What kind of cattle do you raise?
We raise Hereford and Beefmaster crosses. We use purebred or close
to purebred Hereford mothers (cows) and a purebred Beefmaster dad (the bull) we find that the cross tends to grow well on grass and the calves are easily born in the fields and do well outside. The Hereford is a pretty well known breed in the Northeast. The Beefmaster is a cow developed in Texas in the early 1900’s and it is still far more common out west than in New England.
What do your cows eat?
Our cattle eat pasture for as long as it grows in Massachuetts. In the winter we feed our cows large round bales of hay, If it is particularly cold we will add a bucket or two of unsulphered molasses on top of the hay. This gives them some extra energy and some iron. WE DO NOT FEED GMO corn, grain or any other kind of nutrients to our cattle. They are entirely grassfed.
How long do you let your calves nurse?
As a livestock farm, not a dairy farm, we do not pull our calves from their mothers. We believe, and our experience has shown, that the absolutely best thing for a baby of any species is mothers’ milk. We leave cow/calf pairs together in the field for at least six months, and often seven or eight months – until mom has had enough. . This ensures a great nutritional start, but also our calves learn to be part of the herd. An interesting behavioral trait is that cows will baby-sit for each other. Every spring we will have a group of five to eight calves being watched over by one cow while the other moms are off grazing.
What kind of pigs do you raise?
Like our cattle, we use purebred moms and dads to give us crosses that hopefully exploit the best of the genetics in each parent. Our moms include Gloustershire Old Spots. Hampshires, Landracers, Berkshires, Poland China and Yorkshires. Our two boars (dad’s) at this time are a Duroc Boar named Dublin, A Hampshire named Sir Oreo and a Yorkshire named Mike. We do name our parents, but not our piglets. We let our piglets nurse for six to eight weeks and then grow them in a group.
What do your pigs eat?
Pigs are NOT ruminants. Unlike cows and sheep, they are not designed to grow on grass. Like people they have only one stomach and need a combination of protein and carbohydrates to grow well. Our pigs are pasture raised and grain fed. We use an all natural grain with NO added hormones, or medication and no animal by-products. We do not ever feed any garbage. Pigs are naturally omnivores, so we do like to keep them well fed so they don’t help themselves to our chickens or lambs.
Where do your pigs live?
In the spring, summer and fall our pigs are in moveable houses or portable pens with pasture and woods to play and frolic in. These pens are rotated seasonally and/or yearly around the 106 acres so we do not overuse any particular field or woodland area. We also try to locate them where the pigs enjoy a natural combination of sunshine and shade. During the winter we move our breeder pigs to the barn to be able to monitor the birthing more carefully. Any growers we have are housed in pens near the barn to facilitate doing chores. We use packed hay for bedding throughout the year.
Do your pigs have personality?
Absolutely. They each love to be patted and scratched and talked to. We have some sows who would much rather a morning scratch or rub to their food! Pigs are intelligent creatures and connect to their caretakers. As a CSA farm, we have worked hard to make sure all our animals are safe to be around. After time with our boars and bull, Rich and I are convinced that kindness and care for animals results in gentle and friendly animals.
Our bull allows us to play with him and even our Roosters will be held by our son Sam!
What kind of sheep do you raise?
We raise a mixture of Icelandic amd Romney sheep.
Our sheep are much more of the mixed breed variety as we work to increase the number of lambs each ewe delivers. We do not show, so for our purposes a purebred sheep is more than we need. Instead we have a very friendly and effective Romney Ram and a variety of purebred and mixed breed ewes.
What do your sheep eat?
Our sheep eat pasture as long as it will grow. We have four sheep pastures that we rotate our sheep through from late March through November. In December through early March our sheep are fed hay with an occasional bucket of grain. It is important to keep sheep coming to a bucket of grain so we can move them from place to place more easily. They also have free access to mineral licks throughout the year.
Where do you get all the hay you feed? Is it organic?
Our hay is primarily purchased from other local farms that sell hay for a living. Our largest hay supplier is a former dairy farmer. Because we believe in supporting local farms and because we value being able to look at the fields where our hay comes from we are not willing to ship in organic hay from Canada or the west. The fields are NOT sprayed and while they are not certified, we strongly believe they would meet all the requirements of organic certification.
What about your chickens?
We are home of the schoolbus chickens! Our chickens are raised on schoolbuses that move around our farm much like the pig pens. They are able to roam the pasture and woodland by day, but at night go inside and are protected from our ever-present coyotes. They laying hen bus has layer boxes built into the side of the bus, while our meat birds have full, free range of the bus. Both flocks are in pastures that have fencing around them to keep predators out and chickens in. Originally, our chickens were completely free during the day, but one day a fox got into the bus and methodically killed over three dozen chickens. Since then, we fence around wherever the bus is on the farm.
What kind of chickens do you raise?
Our layer hens are a mixture of Arucauna, Black Astrlop, Comets, and Rhode Island Reds. Our meat birds are Cornish Rock Crosses. All come to us as poults from either Murray McMurray Hatchery or Mount Healthy Hatchery.
How do you raise your turkeys?
We purchase our turkeys as babies (poults) from a hatchery. Like our chickens, they spend the first month to six weeks in a pen in the barn under a heat lamp. This provides warmth and safety for the early growth. At about five to six weeks we move them to a penned in area within a larger pasture for about a week. This provides a bit of extra safety as they become accustomed to a larger, outdoor area. They also have a house for shelter from any rain and our pastures have trees around the edge for shade from the sun. From seven weeks to seventeen weeks our turkeys are free to roam, run, peck and enjoy the fresh air while having free access to grain and water.
What breeds of turkeys do you raise?
We have traditionally raised broad breasted white turkeys, but this year will offer a bronze heritage breed turkey as well.
Can we come visit the animals?
Absolutely. Our mission is connecting communities with agriculture and to that end we love to have visitors. Because we are a working livestock farm and in the long process of cleaning up and rehabilitating an abandoned dairy farm we want everyone to be safe and enjoy their visit.
We have two open barns per year – on the second Sunday in June and the second Sunday in October from noon to 5 pm. We are also here on the first Tues of every month from 3 to 6 pm for on-farm share distribution and animal visits. Other times can be arranged by mutual convenience.
Please do not simply arrive – we may be trucking animals, picking up meat or otherwise working and not available and we do not allow unaccompanied visitors in our barns.