Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Harvest Party 2011!

We will be celebrating the 2011 Harvest with another Harvest Party!

Live music will run throughout the day on our outdoor stage and there will be fun activities for kids of all ages to partake in.

Special guest artists painting artwork on-site this year!

Bands include

Rusty Implements
King Cake
Brothers Donovan
Desert Rain Trio
Acoustic Surf Tones
Zeno's Eros

We will be having a fund-raiser for the newly-established garden @ SCOTLAND SCHOOL.

BYOB
POT-LUCK
FREE
FAMILY FRIENDLY

Lots of locally grown foods will be available to taste.

Please bring blanket or chair.
 
 

Thanksgiving Feasts

Thanksgiving is almost here!  We've been hard at work preparing our customers' turkeys and CSA pick-ups.  It's been quite busy here on an otherwise quiet rural backroad with all the folks coming and going.

Maybe you purchased a Hurricane Farm turkey, some veggies, eggs for baking, syrup for sweetening your pies, vinegar for your salad dressing, sausage for your stuffing, or beef for a Thanksgiving lasagna?

Whatever you are eating from our farm, we hope that you find it delicious!  Happy Thanksgiving!

 
 

Hurricane Farm Harvest Party - 23 October 2010

We are happy to announce that our 2010 Harvest Party is happening next Saturday, October 23.  It begins at 2:00 pm and features farm fresh foods. 

All ages, and kids welcomed!  We will be roasting one of our turkeys on a spit, pressing apples to make cider, and hosting live bands throughout the day.  This event is BYOB.

2:30 King Cake (www.kingcakeband.com)
3:30 Zeno's Eros (www.myspace.com/zenoseros)
4:30 Banjo Jeff Perkins
5:00 The Screwdrivers (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi6fuYLuwFI)
6:00 Synaptic Groove
7:00 Brothers Donovan (www.myspace.com/dreamswell)

 
 

Hurricane Farm on TV

Chefs Kevin Cottle (from Season 6 of Hell's Kitchen) and Van Hurd have our sweet sausage, heirloom tomatoes, garlic, herbs and butternut squash. Watch FOX 61 (in Connecticut--or check it out online!) Wednesday morning at 11:00 and see what they make!

http://www.chefkevincottle.com/

 
 

The Tomato and "Celebrating Agriculture" in Connecticut

 

We're winding down with our tomato crop, but there are still plenty left!  Watch for our heirloom varieties at the food booth of "Celebrating Agriculture" at the Woodstock Fairgrounds next Saturday, September 25th.

Check it out...it's a great family event focusing on agriculture in Eastern Connecticut:  http://www.celebratingagriculture.org/

 
 

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!

 

 

 

 
 

Photos from the Hurricane Farm Tour

This past Saturday we took part in the Coventry Regional Farmer's Market "Graze Fest" which involved tours of some of the farms involved in the market. 

Erica did a great job showing a nice group of eager folks around our farm and many wonderful photos have been sent to us by the participants. 

Follow this link for a slide show courtesy of David Cope > http://www.flickr.com/photos/triodeandco/sets/72157624467019842/

 
 

Hurricane Farm on Facebook

That's right!  You can follow our exploits, experiments, failures, and success stories on FACEBOOK.

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Scotland-CT/Hurricane-Farm/111791448862149?ref=ts&ajaxpipe=1&__a=9

WHOA!  That is one clunky URL.  Just go to http://www.facebook.com and join Hurricane Farm.

Or GOOGLE us.  It works!

 
 

Hurricane Farm: The Movie

In the Fall of 2009--a year and a half after establishing our Scotland, Connecticut farm--a film crew shot the following documentary.

"The New Farmer's Voice"

http://vimeo.com/12220552

Enjoy!

 
 

Hurricane Farm at Scotland Farm Day, 2010

We brought some of our livestock to the annual Farm Day here in Scotland, CT this past weekend.  The photos below are from the Norwich Bulletin.

Here's two week old Moe sleeping after a morning's full of attention.

 

The piglets were also hard at work ripping up the grass looking for grubs, roots, and other yummy things.  But so much hard work made for some sleeply little piglets for sure!

We had a great time and met some wonderful new customers and friends.  It was also nice to see some of our CSA members and regular customers who came out as well.

 

 
 

The Further Emergence of Spring

Spring continues its forward progession. 

New calves have been introduced to the growing "herd" out in the pastures...

A new lamb, named Vera, is introduced to some of the other sheep in the flock...

A little girl holds one of her favorite hens...

A flower pops its head through the freshly tilled and fertilzed soil...

Fiddleheads pop up alongside the brook and stream...

Spring is here and in full force at Hurricane Farm!

 
 

Spring is Alive

Spring is alive at the farm and the surrounding woodlands and wetlands.  The frogs have been peeping for weeks, and now after their loud rituals we are finding egg sacks in the "frog pond" and along the banks of the brook and stream.

Soon, the eggs will be hatching and tiny tadpoles will swarm the waterways that surround Hurricane Farm.

Even though there were seemingly thousands of frogs at the start of the "peeping," they are hard to spot now that the mating is all over.  Here's one of the little guys.  Who would expect something so small to make a sound so large?

In addition to the creatures, the plants are also popping up all over the place.  Here is a Skunk Cabbage making its way up through the muddy bottoms of the stream.

And of course manure needs to be hauled.  We started moving some up from the back manure piles, but there is still much more to move.  We'll be tilling the gardens soon and we're also eagerly awaiting the next batch of "four-legged-tillers" (or piglets) who will be arriving in a couple of weeks.

There is still a lot to clean up from sugaring season, though.  And both Erica and Violet spent hours working on this task.  Gathering and hauling empty buckets from the woods, cleaning and scrubbing buckets, pails, spiles, and tubes, and getting it all packed away for next year takes more than an afternoon!

It was so sunny and warm that Violet felt compelled to break out not only her sun hat, but the sun-screen too!  The finished Sugaring Pavillion is there in the back, still awaiting its roofing job...soon to come...

We also disassembled the bee hive, cleaned it out, and got it all ready for its new inhabitants.  Hopefully we'll have better weather this coming summer and the bees will be able to prosper.

And, let's not forget, the arrival of the new farm animals.  Just hours ago we welcomed our first lamb of the year!  As always, it's busy busy busy here at the farm!

 

 

 
 

First Batch of 2010 Maple Syrup

We had the evaporator firing late into the night over this past weekend and our results yielded our first batch of 2010 Maple Syrup! 

The full moon was out, the steam was rising from the pan, and Hurricane Farm's Official "Taste Tester" was on the job!

It's the moment of truth.  Violet grabs her tasting glass and takes a "sniff":  "Mmm.  Sugary," was her first verdict.

She takes the first taste of the year...and...

It's good!  Her smile tells it all...

We ended up with a very nice "light amber" for our first batch.  The pan is still full, the holding tanks are at maximum capacity, and the sugar bush is still pouring forth the sap.  It looks to be a good season so far...

Erica worked late into the night boiling down to the finished product, filtering the syrup, and then bottling it up.

Our first bottle of 2010.  Yummy.

 

 

 
 

Winter Continues

It was "supposed to, maybe, probably, it could" snow all week here in Connecticut.  We had rain.  But...Friday came and so did the snow.  Finally!

The maple buckets are in the woods and there is a fresh layer of clean, peaceful snow on the ground.  Perfect conditions for woods-walking and maple sugarin'!

The ducks and geese love it.  They take this opportunity to escape from the mud and clean their feathers.

Even the hogs like the snow, since it gives them something new to dig in.  This one is almost ready for market.

This is Butch.  He seems to be the current ruler of the barnyard.  He doesn't mind the snow, and is the first one out of the barn despite weather conditions.

The Sugaring Hut...now fully piped, roofed, and ready to keep on sugarin'.  We'll be adding some tin roofing in the Spring time.  As it was, I was barely able to finish it to this stage before the sap started flowing!  It works great, though, and now we can sugar in all sorts of nasty weather.

Here is one of our "snow plows" hard at work.

Another shot of the new Sugarin' Hut.

Here's Liev heading out to "plow" the "bridges" that we've put out to get us across the small streams and into the woods.

With all the rain, the water in the woods is flowing quite rapidly!  In fact, some of the jugs that we set out on some the trees are now inaccesible.  The larger brook has swollen beyond its banks and we can't get to some of the maple trees to retrieve the sap.  Paco the Cat, however, does not seem bothered by this.

We use milk jugs to gather the sap once we run out of metal buckets and 5 gallon pails.  You can see a couple of the jugs on some trees that are now in the midst of the brook.  We'll have to wait to collect from those for a while...Or else brave the bitter cold water?  I think we'll wait...At least until my Dad comes down and is loking for a job to do!  Bring your waders, Dad!

Another tree now in the middle of the brook...

Finally, here is a cool tree bound by wild grape vines.  Pretty neat find out there at the edge of the woods.

 
 

The Sap Flows!

It took only a few hours and a sunny morning to get about 100 taps in.  We dug out the buckets, lids, tools, and spouts, loaded up the trucks, and headed across town to the sugar bush.

The owners of the land that we use have been hard at work clearing out the brush, thinning the trees, and making the sugar bush more productive.  You can see in the above photo some of the smaller trees that they had cut down to allow the larger trees room to grow.

The darker hole in the photo below is the hole from last year.  To the right you can see the a new hole with fresh sap already dripping out.  We generally put two taps per tree.  This works out well as the two taps will generally fill a five-gallon bucket each day during the sugarin' season.



The first step once we make it to the woods is to lay out the buckets at each tree we plan to tap.  We put out about 50+ buckets today.  We still have at least 50-60 more spouts to set back at our farm.  Hopefully we'll get to this in the next day or two.

A few slight knocks with a hammer and the spout is set!

One a sunny day like this, the sap starts to flow before the drill bit is removed from the hole.  It starts with a steady stream, but then slows to a pulsing drip.  Those drops sure do add up, though!

Once again, everyone lends a hand.  First we loaded up the trucks.  Then we unloaded them in the woods and set out the buckets, covers, and spouts.  Finally, we drilled and set the spouts into the trees.

It takes some focus and concentration to score a direct hit with the hammer!

The old-fashioned hand drill (brace) works better than an electric drill, in our opinion.  Less noise and more elbow grease makes for some contemplative moments in the woods.  (The more keen of our readers will notice something about the photograph below.  Examine last year's photos...any takers?)

Teamwork all around makes quick work of the trees in the sugar bush.

The buckets are set, the trees are tapped, the sap is flowing...Maple lovers prepare to have your taste buds tantalized!

 

 
 

Bringin' In the Wood...Maple Anyone?

With the roof on, the trees tapped, and SNOW in the forecast, it was time to bring in some of our dry firewood.

Our design of a post/pole building leaves plenty of open room for the sunshine, for fresh air and ventilation, and for stacking wood!  We started with the remaining slabwood from last season and then moved on to some of our super-seasoned hardwood.  To get the sap boiling, you need as hot a fire as can be mustered.

The stacks of wood will also make a nice windbreak.  An added bonus!

Every one in the family lends a hand at maple time.

Once we get all four walls stacked, it will be as if we're in a bear den.  And...once the evaporator is firing, it will be nice and cozy...

It's almost SUGARIN' TIME...

 
 

Work on the Sugar Hut Continues...Frantically!

We've been planning for a couple of weeks to tap the maple trees today (President's Day).  So...for the past couple of days we've been frantically working on getting the sugaring hut finished up.

Erica and I were able to move the evaporator--about 1 foot at a time--all by ourselves.  We removed the pan, the smokestack, and even the doors.  We were able to get the whole thing down to what seemed like only 1 ton.  Nicely done!

But...the sugar hut still needed a roof.

First we needed to add the chimney pipe and make a cupola for the steam to escape.  We're going to extend the pipe 2 feet up from where it stands in this picture so that it gets sufficient clearance over the cupola.

Have I mentioned how I do not really like ladders?  I must have back when we were posting the pictures of the meat chicken coop.  Anyhow, I've been getting better, but I still don't "prefer" the task...

Meanwhile, Liev was stacking milk crates.  Then knocking them over.  Then stacking milk crates...

Here is the cupola just about finished.  We'll still need to shingle the roof, but that will have to happen after this year's sugarin'...the sap is already flowing!

We used double-insulated Class A chimney pipe to connect to the evaporator's smokestack.  When researching smokestack installations, I learned that most sugarhouses seem to go with single wall galvanized roof jacks (which cost WAY too much, by the way).  Also, they tend to incinerate the roof, making yearly replacement a tradition.  Not cool!  So, we opted for more of an "interior wood stove" installation.  Better safe than charred!

Perched like (an uneasy) bird.

Soon to come...we move in the wood and tap the trees.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 
 

Maple Sugarin'

It's just about time to pull out all of the equipment and head out to the woods!  This week we have lots in store at the farm...

100's of buckets, lids, tubing, and spouts will need to be rinsed off, loaded into our truck, and driven across town to the sugar bush.  I need to sharpen up the drill bit on the hand-drill, or brace as it is called, and grab a hammer as well.

This weekend I have been working on the roof to the sugaring shack.  Chimney piping has been ordered and I hope to have the roofing up and ready before the piping arrives.  Today I will be working on the venting system (like a long cupola) and then the rest of the roof will go up.

Perhaps the toughest task of all this will be to move the evaporator into the sugar shack.  It is only about 12 feet away right now, but this is a very heavy piece of equipment.  We can take some of it apart, but the 50 or so firebricks that are cemented in place inside of the arch will not be removable.  We'll be enlisting anyone nearby to help with this, I'm sure.  Luckily, the ground is still frozen and icy so maybe we'll be able to slid it as we move it.

And, of course, there is a ton of wood to be split into small, quick-burning pieces...

We plan to set out the supplies in the woods this week and hopefully tap the trees next weekend.  It's still a bit cold here, but things could change at any time here in New England and then the sap will be running!

 

 
 

Winter and Snow

Winter has set in and we have a solid covering of snow.  Looks like we'll be covered until the maple sap is running in March!  It snowed earlier than usual and has been colder than usual.  Such a combination has resulted in a nice white blanket throughout the state.

Neither the cold nor the snow seem to bother plant and animal life here in Scotland, CT, however.

The geese are still strolling around as if they own the place...That is, until the turkeys emerge from the wooded wetlands and take over.

The turkeys still "free-range" all winter, but there is little for them to eat so we offer them some grain each day.  This helps to keep them from "running away," as well.  In the summer and fall they eat entirely what they find in the woods and the fields, but the pickings are a little bit slimmer this time of year.

Even in the middle of a cold winter, the poultry prefer to remain outside.  The turkeys can enter the barn and roost within, but unless it is snowing outside, they still would rather sleep in the trees and atop the barn and sugar-shed.

These heritage toms and hens will be our breeding stock and hopefully provide us with all the poults that we'll need for this year's Thanksgiving.  We'll see how their production is in the late winter and then determine if we need to supplement our needs.  We're once again planning to expand our turkey operation and raise more birds.  We've been selling out faster and faster each season!

Here's Bertrude:

Here's Hiram:

Even though it's frigid and the water for the animals needs to be changed and dethawed several times per day, it is NOT too cold for a RED SOX cap!

And speaking of the cold:  check out what Erica and Liev dug out of the snow in the garden.  The kale is STILL growing, even in 20 degree weather!  This stuff sure is hardy!  It's now officially a year-round crop for us.  Hooray!

I can't believe that this stuff can still make it through this weather.  AND it's tasty!

 
 

Just In Time To Beat the Snow

A couple of weeks back we had about what seemed to be non-stop rain for days on end.  The farm had become a mud pit.  Almost like Spring, but without the flowers, grass, and other plants popping up and sucking up the excess water.  So...we had mud, in some places several inches deep.

Just about this time we determined it was time to move the hogs into their winter home attached to the barn.

When we first moved the hogs into the garden for their "Fall tilling excursion," we had all three of them in the same cage.  Not so anymore!  They grew quite a bit while removing all the old roots and grubs and other bugs from the garden.

We were able to get the first two up onto the trailer wihout a problem.  The third one almost broke out of the cage, so we had to wait to move him until we got these two guys settled in.  Check out the rooster along for the free ride!  He rode in on the trailer all the way from the garden.

We backed the tractor right up into the barn and then...

...unloaded the hogs.  A couple of curious hens accompanied the rooster and came out to watch us try to lift, drag, push, and pull the cages down the length of the barn.

It seems we got the hogs moved just in time, for that rain gave way to some snow and we were graced with our first plowable snow of the season.  Moving these guys in 4-5 inches of snow would NOT be fun!

Glad to see we got the "thumbs up" from our little supervisor! 

 
 
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