It's hard to believe we've been on our farm for almost two years now. We are learning so much about our fields and land, about the climate up here (windy) and about all the different things we can do with our farm.
Our animals are thriving, and we have a lot of them. We moved here and had to reinvent our portable coops for the meat birds because it is so much windier here than it was in Middlesex! It is exciting to be delving into understanding our farmland and evolving our farming practices to match.
As we do our chores each day, feeding birds, moving coops or cows, collecting eggs or stopping to scratch a pig belly, we are still in complete awe of how beautiful and peaceful it is here, and how healthy and content our animals are. We are raising about 10,000 meat chickens and 400 turkeys on pasture, free ranging this year. We are proud that our birds free range during the day and aren't pastured in tractors or coops they can't get out of. Seeing them wander, graze, sunbathe or choose a nap inside is a good feeling. We set out on our farming endeavor with the goal of raising animals with extreme care and attention. We are growing more and more animals, and figuring out how to do it so all have fabulous lives is fun and incredibly rewarding. We feel great about the progress we are making.
We have expanded our laying hen operation a lot. When we moved here we had about 150 laying hens. Last summer we received a loan from the Vermont Farm Fund (www.https://www.vermontfarmfund.org), we purchased another bulk feed bin, a flock of hens and what we needed to scale up. This year we started many more laying hens from chicks, and they have all just begun laying. We have about 1,000 laying hens now, and we are so excited to be pasturing them all, having them fertilize our fields, live an exceptional life, and lay us exceptional eggs.
We have been able to expand our pig farming as well. Before we moved and found this farm, we were struggling with the amount of driving we were doing, and found it very difficult to have lots of sows farrowing so far away from home. We spent countless nights sleeping in the pig barn in East Montpelier. We decided that if we couldn't find a farm we were going to get out of the pig business. We kept getting outbid on farms and we lost a bunch of hope. We sold our sows. And then... we found our farm. We moved here with just a few feeder pigs, no sows, no good genetics to begin a new herd. We have spent the last two years rebuilding our herd and our genetics. It was a blessing in disguise because we now have ten gorgeous sows. We have had some great litters of piglets this year and and this coming spring we will have even more. We have created some great farrowing beds and are pleased with how well everything worked this summer.
There is so much more we could say, the stories are never ending! The best part about our move is how lucky we are to be a part of the community up here. There are so many farmers, of all different varieties, all willing to collaborate and share knowledge. There are lots of other great people and families too. We live right next to Parker Pie Company, which, if you've never visited, you should. It's a great restaurant supporting many local farmers. Come up, enjoy a pizza (and a great beer), and then visit us!
The last cool thing for today: Our kids are up here, deep into our farm, learning and growing and enjoying life. The pumpkins in the photo with them are some of the pumpkins they planted and grew. Willa had quite the crop of cucumbers, too. We are doing the best we can to farm and live well, and make as much great food as we possibly can.
Don't forget to become friends with us on Facebook because we are constantly putting new photos of the farm up there. Thanks!