Farm

Our farm is an approximately 70 acre section in the middle of our valley consisting mainly of open fields with some shade trees and forest margins which the animals enjoy on hot summer days. We have about 900 acres of forest that we sustainably work in addition to our farming.

We began farming doing forestry and maple syrup back in the 1980’s and then raising animals to provide meat for our own family back in the very early 1990’s as well as vegetables and fruit from our land. Our desire grew out of concerns about hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and humane handling issues related to factory farmed meat. We wanted to provide healthy food for our growing children and the best time to start that was prenatally. This was long before the government and Big Ag co-opted the word organic. For us, organic is not a marketing phrase but rather a way. A Tao. This is how we raise our food to feed our family. NoWeirdStuff

Our farm expanded gradually from the homesteading level to a family farm over the subsequent decades. During that time we explored rabbits, ducks, meat chickens, laying hens, sheep and pigs. We discovered that we’re really good at raising pastured pigs. We had a market in pastured pork that would earn us a livable wage and pay the mortgage. Pigs also grow fast (250 lbs in ~6 months), have short gestation cycles (~4 months) and more offspring per litter (>8 vs 1 or 2 for sheep). Pigs also have shorter generations at about 10 to 12 months. In the end, our pastured pigs bring home the bacon. They co-graze along side our sheep, chickens, ducks and geese. Together the animals and plants make for a diversified, sustainable permaculture farm that enhance our soils, habitat and lives. The whole menagerie is watched over and managed by our livestock guardian herding dogs.

So where can you get our pork you ask?!? You can purchase directly by the whole or half pig and we deliver to local stores, restaurants and individuals year round on a regular weekly delivery route. See the Retail section for details of our route and stores that carry our products. Check out the CSA for information on purchasing pork directly. We also sell roaster pigs for events and piglets for people who want to raise their own.

See these pages for more overhead arial photos of our farm:
2009
2007
1963

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“I write to thank you for the tremendous inspiration and help that you continue to provide to me and many others in the sustainable family farming kinship. Your Sugar Mountain Farm Blog with its explicit descriptions, pictures and graphics of how and why you manage the farm using deliberate sustainable strategies and techniques has been a treasure of information for me as I prepare to expand my operation from seasonal pastured hogs to year round pastured hogs.”
-Todd Turner, Humble Haven Farm, Fort Loudon, PA

We don’t do agritourism, classes, seminars or tours but you can visit our farm online through these pages and when you come to pickup your meat at the farm you can see the pigs from the driveway. Check out this video we made for our Kickstarter project for an eight minute virtual tour:

Member:
Vermont Fresh Network,
Rural Vermont
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)
The Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association,
Vital Communities
PasturedPork.org,
NaturallyRaised.org,
and a NoWeirdStuff.org farm.

Vermont Dept of Ag Wholesale & Retail Licenses
USDA Inspected slaughter & processing

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135 Responses to Farm

  1. Aubrey says:

    just starting with a couple pigs and am hoping to find alternative sources of pig feed without processed crap that produce high quality meat, local premixed organic feeds cost too much, if all goes well it could grow become a part of our pastured duck business, I really like your pasture, alfalfa whey diet but don’t have a local source of whey. (Would cracked eggs be a substitute)?what general advice do you have for trying out diets, ie how can I tell that they are well fed? We do have pasture but it’s sandy tx pasture not lush Vermont hills, can irrigate a little but not much. Currently mostly Bermuda grass and some oak woods in back.
    Appreciate your advice already gotten tons of great insights from your page,
    Aubrey

    • Eggs are an excellent source of food for pigs and great substitute for the whey. Cook the eggs to double the available protein and help resolve the biotin antagonist issue of the raw whites. We concentrate eggs to the younger pigs to get the greatest nutritional leverage. Plant your pastures up. Seed is cheaper than feed.

  2. Mike says:

    Hi this is a great site
    I’ve recently bought 6 50 pound pigs and have been feeding them bagged feed whey and pasture grass. Without doing a soil sample would it be advised to wean off the bagged feed to just pasture and whey with kelp to get all nutrition that is needed to finish weight if so how much kelp to feed per day

    • In general pasture is lysine limited. The whey you’re feeding helps with this issue. You can plant pastures up to help with this but that takes years. If you’re going to try that it is also important to have the right pig genetics, line not just breed, to maximize their advantage on pasture. Even then, having supplements like eggs, milk, whey, etc help increase the rate of growth by providing more building blocks for muscle. Calories may also be limited. If this is your first batch of pigs I would suggest not getting too experimental with the diet. There is plenty to learn without delving deeply into nutrition and alternative feeds. See The Pig Page for details on how we do it. This year you might want to work on getting the setup for rotational grazing while continuing with the whey supplement. You may also need a mineral supplement depending on your soil – get a soil test as iron and selenium tend to be the limiting factors. Also see Mineral Deficiencies. Have fun and enjoy the bacon of your efforts!

  3. Larry Ewing at High Country Hogs says:

    We raise Red Wattle X Mulefoot and sell our pork at a local farmers market. Everything is going well so we probably shouldn’t mess with it, but we would really like to not have to castrate our piglets. We usually have our pigs slaughtered at 9 to 12 months. We’ve thought about having boars made into “whole hog” sausage, the theory being that the spices in the sausage would cover any boar taint. The other problem we thought of with not castrating, is the young boars not getting along. We keep all our pigs on pasture together except for the breeding boars and gilts over 5 months. We feed grass hay(our pasture is very limited here in the high country of Colorado) and a mix of 80% barley and 20% ddgs. We feed the mixed feed on the ground. We’ve got a picture of one of the piglets about 3 months old, standing under our boar eating together. Just wanted to see what you thought about not castrating, since we keep them for a longer period of time before they are butchered.

    • I keep many boars together and while there is tussling it is not a problem. If they are seriously fighting then I would suggest culling the fighters. I don’t tolerate aggression. I eat mean people. That solves a lot of problems. One researcher I talked about on the topic of boar taint suggested that one reason we’ve been successful in breeding out boar taint is that I started out by breeding out aggression for years. For more on taint and how to test live boars see the article about taint. Be sure to follow the links from there to deeper articles and read the comments, questions and answers. The only way to know if your genetics, feed and management combination produce taint or not is to taste test – and that requires that you are able to taste and smell taint since not all people can.

  4. Joz says:

    Hi there,

    Your blog is brilliant :) We have a 7 wk old boar piglet who was born with an enlarged testicle. It has never bothered him. I have googled this but can’t find much about it. Just wondered if you know what it may be? Is he just a bit deformed? Could it affect fertility?

    Thank you :)

    • It is probably a congenital non-genetic defect. I would cull him to meat.

      • Joz says:

        Thanks Walter :) Could it be something called a scrotal hernia? I did take a picture but don’t think I can post it here. May have somebody interested in him as a pet anyway. Will definitely not sell him to be bred with. Thanks so much for replying :)

        On another note we are going to eat our 18mth Berkshire boar soon as he just won’t do the job. I am feeding him up on persimmons (it’s the season over here – New Zealand) and cow’s milk. Do you have any other suggestions or will this work well for meat flavour? How long do I need to feed him these for before he goes to the butcher?

        Thank you :)

        • Possible. If so it will likely be soft rather than feeling like at testicle.

          I have no experience with persimmons. It takes a month to affect flavor. Flavor comes from feed. Flavor is stored in fat. Feed for flavor. At three months the maximum effect on flavor change has been achieved.

  5. Tami says:

    Hello Walter, I’m in Midwest,northern Michigan we moved onto the family centennial farm the first year we cleaned it up, still doing that too. Last summer I bought 4 feeders raised them for us and a couple friends, got attached and cried, but I do love bacon, I bought 5 more in October sire was full mulefoot dame was 3/4 mulefoot and 1/4 hamshire, so I had 3 feeders and 2 gilts, 2 weeks after I bought a full blood Berkshire, whom apparently has a sense of humor, we kept the gilts to breed with Tank. We have a huge pole barn, dirt floor, we sectioned it in half then in half again so it has a common area with access outside anytime they wanted. Next to that is another common area, for the sows and piglets,with 2 farrowing stalls next to the second common area, there will be an access door off that common area for them to go outside also. We fenced in a fresh pasture area that has a small spring fed pond we are hoping they excavate it for better use. Since we opened the end of the corral for access to the pasture and cut the grain feeding down to once a day at night they have lost a bit of weight which concerns me for I think marge may be impregnated. We have dairy farms around us how do I go about get whey from them? We haven’t been able to build a hut for them to stay out in the pasture they still have access to the barn which happens to be a long walk down on hard clay uneven ground which I believe has caused merge to have a sore leg she does good in the pasture it’s just getting her down there I do apologize this is long and I have much more to say and pick your brain with. Thank you

  6. Kelsey says:

    hello, I was wondering if the age of a pig will affect how good the meat tastes? I am also wondering if it makes a difference whether the pig has had piglets before or not? Thank you!

  7. George Crowley says:

    Hey Walter, My plan is to fence in 4 acres of woodlot with some wetland to have 3 piglets to raise 2 will be to breed. My other question is housing inregards.to the sow when.she is pregnant. I have a big.barn, but I planned on the pigs coming and going as they pleased. Will the sow naturally go in to birth or do I have to confine her as it gets closer. Separate the boar? I also will have a dairy cow and a steer growing in the same area/ same barn just the other side of the barn to bed down. I have chickens year round and turkeys half the year. Thoughts?
    Thank you, George I live in Ct

    • Four acres as one paddock is too large for that number of pigs but if you put up a good perimeter you can then sub divide it half, then quarters, then eighths, etc as you have time so you have a rotational paddock system. You want a minimum of four paddocks and ideally ten or more. See the Pig Page and follow the links about rotational grazing.

      A good sow should naturally seek privacy in the margins away from other pigs, build a nest, defend the nest and farrow well. This works in warm weather. In colder weather you should provide that separation as the instinct to separate conflicts with the instinct to stay with the group.

  8. Candice says:

    Hello, we raised six pigs this spring/summer that left this morning for the butcher (bittersweet for this girl ). We’re considering moving the pig pen area next year and using this area for a future garden. We’ve heard mixed reviews. Pigs have been out there for two seasons (last year we had 3, this year 6). Would you recommend using that area as a good fertile environment for a future vegetable garden? Thanks so much for your time. You have a nice farm! :)

    • What I do is have the pigs on an area followed by chickens the next spring. Then I grow nutrient loving tall things that put their produce up high like corn and sunflowers the first year. Next year I grow mid-level things. The following year ground things. Alternatively only grow things that are going to be cooked – e.g., not lettuce the first year. That is how I tend to do it for myself and family’s table.

      Out in the winter paddocks which become summer gardens to grow fall and winter feeds for the pigs I am less picky and will grow ground crops the first year after such as pumpkins, squash, beets, turnips, etc because they’re going back to the pigs.

      Based on rotational grazing theory 21 days is enough time for parasite kill off for the most part so all of the above is very cautious.

  9. Candice says:

    Thank you so much!!

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