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.