Breakneck Hill Farm News

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Cows Future Still Uncertain, Please Attend the Conservation Meeting Apr 2nd, 7PM

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Read Paul’s blog entry here, then find out how you can help Save the Cows!

Thursday night the Cow Fund presented a grazing plan to the Southborough Conservation Commission and Stewardship Committee. The grazing plan was worked out in conjunction with the Conservation Service of the USDA. The Cow Fund plan is not just about producing healthy grass-fed beef but also caring for the land and hopefully saving our children’s future. We are attempting to follow the holistic management system as developed by Allan Savory. Savory has been described by Joel Salatin (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/) of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Inc. as one of the greatest ecologists of our time (Ted Talk). Savory’s system is fairly simple. By feeding the soil life we can not only make resilient soils that can produce healthy food but we can also sequester carbon. The potential is there to globally put Giga tons worth of carbon stably back into the ground. His system relies on using large herbivores to mimic the large herds that built the deep soils of the savannah and the great plains. Plants are grazed and manure is deposited in small areas using modern electrified fencing systems. Then the animals, cows in our case, are moved to the next paddock and the grass just grazed is allowed to fully recover. The process of graze and regrow in addition to the manure, is crucial to feeding the soil micro-organisms. These soil microbes, bacteria and fungi, feed larger invertebrates and they in turn feed the birds and other wildlife. A biologically active soil can hold fertility much more efficiently than chemical fertilizers which are water soluble and will leach and runoff the property ending up polluting waterways.

 

This system only works if plants are allowed to fully recover and that has been the problem from the beginning. The pasture on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land has extremely thin soil, mostly on moderate slopes. When we get dry spells as we have for the past few summers the grass stops growing and in order to not over graze the pasture we feed the cattle hay. The Cow Fund does not have the resources to do this and it sometimes ends up the members finance the purchases. We must maintain a minimum size herd not just because a cow takes 3 years to reach a marketable size but also because the holistic grazing system requires a certain density of herbivore to feed the soil life. The Cow Fund board is unanimous in our position that if we do not have the proper resources to manage the herd correctly we will not continue to keep cattle on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. This is a very difficult decision but we feel it is right and it will certainly not stop us from doing this somewhere else.

Finally, we would like to thank all our long and short time supporters. We have met some great people both here in Southborough and in the greater community.

If you are concerned about the continuation of the cows and agriculture on Breakneck Hill then please consider attending the conservation meeting on April 2nd at 7PM in the Town House. Letters of support can be addressed to the conservation administrator Beth Rosenblum at brosenblum@southboroughma.com

Need more information?  Want to find out more about our plan and how you can help?  Follow this link:  Save the Cows

 

Neptune dumps another foot+

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Cows were dealing with another snow storm. Measured about 42 inches on the ground. Never seen that before.

 

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Juno Dumps about 3 feet of Snow on the Farm

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

The winter has been pretty easy until yesterday. Its weather like this, 11 degreesF, -1 wind chill and 3 feet of snow,  that makes me think of the immortal words of Thomas Paine:

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman”.

One of the Southborough revolutionary war soldier’s died of exposure and starvation at Valley Forge so how bad can this be?

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Middlesex County 4H Fair

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Southborough Science and Agriculture 4H Club was represented by Ian Bourdon, here driving our oxen Henry and Peter. IanOxen2014

Clovelly our Milking Devon Cow has a New Calf

Wednesday, 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 NewDevonMay2014bull collected and sold by the American Milking Devon Association.

Garden Progress

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

The garden beds are being laid out on the contours this year to try and capture the rain runoff. We also trench each bed so we can bury logs and sticks at the bottom. As the wood decomposes, it releases nutrients but it also absorbs water which is then available for the plant roots. Well that is the theory. Of course we use lots of compost in there too.DSCN4042

Pasture is green but still has a way to go before its ready for the cows

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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Piglets are pretty cute. Good thing they don’t stay that way

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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Time to move the compost to the garden

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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All winter we’ve been collecting manure in compost bins and now its time to move it to the garden. We were lucky to have a Track Loader to do the heavy work. Ian is putting his video game skills to use here.

Bad Hair Day

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

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