So today I got to go meet Heather and her livestock at Grazing Hill Farm in Conway, NH! It was a charmingly blustery day, with windchills well below zero - perfect day to stroll around outside and through an unheated barn, right? :P I really appreciate Heather's willingness to give me a tour despite the weather!
Situated on 22 acres in the Mount Washington Valley, Grazing Hill Farm currently has 15 acres set up for grazing - although right now, they're all covered with snow. I have an invitation to go back when the grass is green. :)
Heather and her family raise registered Kunekune pigs, Clun Forest Sheep, and a handful of heritage-breed chickens. I'll do individual breed profiles on the pigs and the sheep, but here's an interesting tidbit: the Kunekune pig is one of the few pig breeds that grazes (as opposed to rooting up the soil).
|2 days old.|
Heather uses rotational grazing, a system in which animals are allowed to graze one small paddock at a time, leaving behind their own all-natural fertlizer, before they're moved to the next paddock. It's very healthy for the land, and will, over time, result in superior grazing land. I'm researching rotational grazing for Butterscotch Farm; it's a very good system for any land, but particularly if you have limited acreage.
FARMER TIP: Heather suggests deworming your animals in one paddock and leaving them there for a bit before moving them to another paddock so that the worms don't spread through multiple pastures.
There are several outbuildings - a small shelter for the sheep, a chicken coop, and a larger barn divided into sections for the pigs.
FARMER TIP: When building a chicken coop, make it so you can open the laying box from the outside, so you don't have to climb into the coop to collect the eggs.
ANOTHER FARMER TIP: The barns on the property were already there, so Heather has made them work, but she says that if she were to build a new barn, she would make it a long structure with an aisle down the middle, flanked by stalls that open both to the inside and to the outside.
All in all, it was a short but highly educational visit. Heather was very friendly and happy to answer my questions, and obviously knows her animals well and really cares for them. I hope to go back sometime to see the lambs and to see a rotational grazing operation in action.
Thanks, Heather!! :)