Organic food. Local food. Real food. Delicious!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This weekend was very busy in Cabot, VT. Maplefest took place on Saturday, with tons of craft vendors, food, and music. Our boys performed in a Tae Kwon Do demonstration with their martial arts school, Pyramid Black Belt. Sunday morning was spent working on farm infrastructure; specifically, setting up the chicken's electric fence netting, running electricity to the fence, moving the chicken coop out of the greenhouse, and finally moving the chickens out of the greenhouse. As per "Murphy's law", the chickens are desperate and devious about getting out when I want them in...but when I actually want them out, they're in no particular hurry. Once they were out, though, boy were they happy. You never saw so much scratching and clucking and strutting. Sunday evening was spent at a party, a lovely gathering of farmers and homesteaders. the talk is all about the weather, of course...should we plant or wait?

Monday, March 12, 2012

With all the warm weather, I've been letting the chickens out of the greenhouse. There is still a very high drift along the north wall of the building...and one adventurous hen used the drift as a launching point to scramble up to the roof. She made it all the way to the very top, then sat down and wouldn't move. Chickens have long sharp nails, and our greenhouse is covered in plastic film, so I was very anxious to remove her. After several vain attempts, and some oaths of which I am not proud, I managed to get her down with an extension ladder and push broom.

On another note, the sheep got sheared today, by an excellent local sheep shearer, Peter Brandt. They don't even look like the same animals when all the fluff is gone. The wool from our 4 adult animals completely stuffed a contractor-size trash bag. We'll use some of it for arts and crafts, but most of it is going to a neighbor who does fiber arts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our honeybees are out and about today! It's nice to see them after a long winter. When the hives are topped with snow, and the north wind is blasting, it's hard to imagine that the bees are still alive in there. Not only alive, but warm...the workers make a ball around the queen, and keep her above 90 F all winter. They are tough little critters!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Looking to fill your freezer with delicious, locally grown chicken? Place an order with us now, and we'll raise your chickens over the summer. We raise 100-150 chickens each summer, for sale and for our own use. When they're sold out, that's it till next season.

Why only in the summer? Why so few chickens? Well, we raise animals on pasture in the open air, not in barns. This is only possible during summer ( we're in high country VT, where you can have frost in June and August!)  By raising a limited number, we can take really good care of them, and do all the butchering ourselves.

If you've seen Food Inc or similar films about conventional agribusiness, you've probably seen chicken barns. The farmers grow a couple thousand birds in a relatively small space, allowing about 1/2 square foot per bird. It's kept dark, so the miserable chickens are less apt to peck at each other. And every morning, the farmer walks through and chucks out the ones who died overnight. The ones who make it to full size are rounded up and trucked to a processing factory, and I'll just end my narrative there, as it only gets nastier.

Though this may be profitable, and cheap for the consumer, the food is of questionable quality. And the ethics...well, that's up to every individual to decide for themselves.

We decided several years ago that we didn't want to eat this type of food. We started raising our own, and now we're happy to offer good quality chicken to our friends and neighbors (and not just when they come over for dinner!)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today is the first day of March, and we're buried in new snow. The sledding is great! Unfortunately, most of my outside time was dedicated to shoveling. Really enjoying the longer, sunnier days. In fact, it's been so sunny that we've had to keep the greenhouse opened up during the day. Our greenhouse is a 48' x 21' from Ledgewood Farm. It's passive solar; we don't heat it, and control the temperature by rolling up the sides or opening vents in the end walls. We discovered the power of passive solar when we left the greenhouse closed one sunny day in March, and melted the plastic pots that were stored inside. Fortunately, we were just starting out and didn't have any plants or animals in the greenhouse. Currently, the chickens and sheep are wintering in there, and many mornings it's already 70 F when the critters get their breakfast. It's wonderfully cozy to step inside after the cold and windy walk from the house. Usually I linger longer than strictly neccesary, watching the animals and enjoying the warmth.