And if you missed the previous RRF Fotofeeds check them out below once you have finished with this one!
What a year! We are grateful for the incredible first season we had in 2013 thanks to copious community support, a beautiful fertile farm, no major agricultural failures, lots of learning, delicious food, great partners, sweet hardworking horses and incredible neighbors. As we turn the corner into our second season and approach our 1 year anniversary on the farm, it seemed fitting to remember some of the highlights of last year.
02 Horses and Pepper
There are a few mammals we could not have survived the season without. One was Justin “Pepper” Morrison, our intrepid Coast Guard sailor who came to rest her soon-to-be sea bound legs on our farm for three months. She worked as hard as we all did, but always with a smile. She tended the animals and plants with her whole heart, and it showed as they thrived and we relaxed knowing she was gettin’ it done.
Our four working draft horses, Fern, Arch, Moose and Killian, were also critical to the season’s success, working tirelessly alongside us to plow, disc, and cultivate the fields, mow hay and pull loads around the farm. They were also solid training partners for the two horses we brought in and trained, Brandi of Essex Farm and Rosa of Full and By Farm, showing patience and a steady calming presence for the newbies.
03 Cows, Broilers, Layers, Turkeys, Pigs
We learned the farm fields and woods as we raised 750 Freedom Ranger Broiler Chickens, 25 laying hens, 31 Turkeys, 6 pigs and 2 cows, 2 heifers, 4 steers and 2 calves. It was amazing to see how rotational grazing improved the pastures; grass came up green and lush behind the different groups as we moved them through the fields.
Our tiny little home veggie garden got off to a slow slow start, but then exploded mid-season into a bounty of produce that we took to the Willsboro Farmers market and sold in the Farm Store. We’re still reaping the benefits of that harvest as we eat and sell storage crops out of the root cellar of carrots, beets, turnips, radishes and cabbage. Chad’s garlic yielded well and we harvest strung and sold nearly 1200#s.
Through it all we scratched our heads….
and our chins. Wondering how it was all going to end up. Would the animals grow to the size we expected? Would we avoid predators with our electric fences and vigilant rooster? Could we build a barn, and harvest and hay and do paperwork and go to Dogwood pizza at least once a month? Somehow, with lots of smiles and laughs and sometimes tears and too little sleep, we managed.
Hay got made – 2400 small squares – and stored away for the colder days to come.
And we enjoyed our selves doing it all…
Syrup was our cash cow for the season, as we learned that demand is high, and luckily so is supply. Our store sold our trademark glass bottles steadily all season, but particularly during the holidays.
Partnerships with other farms was critical to our success, as it helped us diversify and keep a consistent supply of products in the store and at market without overwhelming our to do lists. We bought in products from Parker Family Maple Farm, Full and By Farm, Essex Farm, Juniper Hill Farm, Mace Chasm Farm and North Country Creamery. We are dedicated to continuing these partnerships in 2014 as the health of our food scape and our community depend on the survival of these (and other) farms.
10 Training in Winter
As winter rolled around we got back into horse training, bringing Faust our nearly 4 year old gelding back into the round pen for some serious work. He did brilliantly and in just a few days Nathan had him hauling firewood up to the front porch. We’ve raised him and his two half-sisters since they were 1 year, and it is exciting to know they will be working the fields this season.
11 The Future
We’re excited for 2014, anticipating improvements in animals, vegetables and minerals! And we’re thrilled to welcome our new stud colt, Don, to the herd. He’s 10 months and just can’t wait to get to work breeding the mares and tilling the fields in a few years. Come visit and watch him grow! Check out our website to see what we have planned www.reberrockfarm.com.
- Reber Rock Farm’s Nathan Henderson’s “Drafting a Future” Radiostory (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Essex Farm: The Last Week (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Thank You, Essex Blog Readers, Writers and Boosters (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Full and By Farm: Pastures Coated in Ice (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)