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/

 
 

Humane Meat Processing

There has been lots of news lately about the demand for locally grown meat and the growing suppply being raised on family farms.  Of more interest, however, is the lack of USDA inspected processing facilities.  In fact, we do not currently have one in the state of Connecticut.  There are many smaller, non-inspected facilities, but if a farmer uses one of these then the sales of meat products are restricted to "bulk" (usually a % of the animal).  In order to sell meat by the pound at local farmers' markets or at a farm stand located on the farm itself, the meat must be inspected, packaged, and labelled under the oversight of the USDA.

This effectively eliminates the local processing of farm raised meats in CT.  Luckily, we are able to bring our animals to Adam's Farm (www.adamsfarm.biz) in Athol, MA.  Despite the distance from our farm in Eastern Connecticut, we are happy to be able to bring our animals to a processor that not only works under the guidance of the USDA, but which uses a humane system of animal holding, transport, and slaughter designed and engineered by Dr. Temple Grandin (www.grandin.com).

No doubt you have heard of Temple Grandin due to the recent success and accolaids of the biographical film produced by HBO. (www.hbo.com/movies/templegrandin/index.html). 

If you have a chance to watch this film you will learn much about the way that your meat used to be processed (or still may be if you are not buying from a humane farm and processor) as well as about the humane practices currently being used throughout the country by most small scale producers that were innovated by Dr. Grandin.

It is not only important to know how your food is raised, but be sure to know how your food is processed during the many steps it takes to go from "farm to table."

 

 
 

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 in the Blog-o-Sphere: "It's Hip!"

Though neither "Up-To-the-Minute" nor "Late-Breaking," (sorry, we just found this article from last Winter) this blog commentary offers an interesting perspective on local, sustainable farming. 

http://nutmegnewssource.blogspot.com/2009/12/farming-is-hip-but-challenging.html

 
 

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.

 

 
 

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

 
 

Rain Gutters = Dry Pigs

One of the projects that was on the slate this summer was to install gutters along the front edge of the barn.  Mainly I wanted to keep some of the water out of the pig pen, but also I wanted to try to keep the rain splashing on the barn sills to a minimum. 

We decided to run 1/2 of the legnth of the barn to start.  This would take care of the pig pen area and also it would be pretty hard to run more than 50 feet of gutter all in one direction.  Too much water would get in there and there would be overflow.

Pinning up gutters seemed like an easy task:

1. purchase gutters
2. install them on barn

Not SO simple, it turns out.  This project called for lots of pre-steps before we even got near the gutters.  One step was even involved paint (I loathe painting, anyone can tell you).  I mean, seriously, putting up gutters involves PAINT?!  What the heck...

We first had to install some trim work upon which to attach the gutters.  There was only about 1" of existing trim, not enough to provide the angle we'd need to run 50 feet.  So we tacked up some  6" pine to make a nice surface.  But, then we had to paint it.

Lucky for me, my kids love to paint!

They did such a great job that I only had to touch up areas here and there...I know where to turn ANYTIME I need any painting done.

I'm not sure how it happened, but I got more paint on my clothes than the kids did!

101 feet, 8 inches of "gutter-mount" painted and ready for the gutters...

The next step was the kids' favorite.  When I was building the new out-building, we often used the chalk-line.  They love snapping it and then reeling it back in.  We snapped a 51 foot chalk-line and proceeded to mount the gutters.  We bought these nifty little clips that simply clip into each channel of the gutter and then screw in with a power drill.  Nice and quick!  What was not nice and quick was all the sealing that had to be done to the seams between gutters, to the downspout, to the gutter end, etc...I dislike the caulking gun almost as much as the paint brush.  It especially becomes a chore on the third try at sealing it all correctly to keep it all from leaking.  Pretty soon, though, the kids will be able to handle the caulking gun, too.

The gutters are now up (ironically all the rain has gone away) and we're all ready for some dry less-wet-than-before hogs for the Fall.  Next time it rains, the gutters will whisk the water away to the edge of the barnyard where it will soak into the ground without making mud.

 

 
 

Pork Products

In order to sell meat here in Connecticut, one must visit a USDA inspected processing plant/butcher.  There are not any here in the state, believe it or not.  There is one in Rhode Island, that once one pays a membership fee, will process meats.  They do not, however, smoke any meats.  Not too useful for farmers who want bacon, ham, and the like.

So, we found a new place in Athol, MA.  It is 100 miles from our farm to theirs, but they are USDA inspected and will package our meats in individual cuts, labeled, and ready for farmers' markets.  They, also, do not have a smoker, but we found a place just southeast of Hartford that will smoke our meats.  They make a tasty kielbasa, too!  Until we have our own labels that can be approved by the USDA, the smokehouse makes up some for us. 

Not only do they do all this for us, but they offer curing WITHOUT nitrates and nitrites!  Whoo hoo!  Our customers have been pleased about this, for sure.

All in all, a good tasting product this time around!  Next time we'll be trying some of their Bratworst and maybe some other German preparations, which seems to be their specialty. 

Our grass fed beef is dry-curing as we speak, so we'll have that all packaged up in a couple of weeks.  Grass fed, all beef hotdogs, anyone?

 

 
 

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!

 

 

 
 

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.

 
 

Hogs On Apples

We still have not uploaded the photos from the weekend, but here are some to hold us all over for a little while.

Here we have some hogs--snouts sullied--after a hard afternoon's rooting session.

They have cleared all of the land for our orchard and have also just about finished our bramble and briar patch.  We'll be moving them behind my log pile along the west end of the farm this coming weekend. 

Here is Erica hard at work planting what will hopefully one day be a wonderously prosperous apple tree.  All of the trees we set in have started to bud and are full of leaves.  The bees are starting to leave their hive and gather nectar and I saw several of them already buzzing by the apple trees.  We have set up the hive right amongst the apple trees for maximum pollenization.

Speaking of bees:  When they arrived, they were looking rather piqued.  So much so that they seemed to be--and were--mostly dead.  After a quick couple of calls and some photos sent via email, the supplier has agreed to send us a second shipment as a replacement.  Our queen, however, looked healthy and quickly worked her way onto the honey frame foundations to start her egg laying work, but the colony is off to a rocky start with so many dead bees during shipping.

We'll be adding the new bees as soon as they come.  Below is a shot of the bees that we received in the mail.  An acceptable amount of dead bees would be no more than 1/2 an inch on the bottom.  You can see how something must have happened during shipment to cause over two inches of dead bees.  All the bees amassed on the bottom are dead.  There are still several thousand living bees clinging together at the top end of the cage, but this may not be enough to establish a heatlhy colony.  Also of note is the can in the center of the shipping cage.  This is filled with sugar solution to feed the bees during their voyage through the mail.  Just to the right of the can, nearer the top, is a small cage which houses the queen and five of her royal servants.  Their job is to feed her.  She apparantly cannot be bothered with such menial tasks.  Anyhow, only one servant was left when the cage arrived, so that might explain why the queen was so eager to leave her little cage...She might have been a little hungry.

Stay tuned...More to come!

 
 

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!

 

 
 

Silo Acquisition: Phase 2

We have just completed Phase 2 of our SILO ACQUISITION.

Phase 1, the most tedious of all phases, included posting several ads on Craigslist throughout the greater New England and Pennsylvania area in the hopes of locating an unwated silo (a.k.a. Grain Bin).  After culling through dozens of responses offering us "less-than-ideal" (read rusted, warped, three-legged, bottom-less!) silos, we decided to call around to find out about new silos. 

New silos, however, are not very cost-effective--especially from the perspective of those who always purchase things second, third, and fourth-hand.

We did, though, find a slightly used silo through one of owners of what I guess should be called the "Silo Store."  He informed us that one of his clients was interested in selling her silo, and that he would be willing to remove it from her farm and erect it on our property.  Around the same time, I stumbled upon another used silo at a farm in a neighboring town.  This one was slightly more "used," but worth while checking out.

Phase 2, then, involved looking at and inspecting both silos.  We decided, ultimately, on the newer of the two in the hopes that it will be a longer-lasting investment.  Below, find some photos taken at the conclusion of Phase 2.

(BBQ grill not included)

 

Phase 3, which involves the delivery and installation of said silo, will hopefully commence (and resume) sometime this week or next.  Phase 4, involving filling it will feed from the mill will, logically, follow Phase 3 forthwith.

 

 
 
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