Archive for the ‘Farm Life’ Category

Summer Revisited

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Now that the Holiday Season is in full swing, we’re pausing to take a look back at the some of the highlights of Summer 2012.

We started the summer with farmers’ markets and fun events like the Lebanon CoOp’s Dairy Day.  It’s always nice to get out into the community and meet new people.  We’re grateful for your support!

The Fourth of July brought the annual Plainfield Parade and Cow Patty Picnic. After the line of wonderful floats, penny whistlers, classic cars and fire trucks made its way down Main Street, Ben’s calf, Milky Way, obliged the crowd and determined the winner of Cow Patty Bingo in her own special way.  It was a beautiful day filled with community spirit and national pride.

 Where did the time go?



Farmer’s Market Season!

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

It’s that time of year!  Farmer’s Markets are opening for the season and we’re excited to be at three of them.  We will be sampling and selling our fresh artisan cheeses, pure maple syrup and maple roasted nuts. 

Come find us at the Lebanon’s Farmer’s Market on the Green this coming Thursday, May 31st, and starting on Wednesday, June 6th on the Green in Hanover .  You’ll also be able to find our products at the Garfield’s Smokehouse booth at the Newport Market on Fridays starting in June. 

 See you there!

We’re number . . . 199?!?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Sweet, happy calf . . . and man!

Frankly, I’m not quite sure how to take the news I woke up to this morning.  Apparently, dairy farming is ranked (best to worst) number 199 out of 200 jobs to hold or pursue in 2012.

 I’ll admit my initial reaction was a defensive one.  “What criteria is this list based on?  Don’t ‘these people’ know I left a successful, financially secure career to work on a dairy farm less than a year ago?  Don’t ‘they’ know there’s more to life than a big paycheck?”  (My nostrils flared, followed by an indignant sniff.)

 Then, I was sad.  Stereotypes abound about many vocations – but farming is among those that bear the brunt of some of the least flattering.  I’ve heard negative assumptions regarding everything from a farmer’s level of intellect to general state of personal hygiene.  Ouch.  This new ranking – quoted in the Wall Street Journal, no less – will not help to dispel those myths.  (My shoulders slumped, my head lowered, and frustrated tears welled.)

 However, I quickly rallied and the fire in my belly was stoked.   Here’s my opportunity to speak a small piece about how I see farming.  Farming is about the happiness you feel while watching calves hop and buck across the barnyard.  It’s about knowing how to build a barn and repair a broken down tractor (or backhoe or skidsteer . . .).  It’s the satisfaction you feel after receiving perfect scores on inspections done by government and commercial agencies that rate your farm on everything from the health of the herd and the cleanliness of the milkroom, to the handling of milk and personnel safety.  It’s standing at the edge of a newly mown field dotted with round bales and the sweet scent of fresh grass on the breeze.  It’s about the rush you feel after saving a calf’s life, or nursing a sick cow back to health.  It’s greeting your children off the school bus each day.  It’s the sense of deep pride that comes with knowing that what you and your family do every day (cows don’t take a day off . . .ever) creates a comfortable, safe and – I’ll go there – compassionate environment for your animals.  In turn, your charges reward you with companionship, endless yarns to tell friends, and of course, milk. 

A view from our offices

Are there hazards?  Absolutely!  (I only had to blubber my way through Court’s death scene in The Man in the Moon once to have that point driven home many years ago.)  After “I love you,” the last thing I say to Rob when he’s heading out to work is, “Be careful.”  There are dangers, there are risks, but the rewards trump them.  Farming is about keeping a piece of living history; food diversity, safety and availability; and vital rural landscapes alive and thriving. 

I guess it all boils down to this:  I arrived to work this morning to learn that two calves had just been born.  Two bulls, both from the same sire but different dams, one the spitting image of the other.  Perhaps a nice set of “twin” oxen for one of the kids to show at the summer fair.  I’m 199% sure I made the right career – scratch that – life choice.  (My shoulders straighten, my head rises, tears of joy well.)

Field Trip

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

So the kids, my mother and I had some time off and where did we go?  To another farm, of course!  (Rob had to stay behind to boil sap.)

If you are in our area, you must take some time to swing through Woodstock, VT to visit the Billings Farm & Museum.  Lovingly restored to its near-original state, the complex boasts a wonderful maze of historic buildings.  The 1890 Farm House, Ice House, Wagon Barn, Cow and Horse Barns, creamery, chicken coop, and much more transport you back to a time when life was far less automated and work was not only manual, but a way of life.

I was enchanted by the Farm House.  Its vintage cook stove baking fragrant cinnamon and molasses cookies for visitors, its numerous ornate wood or coal stoves, its gas lamp fixtures, antique furniture and bamboo floor coverings.  And the many old photographs that lined the walls and filled albums on the table.  My favorite had to be the pantry.  Oh, what I could stock in there!

We soaked up brief patches of sunlight and dodged intermittent raindrops and snowflakes (this is New England afterall, so the weather obliged by changing every five minutes) and made our way down to the animal barns.  Two massive Milking Short Horn Oxen, Harv and Will, rested comfortably in their stalls until it was their turn in the paddock.  Their handlers came in to exchange them with the farm’s two Belgian Draft horses, Tom and Jerry.  The Beligans were impressive, but I have to admit, my mouth dropped when I saw the mass and height of Harv and Will when they stood.  It was as if two buffalo were standing an arm’s length away from us!  And we’re used to seeing big animals around these parts . . . amazing and humbling.

Billings milks Jersey cows, so we stopped by the nursery to see some of the newest additions to the herd.  The bull calf pictured here is just about a week old.  Get a load of those soft eyes and that wet nose!  Jerseys sure are sweet.

The kids left, full of ideas about what we could do at our farm.  We’ll do our best to keep up with them!


Time to Visit a New Hampshire Dairy Farm!

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

It’s always great fun to see the reactions of those who are meeting a calf for the first time, as well as those who grew up on a farm and are rediscovering the joy of farm life.

A recent visitor reached out to us to share her experience and a photo:

“Last Sunday my husband and grandson visited the friendly cows at Taylor Farm.  The title of the attached could be “Getting to Know You”!    Thank you all for a great first visit!   BW”

We welcome visitors during all seasons, and we encourage you to visit a New Hampshire dairy farm!  Check out our hours on Facebook or contact us for more information.

Planning for Harvest

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

I just put in my order for seeds. 

I’m in the thick of planning this summer’s garden and got a crash course in crop rotation and building asparagus beds thanks to avid gardener bloggers.  I grew up with a vegetable garden in the backyard, but have never really paid much attention to the art of gardening.  Weather permitting, I’ve always had great luck with my vegetable gardens over the years.  A bumper crop of winter squash, as well as carrots, bush beans, tomatoes, and cukes that seemed to like what I had pulled together for them (Taylor Brothers Farm composted manure doesn’t hurt!).  But at the end of last season, I was bitten by the “canning bug.”  That makes planning this year’s garden a whole other thing.

A few varieties of tomatoes, slicing and pickling cukes, more carrots than last year (they stay nice and crisp when pickled).  And then there’s the chest freezer to fill:  shell peas, snow peas, green beans and Brussels sprouts for starters.  I’m also going to try my hand at storing onions and garlic.  Plus there’s the fresh salads and sauteed zucchini to enjoy during summer dinners on the patio.  Hopefully the rhubarb will be happy after transplant – my son’s looking forward to strawberry-rhubarb pie.  As for the asparagus, I’ll have to be patient for a couple of years as it establishes itself. 

Now I wait longingly for our local growers to open their greenhouses.  Edgewater Farm is one of my favorite places to go for seedlings, herb plants and annual flowers, and of course strawberries in June.  Then later in the season, I skip up the road to Riverview Farm to pick raspberries, apples and pumpkins.  How is it my mind has already wandered into fall?  Soon enough.  For now, I’ll keep up with the sugaring season and dream of green.

Where’s Winter?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

We’re in the midst of experiencing an unusual winter here at the farm.  When we have precipitation, it’s too warm to be snow, or it melts quickly away.  When it’s cold enough for snow, there’s no moisture in sight.  The plows and shovels are lonely!

In my book, if it’s going to be winter, there had better be snow.  Not just because it’s pretty to look at and the kids and animals love to play in it, but it also serves practical purposes as well.  A nice layer insulates the ground, moderating its temperature, preventing the frost from going too deep or melting too quickly.  It also protects the earth from drying winds.  Cold, dry ground brings with it sufficient concern that our maple season will be significantly impacted and sap production will be too early or stunted.  We’re tapping this week and into next . . . let’s hope the weather cooperates.

Our local ski areas have suffered, as well.  Fortunately, the cold has lasted long enough at times for snow making, so all is not lost.  But it has been nothing like the last few seasons – we had more snow than we knew what to do with then.  This year, we’ve missed 3 out of 5 ski program sessions due to lack of snow or poor weather.  People are getting restless!

Regardless of the weather, we’re on task and hopeful for a good crop.  In that vein, mark you calendars:  Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25 is Maple Open House Weekend in New Hampshire.  Stop in to see us!

Farming in Winter

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Wood for the fire

While the snow was slow to arrive (just this morning), the rest of winter is here!  Our temperatures have reached some unseasonably warm heights, but we’ve also seen 8 degrees below zero.  That’s cold!  And the absence of a thick, insulating blanket of snow can complicate matters.

To combat the frigid temps, we’ve outfitted the farm to make it more hospitable for man and beast.  Our wood furnaces and stoves that heat our homes and outbuildings are stoked, so maintaining the wood supply is a priority.  Our new firewood processing unit has made it much easier this year, giving our chainsaws and backs a rest.  Places such as our milk house and parlor that are kept warm from the ambient heat of compressors working to chill our milk, are now supplemented with heaters.  Lined work boots and gloves, and thick, quilted coveralls (think adult-sized snowsuits!) are the order of the day, especially while doing chores during the darker hours of morning and evening when the cold is raw and the wind can bite.


Cows kept snug amidst a sea of snow

The animals also receive special attention.  We’ve erected wind breaks on the open barns to reduce the chill.  Food rations – especially hay and nutrient-rich corn silage – are upped to compensate for their increased caloric intake needs during the colder months.  You’d be surprised how much energy it takes just to stay warm, let alone produce milk!  Calves are outfitted with blankets and nestled snug in their specially designed “igloo” hutches in our covered nursery.

The cold can do a number on our equipment, as well.  Specially formulated diesel fuel is used to help prevent gelling.  Our skid steers and bucket tractor used during the daily chore routines are stored in our shop.  The 50 degree heat in there helps keep the engines warm, the fuel fluid, and the battery happy.  Other equipment such as our larger tractors, corn truck and backhoe are kept under cover with engine block heaters plugged in.  Watering equipment likes to freeze, so heaters are installed and closely monitored.  There’s nothing worse than battling a frozen waterer in frigid temperatures!  Ferrying buckets of water to thirsty cows is laborious and takes time away from other things – like making cheese or regular building and grounds maintenance.

It’s a different landscape this time of year, that’s for sure, but beautiful and rewarding in its own way. 


Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 1st, 2012


Season's Greetings!

I apologize for the silence of the past few weeks.  But I have two good excuses!

First, our family took a much needed vacation to Florida.  The escape to warm temperatures and green foliage was a welcome one and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  Adults and children alike can attest to the magic of Walt Disney World!

Then it was home to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, which for us, brings a very busy time for the Sugarhouse and Creamery.  As I’m new to this side of the business, much of my time was spent learning more of the proverbial ropes, filling orders, and just plain keeping up.  Time in front of the computer was fleeting to non-existent.  It was well worth it, but my updates fell by the wayside.

Now the new year tolls and I’m ready to roll.  I resolve to not fall victim to the languishing blog!  More importantly, I wish you a 2012 filled with all things joyous.


To market, to market to buy a fat pig…

Monday, September 19th, 2011

To market, to market to buy a fat pig…

Well, in my case, to sell cheese, and maple syrup, peanuts and candy! Though, at one market, the vendor to our left does sell meat pigs and rabbits. That’s the wonder and beauty of farmer’s markets. There’s no limit to what you will find when you arrive, and all of it is handcrafted, baked, cooked, or raised by the very people who sell it.

A relative newbie to the farmer’s market scene, I was like the proverbial kid in the candy shop the first few times I went. I was more than eager to support my fellow vendors. I scarfed up goat’s milk body butter, red and white New Hampshire made wine, grass-fed Highland beef, a hosta for one of my flower beds, a loaf of parmesan herb bread, dilly beans, fresh mint, a buckwheat crepe stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions and grape tomatoes, a pint of chocolate frozen yogurt, fresh squeezed lemonade and kettle corn. Each time, I stopped only when my allotted cash ran out. I had to leave behind salsa, a necklace, a woolen hat, free-range chicken, farm-raised elk, treats for the farm dogs, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, hydrangeas, petunias, eggs, and more canned chutneys, relishes, jams and jellies than I can list here. Only the promise of a return trip this week eases the pain. I sense a habit forming!

If you have the opportunity to visit a farmer’s market, GO! And though I would encourage you to support the vendors by buying their goods (it keeps us in business!), even if you just go to soak in the ambiance, pet the roaming donkey on a lead rope (yes, there is one where we frequent!), or listen to the live musicians scat about what’s happening in the crowd, it’s worth the trip. Squint, and you can imagine you’ve traveled back to a time when we saw where our food came from, who made it, and bartered our own goods or services to get it.


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About Taylor Brothers Farm

The Story of Our Farm

In 1970, Steve and Gretchen Taylor started Taylor Farm so that their sons Jim, Bill and Rob - The Taylor Brothers - could grow up as Steve had, on a small New Hampshire farm. Not only was Steve's father, Lawrence, a popular high school History teacher and scholar... Read More