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Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

Let the Planting Begin

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We get asked a lot if we are enjoying the down time over the winter. Truth is, we are just as busy this time of year as in the summer!  Steve has been spending countless hours at his laptop, working on spreadsheets, budgeting and planning for the year. Luckily, it hasn’t been too cold and the crew has been able to get a lot of repairs and maintenance done on the equipment. Of course, there are still the animals to take care of and the eggs keep rolling in every day. However, for me, the most exciting of the off-season tasks, is the planting of the first seeds.  I found Bob in the greenhouse yesterday starting the onions and leeks. With some good weather and some even better soil, these tasty veggies will make their way into our CSA shares later this summer! I can’t wait!

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Sheepless Nights

One of the biggest challenges in raising grass fed livestock is finding the right genetic types to thrive on pasture. This has most certainly been the case for us over the last few years with our lamb flock.  As an avid champion for grass fed ruminants and due to my love of lamb, the need to overcome this challenge, if we were going to raise lamb again in 2016, caused me some sleepless nights!

I am happy to report, after countless phone calls, research, and good old networking, that we have found a source for Texel lamb. Texel sheep are originally from the island of Texel in the Nertherlands. These lamb are known for their great muscling ability. They are hardy, tough and docile and thrive in grass based systems.

Texel Ewes

Texel Ewes

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2016 Ordering

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We are now taking orders for our grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, grass-fed lamb, pasture raised chicken, organic veggies and organic, soy-free, pasture raised eggs! Please visit our ordering pages for more details. If you have any questions, feel free to email me (stephanie@normanton.com) or Steve (steve@normanton.com).

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Grass-Fed Beef Available

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Each fall, after we make up the 35 lb beef packs, we often have extra beef available for sale. Just in time for the cold weather, we now have chuck roasts, rump roasts, round roasts and brisket for your pot roast and crock pot recipes. We also have soup bones, beef shank, ground beef and stew beef for chili, stews, and soups. If you prefer to grill year round, we have bone-in ribeye steaks, sirloin steaks, sirloin flap (sirloin tip steak), flank steak and skirt steak!

Moove over to our beef ordering page for the current beef price list.

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2015 CSA Member Day

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We had a great turnout for our second annual CSA member info session! Everyone enjoyed a tour of the gardens and greenhouses, and we spent a little time learning about the animals too. The vegetables are growing quickly and we are looking forward to our first harvest.  Thanks again to everyone who attended.  We hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did! There’s still time to sign up for a share if you haven’t yet!

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While the world waits for the day when “the wolf and the lamb shall graze together” (Isaiah 65:25), our lambs are busy grazing with the chickens. The lambs are here to address a problem we have had with the chickens for years. Pastured chickens do best on grass that is not too tall, so we are always looking for ways to trim the pasture in front of them. In the past, we have tried trimming the pasture by grazing cattle. But our herd of 160-odd cattle are not the ideal group for the job. You really want to move cattle on and off a piece of land quickly, while the chicken houses are inching along very slowly. After cattle graze, the grass is a good height for few days, but then it grows back and meanwhile the cattle are miles away.

It turns out, a small flock of sheep is just right for the job. Steve and I are huge fans of lamb, so a freezer full of tender local lamb will be a welcome side-effect of this experiment. We have not advertised the lamb at all, so we have several extras still available. The price will be $8 per pound hanging weight. If you are interested, shoot Steve an email, or give him a call!

email and phone

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No Till

Spring has finally sprung, which means we are flat-out busy. In one week, our first batch of broilers will arrive and three weeks later, they will be heading out onto pasture. This year I am looking to improve the quality of their green feed by seeding in a mixture of organic oats and peas to the existing pasture. This will increase the protein in the forage that the chicks are snacking on.

The traditional method of re-seeding pasture is to plow up the soil first, in order to give the new seeds a bit of loose soil to get started in. This kills all the existing, established pasture plants. We would rather not do that. It is bad for the biological health of the soil, not to mention erosion and the years it takes for pasture to thicken up to full strength. We are very fortunate to be able to use a different method that will allow us to add new varieties of forage without killing off all the existing pasture. It is a “no-till seed drill” available for rent through the Granite State Grazers. The no-till drill cuts small slices in the turf for the new seeds to grow in, but it leaves the existing pasture undisturbed. The oats and peas are early-season annuals that will grow fast and then die off. Then, the existing pasture will take over. We like it when we can have our cake and eat it, too!

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Frost-free Nose Pump

In this video, one of our cows demonstrates the use of a frost-free nose pump, while her calf demonstrates why mother cow needs to drink so much! This pump is powered by the cow, herself. Cows learn very quickly to push on the lever to draw water up from the shallow well. After the cow is finished drinking, the pipe drains automatically to keep from freezing. No electricity is required for pumping or for keeping the water from freezing. This makes it possible to over-winter the herd far from an electric power source.

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Life’s a Boar

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Last year we decided to keep back two gilts for breeding so we can start producing our own piglets. Our Hazel and our Charlotte are celebrating their first Valentine’s day with a new boar-friend. Since his arrival two weeks ago, Big Red has been a huge hit with the two smitten gilts as he wooed them with his mild manners and really easy going nature! Our hope is that he sires a couple of litters and that the piglets have the same mellow temperament that he has. This will be the first two litters of pigs to be born on the farm!

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Steve had the great honor of receiving the Farmer Mentor of the Year award from the Northeast Organic Farmers Association last Saturday. Except, he didn’t actually receive the award. When his name was called at the award ceremony in Concord, NH, an awkward silence followed. Steve wasn’t there. At that exact moment, Steve was tracking down a runaway calf a mile up the road from the farm. The independent-minded calf led Steve, the Litchfield police, and a handful neighbors and friends on a tour of the Litchfield School Conservation Area before finally giving himself up. The things Steve will dream up to avoid public speaking!

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