A matriarch retires and other farm updates


A matriarch retires and other farm updates


A matriarch retires

Here at BOTL Farm, back when we were young and naive, we never intended to raise sheep. When we were in the beginning stages of putting together our thoughts and money to buy a farm, we wrote a 35-page business plan and it had zero mentions of sheep. Luckily, the universe knew better and shortly after we’d established our farm, we got a call from our previous farming mentor to let us know that she was getting out of farming and she was going to deliver us three of her ewes (farmer jargon for breeding-female-sheep) and their six collective lambs. One of our initial ewes was named Tess. She was a lovely Icelandic sheep and definitely the friendliest to humans. She was also the matriarch of the herd and would proudly lead them to new paddocks, even when we didn’t plan for it

Between our farm and our mentor’s farm, Tess has faithfully led the herd and given birth, mostly to twins, for 10 years. This past year she’s started to slow down (and singled) so we’ve elected to give her a dignified retirement while she’s still happy and healthy. On a related note, we’ll have mutton available soon! Also keep an eye out for a special email notification that our yearly lamb harvest is available. Email subscribers will have first dibs on lamb this year, thanks for subscribing!


Thinking outside the barn

“Thinking outside the barn” was the title of a talk we gave at a organic farming conference last winter. The purpose of the talk was to convince young/new farmers that they should raise animals using high welfare standards and pasture-based methods, aka not raise them in a barn. So, perhaps, you might ask, why did we build a barn at BOTL Farm? The primary use of our barn is hay storage. 

Well, that was a circuitous way of talking about the end of our hay season. We’re happy to have a long-term relationship with a local farmer who produces all of the several tons of hay we require each winter. There are many ways to get hay, but the agreement we have with our farmer friends is to buy it directly off the field as they bale it. This is a mutually beneficial relationship, as we buy all the hay they can produce as soon as it’s ready so they don’t have to transport it or store it. Their hay fields are only a few minutes drive from our farm so we’re happy to have a local source of no-spray hay!

But since we need 600-700 dry, fresh bales of hay each winter, it takes quite a bit of room to store them. Thus, we have a barn! 

The process of getting hay starts in May as soon as grass season gets going and continues through, well, as long as our farmer friend can cut hay. This has been a good grass-growing year, so we were still harvesting (the last?) batch of hay two weeks ago. 

chickens on pasture

Buffalo or Dragon?

We love meat. Plus, we like to use the whole animal after harvest. So, we’re having a small competition now called Buffalo or Dragon. It all started when we took some of our stew hens (retired laying birds) and decided to make dip. Traditional buffalo chicken dishes are made with a specific brand of hot sauce (and butter), Franks. We’ve been testing that recipe, but we also wanted to try a local option with the hot sauce company Dragon’s Blood Elixir. They don’t have a cayenne-based hot sauce like Franks, so we got the closest thing. 

We’re happily testing two different versions of the dip recipe: Buffalo Chicken vs Dragon Chicken. Who wins?! As we finalize the recipe, we’ll be making a production batch of chicken dip (as yet unnamed), so look out for this new product soon!

pig with water bowl

New Country Organics animal feed

Since the beginning (of time?), we’ve only accepted cash or check for NCO animal feed and bedding. Because processing credit card transactions costs us about 3.2% of each sale, we didn’t allow feed customers to use this payment form to keep the cost of feed as low as possible.

We’ve had feedback from some of our customers that they prioritize the convenience of credit card purchases over increased costs. Starting today, we will accept all forms of payment (credit cards, debit cards, Apple pay, Venmo, etc.) but have raised our feed prices to absorb the processing fees. For customers who choose to or can continue paying by check or cash, we offer a “cash discount” which keeps the price per bag the same as it has been. 

To summarize: we are now accepting all forms of payment for animal feed and bedding at a slightly higher price but customers who pay with cash/check will not see any increased prices.

Note that if you’re placing an online order for feed, the cash discount will be applied after check out when we finalize your order.

goat with grass in mouth

Find us this month

Sturbridge monthly drop off: pre-order only Saturday 11am to 1pm at Sturbridge Coffee Roasters. October 21. Pre-order 

On farm storeTuesdays noon – 2pm, Saturdays 1 – 3pmPre-order

Tolland Farmers Market: Saturdays from 10am – noon at the Country Butcher on 74. Days we’ll be there in October: October 7, October 21. Pre-order

Assawaga Farmers Market: Saturdays from 9am – noon at Assawaga Farm in Putnam, CT. Days we’ll be there in October: October 14, October 28. Pre-order

Sturbridge Farmers Market: Sundays from 9am – 1pm on the Sturbridge Town Commons. Dates we’ll be there in October: October 8. Pre-order

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Page Last Updated on 2024-02-28

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