Thursday, June 27, 2013


Dear interested parties (pardon me if you are not interested) and supporters of North Branch Farm,

The time to reserve our beef and pork for your freezer is NOW! 

We will be sending two cows and five pigs to the butcher on July 16th, and they’ll be arriving back to us in a more edible form about two weeks later (exact date TBA, somewhere around July 31).  We’ll have two more rounds of beef cows going to the butcher later in the year, around September 9th and November 4th.

A little bit about our meat animals:

Our beef is exclusively grass fed.  Our beef cows are Devon and Angus, and they are healthy, happy critters.  In the summer they graze and fertilize our fields while we busily make hay.  In the winter we put a fence around all the hay, some cozy pieces of forest, and a corner of a stream, and they live outside straight through the cold months.

Our pigs are raised on organic grain, which is processed locally by Maine Organic Milling; a portion of the grain is also grown in Maine.  The pigs live outside on an oak-wooded hillside where they root for tubers and munch acorns.  They have access to food and water 24/7 and can often be found napping in a pig pile in a shady spot on hot afternoons.

We have chosen not to certify any of our meat as organic because of the extra record-keeping, and because we feed our pigs a small amount of kitchen scraps, which are not always from certified organic food.

Continue reading if you think you might be interested...

The numbers—our 2013 meat pricing:

Our prices are per pound for the meat you get, cut and packaged.  Much of the meat that is sold “on the hoof,” by the half or whole, is sold per pound based on the hanging weight—just to give you an idea, if we were charging based on hanging weight (which includes all organs, bones, and sometimes the head and feet) our prices for beef and pork would both be around $3.00 per pound.  To keep things simple, though, we just charge you for the meat that you actually take home.  You can reserve your whole, half or quarter animal with a $100 deposit.

$5.50/lb. for a whole animal, usually 240-260 lbs.
$6/lb. for a half, about 120-130 lbs.
$7/lb. for a quarter, around 60-65 lbs.

When we sell beef by the cut at farmers’ markets and the like, our lowest priced items (burger and stew) go for $6/lb. or more.  So buy in bulk and get your tenderloin for the price of burger!  Get together with friends and buy more bulk and save even more!

$6.50/lb. for a whole pig, probably 150-160 lbs.
$7.50/lb. for half a pig, probably 75-80 lbs.

Your meat will be a mix of fresh pork (chops, roasts, ribs, etc) and smoked and cured cuts like ham, ham steaks and bacon.  If you get in touch with us soon enough, you may even get to specify whether you want sausage or ground pork and what flavor of sausage you’d like…let us know ASAP.
Also, peruse at your leisure:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Solstice photos

Mowing our first hay of the year.  Sickle-bar mower from behind...

and from the front.
My lovely co-farmers on our way home from the Memorial Day Parade.

Mark in the greenhouse
Miriam in the greenhouse

Meat chicks in their tractor, finally out on grass

Calf liberation project:
First we built a fence,
then we turned a window into a door,

and now the calves get to play outside...
and Ada climbs the fence all by herself to bring them fresh grass.

Our new, NRCS-funded high tunnel from Ledgewood Farm Greenhouses--30'x72'.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Grouchyfarm

The last week of May was filled with the more-or-less standard cocktail of mistakes, excitement, progress, and fears.  Maybe today I'll stick with some basic strategies from way back in Conflict Resolution class, which could be accurately subtitled "How to Critique Someone/thing You Love Without Causing Them to Ditch You."  The only one I really remember is the good-bad-good method, and on the farm this week it would go something like this:

The good news is that vegetables are really fun to grow.
The bad news is that we're planting them into quackgrass sod.
The good news is that we know how to weed quackgrass.

Or a variation, good-bad-change:

It's really great that we grow thousands of fruit trees in the nursery.
It's not cool when the stuff we put on them to protect them from getting eaten by bugs actually kills them.
Maybe next time we should not use that stuff.

You get the idea.  We've had some financial, emotional and agricultural setbacks whose ramifications will be reverberating throughout the life of the farm for the duration of the season if not longer.  Most of the farm news I post to the blog is good news--not that I try to put a positive spin on everything, but there's so much good going on here that it's easy to find a whole post's worth of pleasant tidbits.  On the other hand, I don't want any of you lovely readers to have the impression that our greatest struggles revolve around wondering if the rain will fall or what color to paint the barn trim or something like that.  We are fortunate never to have to worry about being warm or fed, but the stakes are still high and for much of the farm the investment-to-payoff time lapse is six to eighteen or more months (or thirty years for the nut trees we planted) with all kinds of pitfalls along the way.  Just ask me if you want to know more.

On a lighter note, there really is some excellent news this week: The remaining two pregnant dairy cows (Ryan and Kenya) have popped their babies out since my last post, and two new bull calves joined our ranks.  We're rocking out in the milk production sector and the waiting game is over.

Tyler and Elsie hosted a class of eight Waldorf third graders and their teacher for a two night trip last week, and they all got going on some great farm projects.  The Brussels sprouts are planted, the trees in the orchard are starting to be mulched, the brush pile was burned, and s'mores were made by all.  Today we followed up by putting row cover on the Brussels sprouts to foil the flea beetles and planting almost a thousand sweet potato slips.  Mark and Miriam never cease to amaze with their sharp wits, humor, perspective, and hard work.  Life is truly good, and we live around hordes of brilliant, lovable humans on a beautiful, resilient and precious planet.  Thank you for your time and see in the next episode.