Starting a Family Farm in Vermont

Sugar is Stayin’, Pullets are Layin’, Barn is Raisin’!
July 21, 2006, 7:03 pm
Filed under: Chickens, Construction, Pigs

                                                                                                  There have been a few recent developments on the FARM over the last couple of weeks. The first is that our pig, Sugar, will remain on the farm. She was originally being raised for a neighbor for a pig roast. He has since decided that he doesn’t want her. I can honestly say we couldn’t be happier. She will now be kept to breed and her offspring will be used for pasture raised pork. She is so nurturing to the other piglets we just got and we can’t wait for her to have her own. With her fun personality and fantastic characteristics, she will make a great Sow.                                                                                                                                                                                  The second news is that our 45 Pullets ( hens before maturity ) have begun laying eggs. Our chicken headcount is 65. At full production that will equate to around 5 dozen eggs a day. Melissa started an egg delivery business several months back and we have been selling out weekly. This added supply will help us  meet our current demand.                                                                                             The last developement is the barn. All the rain has stopped and the foundation has been poured. This picture was taken several weeks ago. They have really been moving on the construction. I think we are probably 6 weeks away from completion. I will continue to keep everyone posted. —John 


Another Girl!!!
July 7, 2006, 1:08 am
Filed under: Donkeys

Michelle finally had her baby early this morning. She looks to be healthy and happy. Miniature Donkeys have a gestation period of 11 1/2 to 13 months and I think Michelle went right to the end. It was becoming a joke when people saw her. The first thing they said was, “Poor Michelle she is huge!”.. She was starting to look like a mushroom but all that is in the past. She is very protective over her newborn whom Melissa named Lulu. Miniature Donkeys make great mothers, very loving and nurturing to their offspring. Michelle is no exception. Our other foal, Jenny, is doing very well. She has adjusted to her new family just fine. Many friends have asked why Miniature Donkeys?? — The honest answer was originally to keep our Shire company. They make great companions to other livestock and are protectors against predators. — Will we sell any? I would like to sell 2 of the 6 we have — keeping the mothers and their babies. — John

The 4th of July….
July 5, 2006, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Pigs

The 4th was a busy day at the farm. I picked up 5 more piglets from Walter and Holly of Sugar Mountain Farm in West Topsham, VT. They are all adjusting very well to their new surroundings. In the group of piglets we got 4 males and 1 female. They are all absolutely loving Sugar and Sugar is loving them. We had planned to keep the little ones apart from Sugar, but when they saw her they broke right into her area so we left them there. They couldn’t be happier. When I checked up on them this morning they were all fast asleep, cuddling with Sugar. As the time nears for Sugar to be sold to our neighbor, it is a little difficult. Not only is she our first, and such a great pig, I know she would make a great sow to keep on the FARM. Our decision was made when we bought her. She actually was purchased for him and we need to stick to our plan. I will keep everyone posted on future happenings—– John

Barn or Ark???….
June 26, 2006, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Cattle, Construction, Pigs

This weather has been nothing short of horrible. The construction of the barn has been underway but there is no question that this rain isn’t helping us. We are using a talented local builder, John Newton, who actually built the home we are living in. Luckily we started the clearing for pastures when we did and they are finished. The logging was done by Will Crandall from Peru, VT. His crew did fantastic job. My wife Melissa and I did all of the electric fence work that would put a smile on Long Island’s finest —- Rose Fence.. The permanent fence work will be done by Springfield Fence of Springfield, VT. 

 As far as the animals go, we have moved what we have now to their new home located on Ridge Road in Landgrove,VT. It really was a sight watching Melissa walk our pig, Sugar, through the village of Landgrove to the new house. As most of you are aware from my previous blog, we are purchasing a Miniature Belted Galloway Bull, his mother, and are waiting for others to be born in July. We have also purchased 4 Lowline Angus heifers that we be pregnant when we get them. On July 4th I will be picking up 5 more piglets from Walter of Sugar Mountain Farm. If all goes as planned the farm should be in full operation by the end of the summer/ beginning of fall. I will be sure to keep everyone posted— John 

It’s a Bouncing Baby Bull!!
June 20, 2006, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Cattle

We received an email last week announcing the birth of a healthy bull calf born at Ministock Farm in Randolph VT. Melissa and I made our first trip to visit Jody and Robyn’s farm last fall when their Miniature Belted Galloways cows were pregnant. We were very interested in the breed and shook hands with them for first look at the calves after they were born. This bull was born on June 11th and will be a perfect fit for our Farm. Our goal with the miniature cattle is to keep a breeding stock and raise their offspring for Vermont raised, grass fed, hormone free beef. The local market is very good for this beef. If you have not eaten grass fed, I highly recommend it. It is fantastic. We have high hopes for this little bull’s future and will keep everyone posted on the future happenings at the farm— John 

Lowline Angus Cattle
June 5, 2006, 12:54 pm
Filed under: Cattle

 Lowline Angus Calf I took a small road trip with my youngest daughter Emma on Saturday to visit Rod and Marilyn Hewitt of Dayspring Farm in Rockingham, VT. I found their farm online while looking for Miniature Cattle breeders in Vermont. I have met with Rod several times over the last few months. He raises Dexter Cattle for grass fed beef and recently purchased a herd of Lowline Angus Heifers. We were very interested in the Dexters as well as the Lowlines. After seeing both breeds I became more intersted in the Lowlines. Rod decided that having so many Dexters and now adding the Lowlines to his farm was just going to be too much. He contacted me and asked if I would be interested in buying some. Melissa and I saw this as a great opportunity for our Farm and deceided to purchase 4 Lowline Angus heifers from him. The heifers will become pregnant this summer. We are still in the construction phase of the barn as well as the farm so we will be getting them when we are up and running. For more information on Lowlines visit Lowline Info.

Sweet as Sugar
May 22, 2006, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Pigs

Mark and Sugar

Sugar Update—-

Sugar is getting big! She is our first pig and I guess she has that first child thing going on—-She is completely SPOILED.. We are raising her for a friend in town and we want her to be perfect. She is one happy pig. I must admit, pigs really do get a bad rap. These animals are smarter than most dogs, extremely clean, and a lot of people eat them on Sunday mornings with their eggs or pancakes. There goes that infamous question; “How can you raise her then have her butchered?” My answer is this, ( if you have read my previous Blogs, forgive me for repeating myself ) my family eats Bacon, as do many…I guess the Bacon in the store comes from something other than pigs. At least I know that Sugar is having a great life. I’m not 100% sure of the “grocery store kind of bacon.” Did these pigs live in Vermont? Were they Spoiled by the farmers that raised them? Did they ever see the sun? I only hope the answer to those questions aren’t all NO…..

IT’s a Girl!
May 7, 2006, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Donkeys



We had an eventful weekend. It was spent moving the animals we do have from our old house to our new house where the farm will be run out of. We are in the process of having a barn built on a portion of the 20 acres where our new home is.
We received a call on Saturday night from a neighbor saying that there were some fox hanging around our area and he thought one of our chickens fell prey to them. I went over the next morning to gather the hens and bring them to their new home and feed the donkeys and pig. When I got there I noticed that we did in fact lose a hen, and also had a new arrival. One of our pregnant Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys, Danielle had a baby! We named her Jenny and she is perfect. People have been asking why we got the miniature donkeys and the reason is strictly as pets and to keep our horse company. They are great pets and gentle enough for the children to play with. Also, they are known to keep predators away from the other animals. When we had our 4 donkeys and horse together with the chickens, we never had a problem with fox.

Big Brother is Watching Small Farms
May 1, 2006, 8:31 am
Filed under: Issues

National Animal Identification System (NAIS)—-
What is it? How does it affect me? What can be done?
NAIS is a new federal program that is currently a hot topic among both small and large scale farmers alike. It is a national program designed to identify and track livestock animals with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), as well as, with GPS. Poultry, horses, cattle, goats and sheep will be tracked and monitored in order to prevent wide spread disease outbreaks. Sounds ok? No! Every farm or household is required to register with government agencies even if you only have one animal. Do we, as Americans need to be subjected to the government monitoring like this?
Our family is new to the world of small scale, family farming. We have been blessed throughout the years which affords us the opportunity to start up. NAIS will absolutely make it much more difficult for the small scale farmers to not only enter the space, but to stay where they belong!
Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm has put so much time and effort into squashing NAIS. Here is the link with much more important information on NAIS

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.