Our solar electric system is up and running! This project was months (years?) in the making so it's almost unbelievable to see it completed. We can't talk about the panels without thanking the Connecticut Farm Energy Program for their assistance with the grant application. We applied for a USDA REAP (Rural Energy for America Program) Grant, and would've been lost in the paperwork if not for the invaluable guidance of CFEP.
We wanted to install solar panels on the farm for a couple of reasons: one being to cut down our electricity costs. More importantly, though, we wanted to switch to a renewable source of energy. We're constantly trying to improve the sustainability of the farm and this is an important part of that. Just as we collect manure and spent bedding to compost and then fertilize our fields with, it seems right to harness the sun that shines on the farm and use it to power the well, run heat lamps for the piglets......
Speaking of piglets.
Our pot-bellied mama had a litter of piglets last night. Unfortunately, she was completely disinterested in them, and without her motherly grunting the piglets couldn't figure out where to go to nurse. We decided to hand-rear this group, and by we, I mean Kelley had them in a laundry basket next to her bed overnight, and currently has them in a makeshift cardboard crib next to her desk at work. They need to be fed every 2 hours for the first few days, so for now they'll be her sidekicks until their feedings can be stretched out a bit and I can lend a hand.
I also wanted to quickly touch on something that John and I saw in the news recently. Within the last year, the Department of Agriculture has relaxed a ban on the importation of Brazilian beef. Brazil is just one of over twenty countries that the US imports beef from. In general, I take issue with such high importation because transporting all of that beef across the world creates a lot of pollution. Brazilian beef is particularly concerning, however, because cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Rainforests are vital in that they help stabilize the world's climate by absorbing carbon dioxide. Plus, there are 16,000 species of trees and 2.5 MILLION species of insects in the Amazon.
This is why it's so important to know where your food is coming from.
"We don't have to participate in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." -Howard Zinn
A few customers have been asking us "what's new?" which reminded me that I haven't shared any farm news since last June! I'm not sure how time flies by so quickly, but we definitely have had many things to be excited about over the last 8 months (wow I'm a bad blogger).
Last summer was an absolute blast. The cows enjoyed their time on the beautiful land we're leasing down the road, and we enjoyed our morning and nightly visits to check in on them. My favorite check-in was July 24th when John asked me to marry him. We were sunburned, covered in dirt, and surrounded by cows - I couldn't imagine it any other way.
I think the main reason autumn and winter have passed so quickly is our investment in more Ritchie automated water fountains for the animals. I seriously can't praise these things enough. We had to run more water lines and electricity, but they are 100% worth it. Not having to break ice and lug hoses back and forth from the house has saved us so much time and frustration. If I had any advice for new farmers, it would be to automate your water as soon as is feasible so you can spend your valuable time caring for your animals instead of stressing about being able to get them enough water.
Of course we've had lots of litters of piglets since June, and are currently gearing up for our busiest time of the year as far as farrowing is concerned. Let us know if you're looking for spring piglets as our list is filling up quickly.
Looking forward into the next few weeks, we'll be busy with piglets, getting seeds started for the garden, and finally getting our solar panels installed! I am over the moon excited about getting the farm running on clean, renewable solar energy. I'll write another post and share pictures once they're installed.
We're happy to share our new relationships with Davis IGA in Kent and Sherman IGA in Sherman, which are both now carrying our beef, pork, and chicken. It's great when small, locally-owned businesses can work together to offer local goods to the community, and we look forward to expanding and meeting new customers in that part of the state.
Don't forget to visit us at the Norfolk and Winsted farmer's markets - details are on our homepage. And if you can't make it to a market but are craving your favorites like jalepeno-cheddar chicken sausage or maple-cured bacon, use our online shopping page to complete your order and schedule a delivery.
Thanks again for your support!
We eagerly check the fruit trees every morning, watching the buds slowly enlarging, promising many sweet treats in the months to come. We had a small scare of peach leaf curl on one tree, but luckily my brother is a horticulture aficionado so it was nothing some pruning and neem oil couldn't take care of. The kitchen garden has blossomed into more of a potager with herbs and flowers heavily intermingled among the vegetables. They definitely add beauty, but they also attract pollinators and keep many pests away from the vegetables. Nasturinium, for example, will repel squash bugs, among many other pests, so plant them near your squash, 'cukes and 'zucchs. Let your basil and tomatoes grow together, too, as they'll enhance each other's flavor. We don't need no stinkin' insecticides or GMO's here - just follow nature's template, y'all.
Over the winter, we acquired a trio of pet-bellied pigs. We originally were just going to look at them because John was only curious (or so he said) but when we saw that the living conditions they were in were less than adequate, to put it lightly, we decided to take them all home. The owner couldn't tell us anything about them since he picked them up at an auction. They're still pretty flighty, but we hope with time that they'll become more friendly. Little Olive's belly recently became not so little, and we suspected that she might be pregnant. When I walked in her pen to feed her on Tuesday and she didn't come out to greet me, I knew something was up. We moved her to her own paddock, just in case, and when I checked on her 20 minutes later she had given birth to 4 of the smallest, cutest piglets I've ever seen. It was such a fun surprise and she is a great mom.
We met a neighbor a few streets away with a great deal of pasture and no cows to enjoy it, so most of our herd will be spending the summer there. They have the best view in town.
It's only June, but we've had Thanksgiving on our minds since our chicks arrived a few weeks ago. They are heritage breeds (Bourbon Red and Black Spanish) which means they'll be smaller birds, but we find that most of our customers want turkeys under 16 pounds anyway. Please contact us to reserve yours as they go quickly!
Real food enthusiast following nature's template