transplant to production.

Growing Onions

Monday, January 4th, 2021

onions growing in a fieldGrowing onions is simple: If you can poke a hole into the ground, you can grow an onion from a little plant. Most of our onion varieties are sold as little seedlings in bare-root bundles; each plant will start growing within days after you plant. If you can’t plant your onions right away, remove their bindings and place them in a bucket with 2 inches of moist soil in the bottom. Keep them in a cool, bright place but out of direct sun until you are ready to plant. A sunny basement is ideal.

Quick Guide to Growing Onions

  • Plant onions in early spring once the ground is workable. In-ground gardens and raised beds are both excellent options for growing onions. In Texas, we typically plant onion sets as early as January.
  • Space onion plants 6 inches apart in rows that are 12 inches apart. Grow them in a sunny spot that has fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8.
  • Improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
  • Onions aren’t great at taking up water, so it’s important to keep soil moist so their shallow roots can drink up. Water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry.
  • For best results, keep your growing onions fed with a continuous-release plant food.
  • Onions can be eaten at nearly any size so harvest when they’re the right size for your next culinary creation.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Most gardeners want sweet onions, and the sweetness of an onion is determined by both nature and nurture. For the mildest onions, start with a variety known to produce sweet, mild-flavored bulbs such as Texas Sweet (at southern latitudes) or Walla Walla (at northern latitudes). For great results, start with Bonnie Plants® onion slips, strong plants grown by a company that has been helping home gardeners for over a century.

Growing onions requires abundant sun and good drainage, and they grow best when the soil pH ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Raised beds or raised rows made by mounding up soil are ideal, especially if your soil is heavy clay. Fill raised beds with a soil designed to be just the right weight and texture for raised beds, such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® Raised Bed Mix. For mounded rows, mix a 3-inch layer of compost or aged compost-enriched Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All Purpose In-Ground Soil into the top 6 inches of soil. Set plants 1 inch deep, so that their roots are well covered with soil but the top of the plant’s neck is not buried too deeply. You don’t want the part of the neck where the leaves grow away from the clear sheath to collect soil or water down between the young leaves, or they can rot. Space plants 6 inches apart in furrows 12 inches apart. Plants grow best when, in addition to being grown in top-quality soil, they’re fed with just the right plant food. To ensure growing onions get all the nutrition they need, feed regularly throughout the season with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules, following label directions.

Onions roots are shallow and not very efficient at taking up moisture, so they need a steady supply of water to grow without interruption. Although they actually recover well from drought and start growing again when watered, it is best to keep the soil consistently moist until the bulbs enlarge.

You may mulch with a light layer of weed-free and herbicide-free grass clippings or another fine mulch. Onions naturally push toward the surface as they form bulbs, and it’s best if the tops of the bulbs are allowed to bask in dry sun. Remove mulch that might keep the expanding bulbs excessively moist.

Seedlings that are about the diameter of a pencil produce the biggest, most beautiful bulbs, so some gardeners sort seedlings by size before planting. Plant the largest ones together only 2 inches apart to start enjoying as green onions in just two or three weeks. Very small seedlings set at close spacing can serve as a second crop of scallions. Use the pencil-sized plants to grow full-sized onions that will produce extra-juicy slices.

Uniform and easy to grow, onion transplants will get off to a fast start. Separate before planting.
Onions can be grown in raised beds, which offer superior drainage.


As onions leaves expand, they may be found by tiny black onion thrips, which suck sap from onion leaves. These are hard to see because they hide down in the folds and neck of the leaves. Also be on the lookout for aphids. Finally, weak plants that slowly wilt may be infested with onion root maggots, the larvae of a common fly. Contact your regional Extension agency for details on how to control these pests.

Harvest and Storage

You can harvest young onions just a few weeks after planting if you want to use them as “spring onions” or scallions. There is no perfect size, just pull when they are big enough to suit you.

For full-sized bulbs, let onions grow and mature. They are ready to harvest when the bulbs are big and the tops begin to turn yellow and fall over. Pull them up, shake off the soil, and lay them out to cure with the tops still attached. Any warm, airy location is a good place to do this; you can even sling them over a fence as long as they aren’t rained upon. Bulbs must stay dry and have good air circulation. As the onions cure, the roots will shrivel and the necks above the bulbs will slowly dry – a natural process that helps to seal the top of the bulb, making the onions less likely to rot. After 7 to 10 days, clip off the tops of the onions and the roots with pruning shears, remove as much dry dirt as possible without taking off the papery outer skins, and store your onions in a cool place. Very sweet, juicy onions may be stored, wrapped in newspaper or paper towels, in the fridge.

Sale: Christmas Ornaments and Decor

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

Red Christmas bulb hanging on a Christmas Tree

Take advantage of savings during Bear Creek Country Store’s sale on Christmas ornaments and decor. Get a jump on 2021 shopping and save up to 50% off on our items.

Sale prices valid from December 28, 2020, through January 8, 2021.

See our locations here.


Strategies for Feeding Ultra-Modern Showpigs

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Showpig in the ring Unlock the full genetic potential of ultra-modern showpigs with the following feeding strategies. 

    1. Use supplements to manage weight gain and keep pigs looking great if needed to slow growth.
  1. Use High Octane® Champion Drive™ Topdress as needed to optimize muscle (1/2 to 1 lbs/day).
  2. Use High Octane® Power Fuel® supplement as needed for cover and muscle, and to support overall health (1/2 to 1 lbs/day).
  3. Use High Octane® Fitter 35® supplement as needed to optimize muscle and leanness (1 to 2 lbs/day). For limiting weight gain and optimizing muscle and leanness, feed 3 lbs per day as the sole diet.
  4. Growth performance can vary depending upon genetics, environment, management, facilities, and immune status. The above figures are estimates only and do not reflect a guarantee of performance.
  5. Consider lowering protein and increasing energy when muscle becomes too extreme, body condition too lean, or the pig has structural issues.
  6. If help is needed with rib shape, add 8 oz per day of High Octane® Depth Charge® supplement to regular feed. High Octane® Depth Charge® supplement can be used to keep pigs full when being limit fed as well.
  7. Add High Octane® Showpig Paylean® Premix at the 4.5 to 9 grams/ton level during the final 45 – 90 lbs of weight gain for optimal growth and muscle development.
  8. Deworm pigs thoroughly and effectively about every 30 to 45 days throughout the growing season.
  9. To help support feed intake feed 4 oz. per day High Octane® Heavy Weight® supplement, to help optimize fat cover and or growth rate feed 4 to 16 oz. per day.
  10. To help with flank and lower 1/3 of body, feed 1 to 3 lbs per day High Octane® Ultra Full® supplement.
  11. Use High Octane® Fitter® 52 supplement final 14 to 21 days at 1 lbs per day to clean up front ends and help add muscle.
  12. Use High Octane® Alleviate® supplement to help support gastric comfort at 2 oz per every 50 lbs of bodyweight per day.
Average Muscled Barrows Start Weight End Weight Lbs/day Feed Total lbs Bags Days
FIRST WEAN™ 319 50 75 3 – 4 50 1 14
MUSCLE & FILL™ 719 75 175 5 – 6 330 5 – 6 60
MUSCLE & COVER™ 819 175 225 6 – 7 150 2 23
High Octane® Powerfill® (if needed) 225 Show 3 30 – 50 1 30
Heavily Muscled Barrows Start Weight End Weight Lbs/day Feed Total lbs Bags Days
FIRST WEAN 319 50 75 3 – 4 50 1 14
MUSCLE & FILL™ 719 75 125 4 – 5 125 2 ½ 28
MUSCLE & COVER™ 819 125 175 5 – 6 150 3 26
MAGIC BULLET® 919 (optional) 175 225 5 – 6 150 3 25
High Octane® Powerfill® (if needed) 225 Show 3 30 – 50 1 30
Average Muscled Gilts Start Weight End Weight Lbs/day Feed Total lbs Bags Days
FIRST WEAN 319 50 75 3 – 4 50 1 14
MUSCLE & FILL™ 719 75 150 5 – 6 150 3 35
MUSCLE & COVER™ 819 150 225 6 – 7 225 4.5 35
High Octane® Powerfill® (if needed) 225 Show 3 50 1 30
Heavily Muscled Gilts Start Weight End Weight Lbs/day Feed Total lbs Bags Days
FIRST WEAN 319 50 75 3 – 4 50 1 7 – 8
MUSCLE & FILL™ 719 75 100 3 – 4 100 2 30
MUSCLE & COVER™ 819 100 200 5 – 6 350 7 60
MAGIC BULLET® 919 200 250 6 – 7 150 3 25
High Octane® Powerfill® (if needed) 250 Show 3 30 – 50 1 30
Breeding Gilts Option 1 Start Weight End Weight Lbs/day Feed Total lbs Bags Days
FIRST WEAN 319 50 75 3 – 4 50 1 14
MUSCLE & FILL™ 719 75 150 5 – 6 200 4 37
MUSCLE & COVER™ 819 150 250 6 – 7 325 6 ½ 50
High Octane® Powerfill®
250 Show 4 / 2 100 / 50 2 / 1 21
Breeding Gilts Option 2 Start Weight End Weight Lbs/day Feed Total lbs Bags Days
FIRST WEAN™ 319 50 75 3 – 4 50 1 14
MUSCLE & FILL™ 719 75 150 5 – 6 200 4 37
MUSCLE & COVER™ 819 150 250 6 – 7 325 6 ½ 50
MAGIC BULLET® 919 250 Show 6 – 8 100 2 16

Lessons on Cattle Production from 2020

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

close up picture of a steer eating Three Purina experts reflect and share risk management strategies for cattle producers heading into 2021.

2020 has been a wild ride. Despite unexpected challenges and obstacles, some opportunities emerged, and the grittiness of American cattle producers was re-affirmed once again.

Purina cattle industry experts Jon DeClerck, Christina Hayes, and Martha Moen reflect and discuss risk management strategies to make the most of 2021:

We all could use some inspiration right now. What’s been inspiring you?

DeClerck: The resiliency of the American cattle producer inspires me. Cattlemen and women stepped up to challenge after challenge, and they continue to produce a reliable supply of high-quality beef for consumers.

Hayes: ’m inspired by the people I work with. From sales representatives to cattle producers, they’ve been upbeat and eager to step outside their comfort zone to find solutions. Through teamwork and creativity, we’ve formulated alternative rations, maintained feed quality and kept products in stock despite supply chain disruptions and challenges, including the widespread distillers grains shortage.

Moen: I’m inspired by all the cattle producers who stuck to their foundational management strategies, like sound cattle nutrition and health protocols. Their grit and determination to hold steady during challenging times will pay off in the long run.

What opportunities has 2020 presented?

DeClerck: Many cattle producers are marketing cattle directly to consumers in their community, as well as at their local meat processing plants. Selling directly to consumers offers a unique opportunity to connect with folks one-on-one about beef production. By creating a positive impression with consumers, you can not only grow your own marketplace, but you can help build a more conducive environment for beef production nationally.

Hayes: The rise in virtual events, webinars and online resources means education and networking are more accessible than ever before. Anyone can attend tradeshows and industry events from home, often for free. Those who are willing to embrace virtual events and communication can apply new ideas and learnings to make their operation more efficient and, hopefully, profitable.

What strategies can help producers manage risk?

DeClerck: Create backup plans to manage through weather challenges specific to your region. Think through worst-case and best-case scenarios. Proactive planning keeps you from making a knee-jerk reaction and helps you rationalize during a crisis. I recommend keeping enough feed in storage to last for a prolonged period, in case weather or price prevents you from accessing feed resources

Keeping cows in good shape is another foundational strategy. A sound year-round cattle nutrition program puts you in a better position to handle situations that could impact forage availability or cash flow, such as persistent drought, a winter storm or tough markets. Cows in body condition score 6 only require nutrition to maintain condition and can bounce back quickly after a short-term nutrition gap. Conversely, cows in body condition score 4 require more feed resources to recoup condition and recover from a gap in nutrition.

Hayes: Take time to reflect on the year and learn from it. Look at your records to see if any changes you made in response to COVID-19 impacted your reproductive success and replacement heifer trajectory. Now might be a good time to refresh your cattle nutrition program and explore new marketing strategies to support your goals in 2021.

Moen: Keeping cows in good shape now also impacts your ability to capitalize on potentially higher prices next year. If you’re looking to sell bred heifers, maintaining their body condition score is more cost-effective than putting on condition closer to sale day. Body condition score also impacts how quickly a cow returns to estrus, conception rates and even next year’s calf crop.1

How can producers navigate risk from a marketing perspective?

DeClerck: I recommend diversifying your risk portfolio through futures contracts and hedging. These marketing tools can help you lock into a profitable price, so you’re well poised to ride out market volatility.

Moen: Look for opportunities to differentiate your sale calves by adding value before sale day. Demand for weaned and preconditioned calves is growing, and so is the price discount for unweaned, bawling calves. Retaining ownership at the feedlot is another option to potentially earn more for your calves. Test the waters and mitigate risk by starting with a small calf group.

The question on everyone’s mind: What are the markets going to do?

There’s no way to know for sure. However, keeping an eye on future trends can help you make better operational decisions.

2021 Trends to Consider

  • Plateauing U.S. cow herd numbers, COVID-19 impacts and significant drought all led to sizable herd liquidation in 2020. As a result, fewer cows will be around in 2021, leading to a smaller calf crop and fewer feeder calves headed to yards next fall.2
  • Beef prices have increased by 25% and boxed beef prices set a record earlier this year, indicating national demand for beef is still strong.3
  • Livestock, poultry and dairy exports are forecast to grow by $500 million year-over-year, led by beef and veal purchases.4

No matter how 2021 plays out, Hayes, DeClerck and Moen all agree: Producers who hold steady will set themselves up for success.

Meet Our Experts

Jon DeClerck, Ph.D. is a technical cattle consultant for Purina Animal Nutrition based out of College Station, Texas. Jon grew up on his family farm just outside Aledo, Illinois. He graduated with his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University. Jon then pursued his master’s degree and Ph.D. in ruminant nutrition at Texas Tech, where he specialized in feedlot cattle management. Prior to his time at Purina Animal Nutrition, Jon taught and coached judging teams at Iowa State University and Texas Tech University.

Christina Hayes, Ph.D. is the beef product manager at Purina Animal Nutrition. She earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in animal science from North Dakota State University. Christina works magic behind the scenes to solve supply chain challenges, ingredient availability issues and much more. Her goal? To keep the right high-quality nutrition products in stock and available when you need it.

Martha Moen, Ph.D. is a cattle consultant based in central Florida. She graduated with her undergraduate and master’s degree from University of Florida. She earned her Ph.D. in agronomy from Texas A&M University, where she focused on the application of fibrolytic enzymes and bacteria inoculants to sorghum silage and small-grain hay. Prior to her time at Purina Animal Nutrition, Martha previously taught at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and served as a University of Florida county livestock extension agent.

Prep Soil Now for Next Season

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020

a pile of compost leavesIf you’ve already put your garden to bed for the year, you’re not alone. But before you lock up those garden tools for the winter, here’s a great idea for getting a jump start on your spring garden: Spend a bit of time improving the soil in your beds. Not only will it put you on the path to a healthy, productive garden, but it’s also one fewer thing you’ll need to tackle in the spring. Here are seven simple things you can do now to prep soil now for next season:

Take a Test

Consider doing a soil test to determine if you need to add pH-raising materials like lime, or acidifying items like elemental sulfur. For the most accurate results, use a soil test kit from your county Extension office.

Leave the Roots

Still have some plants left to remove? Instead of digging to get every last root, just give the plants a quick tug and take what comes up easily. The part of the root system that’s left behind will feed beneficial microbes, whose digestive efforts produce humus. Humus not only helps keep the soil moist and aerated but also assists plants in getting the nutrients they need to flourish. (An important note: If plants are diseased, you need to remove all of the roots to avoid allowing the disease to overwinter in the soil.)

Add Compost

Place a 3- to 4-inch layer of compost on your garden, then use a digging fork or broadfork to gently work it into the soil. If you get your compost in place while soil is still warm, the microbes and beneficial soil-dwelling critters will start working right away to break it down and get it ready for spring.

Spread Some Manure

Manure applied during the spring needs to be composted first. But when you apply it in fall to a garden that won’t be planted until spring, you can go ahead and use the fresh stuff (assuming you can handle the odor!). The ammonia that’s present will disappear over winter, leaving you with rich organic matter come spring. Best manure bets for your garden are cow and horse (in that order), followed by sheep, and you’ll want to apply a 1-inch-thick layer. If desired, sprinkle the manure with blood meal, water it in, then cover the whole thing with a tarp or layer of leaves and straw to really get it cooking. Organic farmers call this a “six-month winter compost.”

Sprinkle with Fertilizer

If you don’t want to go the manure route, try lightly applying an organic fertilizer like greensand, rock phosphate, kelp meal, bonemeal, or bloodmeal. When they aren’t overapplied, organic fertilizers like these release nutrients slowly over a period of several months. Adding them to the garden in fall gives them ample time to be transformed into materials that will be readily absorbed by eager spring roots.

Pile on the Leaves

No matter what form of compost or fertilizer you’ve put on the garden, cover it with a layer of fall leaves that you’ve chopped up with the mower. This is a great way to insulate the soil and encourage worms to stay active longer into the season.

Plant Cover Crops

Another option for prepping your soil is to plant a cover crop such as clover, red wheat, cereal or annual rye, agricultural mustard, fava beans, alfalfa, sorghum, or wooly pod vetch. Any of these crops will pull nutrients up from the subsoil, remove excess water, and (when you turn them under in the spring), return nitrogen and organic matter to the soil. The one drawback to this method is that you need to sow seeds while the soil is still warm enough to allow for germination, which usually means late summer in colder regions and early fall in warmer areas. If you’re too late to plant this time around, just add it to the calendar for next year.

Invest a little time in your soil this fall and you’ll reap the rewards next spring and summer.

Article written by Julie Martens Forney.

8 Winter Flock Tips

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Raising chickens in winter can be a lot of fun. Some hens love wandering around the yard and their first snow sighting can be quite entertaining. A bird’s thick feathers are a natural protective coat, so most breeds are well-equipped for winter.

Here are 8 winter flock tips on how to care for chickens in the winter: Tips on how to care for chickens in winter

1. How to keep chickens warm in winter:

Do not add heat lamps. Chickens, especially cold-tolerant breeds, can withstand winter temperatures without supplemental heat. A chicken’s body temperature is around 106 degrees Fahrenheit, and they have their own protective layer of feathers to keep them warm.

If you feel it is necessary to provide a source of heat, only provide enough heat to raise the temperature a few degrees. The hens will adjust to the cold temperature, but if it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the coop and 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the run, birds will not be able to regulate their body temperature.

2. What to feed chickens in winter:

A common myth is to feed oatmeal to birds in the winter. This is not a beneficial treat for chickens. Oats contain some types of fiber that chickens can’t digest which can cause the contents of the digestive tract to thicken. This leads to a reduction in the bird’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Greens are also unnecessary. Hens may pick at hay and spread it around, but they are not going to eat it.

Feeding a complete layer feed like Purina® Layena®Purina® Layena® Plus Omega-3 or Purina® Organic Pellets or Crumbles will provide the necessary nutrition hens need through the winter.

3. Ensure feed and water isn’t frozen.

Consider heated waterers. Feed and water birds more often when it’s below freezing. Energy needs increase in winter. Animals expend a considerable amount of energy to stay warm and will eat more feed. Complete layer feeds include all the energy hens need. The 90/10 rule still applies in winter.

4. Allow exploration.

Birds can tolerate snow, cold air and ice water. There is very little muscle in the lower part of bird legs and feet. The movements are controlled by tendons that stretch from the upper part of the legs down to the toes. \Secondly, the blood entering the lower legs and feet are cooled by the blood returning to the heart. The blood returning is thus warmed by the blood going to the toes. The tissue receives just enough heat to avoid frostbite while also being provided with enough oxygen to keep things functioning.

5. Collect eggs more frequently.

Temperatures below freezing result in frozen eggs. As the egg freezes, the contents expand and will cause the egg to crack.

6. Keep the chicken coop draft free.

But don’t seal it completely. Some air needs to be exchanged to prevent ammonia build up. Open the top vent or higher windows slightly so fresh air can enter and stale air can exit.

7. Keep the chicken coop dry.

Remove any wet spots daily. Provide more bedding than you would in other seasons so birds have a place to burrow and stay cozy.

8. Continue offering activities in the chicken coop.

Hens will spend more time in the coop, so offer enrichment. Logs, sturdy branches or chicken swings can work well and place a Purina® Flock Block® supplement in the coop for a nutritious place to peck.