Information About the Farm
Brown Boar Farm is nestled in a small Vermont town with farming roots that go back to the 1770's (current population: approximately 1000). The town of Wells borders New York state to the west and rises eastward from the shores of the five-mile long glacial Lake St. Catherine, to the foothills paralleling the edge of the majestic Green Mountains. The main Brown Boar Farm property is 106+ acres located almost 500 feet above sea level. Our farm benefits from the natural rain runoff coming down the valley, and from the ample southern exposure. We also enjoy the refreshing summer breezes being channeled upward in the scenic valley that was created eons ago by the uplifting of the mountains to the west beside the lake, and the mountains to the east beside the modern-day town of Danby. In addition to our main location, we also maintain several satellite pastures under cultivation near our farm that had been left fallow by long retired farmers.
One of our first priorities at Brown Boar Farm was to construct a permanent bridge with thirty-foot long steel girders across a year-round running stream. This heavy-duty span, capable of carrying 250,000 pounds per axle, was necessary to provide full access to the entire property. Selective logging followed, helping to reclaim two five-acre pastures and to provide timbers to help us erect and complete buildings using traditional "post and beam" construction with the goal of complementing the landscape in timeless architecture dating back to the settling of East Wells. We also created and reopened trails throughout the property.
The pastureland to the east of the stream was first used to raise vegetables for a successful CSA venture (Community Supported Agriculture). However, we quickly grew to admire the Tamworths we had purchased to help clear overgrown and unused pastures in an environmentally friendly way. After observing how happy and satisfied the Tamworths were when allowed to do what they love - forage in an open and safe environment – we decided to refocus our efforts and began expanding the herd that now lives on the farm. Berkshire pigs are being added to offer a delicious red meat pork alternative to complement the lean meat of the Tamworths.
Today at Brown Boar Farm, our commitment to preservation and humane, environmentally friendly animal practices carries over into all that we do. Our pigs are grouped in a way that allows for maximum cleanliness and their paddocks are kept well away from any running streams in order to protect the local water supply. All of our pigs have access to shelter, but being hardy, they prefer the outdoors and are never constrained in any way from being outside. They are free to give birth naturally, and never give birth in confining farrowing cages. They are free to give birth indoors in a farrowing house in deep straw, or outside under the shelter of fallen trees with a nest of leaves they instinctively pile up for their birthing. Litters are raised in communal groups where the young pigs can socialize and frolic with their peers between feedings.
Our interest in heritage beef has followed our interest in heritage pork. After careful research, we identified the cattle varieties that we feel will thrive in the Vermont climate on an all grass diet. Please be patient while we build our herd – we realize we may not be able to provide you with the beef products you seek right now, but we promise it will be worth the wait! Our focus for the short-term has been to use our cattle to fulfill an important role in the paddock rotation of our pigs. Pigs are foragers, and act like efficient roto-tillers, turning over the soil and chewing the roots of plants and tree stumps in their path. Cows are grazers, cutting off grass above the roots, allowing the grass to grow back over and over again. However, when land never sees crop rotation, the grass can grow tired and lose important nutrients needed by the animals to grow naturally. If the grass is not kept in top condition, meat can be tough and unappealing. In a whole farm approach the pigs and cows complement each other. First, the pigs roto-till the land, turning old grass and other vegetation into the soil as compost. Once the soil of a paddock has been turned over by the pigs, the pigs are moved onward to another paddock and the composted paddock is reseeded with a variety of cool and warm weather grasses, legumes, and annuals, depending on the season. The cows follow the reseedings for grazing, furthering the soil building process by adding manure, while nourishing themselves on a healthy vegetarian diet of fresh nutrients. Chickens are moved in portable houses alongside the cows to eat any fly larvae left in the fresh cow manure, which keeps the fly population down without the use of chemicals.
Not all of our animal feeding vegetation requires flat open fields to grow. Our farm is over 80% forest with tree-covered hills and ridgelines. Forest grass and other vegetation will grow in the woods when the woodland is properly maintained and the pigs frequently turn over the forest floor as compost and to allow re-seeding. Tractors and other heavy equipment play an important role on our farm, and we are not opposed to using mechanized help when appropriate. However, tractors are of little use for cultivation in the forest and we are opposed to cutting down trees to expand our paddocks when it is not necessary to do so. We have been carefully weeding out unhealthy and dead trees from the forest and planting new growth with a variety of nut producing hardwood trees - nuts being a favorite snack and source of nutrition for the pigs. What helps make this style of sustainable farming work in an efficient way is a well designed fencing plan and several strategically placed deep-drilled wells and water hydrants for easy access to fresh mountain water. High tensile fencing is utilized on the property perimeter to keep the free-ranging animals contained on the property and in the major paddock areas. Soft-wire and portable gates are used inside the paddocks to temporarily subdivide paddocks into dozens of smaller areas to
allow easy and frequent animal rotation. All of the electric fencing on the farm utilizes solar chargers to have zero impact on the farms electrical use. New England is famous for its thousands of miles of stone walls. The woods of Brown Boar farm are no exception and the forest still contains many examples of these timeless stone testaments to the early American farmer's hard work. We have been carefully restoring and extending these walls with lots of new material coming continuously out of our reclaimed pastures. We will also utilize the tons of natural stone we have harvested to build an all stone "sugaring house" this fall. We are fortunate to have a sugarbush stand of hundreds of sugar maples on the east-facing ridgeside, and look forward to the days when we will be participating in this long-standing Vermont tradition. The maple syrup we will produce will be an important ingredient in our farm made BBQ sauce, and will also be available on its own as Vermont pure maple syrup.
Starting a new specialty farm in today's age of modern agribusiness has been a challenging and a capital intense undertaking. However, the response from consumers and restaurants to our products has been gratifying and it encourages us to go further. We have learned that we can compete successfully with factory farms by providing our customers with personalized and friendly service and a good variety of healthy meats and vegetables that are difficult to find elsewhere. Increasingly we hear that our customers want to know where their food came from and how it was produced. They also want to know that the producer has done everything they could to raise animals in a humane way, and that the producer respects the environment enough to protect the land and our streams for our future generations. We welcome their scrutiny. We are proud of our efforts to be a sustainable farm and the work that we do to help preserve rare plants and animals for future generations. Our customers tell us they appreciate our willingness to be open and transparent about how we do things and they value the care that we put into every item that we produce. Our style of heritage farming may be more work than modern farming, but it isn't work when you get to do something you love every day. Please feel free to stop by to see us if you are in the area, or check the website from time to time for news from the farm. If you are interested in sampling some of our products prepared by professional chef's, please patronize the fine restaurants linked to our web site in the our customers section. If you care to help the non-profit organizations that are helping to make the move to sustainable agriculture a reality, you may find many of them as links on our affiliates section of our web site. Finally, if you have any suggestions for us about how we could better serve you and your family's need for wholesome all natural food, please write us or give us a call. We would love to hear from you.