Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A Vermont Family's Farm - Bosky Dell Farm (VT; 22 acres; Dairy, pigs, poultry, vegetables, honey)

I was put on to Bosky Dell Farm by Mary Barrosse Schwartz, of the Schwartz family whose farm it is. It's an inspirational blog and what I particularly like about it is the co-operative nature of what they are doing, which is very much how my family manages and produces our food here in the Auvergne.
(Only yesterday, for example, I was helping to finish a pigsty for 4 piglets that 5 five families are going to share, buying them in at 30kg and fattening to about 100kg on 'petit lait' and cereal from the dairy/cheese making farm owned by three of the families involved. I'm also going to be doing the milking one morning a week, in return for cheese and fresh milk.)

Bosky Dell Farm House

Mary was kind enough to write, and I'll let her do the talking:

"We decided as a family that even though we had our demanding day jobs, and even though food is plentiful in the local grocery stores, we’d grow our own food, mainly in response to higher prices for lower quality foods. When we tasted the honey from our own hive, we swore we never tasted honey as delicious and fine. Our pork was the best pork ever. Our milk, a creamy ambrosia, each glass a spiritual experience. Potatoes from our dirt tasted like potatoes my grandpa raised – carrots snappier and sweeter – and the corn could be eaten raw because it was so fresh and tender.

We have 22 acres of land behind our home, set in an upscale Vermont village. We treat our neighbors to the milk and eggs, meat and veggies we raise as a way of saying thank you for putting up with the lowing of a mother separated from her just weaned calf, or the smell of manure when we are moving the composting piles around.

We also work with a group of friends that we gradually seduced with home grown roasted chickens and many bottles of wine around our kitchen table to grow a large root cellar garden on another family’s land. We grow pork and chickens with the collective too, and buy produce in bulk from a supplier in the winter. It is a true co-op. We help each other in all ways that have to do with growing food.

We have miniature Irish Dexter cows, which we milk to drink and to make cheeses, and they are sometimes slaughtered for meat. We have laying hens, bee hives, and occasionally piglets running around. We make our own maple syrup by standing around outside in the freezing cold in late winter over a steaming pot of sweet maple sap. It is well worth tapping and hauling the sap, to taste that rich maple flavor.

We preserve much of our own food by canning, freezing and root cellaring. We even preserve the hides from the cows.

Our website discusses the recipes, shows the processes, and features our clan of teenagers and barnyard animals in photos of the garden, farm, and home. We’re learning to do much of what is going into our homestead as we move along – so we have our ups and downs, like all farmers. We share both. One friend said that one month this year was a daily saga akin to the tale of Job. I had forgotten that we had a tough month because you can’t dwell in the past when the cows need to be milked.

I hope people learn from what we learned and share.

I hope more people see and understand that if the Schwartzes in East Dorset, VT can do it, they certainly can raise their own good food too."

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Ian Walthew

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