What can we do with 97 acres, an old farm house and a lot of hard work? Anything!
Land and Animals
These two are so interconnected, I’ll take them together. The health of the soil depends as much on the animal as the animal depends on it. Managed properly, these two improve each other indefinitely. The animals give as much back to the ground as they take from it and the ground gives to the animals the improvement it has received from them. We call that sustainability.
We manage our pastures by rotating our livestock through it wisely. We hope to eventually raise 4 groups of 30 pigs each year and maintain 50 head of Angus while improving our soil.
Again, everything is connected. We are interested in permaculture. We want to see many different types of plants and animals existing together and benefiting from each other. We desire to nurture variety, hardiness and sustainability and share that with our community. We want to be productive instead of consumptive for the sheer joy of it.
Ponds, ponds and more ponds will improve productivity, provide additional food and draw a variety of beneficial organisms.
How do you measure quality of life? We want our kids to grow up within the rhythm of the days and seasons, to know what it means to work hard and then partake in the abundance they have produced, to share that abundance and watch it benefit others. We want to cultivate in them a devotion to the simple goodness of life.
The Farm House
With so much satisfying farm work, it is hard to get excited over an old farmhouse that has seen only the barest of updates since it’s construction. But there is beauty in that, too–a return to simplicity, to knowing when enough is proper and when updating is merely distraction. For now, enough means an outhouse, primitive wiring, no insulation, and stones wrapped in towels for our feet in the unheated bedrooms. For now, enough is beautiful.
Penelope is the model on our front page.
She came to us a year ago and gave us 16 piglets in her first farrowing. Unfortunately, her second farrowing involved some serious complications and she is no longer with us.
We miss her, but we have been enjoying her chops.
The author of this blog.
I am loving this country life in all its hardship and satisfaction. I’m learning my poop, as they say. Bovine poop, Porcine poop, Avian poop, Ovine poop….you get the idea.
When I’m not studying the natural fertilizers, you may find me moving fences, tending my garden, homeschooling my kids, fermenting my veggies, attempting to sew, or cooking up some delicious vittles.
Thanks for stopping by. If you get a chance, come see the farm. We love visitors and will find a way for you to join in the good life for an afternoon.
In 2009 a friend read to us a passage from a work by Wendell Berry.
We were intrigued by its quiet beauty and began to soak up book after book. During that time and as a result of research initiated by our concern for our food allergic children, we began to remember the importance of growing our own food, caring for our soil, supporting our community and producing for ourselves and others.
I say remember because in each of us there has always been a desire to farm. Our circumstances were not ideal for self-supportive farming, but we made a start. Our small garden plot flourished, our bunnies multiplied and our hens laid beautiful eggs.
Even though we lived at the edge of a wooded area on a dead end street, we were given a citation for these activities.
It came too late. We had tasted the pastoral life and found it too promising to give up our efforts.
In 2011 we left the house we built in suburban New Jersey and pitched our tent behind a neglected 1860’s farmhouse, making another start on 97 acres of a long unused dairy farm.
Of the two years that have followed, we could tell many humorous stories.
We are growing down into this good land full of promise. Our children are growing up into healthy, hardy and productive persons.
We join Hannah Coulter in saying, “This is our story. This is our giving of thanks.”
With a simple overnight marinade of sage, garlic, orange, cumin, s&p,
and a couple of hours on the grill,
this rack of ribs given by
brought a lot of satisfaction
as we celebrated a couple of birthdays this week.
Through the winter, the cattle enjoyed bale grazing.
The new calves stayed in a pen closer to the house where they drank milk and got the best hay, minerals and alfalfa.
We moved both groups to a holding pen so they could get to know each other and start making the transition to grass.
The kids helped us move them to the pasture.
They were happy to be on green grass.
In fact, this is what they had to say about it:
This morning I served cake for breakfast!
Usually I’m a mean mommy when it comes to food and strictly limit unnourishing food.
Even candy has to meet a high standard.
However, when DP’s mom brought this cake for AJ’s birthday, I gladly sliced off a large piece for them.
And the icing? I’ve misplaced the recipe but it is similar to this.
No worries! There is nothing unhealthy about it!
In April of 2011, our family came up to work a bit on the property we were going to buy. We dug up a garden space and planted a few early things, longing for the June day we would take possession of the property.
We enjoyed a pretty nice garden.
When winter came we boarded the pigs on the area.
By Spring, we knew we wouldn’t be using the spot for much since all the hay had not composted by garden planting time. A huge amount of squash and other volunteer food came up, and we got in some corn and climbing beans.
In the Fall we had a few piglets on the area for about a month to root around a bit and be weaned.
Here is the area now. I can’t wait to get to work on it and see what the rich ground will give back this year.
All winter the pigs’ home has been a large area with a dugout. Each week, we gave them a round bale to eat and use for bedding. As you see in the first picture, they were quite content. April brings its showers and even with hay, the pen has turned into a mud pit–not so terrible from a pig’s perspective, but it signals the end of the pen and the beginning of the pasture rotations.
We moved the pigs into temporary paddocks made with electric fencing. Usually, one low wire will keep them in, but we like to give them two wires for the first paddock–cuts down significantly on pig chasing while they get used to their new fence.
Here they are on brand new pasture. They were feeling their freedom yesterday and thoroughly enjoying their new digs. The chickens and guineas followed them yesterday. I’m interested to see if they stay with the pigs all through the pasture.