Out with the old, in with the new


Piglets.

Out with the old, in with the new

Here at BOTL Farm, we sometimes get jealous when we see our farmer friends celebrating the end of their growing season. They tell us about their upcoming winter vacay plans, how much sleep they’re going to catch up on, and all the fun things they’re going to do with their free time. Keeping in mind that we don’t know anything about growing plants, we’ll go ahead and say that vegetable farmers get winters off. 

Because we’re busily maintaining our breeding stock so that we can breed our own sheep, goats, and pigs for harvest, we don’t get winters off. Our typical winter workload is easier because the animals are in closer paddocks and are not making daily rotations, but sustained time off, we do not get. Of course, we’re barely jealous of our farmer friends and we are committed to farming the way we do, but sometimes, once in a while, we remember what it was like to have time off.  

Anyways, speaking of not having time off, we recently brought our summer batch of pigs to pig camp [editor’s note: this is a polite way of saying butcher]. This was one of the most pleasant batches of pigs we have had on the farm. They were super friendly to farmers, respectful to each other, and very curious. We can only hope future batches are as wonderful to work with as these were. 

Just before this last group left the farm, one of our sows (pig-moms) gave birth. Her litter was smaller than normal which means they are extremely well-fed. They look like over-stuffed sausages (mmm, just like our farmer-made brats). They (the piglets, not the sausages) are bouncy, energetic, and playful, despite their rather round shape. This group will grow through the winter and spring months so they’re ready for camp right about the time of spring market season!

feed in barrel with hands

Let’s taco’bout our animal feed

In case we haven’t mentioned it lately, we’re out to save the world, one pig/egg (pigs lay eggs?) [editor’s note: that’s not what I meant] at a time. Hopefully everyone knows that all of our animals are Animal Welfare Approved. Perhaps you know that our ruminants (sheep and goats) are Certified Grass Fed. You might know that we use soy-free, corn-free feeds for our pigs and chickens. But, did you know that our feed mixes are custom made for us to meet our goofy/awesome requirements and are also certified organic? 

Because we have such goofy/awesome requirements, we work closely with two different feed mills. We’re happy that both mills are dedicated to organic products and only make 100% certified organic mixes — it’s hard to overstate how unusual that is. Plenty of mills don’t think they have the market to sustain any organic lines or they’ll run a small organic line alongside their conventional lines. Or they’ll try to split the difference by offering a non-GMO line that isn’t certified organic (one of the mills talks about the difference between organic and non-GMO). 

On its own, feeding organic rations won’t save the world, but it’s not a terrible place to start.

goats on a roof

Nick-gets-a-lot-of-questions FAQ, 4th edition

Ahem, because we’re a pair of delightfully detail-oriented people who run a small business together, we spend a lot of time thinking and discussing how to optimize things. We get a lot of questions about the following topics, so we’re going to do a quick run-through of some BOTL Farm FAQ. Convenient for you, pleasant for us.

Q. Now that summer markets have ended, where can we find you?

A. See the below section called “Find us this month” and we post a weekly schedule on social media and on the front page of our website. Also, we’re doing the Ashford Winter Farmers Market, on-farm markets, and Assawaga is throwing a holiday market

Q. What are your store hours at your farm?

A. Tuesdays noon-2pm and Saturdays 1-3pm every week, all year round.

Q. Tuesday midday is a weird time for a store. 

A. That’s not a question, but we came up with it during the midst of the pandemic, when fewer people were going in to work. We’re considering changing it, let us know if you have an idea of a better two-hour window.

Q. You have very few store hours each week and that doesn’t work for me. How can I pick up my order at a time convenient for me?

A.  We now offer self-serve pickups every day from 8:30am to 8pm. Place an order through our online store, select self-serve pickup, and we’ll put your order out for you to pickup. [Note: the order cutoff time is 6pm the day before pickup.] [Second note: we will not be there to meet you.]

Q. How do I know what you have in stock? Where can I find prices?

A. Each week we post on social media our current menu of items available with prices. It’s also on the front page of our website. Our online store also reflects what’s in stock and has prices.

Q. Great! I’m so excited to get some stuff. What’s the easiest way for me to order?

A. Our online store. You can place an order for any of our markets. Payment can be made online or in person when you pick up. Pre-ordering for our markets really helps us know what to bring. 

If you want even more of your BOTL Farm questions answered, don’t worry, we’re here for you. We have another extended FAQ on our website!

chickens in grass

New Country Organics animal feed

We don’t have any newsworthy updates on NCO, so we thought we’d continue to wow you with our knowledge, not only of our own online ordering system, but of raising chickens. 

Let’s talk about grit. Chickens don’t have teeth, they have rocks in their bellies (ok really their gizzard). The best rock types are insoluble and are usually granite. We’ve always provided free-choice grit to our chickens, but we had an epiphany about grit size vs. bird age early on in our chicken-raising career.  

We knew that younger chickens need smaller grit particles than older chickens. This is because the gizzards of young chickens are not fully developed and they need smaller grit particles to grind up their food effectively. As chickens get older, their gizzards become stronger and they can handle larger grit particles.

We used to follow the ‘normal’ schedule for grit: starter grit for chicks under 4 weeks old, grower grit between 4 and 16 weeks old, and layer grit over 16 weeks old. But, we realized you should feed the largest grit size they will consume. This means we offer two grit sizes when they’re near a change. We also provide our adult laying hens with oyster shell (soluble grit) for calcium.

Birds who have appropriate-sized grit are more efficient on feed and might lay more eggs. We recommend that folks provide their birds with the largest size grit they will consume. It’s a small change that can make a big difference in their health and well-being.

assawaga party

Find us this month

On farm storeTuesdays noon – 2pm, Saturdays 1 – 3pm.  Pre-orderNote Saturday December 9 our on farm store is canceled. Come to Assawaga Holiday Market instead.

On farm self pickupEveryday 8:30am – 8pmPre-order only

Assawaga holiday market: Saturday December 9 from 11am – 3pm. Get ready for a good time, they’ll have excellent vendors, food, music, and a taco truck! Pre-order and more info

Ashford winter farmers market: December through March, 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month from 10am – 12:30pm. We’ll be there the first market and then each 3rd Sunday. Days we’ll be there in December: December 3, December 17. Pre-order

Sturbridge monthly drop off: pre-order only Saturday December 11 from 11am – 1pm at Sturbridge Coffee House. Pre-order

Lunenburg monthly drop off: pre-order only Sunday December 12 from noon – 3pm at Stillman’s Farm Stand. Pre-order

It’s too many numbers! Save me!

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Page Last Updated on 2024-02-28

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