Written by Paul on January 3rd, 2015
Permaculture is all about multifunction and managing resources. We have been trying to reduce the exposure of the house to the prevailing winds from the north and west in order to increase our energy conservation. To do this we insulated the foundation wall with 2 inch polystyrene and back filled it. Some backfill was brought in locally but much was generated on site by clearing material that was blocking drainage around the barns and the soil removed from the mulch basin in the front yard. One resource that has been generated by the pigs are stones, the bane of the New England farmer. The pigs dig up rocks incessantly.
The rocks are collected by hand and used to create drainage along the foundation so water does not pool there.
Here the stones are used on the north wall of the front porch so water drains away from the wall and into the mulch basin below.
The stones are covered with a plastic sheet and then a layer of sand. Finally, the sand is covered in wood chips, free from the local municipal dump and contoured to create a swale away from the house that also feeds into the mulch basin.
Previously, most of the water from the roof and around the house was a problem that had to be directed away and into the street. Now it will be used to grow food. Permaculture is all about making use of the resources at hand. Breakneck Hill Farm continues to move not just toward sustainability but positive impact.
Written by Kendall Sweeney on December 5th, 2014
Permaculture is all about structures, plants and animals serving multiple functions. The goal is to integrate each aspect of the farm to create synergy. As fall draws to a close, the newest addition to the permaculture environment is a stone lined culvert.
Before Stone Lined Culvert
After Stone Lined Culvert
Map of Drainage
This was dug and filled with stones tilled from the soil by the pigs. When it rains, or when snow melts, water drains down this culvert into the mulch basin in the front yard. A mulch basin is a pit or trench that is filled with organic materials like leaves, sticks and wood chips. Runoff is collected in it and absorbed into both the soil and the organic material. This both holds the water allowing it to absorb into the ground but also limits evaporation so the moisture is retained long after the runoff stops. By constructing the mulch basin around the blueberry patch, the water will be available to the plants during dry periods. The most exciting part about the drainage system is that the water will carry nutrients from the cow’s winter pasture to the blueberry patch where it can feed both the blueberries and the microorganisms that create healthy soil.
Written by Kendall Sweeney on October 24th, 2014
A new plant we are growing this year is called Comfrey. The word comfrey is Latin in origin and means “to grow together”.
Comfrey is known to be used as a medicinal herb. However, in permaculture its real value is as a mineral accumulator. Comfrey is very high in vitamins and has the ability to extract macro and micro-nutrient minerals from the soil. In some places, its used as the main forage for animals because of its fast growth rate.
Written by rdevlin on October 23rd, 2014
11:30am-Cow Pie Contest
Our most exciting and competitive fund raiser of the year!
Help us purchase winter hay to feed Southborough’s Belted Galloways by buying a square for $20. Enjoy apple cider, treats and cute farm animals as you cheer the cow to drop its brown gold on your winning square
Enjoy the wildlife and beautiful summit views!
Approximately 1 mile of rolling trails. Learn about the history of
the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land, it’s restoration and management. (walking shoes encouraged)
Event to be held at the Community Gardens at the Breakneck Hill
Conservation Land, Breakneck Hill Road
Questions or for more information on the BHCF please visit our
or contact Laurie firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Kendall Sweeney on October 21st, 2014
The pigs are fed a balanced grain ration but also derive much of their food from foraging for acorns and bugs. However, the pigs complete the nutrient cycle by eating garden waste. When vegetables from the garden have insect damage or are over ripe they are given to the pigs. They get a healthy dose of kale, chard, squash, lettuce and especially tomatoes. We arranged their paddock this year so it shares a fence with the garden making it easy to throw the food into where they can get it.
Written by Paul on August 25th, 2014
Southborough Science and Agriculture 4H Club was represented by Ian Bourdon, here driving our oxen Henry and Peter.
Written by Paul on May 21st, 2014
More than a week late Clovelly finally has her calf and its a girl. This is important as the future of the breed is dependent on how many girls there are. Clovelly was bred last August by artificial insemination with semen from a bull collected and sold by the American Milking Devon Association.
Written by Paul on May 8th, 2014
Another trip to Red Hill in Hyner, Pennsylvania produced more outstanding 361 million year old fossils. This trip we thought we were collecting more head plates and it ended up we extracted a foot long cleithrum of the lobe finned Hyneria lindae that must have been about 10 feet long. Hyneria was the top predator in this river ecosystem. Here is Ian is extracting the cleithrum from a ledge we cut into the rock. In addition to the cleithrum we also collected many scales and uncovered a massive jaw which will be be retained by the museum. The site is overseen by the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Science.