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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Project 365 Fencing ends

The high school fencing season is over now, who knows how much work I will get done. We started in October so it has been a while since I have had weekday afternoons off. I will certainly miss the team and the kids, greatest experience I have had. Becoming a Coach has been very rewarding. Our end of season banquet is about a week away.

In this picture the gals are rooting for acorns, they LOVE their new pasture.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Project 365 feed bins

Sure am getting tired of transporting grain this way/ If I only had a GOOD road that could be accessed year round I could have a hopper cart to get to my many pig paddocks. Then if I only had a new well and water spigots I wouldn't have to worry about falling on the icy truck bed in the winter, if only the USDA would see the difference between pig and cow pasture, angus and highlanders, acorns and concrete...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Project 365 USDA still doesn't seem to get it

This pig gets it though, she knows that having pigs in forest land is good for her, good for the forest and good for business. Here is a letter that will go out on friday.
To: Javier Cruz - District Conservationist From: Craig L. Floyd
USDA-NRCS Footsteps Farm LLC
238 West Town Street 55 Laurence Eleanor StNorwich, CT 06360 Stonington, Ct 06378

Subject: EQIP program for establishing paddock fences in woodland

February 26, 2009
Mr. Cruz et al:

This is to request a waiver from the normal definition of graze able pasture to include woodland for grazing pastured pigs.

Background: Having reestablished one of Connecticut’s oldest farms, we are expanding our production to enable us to raise more pigs on acorns.
Starting five years ago with dense overgrown pastures we have along with our Scottish Highland Cattle and Tamworth hogs cleared about 15 acres back to the way it was when my Grandfather quit farming in the 60’s.
A trip to our extensive web site: will acquaint you with our growth and progress.
2 years ago we acquired a Ct Dept of Ag grant to expand our pastures into the wood lots to enlarge our MIG system and allow more rotation of pigs under the Oaks, Hickory trees and Maples.

In the past 5 years of farming besides obtaining the grant from the Ct Dept of Ag to expand our pastures in to the woodlots. We have bought hog huts, built feed bins, put in a “road”, and expandd our pastured chicken operation. We have cleared land, put in miles of fence, attended farm markets, been a featured speaker as a National Conference and increased our herd.We have been busy.

Having just returned from a national seminar on Pastured Pork I have planned for the long term rearing of pastured pork with a ultimate goal of marketing Spanish or “Jamón de Bellota” hams which sell for upwards to $4,000.00 each. Here is a small clip:
“The hams come from free range Iberian pigs that roam around freely. They are fed with nothing but acorns from old oak trees (Iberico de Bellota). The legs are then "salted" and cured for up to a total of 3 years before its sold in the market. Jabugo hams are longer and slightly thinner than the regular Jamon Serrano, the hoof is black and are known to have a high quantity of fat marbling which gives this the excellent taste. “

Our pork is in high demand with people waiting up to a year for a order to be filled. We get $8.75 a pound for hotdogs and sell cuts averaging $8.00 per pound. Ct public radio’s Food Smooze’s Faith Middleton features us often and we have been covered by most every major media in Ct, the Ny times etc. On our web site under “what others say” is both a Ch 61 media story done on us and a audio of The Food Smooze interview I did.
Our plan is to fence in more wood lot, these lots were hayed just 40 years ago and now we want to bring them back into producing the finest pork available.
Our acreage is would be divided into ½ acre paddocks with electric fence, a feeder set in with 1,000 pounds of grain. Regardless of the stocking rate when the 1,000 pounds of grain is gone the pigs are moved. Ideally each pig visits each paddock 2 ½ times in 300 days. This assures against over compaction and allows ample re-growth of grasses, providing a “Savanna” forest as we had prior to being colonized in the 1600’s.
This rotation system allows for better manure distribution/utilization - control ofunderstory invasive species from the grazing/browsing habits of ScottishHighland cattle and the Tamworth hogs, and fattens the pigs with desirable fat and superior taste from the acorns.
Currently we have ample acreage for our plan but lack fence line, water line and serviceable roads during the wet season. Our home well is taxed to the limit with our current number of water containers. With an increase of hogs from 20 to 200 in the spring, summer and fall months, we need a new well with solar power, pump and lines to the many different paddocks.
Pigs in the wooded area also provides disturbance of the woods which benefits the trees. As you must know woods require disturbance and if properly stocked, properly rotated and managed this system is a win win for the forest, the pigs and the farmer not to mention the foodies.
Styled after Joel Salatin’s Polyface farm our farm is a leader in Ct. With your help and your understanding that what we are doing is not a normal grazing system but one far better for all concerned we can benefit each entity involved in our expansion.
Before your final decision is made I would ask you to personally visit our farm to see our operation. Only by walking our pastures can you understand the full impact of your yea/nay.
Craig L. Floyd
CC: Joe Neafsey Tim Pindell - Soil ConservationistUSDA-NRCS
344 MerrowRoad YanticRiverPlazaSuiuteA 238 West Town Street
Tolland, CT 06084-3917 Norwich, CT 06360

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Project 365 worken them acorns

The pigs in the umbrella tree lot are doing great, you can actually SEE the weight gain. Just brought them more whey today and they are really after those acorns.



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Project 365 bad hay

You know the hay isn't all that good when they do this. Our one sheep had her head buried into the hole. The cows won't touch it.
Been pricing feeders and trying to decide on Sioux Steel round pig feeder or another Smidley feeder that is short and feeds both sides, HUGE difference in price and teh Smidley Lady is giving me 25% off.....hummmmmmmmmmmmmm

Wish I knew how to run my scanner so I could scan my master plan for all to see.

Some other things in the works: Fiddle heads has invited us to participate in their market with pork and chicken, we will take them up on that as soon as pasture greens up and birds fatten up.

The Old Mystic General Store is also interested in carrying our hot dogs. The store has been the focal point of town since the mid 1700's, realatives owned it for years. I used to go down the hill after haying and get lots of soda and candy, so there is lots of good memories there. Be kinda neat to have some product sold out of there.



Monday, February 23, 2009

Project 365 USDA Visit

I met with Bill from the USDA office today he came out with his boss and we walked the property, I showed them my master plan, they wrote and talked, asked questions and explained things.

Sounds promising but I won't hold my breath. Bill called later in the day and they have a team coming from UCONN on thursday to do some more looing around, writing down and figuring out.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Project 365 Berkshires

It seems that my bank has a line of credit for me...hopefully we can use that to get a couple more Large Blacks and 2 Bershire cows

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Project 365 Hauling water

I sure am getting tired of hauling water to all my pastures, especially in the winter. By the time I get the truck to the water container site in any one of the pastures the water which has spilled in the truck has now frozen making footing very slippery.

Maybe the Equp project will solve some of this issue for me.



Friday, February 20, 2009

Project 365 Pigs are in

Well the pigs are in teh new paddock just full of acorns, I must admit that I am a bit concerned about having them so far from the house but Joel Salatin does it in VA so I should be able to do it here.

BTW the piggies were VERY happy to get in here.



Thursday, February 19, 2009

Project 365 Salatin says

Joel says to make the pigs work and to seperate the feeder, house and water container, here is a picture showing that I did just that

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Project 365 House is in

This is how I move the hog huts and now it is in the new pasture.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Project 365 work to do

This coming week and for the next couple of weeks we will be burning brush pile to make more room for grass etc.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Project 365 mud is coming

This taking pictures every day is a pain in the ass. I guess most people don't farm and understand how much work it is.
This picture was from last year to remind me how much mud is a pain in the ass too.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Project 365 still clearing

Spent most of sunday clearing fence line in the umbrella tree lot. Sure wish spring would come wioth green grass like in the picture

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Project 365 Last high school bout

Sat was our last one for the season. Now we go to ECC and State Individual and State team.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Project 365 lost brochure

Well I have done it now, lost the paperwork I got when at the pastured pork seminar, it still may be in a box in the basement but the basement is so bad you need to have a weapon when you go down there.

This pasture I am working in now is where we play Air soft.

Heres the gang.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Project 365 historical pasture

If you have ever traveled around Connecticut you have seen lots of stone walls in the woods. May people ask, now why do they have stone walls in the woods, the answer is, they wern't woods in 1756, 80% of CT was clearcut. The "Savanna" that was here when the pilgrims landed were wide spread trees and grass growing underneath. The colonists cut the timber for charcol, ships masts and houseing material. In the 1720's the King said no more trees over some 24 inches would be cut so he could have them for ships masts, this is one way to date old houses. So when my ansestors got here on Quoketaug hill they used slave labor, indians and hired help to clear the land of stone and divide it up into PASTURES. So if these LOTS have been pastures since at least 1712 when we settled here why are they not pastures now ???

This picture is of the ox pasture, been called that for hundreds of years, you are looking west towards the house, the spring fed pond is in the front.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Project 365 Not pasture ?

Pig pasture
Highlands like this pasture

Newt loves the pasture

Looks like pasture to me... come on USDA lets get up to 2009 and raising pigs on pasture.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Project 365 clearing fence line

Spent about all day clearing fence line and putting up the gates in the umbrella tree lot. This lot is where my pigs will get to root for their acorns. Hopefully once the tractor is running again I can move some of the heavy brush and then string the wire and out in the pigs. I want them in there for at least a month. Here are some pictures of the lot I am working in.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Project 365 Monday

Been working on my tractor all day and thanks to my good friend Mike we found out that it has a broken fuel pump. I went into town and ordered a new one from RI Harvesting. It should be here on thursday so I can get back to work on pig pastures.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Project 365 Kevin's D

Our youngest son Kevin is a USFA "E" ranked fencer. On sunday we went to the Worcester Fencing club where Kevin had gotten that "E" and he competed all day. He won EVERYTHING. He took home the gold medal and got his "D" ranking. I have never seen him so determined, so tired and so happy.
Congrats to Kevin

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Project 365 Saturday

Sure am tired of the snow

Friday, February 06, 2009

Project 365 Seminar decisions

Over the years I have always shared everything I know with anyone who needed the information. From antiquing leather, to making knife sheaths, flintlock rifles, bags, scrimshaw, sewing 18th century clothes etc.

I even got so upset with one "That's a trade secret" guy that I vowed to learn how to antique leather and then write a book about it. I did and I did.

Now, out of fairness to the 91 people who each payed $550.00 for the Pastured Pork Seminar and payed for hotel rooms, airline tickets, meals ect I have decided to not post all my notes and handouts on my blog. If a local farm has a question I will of course provide the answer but I won't give over the internet a blanet of information which all of us paid for.

I truely belive that those of us who attended the seminar will lead the country in Pastured Pork sales and we will all produce the finest pork ever to grace a dining table.



Thursday, February 05, 2009

Need chicks or pullets

If you need chicks or pullets or poults and you live in CT or RI maybe even Ma you should give Mr. Morris Burr a call: 860-455-9964

He gets 65 cents plus shipping per chick for cornish cross

$7.00 plus shipping per pullet for at least 50

and $8.50 plus shipping for Bourbon Reds.

he also carried lots of other selections so give him a call.

Project 365 ice day

Will the ice EVER go away. Here is some pictures of Laverne and Shirley two Herford/angus mix heifers getting some fresh water and hay.

Yesterday I worked on getting maps drawn up for leasing agreements as required by the USDA.

Then I talked with Mr Morris Burr a guy here in Ct that sells chicks, pullets and poults. Nice guy and his prices are WOW great. I will do a seperate post on him so maybe more folks can order from him.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Project 365 looks like pasture

Above is a pan of my ox pasture, been called ox pasture for a couple of hundred years.
On the bottom of the USDA guys card it says " Helping People Help the Land"
perhaps he needs to insert the word some after "helping"
ANyhow, this sure looks like pasture to me. You see when my Grandfather passed away all this land went back to brush and the trees grew. USDA doesn't know that woodland MUST be disturbed in order to grow and prosper. If they would help me fence in the wood lots that used to be pasture we would develop savanna's like it used to be here in the 1750's and before.
I'll calm down now and wait to see what their final word is on this, but I am loading up getting my infor pile ready and my addresses in line to start a campaign.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Project 365 USDA

Here are some picture of the woodlot pasture during clearing 3 years ago.

Well it seems that the USDA does not recognize woodlots as pig pasture. They don't want to fence in nor run water to these pastures. Had quite a talk with the nice young man who works there.

After he told me that woodlot was not pasture I asked him to define pasture

Land that is graized

Any specfic number of trees that can be in a pasture


What about stone, any number of max squarefootage covered by stone


So what is the issue

We don't want to clear land

You don't have to the pigs will do it for me.


We'll still run water to your grassy pasture and build a indoor facility for the pigs.

The flavor of pork comes from sunshine, exercise and greens

We don't have any problem with pigs being on pasture

You folks ever hear of acorn finished pork

Yes and hickory nut too

That's right, now where do yo think those nuts come from...

Then I sent him a e-mail and thanked him for anything he could do for us and not to take my passion for farming personally but to understand that I would do all that is legally right, morally corrrect etc to change the us DAH's minds, we'll see how this works out. Funny thing is though is that they put fence in the woods in Rhode Island (Ct is not a liberal as RI, .. Oh I thought this was the UNITED STATES DA)

Nother funny things is that I got a Ct Dept of Ag viability grant last year, part of which was to FENCE IN WOOD LOT, build a road to give better access to those lots, but hog huts, build chicken brooders and tractor etc etc.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh Joel Salatin was right.

I'll be nice to this youg Lad and will be greatful for what they CAN do for us, but I will do all I can to change their "one eye open" 1960 mentality that I can.



Farm Grant Journal

February 15th, finally heard from Ron Olsen (grant coordinator from Ct dept of AG) that we can get started, he is still waiting to get the contracts back from the Sec of State…taking entirely too long.

Feb 16th: Called The Barn Store in Salisbury NH to order 6 porta hut for the pigs, 10: 50 gallon water tanks, 3 fence sections to fit on a porta hut, was told they only had 3 huts and would order more in April.

Feb 26th called The Barn store to verify my order, all is set

March 1st, called The Barn store to verify again, all is set to pick up on Sunday the 4th of Mar. But check back to be sure the water tanks come in.

March 2nd: Barn store will only have 5 water tanks

March 4th: Kevin and I drove 3 ¼ hours to the Barn store, they only had five water tanks and two porta hut which were frozen in ice and snow (they got a storm Friday nite) they had to be dug out took about an hour. Jim (the owner) said they “might” order more huts in april. I explained my dissatisfaction over them not having the 3 huts they said they would and that two guys plus Kevin and I had to dig out the huts, they should have all been ready. I told Jim this wasn’t a good way to do business and that his office gal was the one responsible for the error.

Jim’s son is the store manager and he took my name and number and will call me when the huts come in. After my experience with them I will call them and not wait for them to call me. This is the second time I went up there for huts, nice store, they have a nice diner in the store and despite this experience I will still continue to do business with them.

March 5th, called Murray McMurray to find out why we didn’t get out first order of 50 broilers and 50 Delaware chickens, they flat screwed up and didn’t send them, they will send this order plus next weeks order all at once. The brooders are ready but we need to get the new ones built this weekend.

Journal March 25th

As you can see from the before and after picture above we have started to make some changes. We got 2 new Port-a-huts from The Barn Store in Salisbury NH and have set them in the ox pasture, we also moved two that we had that are visible in the distance. Another hut is off camera to the left and I will get a shot of that as it has all the bells and whistles, piglet roller, farrowing bar, and sow fence. This picture also shows where the road will go through.

Our first 150 chicks arrived on March 13th, actually 100 were supposed to arrive the week before but there was some issue at the hatchery. We have lost 4 to date (Mar 25th)

50 Bourbon red turkeys came on the 21st all healthy and active.

Everybody has been real busy here on the farm Jeff has removed the stone wall where the road will go through (Part of the Ct AG Grant)

We have all been working to get the new brooders done and finally finished yesterday, here are some pictures.

All our lumber for the brooders is rough cut pine, the box is about 75” X 60”

The pine boards are 1 X 12 X 12

Used skylights work very well for this purpose.

Kevin got the new brooders all painted.

New chicks are expected in two days so we are certainly ready.

We have also purchased all of the fence stuff we need to fulfill the Ct Ag Grant, now I just have to have time to do it all. Today I plan (after a Granddaughter visit) to fix the fence (a lot is broken and laying down after a miss calculation with the hog trailer last week)

I fixed the fence, this corner was the worst but we had fence down all over the place.

I fixed my old feed box, this is what I go to Manchester with, we get our grain from Central Connecticut Cooperative. I had broken the hinges.

These are all the fencing supplies minus the 4 X 4 Posts. This will fence in another 2 acre pasture in the Ox Pasture which when divided in half by the road will give us two new paddocks.

The Cattle Panel waits to be used for five Chicken Tractors, I will start them this week.

Wood for Chicken tractors awaits….

One more thing that needs to get fixed today, I bought bolts to bolt this all together so maybe just maybe our sows won’t wreck it again.

We moved Perry the boar this past Friday, he is now in a paddock by himself waiting some female visitors, all of our sows are separated, two that have had piglets in one pasture, three that have not yet farrowed in another.

Now before I can watch the NASCAR race I have to fix two leaks in the basement, never a dull moment.

Until next time, cheers and thanks for visiting,


Ct Viability grant update April 12, 2007

Below is a picture taken before working on the area that will house our concrete pad and the three feed storage boxes.

The picture above shows the area now ready to be leveled, have the sod removed and the forms made for the pad.
Below is a picture showing the before of where the road will go through to make more pig pastures.

Below is a picture of the same area, note that the tree is gone, the fence is down, a new fence running into the pasture is visable on the right side of the pasture and the hog huts have been moved. Note also the black step in posts with the orange ribbon marking where the new road will go.

This photo shows that the hog huts have been moved

Expenses to date:

Brooders, includes wood, cords, lights, screws, nails etc: 847.61

Chicken Tractors: wood, wire, nails, screws etc: 978.44

Fencing: 712.17

Hog Houses: 1225.73

Monday, February 02, 2009

Project 365 Grants

Working on some grant material that Patrick gave me, been to the USDA and it sounds promising. Been getting stuff on ebay, still have a housefull to go. If you want to see what I am selling look up farmer 1735.
Talked to a local hatchery today that Patrick suggested and am ordering chicks and pullets and turkeys

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Project 365 Home and at it

WOW what a great seminar.

Thanks to Patrick for his companionship, his knowledge sharing and his information.

Thanks to Joel Salatin for all he gave us especially his blessing.

Thanks to Will Winter for his great presentation and humour.

Thanks to Allen Nation for making it all possible.

90 some people from 31 states and two folks from Canada.

As soon as I got home I started in putting into practice some of what I learned.