Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Hurricane Farm in a nice article from the HARTFORD COURANT

A link to a nice article about our farm in the Hartford Courant from October 14, 2010.

Click on the "Discover Windham" link...

 http://www.courant.com/about/special_sections/

 
 

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/

 
 

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!

 
 

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!

 
 

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.

 
 

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! 

 
 

My Four-Legged Tiller, Part 2

The frost has hit and the squash is done.  Sadness creeps into the picture as one looks around at the dying plants.  The sqash was commanding the garden mere days ago, but its leaves are now turning a sickly dark color.  The frost sneaks in and kills quickly, just as quickly as the early morning sun whisks it away.

While we are short some squash patches, we have gained some pig areas.  The hogs have been moved into the garden and will be rotated throughout in order to clean, till, and manure the spaces that will hold next Spring and Summer's crops. 

Even though the entire garden is fenced in, we set up some movable hog panels (16 foot long rigid fence sections) to encourage the pigs to keep to a specific area as they work.  We have many crops remaining that do not need the help of the pigs at this time.  They might like the strawberry patch or the kale rows, but we do too!  Pigs keep out, please...

We'll let them work their wonders in the squash patch, then move them through the corn and other crop areas in the coming weeks.

Did I mention that they work for free?

 
 

Holiday Meat CSA - Shares Now Available

Hurricane Farm in Scotland, CT is currently offering a Holiday Meat CSA. 

Many people inquired about and have been on a waitlist for our Summer Meat-Based CSA.  We are now pleased to be able to expand our CSA to a second season and we welcome new members.

Members have the opportunity to get fresh meats straight from the farm.

 

Each member's share will include the following: 

End of October: 
Pork Chops ($9/lb)
Sausage ($9/lb) 

Early November:
Nitrate Free
Bacon ($11/lb)
Ham ($11/lb)

Thanksgiving:
Turkey 20-30lbs ($100)

Early December:
Grass-Fed, Dry Aged Beef ($7-20/lb)

Plus:  Eggs, Swiss chard, Spinach, Lettuce, Peas & Kale

CSA with Turkey: $300
CSA without Turkey: $200 We are now accepting a $50 deposit with 2-3 weeks to pay the remaining balance. 

Get involved with your food and get it straight from the source!

Contact us at:
hurricanefarmmama@gmail.com or 860.465.9934

 

 

 
 

Local Foods at a Local Restaurant

A local Connecticut restaurant, Zest, has some wonderful dishes on the way prepared with local ingredients including ribs grass-fed, dry aged beef.  If you are in Northeastern CT, stop by their 1750's farmhouse restaurant and try the taste and flavor of local foods!

http://www.zestofct.com/

 
 

A Recipe for (Our) Heritage Pork

One of our customers recently tried some of our Heritage pork and offers this recipe:  "Slap Ya Mama Heritage Pork Chops."

Please follow the link to their Food Blog and, perhaps, try it out yourself!

http://acoupleinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2009/08/slap-yo-mama-heritage-pork-chops.html

 
 

Time to Reserve that Thanksgiving Turkey

Just a quick reminder to those out there who are planning to get their Thanksgiving turkey from us here at the farm...It is time to put in your order.  We still have some conventional white turkeys this year, and we have a variety of heritage breed turkeys as well.  Our heritage breeds include Narragansett, Black Spanish, Blue Slate, and Bourbon Red.

Our turkeys are raised on grass and are fed all natural vegetarian feed.  The heritage turkeys spend most of their time in the fields or the woods, foraging for bugs, grubs, and seeds.

Please call us or see us at the Coventry Farmers' Market on Sundays to reserve yours today!

 
 

Moving Pigs, Our Second Encounter

Last week, or sometime thereabouts, we had to load three of our hogs onto the trailer in order to take them to be processed.  As readers will recall, our first experience loading pigs, while perhaps comical, took WAY TOO LONG!  This time we had it all figured out, and for the most part, everyone involved cooperated with the plan.

First I had to back the trailer up to the barn and make a runway for the hogs.

Notice above how little clearance there is between the trailer gate and the door frame of the barn.  Now, I should have measured this all out when constructing the trailer gate, but that did not happen.  In fact, the gate was about an inch or two too high to fit into the barn. 

SOLUTION:  Pallets!

Backing the tractor up onto four pallets raised the tractor, thereby lowering the end of the trailer just enough to clear the door frame.  Yet another addition to the essential farm tools list:  pallets.

After getting the trailer where it needed to be, we set up a hog panel (a 16 foot long rigid wire fence section) and reinforced it with a couple of 2 x 4's to hold it in place.  We had a little step made out of a pallet for the hogs to use to walk right up onto the trailer.

All that was left was to "bait the trap," as it were.  We had restricted the feed intake of the pigs the previous night so as to be sure that they would be hungry enough to waltz right into the trailer.

Here I am opening up their pen and telling them to head down the center aisle.  I also reminded them to return their seats to their original upright position and to check the overhead compartments for bagage before exiting.

And there they go.  Right down the aisle, into the chute, and onto the trailer.  Pretty easy so far.  They were not wild about the step, but with a little coaxing and some pizza from Erica, they eventually took the plunge.

We got the first two into the trailer and they immediately started chowing down on the food piled up in there.  I put some wooden slats across the trailer so as to "lock" them towards the front while we tried to get the last pig on. 

Turns out we didn't need the slats, really.  After gorging themselves the two pigs decided on a nap.

Erica used some more of the pizza and some other tasty morsels to try to lure the final pig on.

We gave the pig about three hours waiting time, during which it decided to also take a nap.  Just not in the right location.

Eventually, the last one made its way onto the trailer.  Once they were all back together they ate, drank, and slept just like it was their new home.  This was a much more successful--and less time-consuming--adventure this time around!

 

 

 
 

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!

Yummy!

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!

 

 
 

Load of Hay and the Old Fashioned Way

We usually buy our hay from a neighboring farm here in town.  I am not sure if it is common knowledge or not, but hay, like most any other commodity in the world, comes in a variety of qualities.  There is good hay.  There is bad hay.  And all sorts in between.  We've been lucky to get our hay from our neighbors at Twin Hill Farm as they "make" exceptionally high quality hay.  Not being a hay farmer myself, I don't really know what goes into "making" good hay, but I suspect that much of it has to do with timing:  when to cut, when to fluff, when to bale.  Of course, the rain never helps matters.

Anyhow, we bought the last few bales from our supplier back at the end of the winter, and we've been trying hard to locate a secondary source to hold us over until the first cutting at the end of May.  We tried a couple of places and ended up with "bad" hay.  Yuck. 

Sometimes, it takes going without to realize how lucky one is to have it in the first place.  I can assure you that we will be buying more hay from our neighbors at cutting time and trying to store it up so as to avoid scratching around in the late winter of next year.

I am happy to report, though, that finally we found some decent hay.  Our friends at Terrabyte Farm in neighboring Canterbury, CT put us in contact with some hay farmers a couple of towns over.  They were some nice folks at that hay farm.  It turns out that they bale somewhere about 12,000 bales per season on an old farm that they are allowed to use virtually free of charge.  Barns and all!  They worked out a deal where they pay the taxes for the elderly woman who owns the farmland, keep her cable TV piping in, and keep her warm.  In exchange they have access to her 100's of acres and huge barns.  What a deal!  It sure is nice to see situations like this in what seems to be an increasingly complex world.  Some things are still pretty darn simple.

Truckload of hay and one dancing boy!

Add one dancing girl.

End result:  one itchy cat!  There is something affirming about the itch on your arms after loading bales of hay on a warm Spring day.

 
 

Hungry Hungry Hogs

Anyone remember that game "Hungry Hungry Hippos"?

It seems as I get a little older and look for games for my kids I find myself missing my childhood games more and more.

In fact, just after Christmas I purchased a "Crossbows and Catapults" game because I remembered spending hours on end building castles and walls, and then hurling plastic checkers with the crossbow and catapult trying to knock them over.  My brother and I had some pretty intense and fun games in our parents' hallway.  I still say hardwood floors are the best for this game!

At the time (being just after Christmas, I guess) I could only find one store with the game in stock.  It must have been popular last year.  So I looked on eBay.  Whoa...$150 for the original edition.  Man, what did I DO with all my old games?

So I ordered the new edition...It's sort of like the one that I used to have.  Only not as well made.

I guess my point is that things should be saved, re-used, and passed on.  Right?  What is all this about buying new things all the time?  Especially when they are not anywhere near the quality that we used to have, use, and love.

Someone should tell this to our hogs...They seem to LOVE my new drill (another new product that pales in comparison to the older ones...).

Will pig drool void the warranty? 

I can see it now:

Customer Service Rep:  Is that a bite taken out of the handle?

Me:  Yes sir.

Customer Service Rep:  Who would do such a thing?

Me:  Well, sir, my pigs, sir, prefer Mexican food.

 

 
 

Pig Soccer

We were cleaning out the young pigs last weekend when our kids came up with a new sport:  pig soccer.

After moving out several loads of dirty shavings and mud, we dumped in the new wood shavings.  The kids decided that they would help to spread them around the pen using their feet.  The pigs loved the action! 

Enter the soccer ball.

It appears that the pigs enjoy a friendly game of soccer from time to time.  Above, you can see how they arrange their offense.  The one in the front is about to block for the one with the ball...

Here they are, trying to regroup, after my son scored twice in a row.

We had put the soccer ball in the pen with the last batch of hogs as they were constantly dumping over their water pail.  We figured that they might "attack" the ball rather than the bucket of water.  After learning that they could not eat the ball, our old pigs left it in a corner of the pen.  These new pigs, as you can see, have learned a thing or two about soccer balls since then.

 

 
 

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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