It’s been a busy spring and summer here on the farm! The new farm hand has arrived and we have been busy training him! It’s a good thing that so far he loves the farm and helping out.
Although we were able to relax a bit this summer, there’s always a list of projects to complete! One of the first big projects Dan completed was pasture rejuvenation through the use of a no-till drill seeder.
We have been working to add to the diversity of grass the cows graze on. Pasture diversity helps ensure that the cows are enjoying a healthy balanced diet and that they are getting all of their nutrients.
Dan rented the no-till drill from the Rockingham County Conservation District. He filled the back with organic clover, hairy vetch, timothy, alfalfa, legumes, festaloium and more. I honestly had no idea there were so many different types of grasses. It has been excited to watch the grass grow over the summer, adding to the density and diversity of the food for the cows.
We had fun gardening this summer. We just grow a garden for ourselves. This year I reaped the first harvest from my strawberry patch. Everyday during the spring, I would head out to the strawberry patch to check the progress. I loved watching the flowers turn to green fruit.
And the green fruit turn into beautiful red strawberries!
Throughout June we had strawberries on everything – waffles, yogurt, and ice cream from Benedikt Dairy. (Shameless plug – if you’ve yet to try any of the delicious, organic, grass-fed dairy products from Benedikt Dairy on Shirley Hill Road in Goffstown, you’re missing out!)
I am still a novice gardener and this summer we focused our gardening efforts at the top of the hill. It was a fun season of gardening for all!
While Dan and I were living in Chicago, we started a tradition of making waffles every Saturday morning. Now that we’re back in New Hampshire the tradition has continued.
Below is the best waffle recipe ever. There are three things that make this recipe great.
First, the whipped egg whites. It’s a little extra work, but it’s worth it. Do it once – you won’t go back.
Second, using grass-fed, raw milk from Benedickt Dairy . If you’re local and haven’t checked them out yet, you need to. They are amazing farmers up on Shirley Hill Road.
And last but not least, the maple syrup. Real maple syrup is the only option. I’m obviously biased and think our is the best, but just make sure you’re not using Aunt Jemima or some other “table syrup.”
Lowell Drott’s Waffle Recipe (from a North Park an old North Park cookbook)
2 cups flour
1 T.baking powder
1 T. white sugar
dash of salt
2 eggs separated
1/2 cup oil
2 cups milk
Mix together dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks, oil, milk, and stir until combined. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Pour onto a hot waffle iron and enjoy!
We’ve been back in school now for a few weeks – I can’t believe it! It’s been a good summer, and like always it’s gone by so fast!
Around the farm, our summer motto has been:
A place for everything, and everything in its place.
So, the projects we’ve been working on have been with that in mind – a lot of planning, organizing, cleaning, maintenance, and repairs. These tasks are sometimes mundane, but we are excited about all of the progress we’ve made. I hope we are able to get a lot more done before the winter!
In between our organizing, we’ve been enjoying summertime at Clarkridge Farm. For the past few summers, we’ve had some geese move in for the summer. It’s been fun to watch the baby geese grow over the summer. We started out with these two families and now there are probably over 20 geese on the pond! I’m not going to lie though, I’m definitely ready for them to head south for the winter!
I love watching the wild flowers grow throughout the summer. These purple flowers and yellow buttercups were beautiful in the beginning of the summer.
And now, the queen anne’s lace is out all over the fields.
Pippa is slowly learning to be helpful when moving the cows. Well, helpful might be stretching it, but she is getting better at not scattering the cows all over the place.
She’s a smart dog, if Dan and I knew how to train herding dogs, Pippa would be more useful.
We’ve also been enjoying our summer with friends and family at Pilgrim Pines, hiking the Uncanoonucs, chopping wood for winter with wonderful friends, celebrating the birth of two beautiful babies, a beautiful family wedding, a farm concert with Heatherlyn on her Fearless Love tour, and so much more.
Enjoy the last couple weeks of summer! And please, do me a favor, enjoy the moment and resist the urge for a pumpkin spice latte (or anything pumpkin!) for at a few more days! Eat some corn on the cob or ripe tomatoes. Fall doesn’t officially start until September 22.
Farewell from the farm,
p.s. – We’re sold out of beef for 2016! Thanks to everyone who supported us!
Dan and I enjoyed our week of April vacation. It was a wonderful week to relax and check things off our to do list. This year, I am hoping to improve my garden. Last year, my garden looked like a jungle in July! I didn’t grow up on a farm so a lot of this is new to me. This year I’ve been doing a lot of work to prep my garden in hopes that things won’t get so overgrown!
I have one raised bed outside of our kitchen where I am hoping to grow some variates of lettuce and kale.
Dan has been working on setting up the fencing and water system for the cows. It’s not quite finished, but we are hoping to start grazing the cows on Sunday!
Although it’s not very exciting to blog about, we are taking this year to focus on setting up infrastructure. We have three main focus areas:
Putting the finishing touches on the maple barn (shelving, counters, finishing the windows and doors, finishing the electrical, and setting better maple lines).
Setting up better water and fencing systems for the cows. We currently have a system in place, but we are making some small tweaks so that we are able to rotationally graze the cows more efficiently.
Organizing tools and equipment!
To some these might not be the most exciting projects, but they are necessary to ensure that we are able to use our time efficiently and not be running around looking for tools (or animals!) all over the place. As we finish up these projects, we are excited to continue to figure out how to be a sustainable and organic family farm in New Hampshire. We are hoping to be able to offer some more organic, pasture-raised meat like chicken and pork.
This year, we have grass-fed beef available in the in the fall (more information on ordering soon!), and plenty of maple syrup! Come stop by the farm if you want some maple syrup or ground beef.
Don’t forget to go out for a walk and enjoy this beautiful spring day!
Last month, we wrapped up our first maple season in the new Maple Barn at Clarkridge Farm. It was a great first season and we are already looking forward to next year!
The construction of the Maple Barn is a journey I don’t want to forget. I was planning on writing blog updates as the building progressed, but we were so busy trying to finish the barn before the winter, that there wasn’t time for blogging!
As you look at these pictures and read the story below, please know that Dan and I would never have been able to complete all of this without the help and support of both of our families, many friends, and my dad. Without my dad, Russell Gocht, there would be no Maple Barn. So thank you, Dad, and all of the people that helped. We appreciate everyone who supports us at Clarkridge Farm as we work to figure out how to be a sustainable, small scale, organic farm in New Hampshire.
So, below is an over due post on the construction of the Maple Barn. It’s a long post, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
The construction began last June, 2015. Dan went out to the woods with his chain saw and cut down some trees. He dragged pine and hemlock trees out of the woods to be milled up and turned into timbers for the barn.
We hired a sawyer with a portable sawmill to come over and cut the logs up into 2×4’s, 4×4’s, 2×8’s, 1×12’s and so on. My dad (the true mastermind behind the entire project) designed the barn and had a cut list with all the dimensions of the timbers we would need.
Once all the wood was cut to the right dimensions, the tedious work of notching each board began. None of the timbers were cut to length, so my dad took every timber cut it to length and notched it to create the joints. With lots of precise measuring and angle calculations, he cut each timber so that all the timbers fit together, almost like a jig-saw puzzle, to frame the building.
Laying on the concrete is the first wall assembled. Our yard looked like a construction zone all summer long!
Once the wall was assembled, we were ready to raise the barn! Over labor day weekend, a lot of family and friends (shout out the Paul Revere Road crew!) came out to help. With all of the help we had, the walls were almost easy to lift! (Or so I heard, I actually didn’t help lift the wall…)
I’m not sure if we were raising a barn or a jungle gym!
No barn raising is complete with out your official oversee-ers. My grandparents gladly took on this role!
Nor is it complete without a big potluck! Picnic lunch complete with Clarkridge Farm burgers (not pictured).
After the walls were raised, the next challenge was putting on the roof rafters. My dad, being the engineer he is, decided that using a “gin pole” would be our best approach. Dan found a tall, straight, fresh oak tree in the woods and cut it down. We used pulley’s to raise it up next to the barn and attached a block and tackle pulley system to the top of the pole. Then, we attached the roof rafters and pulled them right up! Well, sort of. Sometimes it took a little finagling….
Once the framing was complete, we began putting on the roofing and the siding. At this point, we were starting to feel the chill of winter coming.
Since we had rough cut wood, in order to side the barn, we had to run all of the siding through a planer. Although this took a little bit of time, I didn’t mind doing it. I loved watching the wood go in the machine and come out the other side so smooth. I also loved the smell of the wood shavings. I am excited about doing other projects with the planer this summer!
Right around before Christmas (notice the wreath making supplies on the table) we finished the roofing and the siding. There was still work to be done inside, maple lines to be hung, and more but we were excited to boil inside the maple barn in the spring!
We were so excited when we made our first batch of syrup! There is nothing better than than spending the last days of winter huddled next to the evaporator (the large pan that boils the syrup), smelling the syrup, and feeling the steam on your face, and sampling nature’s sweetest treat.
There is more to be done but for now we are happy to have a functional Maple Barn. The inaugural season was an adventure and are as excited as ever for next year!
I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again, but my New Years resolution is to update this blog regularly. The farm is constantly changing and I want to document those changes. In farming, it’s important to keep good records, so I hope that this blog will be a form of record keeping.
Not much happens around the farm in January, so my goal is to take this time to update you on the exciting things that are happening around the farm including, but not limited to, the new maple barn, a new fence, our organic certification, the cows, and more!
Right now we are enjoying the change in seasons. I am realizing that I love to be active in the winter. I enjoy cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, ice skating, and down hill skiing. I am ready for a big snow storm though!
On Tuesday night High Street Farmhouse in Goffstown is having a Smokin’ Social. They are going to have Clarkridge Farm meat and other delicious food! There will be drinks from a new brewery in Merrimack, Able Ebenezer. It will be a fun night and we’re excited to go! See you there!
This week Dan was featured in our local newspaper, The Goffstown News. The story is written up on Eric Emmerling’s blog. To go a long with the wonderful article of Dan, I thought I’d post a picture that one of our friends painted of Dan during hay season.
Just kidding! He didn’t actually paint it. This photograph was photoshopped, but when he emailed it to me, I admired it for a while, very impressed with his painting skills until he told me it was photoshopped.
As soon as June comes Dan starts watching the weather forecast daily hoping for three days of sunshine in a row. As soon the weather report predicts that the sun will be shining for at least three days, we hay! This year we were grateful for almost a week of sun!
Lots of people ask me what it is like to hay, so here is a brief overview of what happens on each of the three days. If it rains on any of these days, the hay is ruined. So we are always thankful when haying is done and it’s in the barn!
On the first day, after the dew dries, Dan cuts all the fields. The hay sits in the field for the rest of the day drying out. It’s important the hay dries and isn’t green when it is baled on the third day. Green hay can get moldy, or worse, can make the hay spontaneously combust.
On the second day, after the dew dries, Dan fluffs the hay with the tedder, a large rake that attaches to the tractor. The tedder turns the hay over to help continue to dry out the hay.
On the third day, we bale the hay. This is usually the most intense day and we are thankful for the long hours of daylight at the end of June. In the morning, after the dew dries, Dan rakes the hay into windrows (long rows of hay) so that the baler (the machine that puts the hay into square bales) can collect the hay and tie it up with baling twine. After the windrows are raked, we start to bale. It works best if one person drives the tractor, one person stacks the hay, and one person throws the bale of hay from the baler to the trailer.
I wish I had pictures of the process, but it ended up being a such whirlwind of days that I forgot to take photos! Below are some photos that Dan’s sister Abby took of the process. We were so grateful that she was home from Chicago and was able to help us out!
A chain on the baler broke. Dan and his friends are working on fixing it.
It’s a lot of work to hay, but views like this make it easier. On this day, we weren’t able to finish baling all the hay because the baler had broken earlier in the day. We were so thankful that it wasn’t going to rain the next day!
Once we finish baling the hay is stacked into the hay barn and ready for winter!
There are many other ways that people hay but this is our process. It keeps us busy in June, and then we start it up again the end of August and into September. We got a couple hundred bales so far, so we shouldn’t need more hay to help get us through the winter.
Now that hay season is over we are in full swing with many other projects on the farm. And when I say “we” I really mean Dan. I’m on vacation right now in Swanzey, NH with my family!
Spring is here and we have been busy. It is fun to watch the cows and sheep transition from hay to grass. I think they look happier out wandering the pasture. I have started planting in the garden and have lettuce, kale, beets and peas started. I tried something new this year and have put my herb garden against the stonewall that connects the house to the barn. It was the sight of an old shed that had to come down several years ago and before that according to the history of Goffstown was the site of the county poor farm. This is how the town supported the homeless. We had many interesting artifacts but most has been lost to age and weather. I wonder as I unearth old nails and sometimes utensils and move rocks what stories they could tell.
Last October we planted daffodils on our bankings on route 13 or Pattee Hill Road also known as John Stark Highway. This effort to plant daffodils along the highway and in the towns has been encouraged by both Goffstown and Dunbarton . As Dunbarton plans for their 250th anniversary in 2015, they would like to have everyone in the spirit.
Dunbarton Garden Club sells the bulbs in the fall. We are never sure when we plant in October if those bulbs will turn into beautiful flowers 6 months later, but they did and are magnificent spots of sunlight as you drive on route 13 headed north. Our first daffodil blossomed on April 21 with many more blooming in the days following. We are going to keep an annual record of the first bloom in our yard. This is a new tradition we started this year and what better way to keep a record then here. Oh, and if you are going for a walk, the black flies have started to come out (not to mention ticks!).
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time
I’ve never felt like a poem more accurately describes April than Robert Frost’s Two Tramps in Mud Time. I love season’s but it has been wonderful to watch the snow melt, ice thaw and grass turn green.
In the past, I haven’t paid close attention to how quickly the grass jumps out of the ground in the spring. This year, with Dan counting the dwindling number of hay bales left in the barn, I notice daily the seemingly exponential growth of the grass over the past couple of days.
When I took this photo on Sunday, I looked out of my window and the fields were covered in dead brown grass. I had to dig to find the green shoots of grass hiding in the ground. Today when I look out my window, the fields are covered in green – a sign of spring and new life!
Another sign of new life on the farm is baby lambs!
We had two lambs this spring and they are both strong healthy little girls! It’s been fun to watch them grow. The lambs are awfully cute when they are young. Soon, Dan and I will need to sheer the sheep – time for them to get rid of their winter coats and get ready for summer!
April vacation is coming up and Dan and I have a list of projects we are hoping to accomplish. We’ll see how our list goes, hopefully we’ll get at least a few of the projects done!
Don’t forget to go out for a walk and enjoy this beautiful spring day!
I can’t believe February is over! The highlight of our vacation was getting away for a few days with some of our good friends. It was wonderful and a much needed get-a-way. We talked by the fire, ate good food, went cross-country skiing, and just relaxed!
March is coming in like a roaring lion, and I am anxiously awaiting the warmer weather that is just around the corner! I have a case of cabin fever and as a result I am starting to think about our garden for the summer. In the winter, thumbing through the colorful, ripe fruits and vegetables in the seed catalogs, I never fail to think that this year, I am going to be an incredible gardner. I learned my lesson last year though. I am not planning on having a large garden this summer. I have a lot to learn and I want to have time to learn from and work with other farmers in the area.
I am not sure how many of these we will be able to attend and there are many more that I wish we had time to attend. If you are interested in finding other workshops in New Hampshire check out NOFA-NH events or UNH Extension events.
If there are any other good workshops out there that we are missing out on, please let us know!
Farewell from the farm!
p.s. – I’m loving the pallets from Valentine’s Day! Dan and I have been out stacking wood and we’re hoping to move the pallets around with the tractor.
Cows lead a fairly simple life and I’m pretty sure they are happiest when they are eating. In the winter, every day, twice a day, we head into the hay barn to give them some hay.In November, that hay trailer was full of hay! Now we are down to the bales stored along the sides. We are ready for spring to come!
Usually we give them a few bales at each feeding. In the mist of this never ending polar vortex the cows love munching on the hay on a cold winter day.
Sometimes it seems like a chore, but then a cow looks at me with one of those big beady eyes and I can’t help but laugh to myself. They are truly gentle giants and such interesting animals to spend time with, as this hilariously accurate super bowl commercial depictes perfectly.
I have to be honest and say Dan is the one that faithfully feeds the cows every day. He comes from a family of farmers and he has the ability to wake up and jump out of bed in the wee hours of the morning. I once thought myself a morning person, but after marrying Dan I realized there are morning people, and there are farmers. We don’t have a long list of morning chores to get done, but Dan doesn’t seem able to sleep beyond whatever time the sun rises at. (He also isn’t able to stay awake much longer after the sun sets.) Needless to say, even if I wanted to feed the cows in the morning, Dan always seems to get out of bed before me and get it done. I am grateful for the few extra minutes he gives me each morning to wake up.
I’m off to enjoy our last day of February vacation! Hope you are all staying warm as the polar vortex returns!
Happy Valentine’s Day from the farm! These are some my favorite Swedish cookies. They take a little bit of time make, but these delicious spice cookies are worth it!
Swedish Pepparkakor Cookies
1/2 lb of butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
4 Tbsp. orange juice
1 grated orange rind
3 1/4 c. flour
2 scant tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. ground ginger
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. cloves
Directions: Cream together butter and sugar. Mix in egg, molasses, orange juice and rind. Add flour, soda, and spices. Mix well. Refrigerate dough overnight. Roll dough out to about 1/8 in thick. Cut out shapes and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
Living on the farm, my valentine’s idea of a romantic date is to dig the dump truck out of a foot of snow, drive to a warehouse in Manchester, and pick up some wood pallets. We were supposed to make dinner for Dan’s grandmother, but Dan found a good deal on Craigslist and decided he was on a mission to get these pallets! When we had to explain to Grammy why the sudden change of plans, she laughed and laughed and told us a story of when Grampy took her out on an anniversary date in the cattle trailer. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! I am excited about these pallets though, so I can’t give Dan too hard a time about it.
This morning we went out snowshoeing and tapped trees for maple sugaring. It was a beautiful morning! We are planning on going on another snow shoe adventure this afternoon after we fuel up on tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch. It’s lightly snowing out which always makes it feel magical outside. I hope you are getting out and enjoying the beautiful winter!
I thought I was going to have more time in the winter. Some how it’s been flying by and it’s almost time to start maple sugaring! Before we move into that season though, I thought I should do a quick recap of winter on the farm.
We had lots of time spent with family eating delicious meals. Dan’s brother, Tim, decided he wanted to start a new tradition where he makes us all a delicious dinner the day before Thanksgiving. This year he made us some ribs, a roast beef, butternut squash risotto, polenta, and a delicious salad with pomegranates and sugared almonds.
I forgot to take a picture before we started eating, but this is a snap shot part way through the delicious meal! It was really good for us all to work on expanding our stomachs before our Thanksgiving feast!
I think my favorite part about Christmas is the Christmas tree. I love the warm glow it brings into the house at winter, when the days are the shortest. We cut one down from the small plot of Christmas trees near our house. Jim planted those trees, so looking at the tree reminded me of him. I loved getting out all our Christmas decorations and decorating the tree. These are some of my favorite ones from this year.
It’s a little hard to see, but I hope the “cow bell” makes you all smile a little. It’s a jingle bell that painted like a cow!
On our recent snow day I felt like making a little special treat so I made a Tomato Tart. I used America’s Test Kitchen recipe and it came out delicious! I am definitely going to have to make it again when tomatoes are in season.
Other than spending time with family, we’ve been working on planning out our garden for the summer. Right now Dan and I are trying not to get too excited about all the beautiful pictures in the seed catalogs and keep our garden simple. We don’t want to put too much on our plates this summer so we have time to spend learning from other farmers in the area.
Every day we recognize how much we have to learn about farming. It’s tempting right now to dive in head first into farming, buy in more cows, new sheep breeds, buy fruit trees and berry bushes, get some pigs, a beehive (the list could go on), but we always have to remember to think about our quality of life. Doing more isn’t always better!
It’s been a little while now since Farm Day, but we wanted to thank everyone who came! It was great and turned out to be a great day!
This adorable scarecrow couple, made by our very own Ellie King, got to sit on the top of the hill and enjoy the beautiful sunrise that started off the day.
We were so thankful it turned out to be such a beautiful fall day – the leaves were full of color and the sun was shining!Ellie did a wonderful job decorating and making the farm feel festive for the fall. Dan’s brother Tim flew in from D.C. for the weekend and cooked up some delicious burgers and roasts. We’re working on trying to get him to write down recipes as he makes them so that he can share his delicious creations with others!
The chickens came out from the barn and joined in the festivities of the day!
Thanks again to all who came out and supported us. We hope you are enjoying your meat and we look forward to seeing you all next year! Dan and I have been out in the fields looking at the cows to see how many we will have ready for next year. If you have recipes you tried and loved, please let us know so we can share them with others!
Dan and I have realized that we are not short of ideas for our farm, what we’re lacking is skills and knowledge. So, we are trying to be intentional about taking opportunities for “Farming Professional Development.” It’s hard to make time for it when there is already so much to be done at home, but we feel it’s important to learn and connect with other farmers in the region. We want to learn what farmers in our community are doing, what’s worked and what hasn’t, in a climate and culture that is similar to ours.
Earlier in September, Dan and I went to Essex Farm in upstate New York to visit Mark and Kristin Kimball’s farm. Ten years ago, they started a full diet CSA for the the people in their community. Their farm is horse powered and their story is incredible. If you’re living on a farm (or planning to) and haven’t read The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball, I highly recommend it.
I read her book in Chicago before Dan and I moved to New Hampshire. Her story of transitioning from city life in New York with heels and a handbag to a rural farm life with Carhartt’s and a pocket knife gave me perspective on the transition Dan and I were about to make. I am so thankful she shared her story. It was incredible to see their farm operation and all the work required for a full diet CSA.
Next up for Farming Professional Development is maple syrup! We’re almost done with the beef season and looking ahead towards our winter projects. As we continue to live and work on the farm, Dan and I are hoping to slowly increase our maple syrup production. Last winter we had fun making maple syrup and visiting other New Hampshire maple syrup operations. At the end of October, Dan and I will be attending the New Hampshire’s 2nd Annual Maple School. It will be great to connect with and learn from other maple producer’s in New Hampshire.
We’re busy getting ready for farm day on Saturday. We’re hoping it will be a great day!