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Archive for May, 2010

Give Dad a treat this Father’s Day, June 20, and bring him for a tour of our farm! From noon to 4, you can feed and pet the animals and help us move the cows and chickens to fresh pasture. Bring a picnic lunch, and enjoy it on the banks of the beautiful Merrimack River. No dad required—come alone or bring a friend!

226 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, New Hampshire

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The Monadnock Community Land Trust (our landlord) held its annual meeting here at the farm on Sunday. After the procedural details were taken care of, we took a walking tour to inspect our operation.

It may seem hard to believe, given how important food is to our lives, but farming does not pay well enough to compete with residential and other commercial uses for land these days. The cost of land has become disconnected from its ability to produce food–even though farm land is subsidized by relatively low taxes. Without conservation land trusts and other landlords willing to forgo a “market” rate in favor of farming, it would be nearly impossible to find affordable land to farm.

Another way to look at this is that food today is incredibly cheap. It is subsidized both by the government and by landowners like MCLT. We should all thank MCLT for the dinner they help put on the table tonight!

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Chef John has posted yet another great video recipe in his “Cooking with Grass-Fed Beef” series. We sent him some of our sirloin tip to work with, but he says this works with almost any cut as long as it is sliced thin.

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Roundup Ready Weeds

Interesting article in the New York Times last week about how widespread use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of herbicide-resistant superweeds. This is just one more strike against a system that sounded good on paper, but turns out to have major negative unintended consequences.

The big idea is that tilling the soil is bad because it causes erosion. This is undoubtedly correct. Roundup is part of an alternative system that does not require tilling. But the other part of the system is genetically modified, Roundup-tolerant versions of corn, soybeans, and other crops. Patented genes from these GMO crops make their way via natural pollination into non-GMO crops, and pretty soon it is a crime for a farmer to save his own seeds, as farmers have been doing for the last 13,000 years.

It’s also an open question whether soil is healthier being poisoned every year or being tilled. In any case, it’s time to find a different solution to the erosion problem.

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Chicks are Here!

Our first batch of chicks arrived this morning. They are New Hampshire Reds—a “dual purpose” breed. We will keep some to start our laying flock. The rest will be processed as meat birds in late July.

Before the 1960’s, most broilers were breeds like the New Hampshire Red. Nowadays, the only breed you will find in the supermarket is that freakish franken-bird known as the “Cornish Cross.” The Cornish cross is bred to grow as much breast meat as fast as possible. They grow so fast that their legs don’t work properly, so they can barely stand up.

Although New Hampshire Reds grow slower, they are far more suited to our holistic approach to farming. What remains to be seen is whether the market here will forgo the “breast meat” bird for the more sustainable, smaller, 1950’s-style broiler chicken.

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