<![CDATA[BOTL Farm - Pasture Pork -Grass fed Goat and Lambs - Cage free Rabbit - Soy-free, Corn-Free, Non-GMO Eggs - Blog]]>Wed, 22 May 2019 23:21:45 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[A Primer on Pasture-Raised Pork (Re)production]]>Wed, 22 May 2019 13:34:51 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/a-primer-on-pastured-raised-pork-reproduction
Lady Breeder on bottom and one of our purebred Berkshire on top. Both gilts sleeping in a pile.
Lady Breeder on bottom and one of our purebred Berkshire on top. Both gilts sleeping in a pile.
To all who stand at the back of the line, hear us now as we relay a story from BOTL. For no reason at all, we will start this blog post with a poem:

There once was a farmer from New Jersey 
who moved outside Hartford in the burbsies
he got lots of sheep who eeped-meeped and peeped
and read 18th-century literature featuring Percy

​Anyways, BOTL Farm believes in the earth, the world, the planet, the future. Much like the sugar cane fermenters in Jamaica, we look around us to find those things that can be distilled into happiness, and since we don't have any sugarcane, we think it probably going to be pork. Our first swine minions came to be upon our lands in the cold part of winter 2018. One of the many good things one can find for sale on Craigslist is heritage-breed piglets. As we have previously pontificated, we reared our first thirteen pigs as though they were our own [Editor notes that since we bought them on Craigslist, they were our own]. We built them shelters, we gave them hard-boiled eggs, we showed them where the mud is, and ultimately we sent a subset of them to pig camp. When they returned from camp in neatly packed boxes, we knew that what we needed was ... more pigs.
Lady Breeder's turn on top.
Lady Breeder's turn on top.
Those of you who passed the 8th grade and/or received a discussion of birds and bees from your guardians will know that one solution to producing more piglets is to collocate a boy pig [Ed: boar] and some girl pigs [Ed: gilts] inside an electrified fence for at least 21 days. However, a boy pig is not only an expensive proposition, but there are few heritage breeders within CT and importing pigs from outside CT is a complicated legal maneuver. We will eventually buy or grow an intact boar for our herd, but it's just not in the cards for the next few months.
Berkshire on Cow-Pig (Mangalitsa-Berkshire cross)
Berkshire on Cow-Pig (Mangalitsa-Berkshire cross)
Another solution is AI. This is where a computer smartly calculates the date to deliver a temperature-controlled box to your door, and as a discerning farmer, you responsibly navigate a wand from the temperature-controlled box into the pig duplication receptacle. Then you chase the pig around the forest with the magic wand. There's another nuance to this story that involves the phrase "dry powdered lube" but we'll cover that later and/or when you're older.
The pigs enjoying a treat from a nearby vegetable farm. The pigs only get soy-free, corn-free, non-GMO feed and these bolted radishes qualify!
The pigs enjoying a treat from a nearby vegetable farm. The pigs only get soy-free, corn-free, non-GMO feed and these bolted radishes qualify!
So we're not sure if it worked [Editor's note: it didn't work]. Pig heat [Ed: estrus] is difficult to identify and qualitatively interpret, since it requires not a thermometer but instead thoughtful stimulation while observing the position of the ears, often at a light jog. Since early indications are that our first AI attempt was not successful, so we simply look forward to trying again.

If you find yourself hankering for pork by the pound, we have great news. We now have pork by the pound. And once we sell out, you can be confident that we're taking the future of the farm into our own hands. Our own hands up to our elbows. A fist full of the future. Cheers to the next generation!
Smoked ham center slice, also known in some areas as ham steak! Yum!
Smoked ham center slice, also known in some areas as ham steak! Yum!
<![CDATA[Our First Sheeplets!]]>Sun, 14 Apr 2019 23:09:43 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/our-first-sheeplets
Editor's note... this was published a few weeks after it was written... Sorry about the timing, oops.

Greetings!  It's been a long winter since our last update, but spring is beginning to sprung and with spring comes BABIES.

Tess, one of our seasoned ewes, gave birth yesterday evening to twins.  As Experienced Farmers who have owned sheep for several months, we totally knew it was going to happen.  She had mostly stopped eating yesterday morning, was hanging out by herself for most of the day, and when she finally went into the shelter she growled at anyone who tried to join her.  Tess and Goaty McGoatFace (GMGF) seemed to compromise in the afternoon that GMGF could sit half-in, half-out of the shelter as long as GMGF was quiet.  That's quite a compromise for Goaty.

By late afternoon, Tess had started to occasionally twitch, gasp open her mouth, and then grind her teeth -- I don't know much about giving birth, but i told myself that her contractions had started.  However, our farming mentor had assured us that most of her sheep give birth overnight.  Whew, that was going to be lots of hours of contractions.

So we did what responsible farmers would do and went to the bar to hang out with our Friends and eat chicken wings, thinking that we'd be back in time for the birth later at night.

When we returned to the farm and exited the car, it was immediately apparent that there were new tiny animals and one of them was giving pathetic little cries.  One of the twins had gotten separated from Tess and was still wet and sticky (yuck) and was trying vainly to nurse from Sesvanna (who named these ridiculous sheep), who hasn't given birth yet and was having none of it.  We were able to scoop up the sticky twin and put it back down by Tess, who started licking and nursing it.  A great success.
Tess' twins at 7pm last night still seemed new enough that individual adults were coming over one at a time to have a sniff and say hi.

Other highlights include
-- Lilac's reaction. Lilac is Tess' daughter from last year, who is now old enough and big enough to be pregnant.. but looked so forlorn and confused that her mom had made more tiny things. at one point, Lilac even laid down by Tess to snuggle/warm one of the twins.  She's going to be a wonderful aunt, right up until she births out her own lamb in two weeks and she becomes a mother.
- Monster-face's reaction (the male breeder sheep).  As Monster approached to have a sniff, Tess growled and tried to edge him away.  However, she only protected one of the twins with her body and Monster sniffed the other one twice, looked at it sideways, and rammed it.  It was somewhat horrifying to see a 125 lb male with 14" horns ram a 6 lb newborn, but you know, such is the way of the animal kingdom?  The lamb sat down hard as it was rammed and stayed there for a few minutes.  After monster walked away, Tess nudged it and it stayed down, so we picked it up and put it back on its ridiculously wobbly legs.

Great news, both lambs were still alive this morning. 
One more farm story: so we're hard-boiling extra/cracked/small eggs for the pigs, right?  Pigs LOVE eggs. 

Two days ago, we took out a bucket of eggs for the pigs, but it appeared they had slept out in the forest somewhere because they weren't around the feeding area and weren't in their shelter.  We said fine, whatever, they'll come up for food and water at some point and eat the eggs then.

New farm lesson: crows LOVE eggs.  A group of nasty, too-intelligent-for-their-own-good crows proceeded to spend the morning trying to figure out how to efficiently hold whole, hard boiled eggs and fly at the same time.  They ended up scattering at least 5 of the eggs over the two fields and nearby forest, which pup was happy to run around and find and eat.  It was like pup-easter.  It's tuff to tell how many the crows successfully stole and ate.

So yesterday in the morning, we go out, no pigs.  So we put a lid on the egg bucket and set it outside the pig area, thinking we'll put them out when we sees the pigs return at some point that day so they'll eat them right away.  The pigs never returned, so last night while we were paparazzi-ing Tess we put the eggs out for the pigs, thinking the crows wouldn't eat them in the dark.

This morning we go out with another bucket of eggs and last night's eggs are still there. Those lazy goddamn pigs had already gone to sleep in the woods and hadn't woken up or returned to their feeders yet.

So we went to find them.  They were all in their pig-pile about 200 feet from the feeding area, but didn't seem inclined to get up just because a farmer was approaching.  So we let pup in.  She got free pig-butt-licks and snout licks because they still wouldn't get up.  Sheesh.  Pigs are not morning animals.  We kept trying to get them to wake up and go eat eggs for about 10 minutes before it worked.  At one point, I had a foot under one of them and was urging it up while pup was licking its butt.  It just laid there, placidly snorting and steaming. 
Finally we got three of the 13 pigs to get up and follow us back to the feeding area. # can three pigs eat 160 eggs # probably # damn crows
<![CDATA[A Pig’s Tale]]>Wed, 19 Dec 2018 13:51:23 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/a-pigs-tale
BOTL Farm now has expanded meat options!  If you find yourself braising a rabbit for dinner on Monday, broasting a chicken for lunch on Tuesday, frying a dozen eggs for breakfast on Wednesday, sous viding [Editor notes that ‘viding’, being a conflagration of the French word for ‘vacuum’ and the English ‘-ing’ for a present-tense verb, is not a word] a leg of lamb on Thursday afternoon, and spending all of Friday hankering for a pork chop, boy have we got just the things for you!

Here at BOTL Farm, we have always believed the foundation of a balanced diet is bacon.  While we wait for an updated food pyramid to get published, we have begun a project to raise a pig that is 100% bacon.  Current yields are a normal amount of bacon in each pig, but we're going to keep trying using an experimental technique of piglet belly rubs and playing high-fat music in the pasture over night.  Our neighbors love the music.
The deets:

  • Whole pigs will be approximately $1,300.  This includes a price per pound hanging weight of $6.50 with target hanging weights of 160 lbs and target live weights of 250 lbs.  This makes the total meat cost about $1,040 and butcher costs around $260, for a total of approximately $1,300 depending on the final weight of your little bundle of bacon joy.
  • We are NOT currently doing half pigs. Phone a friend and buy a whole.
  • First deposit is $250, and we’ll be asking for a second deposit of $250 in February. Balance will be payable at pick-up.  Click here to email us a suitcase full of money.
  • Our pigs are heritage breeds Mangalitsa and Berkshire, and are being raised on pasture and in forest.  This means they eat lots of sticks. Pigs love sticks.
  • Supplemental feed is, as with all our other animals, corn-free, soy-free and non-GMO.
  • Pork will be ready in late April or early May 2019.
  • We will deliver to USDA-certified butcher and can help you with your cut list if you’ve never done one or are looking for the latest in pork cutting technology.  
  • Everything will be vacuum-sealed, packaged, and frozen, picked up from our farm.  At no extra charge, you’ll get to meet a couple of the best-dressed farmers you’ve ever seen east of Hartford!  Also a really cute dog. She loves you already … in fact she knows you’re her new best friend.​
Pigs come in pods, and our first pod is a farmer’s dozen! [Editor notes that although the proper name for a group of pigs depends on the age of said pigs, ‘pod’ is never the correct answer. A group of young pigs is either a drift, drove, or litter; whereas older pigs are called a sounder of swine, a team of hogs, a passel of hogs, or a singular of boars.]  We’ll be reserving a few for breeding stock, and converting the remainder into frozen bacon. Contact us here if you can’t wait to add carnitas and ham steak to your weekly meal plans!
<![CDATA[Update!]]>Sun, 28 Oct 2018 21:26:44 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/update
​Hello there good person.  Let's have a general update on the goings-on here at the Back Of The Line Farm.  Come with me, dive right in:

1) The chickens.  The chickens may be our greatest success.  Birds are gross.  Have you ever met a creature that has such disregard for where it poops, and that has an attention span that facilitates transition from dedicated guardian parent to clueless lost dinosaur in just a few seconds?  All you have to do is reach under their butts and grab their eggs.  It's kind of amazing this species could ever survive in the wild.  Anyhooo, it turns out we're having grand success at producing eggs, and we're currently collecting between 60 and 80 per day.
We realized early on that as altruistic farmers we would have to choose between our ethical grand utopian views for the world, and a concept called "making enough money to live."  For better or worse, at each fork in the proverbial road we have thus far selected the former grand vision.  This includes our chickens, where we continue to feed them corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO feed and we continue to keep them out to pasture each day, so they can scratch and cluck like happy chickens in the field.  Feed this expensive necessitates that we price our eggs at fifty cents each which is basically a break even cost on the feed, and ignores the time our farmers spend lovingly stroking the birds each day and reading them limericks.
2) Dat puppers.  Poor doggo pulled something in her shoulder, was on forced rest for a month, only sort of got better, was still limping, them somehow tore her leg open in the forest and had to get emergency stitches and is back on rest now.  Pray to the puppers deity for the dearest doogan pup.

3) Sheep and goats!  They are doing quite well.  We separated out three male lambs that will be sent to sheep camp in December and transferred to buyer's chest freezers, and kept one male breeder and five female breeders to prepare next year's stock.  This means we could have up to 10 lambs for sale next year, if all the stars align.  We're also working on breeding our two goats, in the hope that they will keep eating poison ivy.
4) Bees.. Bees are hard.  We had 11 active hives at the end of 2017 when a multi-day battle with ground wasps killed all of them.  We started over with three colonies this year, and unfortunately two of them didn't make it through the season.  It's not clear why they failed, it appears disease or parasites.  So we have only a single remaining hive, and unfortunately it is not strong enough to harvest honey from this fall.
5) Sawmill.  This is going well too.  We installed the sawmill in July and have since cut over 4,000 bd-ft in a mixture of pine, oak, maple, birch, ash, and cedar.  We've sold about 1,000 bd-ft so far and used a bunch more for animal shelter projects around the farm.  There's something intensely satisfying about taking trees down on your land and turning them into useful lumber.  It's like building something amazing and destroying something beautiful, all at the same time.
In addition to the state-funded fencing grant we wrote about before, the good people of Connecticut have decided to invest further in the BOTL Farm infrastructure and we have been awarded a second grant for animal paddocking and road construction.  The internal roads will be used to support cement trucks to pour concrete footings for our barn.  We are very much looking forward to our future barn, as it will reduce the amount of feed and equipment storage that we currently have in our garage, and in the contractor's trailer we purchased and parked in the lower field.  Have you ever tried to dig through a contractors trailer to find the right bag of minerals to feed to your sheep?  It's not a good life for a farmer, nor for a trailer.  The trailer wants to be on a job site, cooking Hot Pockets in the generator-powered microwave and hosting skyscraper blueprints.  The farmers want a barn.  These things too, we wish shall come to pass.  Other dark specters loom over the fate of BOTL Farm, but alas, let us not dwell on why the barn construction is financially delayed, and let that battle rage on silently in the background much as Godzilla fought Mothra and Optimus Prime in Pacific Rim 3.  Instead, let us look with optimistic fervor on that which we can positively influence in the world.  Like delicious eggs, and thinking to yourself "how can I eat eggs for every meal today?"

And animal paddocking, our next great adventure!  Currently animal moves still involve manually setting up and tearing down electro-net for each fence line.  Let me paint a picture for you.  Imagine it's 5°C (42 deg F), raining lightly, and in your hands you have a hundred pounds of electric and nylon fencing and you're trying to drag it through a pasture of pricker bushes and poison ivy to set it up again in a straight line, while being berated by the bleating of animals that don't understand why they can't eat the new grass already.  Also this has to be done every day.  We're looking forward to proper animal paddocking to help stream-line this effort.

Until next time, keep fighting the good fight, believers in the BOTL !
<![CDATA[Baaaah to the Bone]]>Mon, 15 Oct 2018 12:26:07 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/baaaah-to-the-bone
Hello there BOTL Farm fan club.  Today we explore a tale of success and failure, a story of victory and defeat.  A tale of lovely stock and tail.  Let's talk about sheep.

When the farm was first established in the summer of 1965, we wrote a business plan using a primitive text editor, similar to vim and not at all like a typewriter, but actually maintained by Microsoft.  The business plan said BOTL Farm would primarily focus on the development and sales of swine products.  We self identify as pork enthusiasts and our hobbies include home-made sausage and bacon, and hosting an annual pig roast.  An aspiring pig farmer never imagines they will own sheep.  Sheep are not pigs, and pigs do not need to be sheared, and nobody has ever eaten sheep bacon.

We were going upon our merry ways, doing BOTL Farm things, cutting down trees, collecting giant buckets of eggs, trying to figure out how to make a bee hive live to celebrate a birthday, doing cold laser therapy on our dog's shoulder and our farm laborer's back, and that's when it hit us.  Like a phone call from our farm mentor.  Our mentor, guide, hero, inspiration, and general moral compass had decided to quit farming and move to a distant island in the Pacific and buy a sailboat.  After decades of building a successful farm, teaching us everything we knew about stock piling yogurt cups and how to mend electro-net, she was throwing in the towel.  Also she wanted to give us sheep.  We didn't want sheep, but we also do whatever she says.
Originally we said no sheep, then we agreed to three sheep, and finally we took delivery of nine sheep.  Three lady breeder sheeps, each with two baby lamb sheeps.  We raised one of the baby lambs into a breeder boy sheep.  Don't think too much about that, it's totally normal farm animal stuff.  Now I hear you, dear reader, asking why the sheep are not pigs.  For pigs have pork chops, and pork chops are delicious, much like racks of lambs.  The answer for why we do not have pigs is a tale for another time.. a story of road building, barn building, bridge burning, and inland New Jersey.  We'll discuss that later.  For now, you must know that we have sheep we never wanted, but now love.

So our mentor moved to to the beach and gave us her herd of nine sheep.  Now we move them daily to new grass pastures.  We built them a sheep shelter, and we feed them minerals.  Owning a sheep occasionally involves doing very Rude Things.  Sheep need a mix of selenium and garlic oil, but they don't know they need this.  They know it so little, we must squirt it down their throats while they are trapped in a pallet maze.  It's quite rude, and incredibly necessary.
The sheep are helping us clear the forest of BOTL Farm's 40 acres, at a rate we previously didn't think was possible.  Our human farmer can use a dinosaur powered chainsaw and sintered metal lopers to clear a quarter acres in three weeks, but our sheep herd can use their molars and hooves to clear a full acre in half that time.  They eat weeds and picker bushes, and if we take down small saplings they eat all the leaves and follow us excitedly looking to see if we are carrying buckets.  Buckets are the best, only good things come from buckets.  Except for when Rude Things come from buckets, but mostly good things come from buckets.
Here in the midst of fall, we're staring down the barrel of another winter and the challenge of keeping alive animals that eat grass.  We don't yet have a barn built, and we are faced with difficult decisions like how to heat a sheep standing on an ice sheet in the middle of Connecticut.  The solution, is to transfer the sheep to a warmer location.  Like the freezer.  So we'll do that for a few of the sheep, except for the breeders.  Those we're going to feed hay and skip their fall shearing, and pray to some livestock deities and hope for the best.

And so we have added another unexpected product to our current line up of candles, coasters, no honey, lumber, eggs by the hundred, whole chickens, and free poison ivy samples -- whole lambs!  As it so happens, we have already sold all three of our lambs for this season, however our male breeder sheep happily reports that more lambs should be in stock for next year !

Sheep are an unexpected addition to our farm, but have turned out to be an enjoyable one and we look forward to our role of shepherding them into the future.
<![CDATA[Goats!]]>Mon, 13 Aug 2018 12:10:04 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/goats
Dearest believer in the BOTL, 
Have you ever awoken at the break of dawn, stepped out of bed, stretched your legs, and thought to yourself "I really wish I could hear some screaming right now"?  Oh man, you should get goats.

Goats serve an uncountable number of uses on the farm.  Really just two.  They eat poison ivy, and they make a delicious osso buco [Editor: At BOTL Farm, we have no expectations that our goats will learn to cook].
You may have seen the viral videos of screaming goats complementing Taylor Swift in her top 40 hit pop songs.  If you haven't, hit up the googles for a chuckle or two.  If you have, you'll understand why farmers begin their search for goats by looking for quiet breeds.  You might be surprised to learn that even the quiet breeds are.... really quite loud.

A good goat can eat a good fraction of its body weight in poisonous plants each day, is resistant to disease, and grows very large horns.  Like, at least 4 feet in length and curly.  We  wanted to get merino sheep [Editor: no, some of our wool-loving family members wanted us to], but since they are sheep and not goats, we decided on Kiko breed goats.  Kikos are known for being large, delicious, good eaters, independent, worm-resistant, and very pretty.  They are not quiet.
We built a custom isolation system in the back of our farm truck, which is actually a Honda Fit.  The back is the part where the rear seats fold down.  We went to pick up two Kiko goats, and the goat breeder noted this was not the worst goat transport setup he had ever seen.  That made us feel better.

We kept the goats together for the first sixteen weeks, until the male goat began peeing on his face... which, as we all know, is an obvious sign of goat foreplay.  Then it was time to separate the goats and pair the male with two ram lambs (we have sheep but we'll tell you about that later) and the female goat with the rest of the sheep herd.

In the future, we hope to sell goat meat, but for now we're raising our breeding stock and trying to encourage them to eat metric tons of plants that we don't like but they seem to enjoy.

If you drive by BOTL Farm, roll down your windows to hear the distant screaming of our new goats at all hours of the day !
<![CDATA[​Cluckin and pluckin]]>Mon, 06 Aug 2018 18:11:07 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/cluckin-and-pluckinHi there, poultry connoisseur.  We should have told you long ago, but BOTL Farm has chickens.  A lot of chickens.  We've had them for so long that they wander both the pasture and the freezer.  You may ask yourself, why have we been keeping this information from you?  We have no excuse.  All we can offer you is apologies, and the story that follows... a story of the birds and the bees.  Just kidding, the bees all died last fall.  Let's talk about the birds.
Once upon a time, BOTL Farm received a delivery of young chicken-lets.  If you've ever been a steward to such a flock of tiny dinosaurs, you know they will occasionally plug up their poopers and die, and that you have to wipe off the pastie butt like five times a day.  We did that.  We kept their bottoms as clean as the morning is early.  When the chickens were old enough to leave the cast iron bathtub and head out into the brooder, we built a square brooder.  Chicken books tell you to avoid square corners, because the chicken-lets will pile up in the corners until they crush each other, but who could build round corners without a sawmill that can cut quarter inch bendy boards?  We did not have such a thing.  Yet.  We cared for each chicken, but nature must take it's toll like a pile of tiny chickens in the corner of a foam insulation box on top of one poor tiny chicken.

We tried to get the chickens to lay eggs in January.  They normally don't lay as many eggs in January since it's dark and cold.  Like Sweden.  We tried light therapy, giving them wooden eggs to sit on, reading them poetry, showing them anatomically accurate Youtube videos of chickens producing salable sized eggs with minimal shell defects, and gently massaging the chickens over top of the egg laying boxes.

We stand firmly behind economists that subsidies will encourage specific behavior, which may have unintended side effects.  So we decided to raise our chickens on a diet that is free of corn and soy.  Our chicken feed is 100% organic all natural corn free, soy free, GMO free, bits of delicious chicken dinner.  They love it.  And they look good eating it too.

Further, chickens, like DJs, like to scratch.  Both records and piles of wood chips.  We faced the challenge of putting our chickens out to pasture in a way that allows them to dig around and be happy chickens, and also allows us farmers to periodically move them to new pasture land.  We needed something that was a large chicken coop on wheels... something like... a $200 RV from Craigslist.  That's right.  That looks like a chicken coop to us.

After a year of herding birds and collecting eggs, we decided that what we needed was even more chickens.  So we collected our top 200 eggs and put them in an incubator.  The incubator was a plastic tote we had to rotate 6 times a day.  After just the right number of days, out of the eggs popped... tiny dino-errr.. chickens!  And such it was that we turned 200 eggs into 130 chickens!  Magic!
As math and genetics would have it, that was a lot of roosters, so we went ahead and transferred about 61 rooster from the pasture to the freezer by way of the ole plucker.  Not too many feathers left on those roosters.  We hope.

So BOTL Farm now sells eggs and chicken!  Stop by today for an infinite supply of eggs, sold for $6 in a lovingly made carton of 10 or whole chicken for $5 a lb.  Corn free, soy free, GMO free, good for your conscious and good for the world!  Spread the world and eat the bird products !
<![CDATA[Life on the Live Edge]]>Wed, 18 Jul 2018 01:51:56 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/life-on-the-live-edge​​Today we begin with a poem:

    There once was a sawmill from the north,
    A tide of joyful lumber it brought forth,
    It sawed with a study blade,
    A feat of board feet it made,
    And now we sell lumber of course !

This concludes the poem.  Now we will move on to a hypothetical scenario.  Imagine you were a young farmer with stars in your eyes, a dream in your heart, and two mortgage payments.  What would you do?  That's right, you would watch the sun rise each morning, watch it set each evening, and try to monetize everything around you.

And so it was that we wondered if we could sell trees.  Building 4400 linear feet of perimeter fence and clearing two potential barn sites had left us with piles and piles of logs:
A dog is a device for meeting infinite friends, and a sawmill is a device for turning tree trunks into dimensional lumber.  To lumberify all of those logs, what we needed was a sawmill.

BOTL Farm maintains a full time staff of professionals in a variety of occupations that provide services, consultation, and manual labor.  Usually we pay them in beer.  One member of our staff is a full-time wood worker who part time works with wood and occasionally does it for us.  His previous exploits include building 16 bee boxes and a farm sign/stand.  Once he also made a set of gears out of plywood.

If you've ever gotten bored with your reality, had a mid life crisis, and taken up wood working to try and fill that gaping void in your soul that your day job leaves, you might know how much hardwood costs at the homeless despot.  Then you might go to a farm and stare longingly at all the trees just sitting on the farm... growing.  Why not put them where they belong, on a table saw?

So it became that BOTL Farm's contract wood worker decided the farm needed a sawmill, and through sheer force of manifest destiny and the four basic forces of nature as identified by gravity, a sawmill was selected and ordered and came to be installed upon that which is the farm.

Meet the Woodland Mills HM126.  A pinnacle of powder-coated box tubing and the infernal combustion engine.  Our lumber mill was ushered into existence and began with a steady input of logs, gasoline and human labor has begun to produce an infinite pile of sawdust, firewood, and sale-able lumber.

If you too are an aspiring wood worker, or somebody who watched one too many Youtube videos and now wants to build something with a live edge, stop by BOTL Farm today to purchase lumber for your next great project !
<![CDATA[Establish a Perimeter!]]>Mon, 25 Jun 2018 13:53:50 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/establish-a-perimeterGreetings, fellow livestock enthusiast.  You may recall that just a few short months ago, our heroes of BOTL Farm ran a long and difficult campaign trail to seek election to the highest office in an 1820’s farmhouse.  The office is on the first floor.  However, one of the campaign promises made by our farmers-elect was to build a big, beautiful wall to keep all those unauthorized raccoons out and to prevent them from picking our fruit.  In the orchard.  Not only did they promise us a wall, they vowed that the state of Connecticut was going to pay for it.

Behold citizen, our farmers-in-chiefs have delivered upon all these campaign promises and more.  We’re not talking about a partial prototype in the southern California desert or multiple decades of eminent domain disputes with the owners of Cards Against Humanity [1].  No indeed fair reader, for what we have here is the Biggest, most Beautiful wall the world has ever seen:
In our early days of herding meat rabbits on the shores of the Jersey coast, we learned what security researchers have long known: multiple concentric layers of defense are the foundation of any reliable system.  This became clear to us the day the rabbits dug a hole under the electric fence, and we ran all over town with a butterfly net trying to catch them.  This lesson was re-enforced the day we lost electricity and the rabbits got out, the day the rabbits found an old woodchuck tunnel system and got out, and all the other times we accidently altered the local rabbit gene pool.  A perimeter fence around animal paddocks is critical to the success of a livestock farm.  Fences are like onions.

Our goal was to fence off 19 of our 40 acres with an electrified perimeter fence, so that in the inevitable event animals escape their individual paddocks, they are contained within the 19 acres.  We budgeted $15,000 to build the perimeter fence and all animal paddocks.  We received quotes from several contractors, and after reviewing our original budget the phrase “hotdog down a hallway” came to mind.  The cheapest quote was $47,000 to build only the perimeter fence and did not include land clearing or electrification.  We began seeking alternative plans.  As we often say here on the farm, “you’ve gotta swing to miss!”

The revised plan was to do all the land clearing ourselves, do all the design work ourselves, do all the post and panel sourcing/distribution/installation ourselves, and do the electrification ourselves.  We believe that we’ve built ourselves a one-of-a-kind farm fence, and we’re writing a whole separate blog post to talk about all the parts that went into it.

Since we never back down on a campaign promise, we still vowed to get the citizens of Connecticut to pay for our big pig wall.  Now we understand this could be a controversial goal if, for example, you live in CT and pay taxes.  Don’t worry, you can tour the outside of the fence at any time.  Please don’t touch it, that hurts like really quite a lot.

We found the Farmer’s Land Grant Association of North Eastern CT and wrote up a proposal to the state on why they should help build our wall.  The proposal quoted the scholarly body of Subaru Outback bumper stickers including “no farms, no food” and “galvanized T-posts are expensive”.  After being compared to an uncountable number of other proposals, our proposal was selected!  Our fence was inspected, high fives were issued, a commemorative selfie was taken, and we look forward to receiving a $20,000 reimbursement for 50% of the fence cost installation any day now.  In fact, I should go check the mail box right now.

Good neighbors, help you make your fences good.  Shout-out to all of our neighbors.  Sorry about those post pounder noises, we should be mostly done with those now.  Cheers everyone!

[1] https://cardsagainsthumanitystopsthewall.com/
<![CDATA[Baby it's cold outside...]]>Tue, 20 Feb 2018 23:53:05 GMThttp://botlfarm.com/blog/baby-its-cold-outside​Greetings my fellow classic Christmas song enthusiasts!  Today we’re going to explore another oft-overlooked aspect of farming – winter living in an 1820’s farmhouse.  We’ll also touch on the roles of feminism in firewood splitting, technology to prevent pipes from freezing, the infrared light spectrum, shivery puppies, and providing farm animals with water when the pasture looks like Antarctica. Right then, off we go.
I must speculate, a farmer from 200 years ago was cut from a tough cloth.  Consider a house with no insulation, no modern HVAC system, Thomas Edison hasn’t fought Nikola Tesla yet to invent electric blankets, and you’re basically relying on a few fireplaces throughout the house and whatever wood you split from the back 40 to survive the winter.
During a recent New Year’s Eve celebration at BOTL Farm, our resident hydrologist brought some of her fancy electronics to do thermal spectrum imaging.  We pointed them at the house to see if we could find any insulation.  We didn’t find any insulation, but we did find some amazing numbers.  Here’s a picture from January 1st 2018 of the backdoor into the farmhouse:
​You might notice two things astute reader.  The first is the wheeled firewood cart that we use to bring in fuel for the woodstove. The second is the temperature scale on the right.  We can see the boiler driven hot water heater chooching out an impressive 103 degrees.  We can also see the baseboards around the door are sitting comfortably at 1 deg Fahrenheit.  Please note that this picture is INSIDE the house.
Let’s have a look at one more picture:
​This is the kitchen counter in the farmhouse.  You can see a cellphone cranking out yub dub, a toaster oven, and our set of measuring spoons.  You can also see the electrical outlet in the center of the picture is 33 degrees F (no insulation in the wall), and that the highest temperature visible in the kitchen is the toaster oven and an actively charging cellphone at about 64 deg F.
The heating system in the farm house is a fuel-oil driven hot water boiler, that circulates water through three different baseboard loops.  During our first winter in the farm house, we discovered it costs a lot in fuel oil to keep the farm house at 54 deg F.  This temperature was selected because it is the lowest temperature we can go to keep the plumbing in the walls and basement from freezing.  Most of the time.  The plumbing has frozen at least 4 times.
For this the second winter, we saved by switching to a woodstove.  This was a considerable investment, because a chimney liner was needed to use the 200-year-old chimney in our living room with a modern woodstove.  This does seem to have reduced our fuel oil costs though, and we’re using mostly wood split from the back yard.
Splitting wood with hand tools is a vigorous physical activity, but fortunately our farmers come from a long family line of wood stove users and wood splitting enthusiasts.  There is a certain zen about standing in a 10 deg backyard, swinging a chunk of cold metal, hitting a frozen log, and trying to split it gracefully without inducing personal injury.  The exertion makes one feel at peace with the world, and we might venture it brings more satisfaction than giving the thermostat a turn and watching it slowly light your bank account on fire.
So we continue on, combining as much modern technology as we can to try and keep the farm house affordably thawed through this unseasonably cold CT winter, and trying to keep the chickens and rabbits thawed until that time where we see fit to intentionally place them in the chest freezers.  Everybody stay warm, spring comes soon!