Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Work Begins On Our Newest Pasture

We've finally started work on our newest pasture.  This particular pasture is about 2/3 of a mile down the road...not far at all.  We've finally "tamed" the pasture that we acquired laste year--meaning all of the invasive trees have been cut back and we're starting to get the grasses to fill in.  This first pasture had not been tended to in years and needed alot of work.

Our newest pasture, however, is in GREAT shape and is ready for the cattle as soon as the cattle are ready to range (and once the fencing is finished).

The landowner of the new field has allowed us use of his 29 HP New Holland tractor complete with brush-hog and post-hole digger attachments.  First we mowed down some of the field to make space to work.  Then we attached the post-hole digger, drilled some holes, and set the corner posts.  The next job was to mark out the location for the rest of the posts on each side.  Some rebar and surveying tape worked nicely.


The attachment worked better than we imagined!  It took only a couple of minutes to line-up and then drill each hole.  We hit very few rocks, maybe 4 all day.  Great soil!

We were able to get down about 4 feet for each hole!  Now I can do this with a shovel, but not THAT fast!  Check out all the "Danger" labels on this thing! 

Corner post one.  Barely had to use that shovel off to the left.  A little "tamping" with the 2 x 4 and it's all set.


Being used to a 1963 Farmall Cub, this "new" tractor was a completely different machine.  I think that I could turn a complete circle atop a postage stamp with this thing!  Amazing control, both forward and back as well as steering.

Drop the three-point hitch, bring up the throttle, and then a touch of down pressure...

Still lots more to do, but we're off to a good start.  It's been a full few weeks, with field clearing, harvesting chickens, and building chicken coops for customers, but we're on our way to some new farm land!





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A Visit to the Winter Farmer's Market

We'll be at the Coventry Winterfresh Farmer's Market in Coventry, CT this coming Sunday, December 20.  The market has been running for a couple of weeks, and we will be making our first appearance on the first Sunday of Winter! 

The market runs from 11am-2pm at the Coventry High School at 78 Ripley Hill Road (just off Rt. 31) in Coventry, CT. 

We'll have tons of free-range eggs, grass-fed beef cuts, heritage pork products, and more.


Cleaning Up the Pasture

So every once in a while we have to go out into the main pasture and clean up a little bit.  Fences sometimes need to be tightened, and sometimes we have to remove undesirable plants to keep the pasture healthy and useful.  Aside from finding various remnants of super-huge fireworks that our friend Jeff brings over for July 4th, we have to contend with giant "pricker/cactus-like things."  (See photo below.)

If anyone can tell us what these things are, and what their purpose is (if any are known), we'd be much happier when working to rid our pasture of them.  They do have a beautiful purple flower that comes around mid-to-late August.  Problem with that, though, is that when the flower comes so do all the pesky little seeds that scatter around to make more of these things.  We got most all but one of them last year, I think, but that one that we let bloom procreated all over the place!  I know right where it was, too.  Smack dab in the middle of the turkey's pasture.  It managed to spread over several acres all on its own.  What a great job it did!

You can see from the above that the cattle love to eat just about all that grows in the field EXCEPT these little buggers.  Now, Sarah, the milk goat, does enjoy eating these things, but I have kept her out of the pasture lately since the largest cattle is kind of standoffish around other four-legged creatures.  He likes (or at least abides) the turkeys, geese, chickens, ducks, and crows, though.  Check out the next shot where it almost looks like a carpet of grass except for the presence of these prickly devils.  We'll be putting the sheep in to clean up whatever the cattle missed and then after two weeks or so with this weather, the field will be ready for the next set of cattle to move in.

We all worked on getting the pasture in order that day.  You have to try to get the whole root out; otherwise, the pesky bugger just grows right back!

Here comes the reinforcement, pink shovel in hand!

If these plants have any value, then we have yet another thing that we're naturally great at growing (add to list of rocks, stones, poison ivy...).  I generally don't wear gloves, especially on such a hot day, but MAN, those things have a nasty bite to them.  The prickers are up to an inch long.  I have no idea how the goat can eat such a thing.

Maybe it's an acquired taste, say, like hot pepper or anchovies.

Liev came out with his shovel and worked pretty hard along side of us until he started to spot parts of the fireworks.  He then set about to collecting all that he could find, making a pile of the pieces, and trying to assemble his own "rocket ship."

A lush pile of "pricker/cactus-things."  This was merely 1/3 of our take for the afternoon.  It would have been a bountiful harvest if we were harvesting, say, ANYTHING but these things.




Moving Cattle -- A Photographic Essay

Here are many of the long-awaited photos of our multi-day adventure in cattle moving.

My Dad helped lend a hand to add higher sides to the trailer.  We used 2 x 6 dimensional lumber and affixed it all with lag screws and carriage (how appropriate) bolts.

A close-up of my Dad working hard.  He most notably suggested that we add the upside down milk crate to the list of indispensible farm tools. 

But, of course, hard work calls for some well-deserved food!

After just a short rest, Dad volunteered to cook us some dinner.  What a nice house guest!  Wood-fired is the only way to go.  Those burgers are made of ground turkey (our own), eggs (our own), carrots, peas (our own), and some other various veggies.

After a night of wonderful food, we were back at it in the morning.  We had the trailer all backed up and ready to be loaded.  We used a couple of pallets as a step for the cattle to get into the trailer.

Here's Fuzzy thinking about it.

And here's Fuzzy inside.  Notice the short gate on the trailer. 

A little grain goes a long way with these guys.

A job well done!  Erica has a certain knack for luring animals into trailers, pick-up beds, down long corridors in the barn, etc.  I think it has to do with unwavering patience.

Ahhh.  But notice now that Fuzzy is no longer in the trailer.  He determined that the lush, green grass outside the trailer was more desirable than the remnants of grain on the trailer floor.  He hopped right out the back while we were starting to tow him away.  So now you can see that we had to build a gate--a much more secure gate--for the trailer.

A few more carriage bolts, some hinges, and two latches later...

This was our third and luckily final attempt at moving Fuzzy.  The trailer was all set and ready to haul.  If we were trying to catch turkeys, we'd have been champs!

Here he goes!

Success, take two!  Nothing is getting out of that gate.  A perfect system, so it seems.

Violet was equally impressed that Fuzzy was so eager to get back into the trailer from which he had fled just hours before.

And there we go, off the farm, down the road, and to the pasture.  It sure is fun driving on the road with a tractor!  On the way back I had Erica follow me in the car and check my speed.  At top speed I was cruising along at 9 miles per hour!  It seemed like 75, though, in the open tractor pulling that trailer.

There we go off road and down into our new pasture.  Violet brought some grain ("Just in case," she said).  Liev lost his shirt somewhere along the line.

One final alteration is still to be made on the trailer...It appears that the cattle can get their pesky little big heads through the sides.  They can barely get them back out, you know, with the horns and all.  I will have to fill in those spaces with some strapping or siding.

One thing that we hadn't counted on was Fuzzy's temperment.  He is normally so nice and calm and friendly.  He was pretty mad at us for the trailer ride, though.  Once he got off he just stormed away into the pasture grasses.  Not even a farewell "moo."

We have a 100 gallon watering trough in the field and we fill it from time to time with water from this little brook that runs adjacent to the pasture.  5 gallon pails at work.

After we brought Alyosius down to join him, all was forgiven in Fuzzy's eyes.  His tail was happily swishing back and forth as he chowed down on the tasty greens.

A job well done by all.  "Great teamwork!"


More on the Trailer

Here are some more shots of the trailer in progress.

There it is "up on blocks" as they say here in the sticks.

We removed the hitch as it was pretty rusty and hard to use.

Here are our new tires mounted and ready to go back onto the trailer. 

Some of the parts all ready to be put on....

Liev was a great help!

The whole family pitched in to get the hitch as tight as we could.  Liev was playing around with a C clamp.  One of his new favorite tools.  He has amazing dexterity!

There is it.  All shiny and new looking.  New bolts, new safety chains, new wiring, and Liev's C clamp.



Still Working On the Trailer

We're still working on the new trailer.  My parents came down yesterday and my Dad worked hard on constructing some new sides for it.

Here is Liev working hard at his job...

He single-handedly removed all the old lights and helped to tear out the wires.  There were enough wires on there to light two trailers, so we took them off and started from scratch with one set.


New Pasture, Take 2

To those checking back...

9:38 pm.  All cattle still in original location.  Some modifications have begun on the trailer and the onset of darkness has stopped me from finishing said modifications. 

We will in good faith attempt to move them again tomorrow.  Perhaps the help of my Dad will push us to success!

(We do have some good pics of our "attempts" to lure them into the trailer, but...alas...the camera is no where to be found.)


Growing Up and Expansion

There is so much to do that sometimes we don't take time to notice how large some of our animals are getting, especially as they transtition from little babies.  Remember those hogs that we used to till up our gardens, orchard, and bramble patch?  We brought them to Farm Day in Scotland, too.

Well, they've grown substantially and we won't be bringing them around for fun any more!

Additionally, we have been working on our new pasture.  It is pretty large, about 7-8 acres in all.  We'll be using the back 2/3 for now and maybe more later.  I spent yesterday brush-hogging the areas where I plan to erect the field fencing, and then I set in some nice cedar posts.  I plan to finish the cedar corner posts and then strech the fence today and tomorrow.  We'll be using metal t-posts between the end/corner posts to allow us to move the fence if we need to easily enough.  Our neighbor has been generous enough to let us use the field/pasture free-of-charge for a couple of years.  We'll be bringing our cattle down there next week at the latest, I hope. 

It's amazing, but we have more than doubled the size of our grazing area in the course of a couple of days.

I drove the tractor down to the field last night so it would be wating for me this morning (it's fun to drive on the roads!).  We took a few photos of the field before the fencing is up and we'll post them later on.


The Race Is On

It's been raining on and off for almost three weeks now here in Southern New England.  The forcast calls for rain and thunder storms for the next 7 days.  This is good for some of our garden but detrimental to tomatoes, peppers, and people who don't like mud.  In fact, the hay fields all around us in towns throughout Eastern Connecticut have been left to their own devices--almost looking abandoned--due to the constant wet.  No one has been able to cut their hay for weeks.  The first cutting traditionally takes place on Memorial Day Weekend here in CT, but it was raining back then, too!  Hopefully the rain will let up for a few days at least soon!

The rain does not seem to bother the large livestock, however.  Here you can see the two Jerseys and Aloysius involved in some sort of race with one of our Black Spanish turkeys.  The turkey seems to be winning this one.

The rain has also slowed down my building of our meat chicken coop/shed.  Here is a photo from a couple of weeks ago.  Liev helped me erect a wall.  Now, during breaks in the rain, and with a little help from my Dad yesterday, we have all four walls up, framed, and covered with siding.  I hope to put up some rafters today if it stays only overcast and does not begin to rain.

Despite all the rain, mud, humidity, and dirty floors that come with living in what seems to have turned into a tropical rainforest environment, good things do come in the end:


Pigs on Pasture

The "little" pigs have finished tilling up our orchard area and we have planted four apple trees so far.  The trees are already starting to form buds!

So it was time to move the piglets to a new area in which they can put their concerted efforts into what they do best:  tilling up the ground.

The grass has been coming up fairly quickly and thickly with all the cold, wet days peppered with warm days over the past two weeks.  The pigs really enjoy being on this lush grass.  They not only can root around and look for grubs, worms, and other tasty morsels, but the love the grass itself along with the roots!


These photos were taken just after we released them into their new penned in area.  We will be turning this area, which is just to the side of our front garden, into a briar and bramble patch.  Blackberry.  Raspberry.  Black Raspberry.  And so on.

Hmm...Do I want to eat that Dandelion?  Maybe I'll just take a little bite and see how it tastes...
The way this little guy is staring it down, you'd think it was giving him a bad attitude or something.  I guess it did not taste as great as he had hoped.

Oh, OK...Maybe I'll try another bite of this one...

In no time at all the pigs will clear this patch and we will move them again.  I have a nice spot that is rife with poison ivy behind my log pile.  We'll get them clearing that out and exposing a nice stone wall that runs most of the way down one side of our property line.  Not only do they clear the land, but they fertilize it at the same time!  It's a win-win for all involved!



Winter at the farm

People have been after us to start writing about our farm, so here goes....

As the cold season makes its presence known across Southern New England, here at our farm we embrace all the weather has to offer.  Our kids, Violet and Liev, have found a great sledding run in our pasture and have outlasted me out there several times already.  We've had several measurable snow events, and I for one am delighted to be plowing it all away in my "new" 1963 Farmall Cub.  What a great father's day gift.  And to top it off, my wife travelled up to VT to get the snow plow for me!  I have to put a new carburetor on the tractor, and I'll update this blog when that time comes.  (It will have to warm enough for me to feel my bare hands for that job.)

We've been fighting the dreaded "icing of the waterers" battle for some time, and found out that we have some faulty wiring in the barn.  We'll have to rent a small digging implement (sweet!) and run some new power lines out there this summer.  For now, we've been using the woodstove in the workshop, some well-placed heat bulbs, and a rotation of waterers to fight the ice battle.  Who knew how much water cattle take in each day!

Our progress on firewood this year is not as productive as last year as we're finding the new farm offers endless other chores, but we've still made a dent in the large pile of logs out in the front. 

On the other hand, our CSA membership is almost full and there is lots of book-keeping and calendar "figuring" to do to ensure all the meats are ready for each pickup date. 

We are currently debating between getting a silo to store delvered grain and picking it up ourselves.  The latter option requires that we construct some sort of smaller grain storage system...More on that as we decide what we will do.  There are several used silos available somewhat locally, but they still must be moved with semi-heavy machines.



CSA openings for 2009 Season

We are now accepting new customers for our 2009 CSA.  We currently have only a few openings, so please contact us ASAP to reserve your space.  Pick up's will be monthy from June to November, and there are two price levels.  Hurricane Farm's CSA is meat-based, and includes:  cage-free chicken; grass-fed beef; heritage breed pork; heritage and conventional breed free-range turkeys.  Other farm items such as eggs, maple syrup, and breads will be offered as well.  Please call the farm today at 860-465-9934 to find out more about our program.  Farm tours are also welcomed and encouraged.  See you at the farm!
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