Starting a Family Farm in Vermont

Miniature Belted Galloways
April 29, 2006, 5:01 pm
Filed under: Cattle

Today Melissa and I took a drive up to visit Jody and Robyn Richards from Ministock Farm in Randolph Vermont. We are getting our Miniature Belted Galloway Cattle from them. The calves are expected to be born this summer. We will be adding several calves and possibly a cow to start our herd. Our goal with cattle is to raise breeding stock, and in the future provide Naturally Raised Grass Fed Beef as well as Milk for our family and for sale. Miniature cattle are a unique breed. They have all the characteristics of full size cattle, but because of their size, they need less land and are much easier to handle than their larger cousins. As far as beef production goes, they are the perfect size for the family freezer and the quality of meat is excellent. The miniatures are perfect for today’s smaller farms and will be a natural fit on Asmall Farm.


“Life of a Pig”
April 26, 2006, 9:28 am
Filed under: Pigs

A Must Read!— The other night I was surfing the web looking up heritage breeds of pigs and came across a Blog that I found fascinating. Tamara Murphy really nails it! Her Blog, “Life of a Pig” chronicles the Life of Pigs, from their birth, to the table of what sounds like a fantastic restaurant. It is a true celebration of their lives. Start reading her Blog from the bottom of her page and Enjoy— John

Gloucestershire Old Spots
April 24, 2006, 8:36 am
Filed under: Pigs

More Pigs–Over the last several weeks we have been searching for a Heritage Breed of pigs that we can raise on our farm and breed as purebreds as well breed with the Yorkshires that we will be getting soon. We found Elysian Fields Farm in New York that not only has what we are looking for, but shares the same philosophies as us. The breed is the Gloucestershire Old Spot or GOS. The GOS is on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Critical List. When we started Asmall Farm my wife was really attracted to the Heritage Breeds of Livestock. After researching these breeds we discovered that they were actually exactly what we wanted. The GOS has the characteristics that we are looking for. Beside being extremely hardy and good natured they are producers of some of the highest quality and best tasting pork and bacon in the world. Our goal is to keep a GOS Boar (intact male) from the first group of 5 piglets we get. He will remain on the farm. We want to breed him to both, our top pick of theYorkshire Gilts (A young sow that has not farrowed(had piglets)) we are getting, as well as to another purebred GOS. The cross breeding of the pigs also produces fantastic pork…. Be sure to check back soon on other developments…..

Quick Lessons on Chickens
April 21, 2006, 9:04 am
Filed under: Chickens

Today’s Blog is a quick lesson on Chickens……Some people that read last nights blog had questions. The main one was, now that we don’t have a rooster what are we going to do? I stated that he was the sole rooster on our Farm for the 22 hens. All that means is he truly lived a nice life. You only need a rooster if you plan on hatching chicks. Chickens lay, on average, 1 egg per 24 hour period, with or without a rooster, in the flock. Have you ever seen a speck in your egg’s yoke? That is a fertilized egg. The egg has just been collected soon after it was laid. We collect our eggs 2x a day. This prevents the eggs from going any further in the incubation period. We raise our chickens from day old chicks. They are sexed from the Hatchery. There is a 10% chance they get a rooster in the mix with the hen orders. Don’t get me wrong, I love waking to a crowing rooster, but each has its own personality. The aggressive ones usually are not around for long.

A Big Day–
April 20, 2006, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Chickens

Today was a big day….I butchered one of our birds. It was our only rooster, who became extremely aggressive towards anyone who came near the hens, and we had it for dinner. The advice I got from others that had aggressive roosters was to do exactly what I did. I must admit it wasn’t easy. The kids are learning that when you have a family farm this is what you do. When they saw the chicken breast, it looked like any chicken that comes from the store but there were major differences. We knew this bird, and while he was here, was treated very well. Not stuffed in a cage, injected with hormones, and never seeing the light of day! He lived free range, ate organic food and was the only rooster to 22 hens. That is a life all roosters should have…..

Our First Piglet
April 17, 2006, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Pigs


Our First Piglet– Over the Easter weekend we visited Sugar Mountain Farm about 65 miles north of us. This is the farm where we are getting 5 Yorkshire piglets (feeder pigs) to raise for market. We just wanted to see the mothers-to-be, not realizing we would be driving home with one. Her name came immediately to my wife Melissa—“Sugar”. Sugar is being raised for a local friend whom we had promised a pig for August. She will raised the way all pigs should be raised…with Respect! Some people have questioned how we can raise an animal then eventually butcher it. My first response is ,”are you a vegetarian?”. You would be surprised how many people are Not. They just don’t get it! For those that are “Vegetarians”– eat no meat ( that includes chicken!), fish, eggs etc– I usually ask why.. The answer most times is that animals are treated inhumanly, its wrong etc. That is the exact reason why we are doing a small family farm. We want our livestock to be enjoyed by us and others while they are here. Free Range, Hormone Free, Grass, Organic, and Naturally Fed, Loved and “Rasised With Respect!” And yes they can have it all… John