All the pictures posted here are from the past 12 months. We love the chance this time of year to look back and digest the last 12 months a little. We have tried to create a post below that visually represents 2013 and provides some context and commentary between the images. Thanks to this great community and all who participate in Two Coves Farm!
Not sure where we would be without our Clover. She kicked off the new year with her second calf born here, a heifer we named Clementine. Throughout her lactation this year she has remained a glowing, healthy, steady specimen of grass fed glory. Needless to say we love Clover, her milk, her ways. The coming year will see another calf (due in June) and will also see her last, Clementine, get to breeding age and starting her journey into Mama Cowhood.
Without our dauntless and careful crew of milkers we would certainly have encountered some problems. So thanks to Clare, Kate, Alisha, and Laura (their fearless leader). Process, cleanliness, and records are second only to consistency when milking a cow, hats off to the crew for their dutiful care of our family cow in 2013.
We have bottled 11,305 pounds of Clovers milk since she had her calf January 2nd. That is a total of 1413 gallons of milk for our family and farm, not to mention the milk and colostrum she produced to grow her beautiful offspring. We have no way to tally that!! Biggest months were May and June at 1103 and 1105 lbs respectively. She produced 44 lbs of milk on about a half dozen different days... about 5 gallons. She was between 40 and 44 lbs of milk on over 35 other days in 2013. Thanks Clover!
Not sure what I can say about these black and white dogs. I know I could never ask for better dogs; their dedication, courage, and desire to please are beyond compare or description.
The highlight of our year together is most certainly our demo, fair, and festival season. We "performed" at 5 demos here at the farm and took our show on the road to 10 other locations doing three shows a day for one to two days at each of those fairs or festivals. Sharing the work the dogs do is almost as good as having them help get the real work done here.
I think 2014 will see Two Coves take on another Border Collie puppy.
Our guardian girl, Tess, just turned two years old. She continues to be a presence here on the farm and she continues to make progress knowing her job and minding her manners. I will not try to hide the fact that Tess has been a big challenge for us, getting to know her instincts, her body language, and thoughts has pushed us all. However, throughout she remains a dedicated, eager to please, sweet and beautiful animal.
This past season's summer camps were fantastic. With a dedicated staff person in Clare and a home base away from the driveway and store we feel like camps are now manageable and sustainable. So much is added to this place and to the work that goes on by having the kids come. May it never end!! Their art and creations are everywhere reminding us how important it is to bring the farm and the young people together.
We ran 4 camps this past year serving 3 different age groups and close to 60 kids!!
Pork was a big focus in 2013. We got an offer last fall for 7 piglets at a great price. I had reservations about taking 7 pigs into the winter but it worked out great. All told we sent 13 pigs off to market in 2013. I think we could have probably sold at least a half dozen more. Pork is very popular and we have not really made any effort yet to reach out to restaurants.
The trick with pigs that you will be raising on pasture is to find the pasture. We have been lucky to have offers from local folks to "foster home" our pigs this past year. We did raise 7 here but raised the following 6, which were processed this fall, plus the 6 we have now at a local property a bit further down the road. We also have an offer for a similar arrangement come spring. If you let pigs do their thing they need space and soil to root in, we have struggled here to come up with areas to manage that. At any rate, we love raising pigs and love having great pork to eat and sell.
I'm not sure it gets any better than cows on pasture. What a treat! We sent 12 beef to market this year and hope to do the same next year. Between our store and your freezers that amounts to roughly 3600 lbs of frozen cuts and ground beef produced here at Two Coves. At our peak "occupancy" we had 16 beef cows grazing this farm and other local pastures nearby. Generally you figure a cow on pasture will eat 3% of its body weight per day. We estimate that when the spring grass was flooding out of the pastures our herd was consuming close to 400 lbs of forage daily, that's 12,000 lbs over 30 days. Lots of forage for sure.
Speaking of forage... we had Seth from Crystal Spring Community Farm in Brunswick come and make us some large bales this year. We went out and cut the hay, our gorgeous second crop, and then Seth came over to bale it. Once the bales were made we wrapped them to create a fermented feed called silage. The cows love it, they have plowed through the lovely marshmellow bales and are now back to boring old dry hay, but it was great while it lasted.
We felt very good this past year about our lambs and the health of our sheep in general. We raised 50 lambs this year, we only had 28 here at Two Coves. The other 22 were purchased as just weaned lambs from other farmers who raise using similar methods and feed. We then raise those lambs for the remainder of the growing season and do the best we can to get them up to a decent weight. The lambs that we had born here really did terrific. Our average weight was up from a year ago and we had no significant health or parasite problems. When you raise lambs that is about all you can ask for!
We also retained 5 of our best little ewe lambs, taking our breeding group up to 25 now. Our goal is to produce 50 of our own lambs each season, eventually doing away with the need to purchase any from other farms.
Well there are lots of things that come to mind when I consider our family and 2013. We had a great year. Foremost in my mind as I write this is the fact that it would appear our homeschool days are over. Yvette started at the new charter school in September, Harpswell Coastal Academy. All fall we were aware that a profound shift had occurred. The dynamic at home was different, the challenges seemed more significant and harder to overcome. Laura and I have struggled mightily to run the farm and homeschool at the same time... one certainly adds to the other, but there have been serious conflicts as well. Yvette going off to school seemed to open the flood gates to other changes. As I sit here today it is the second day the house has been empty and quiet... Joepye and Muriel began attending the local elementary school after the holiday break. While we are somewhat disoriented, we are also thrilled that they are excited and enthusiastic. Hard for us to not also be excited... 6 hours a day to plan and accomplish the work of running this house and farm!! As Joepye would say: "Wow, just wow".