In June of this year, these adorable tiny Berkshire piglets arrived at Sidehill Farm, and took up residence in 4 acres of brushy woods beyond the pastures. They spent their days rooting, playing pig games, and foraging for wild berries and mushrooms. Now, after 4 months of a diet of wild foods, yogurt, colostrum, whey from our Schoolhouse Cheddar, and certified organic grain, they are nearly 250 pounds each! Just this morning, we bid them goodbye, and they headed off to become delicious Wild Forest Pork. We are sad to see them go - we love their antics! - but they are going to be SO TASTY when they come back as bacon and sausage! Keep an eye out in the farm shop in the next couple of weeks!
We are incredibly honored to have been named the winner of the 2015 Green Pastures Award!
Begun in 1947 as a challenge over pasture management among the six New England governors, the award is presented by the agricultural colleges in each of the six states at the annual Eastern States Exposition to honor an outstanding dairy family for overall management and their contribution to the region's agricultural community.
It is very satisfying to be recognized for all the time and effort we put into managing our dairy well, and for the commitment we have made to our local community. We always strive for quality, and we're glad it shows. We confess we're a little bit proud! Thank you so much for all your loyalty and support - it has made all the extra effort and energy worthwhile!
Normande Genetics is having a Field Day at Sidehill Farm Yogurt on Wednesday May 13, in Hawley, Massachusetts, 11 am to 3 pm. We hope many of you in the Northeast or further away can make it. Side Hill Farm has been breeding Normande for 10 years and use the breed for its milk and beef qualities, as they produce yogurts and sell meat as well. It's a wonderful illustration of the breed's direct marketing and added value potential. There will be many Normande enthusiasts to meet. Come and mingle. To RSVP, contact Jerome Chateau at Normande Genetics: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, we are expanding, and need more fun, talented, dedicated people to join our team. We are looking for people who believe in the work we do here, are always looking to improve, like to work as part of a respectful and supportive team, and like to laugh and have fun. Take a look at our job descriptions here, and see if any of these fit you, or anyone you know!
Here in Hawley, winter is full upon us.
Snow has fallen and drifted, and receded and fallen again, but the ground has been covered for weeks now. The skis have come down from storage, and trails have been broken and drifted in a dozen times already. The cows are all tucked into the warm barn, sheltered from the wind, and snuggled into clean dry bedding. The half the herd expecting calves in February is drying up their milk to put energy into growing their babies, and with fewer animals in the parlor, we are only milking once a day. The giant snow push and snow blower are mounted on tractors, ready for the call. The barn lights glow gold and soft at night as we do the evening chores.
As much as we love the summer here - that brilliant and airy season of waving grass and swooping birds - it is the winter that reveals the true nature of this ridgetop. The wind strips life down to it's essence - field, drift, cloud, sky. The light is searchingly clear. The cold is purified and clean, sometimes brutally so. And while most work shifts inside this time of year, there are still chores that must happen outside every day. To work outside on those days when nature is exercising her fury is often electric in it's dangers, always humbling in it's honesty. In some ways, winter leaves no space for humans here - to survive is to yield up your self - to become one with the wind, to be the weather itself. But just when you are feeling that all this purification, this raw cathartic truth is nearly too much, there is the beauty. There are days of stillness and sparkling clarity. Sunlight on blowing snow, moon on fallen snow. The alchemy of wind and water glazes and illuminates every twig and needle in endlessly changing forms of crystal and flake and curve. And it is the fact that this beauty forms and unforms regardless of whether humans are here to have their breaths taken away that is both the redemption, and perhaps the most humbling revelation of all.
And so it is with these thoughts that we enter this holiday season, these celebrations of miracles and hope. We place candles in the windows, because it seems the ancient promise of guidance to warm sanctuary just might still be needed by some traveller. We all linger a little longer at the end of the workday, savoring warmth and the company of our companions and coworkers before venturing out into the dark. And then, we do go outside, again and again, because it is always beautiful here, whether we have the fortitude to witness it or not.
Blessings to you and your families in this holiday season,
Amy, for Paul, Cecilia, Sean, Craig, Hansen, Stella, Faye, and Phil, and all the girls who make the milk.
Even up here in Hawley, we are really beginning to believe that it is spring!
The crocuses are up and blooming, and the daffodils are not far behind. The massive snowbanks - even the one that crashed off the barn roof, blasting open the door and filling the milking parlor with snow and burying it up to the roof, have faded into trickling streams of water. The ice is off the pond. The peepers have returned to the swamp. The cows know that pasture is coming soon - they can smell the impending green in the same way we can see those slight shifts of light and hue that tell us the grass is really going to grow again this year. They can smell it, and by the gazes of longing out the barn windows, we suspect a plot afoot for an escape... Just a couple weeks girls - there's nothing out there to eat yet!
We are approaching the close of our first full year at the farm in Hawley, and to celebrate, we decided it was time to update the website!
The new site is much more dynamic - we can change photos to show you the newest and cutest calves, the glorious long evening light during haying, the latest shenanigans the cows have been up to. Some of the text is the same - we are the same old Sidehill farm after all - and we still feel the way we always have about health, and natural systems, and stewardship of the land. But now we have pages that introduce the personalities that make up our fabulous Team Sidehill, that explain the history of the farm, that share the absurdities of living with cows, and that help you easily find places to buy yogurt!
And photos! We think this farm is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and now we can share lots of photos of all those gorgeous moments of light and color we come across nearly every day. We think the new site accurately captures the spirit of what goes on here - lots of projects, lots of energy, lots of teamwork, all surrounded by this amazingly beautiful slice of glorious grass and endless sky. We are truly blessed, and we want to share it with you!
So take a little time to explore this site - and hopefully it will inspire you to come up and visit!