Another month on the farm: grazing, grass, and growing pigs

1 goat in the woods

Grazing season is here!

As the world spins and wobbles on its axis, it produces fun things like tidal forces and changing seasons. As the northeast US hurtles its way towards the summer solstice, the warming temperatures, sunshine, and rain collaborate to grow grass. We’ve heard a theory that humans didn’t domesticate animals and invent civilization on their own. Instead, it was grass that domesticated humans as part of a vast conspiracy to harness the power of humans to grow more grass. Powerful stuff. (Was this Guns, Germs, and Steel? Let us know if you recognize the reference!)

Anyways, here at BOTL Farm we’re doing our part and managing our land in such a way that it grows as much grass as possible. Also, we started our official grazing season a few days ago. There was sufficient growth of cold-season grasses that the sheep and goats moved out of their winter sacrifice pastures, stopped eating hay, and now spend (estimated) 83% of their day thoughtfully munching on green stuff.

Our pods of pigs have started rotating paddocks as well. The first pig stop of the grazing season is the paddock the sheep and goats had been living in during winter. Those paddocks have a bunch of accumulated hay packed onto the ground and the pigs are deliriously happy to root through the whole area, disturbing the hay pack, finding what’s under it, and turning the soil over. We’re happy to not have to do any of that work ourselves!

As the pigs were doing The Work, we spotted the first dung beetle of the season! Dung beetles are like the opposite of a canary in a coal mine — because they only survive in certain conditions, if you spot one it means that a lot of other things in your soil ecosystem are in good shape.

2 pigets in woods

Pigs do (or don’t) give birth

Pigs have a lot of personality. Because we work with our sows (female pigs who get pregnant and birth piglets) for many years, we have ample time to get to know each other. Each pig is different, but we’d like to think we can spot when a sow is in heat, when she’s about to give birth, and other important milestones.

Fate likes to laugh at farmers who think they know what they’re doing, though, so we were surprised and disappointed that one of the sows we thought was only a few weeks from giving birth was in fact, not pregnant. She must have been in heat several times and never mentioned it. Doh.

Our most prolific, reliable, and fantastic sow did give birth to a littler of adorable tiny elephants, oops, we mean, piglets. She’s a great mom and although she’s dominant over other big pigs, she’s the gentlest 700 lb. pig around humans we’ve ever seen.

3 quiche

All the new things

As part of our never-ending attempts to make the world a less cruel and tastier place to be, we have a number of new (or newly returning) products.

The first is quiche. Nick grew up eating quiche and still makes it often (where Danielle came from, it was called egg casserole and was in 9×13″ pans). We perfected Nick’s recipe (which OF COURSE uses lard in the crust instead of butter), went to the commercial kitchen, and batched a bunch of personal-sized quiches out. Delicious.

Our hot dogs are back in stock, as is pork kabob meat. Almost no one buys kabob meat from us, but we’re not mad about it. We just eat it all. Let’s grill!

When we were young and had lots of time on our hands (before we were farmers), we made lots of sausage for our own consumption. We’re happy to revisit those days now, using our pork meat and smoked fat to craft custom sausages! We’re currently testing our bratwurst recipe in anticipation of handmaking fresh sausages for sale.

We have freshly-rendered leaf lard back in stock now.

If you’re still reading, you’re a champ (hi, Mom/Dad!). We collaborated with Doug from Dragon’s Blood Elixir and he made Bacon Avocado Salsa Verde hot sauce for us. It’s sweet, vinegary, spicy, and salty. It’s great.

Finally, we’re going to be harvesting young roosters for meat soon. There will be a limited amount available, so we are taking pre-orders (email Nick/respond to this email/use our online store). As always, we are not raising meat birds for meat, these are ~17 week old roosters that we need to remove from our future egg-laying flock. They’re younger and much more tender than our stew hens, but still have more structure and chew than meat birds.

4 lambs on pasture

Organic animal feed

We’ve been resellers of New Country Organics super premium animal feed and bedding for several years now. We enjoy our role in making this feed more accessible to backyarders and other small farmers in our area. Now that we have established relationships with a lot of you, we wanted to ask if there are additional products that we can bring in or provide that would help.

We’re thinking of things like grit, oyster shell, apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’? Grubs? Other supplements, like edible herbs? We have access to lots of products, especially because we work with more than one feed mill, so let us know if there’s something new we can do!

5 pigs in shelter

Find us this month and this summer

Thanks to everyone who has used our online store! It’s been a big help to us to keep everything organized, on time, and accurate.

Feel free to use our online store to place an order and choose one of the markets below as a pickup location!

On Farm Store Hours: Tuesdays noon-2pm, Sundays 2-4pm

Tolland Farmers Market: Hold on to your hats, this might get confusing. We’ve been part of the Tolland Farmers Market for years. It takes place each Saturday from 10am to noon at the Country Butcher on 74. We’re there every-other Saturday. Starting this year, there is a second farmers market in Tolland and it’ll be on Sundays at the Tolland Green. We are NOT participating in this new market, we’re sticking with what we’ve been doing for years — every other Saturday at the Country Butcher. See you there! It starts May 6th.

Tolland Markets we’ll be at in May: May 6, May 13, May 20

Assawaga Market: They’re starting the season with their legendary plant sale on May 14 and we will be there, fully stocked with meat, selling! It’s 9am to 3pm and we’re not sure we’ll make it the whole time, so arrive earlier rather than later. After that one-time event, they’ll be doing regular markets 9am to noon every Sunday.

Assawaga Markets we’ll be at in May: May 14 (plant sale), May 21, May 28

Third Thursday Willimantic: New to us! We’ll be joining Willimantic’s longstanding Third Thursday event this summer. We’ve heard there’s live music, food trucks, a beer tent, and we can vend our farm products. Sounds like quite an event!

Third Thursday Willimantic starts on May 18 from 6 to 9pm on Main St in Willimantic, CT.

Upcoming markets later this season:

Sturbridge MA starts June 4

The Farmers Market at Andy’s in Webster, MA starts June 7

It’s too many dates! Save Me

Page Last Updated on 2023-06-03

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