Category: farming

Big Birds

Lilac Hedge Farm, Rutland, MA

In New England, emus and ostriches are rare and exotic. A recent visit to Lilac Hedge Farm provided an extraordinary opportunity to see them close up. This stately emu strutted casually through its enclosure.
Oftentimes, emus display graceful ballerina moves.
This imposing male ostrich had a a thin coating of white feathers on its head.
Two delightful juvenile ostriches regarded visitors with quiet intensity and great curiosity.
Lilac Hedge Farm is the former site of a Heifer International Educational Center. Its many acres provide ample space for both local and exotic creatures to roam.

A Century Farm

Central Massachusetts boasts well over forty apple orchards. Sagatabscot is among the oldest.

Sagatabscot Orchards in Sterling, MA was established in the 1740s. This historic farm has been owned by only two families; the present family has been operating it since 1912.
A self-serve stand offers many apple varieties, including heirloom, as well as cider.
The antique cider press has been preserved in the farm barn along with other historical relics. Note the World War I helmet, worn by an ancestor of the present owner.
In the Algonquin Indian language sagatabscot means “place of the hard rock”.
Since the 1700’s the owners have built numerous additions to the original buildings on the rocky hillside.
The farmhouse is painted in the original 1700s color.
The “six over six” windows and side entry are appealing details for colonial architecture enthusiasts.
Lucky and Lucky, the chickens, were named as a consequence of being the last chickens left after a fox found the hen house.
The barn is a treasure trove of antique farm implements, historical items and family lore.
Cart wheels and traditional Ojibwa Indian snowshoes are displayed in the barn rafters.
This bobsled was used to deliver milk when roads were impassable in the winter.
The present owner created this replica of the barn for his young daughters.
Generations of cousins have gathered at the farm for family festivities.
Small rooms carved out from the larger structure include historical items and family heirlooms.

Corn, Clouds and Crows

Early fall in Central Massachusetts is the perfect time to explore and photograph the beauty of the region’s local farmlands.

Jordan Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts is a fifth generation farm. In addition to its long history, it is highly regarded as one of the first farms in Massachusetts to produce clean energy.
This is only a small section of the cornfields that provide food for their 375 cows.
On this early fall day, fast moving cloud formations lent a constantly changing counterpoint to the landscape.
The windswept tassels on top of the corn were elegantly silhouetted against the clouds.
I was startled by what appeared to be a rising moon behind the corn.
It is actually a receptacle for storing corn silage (corn used to feed the cows in Winter).
The corn is sown and harvested with mechanical precision, resulting in perfectly neat rhythmic rows.
Corn loving crows are almost always found in undulating groups, creating fascinating patterns in the sky.

A group of crows is often called a murder, but I prefer a less frequently used collective noun for these intelligent and social creatures– a parcel.
Crows aren’t fussy. They will eat corn on or off the cob, as well as seeds and seedlings.
The proud old farmstead sits at the edge of a country road, at the very top of a long hill.
The classic New England red barn across the street stands as a testament to a beloved bygone era.
This historic and progressive farm is only ten miles away from Worcester, MA, New England’s second largest city.

Historic Yankee Barn Design

Information posted at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary’s Crocker Barn states:

“Built in 1925 by the Crocker family, this barn formerly housed a herd of prize-winning Milking Shorthorn cattle. It was designed by farm manager Paul Beardsley and was state-of-the-art for its time, featuring a ground floor milking parlor, a trussed, gambrel roof that provided vast interior space to pile loose hay (hay balers were not yet invented), and an overhead tramway system to easily move manure to a separate barn for storage. No longer present, but visible in the historic photo notice the twin silos, the four rooftop ventilators, the additional hay wagon ramp, and the small milk house in the foreground.

Currently, the Cow Barn provides storage for the materials, tools and equipment needed for sanctuary habitat management, and to maintain our trail system, buildings and grounds. Planning is underway to fundraise for renovations that would allow us to welcome visitors and program participants into this wonderful and historic space.”

The Crocker Barn, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA.

Information posted at Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary’s Crocker Barn states:
“Built in 1925 by the Crocker family, this barn formerly housed a herd of prize-winning Milking Shorthorn cattle. It was designed by farm manager Paul Beardsley and was state-of-the-art for its time, featuring a ground floor milking parlor, a trussed, gambrel roof that provided vast interior space to pile loose hay (hay balers were not yet invented), and an overhead tramway system to easily move manure to a separate barn for storage. No longer present, but visible in the historic photo notice the twin silos, the four rooftop ventilators, the additional hay wagon ramp, and the small milk house in the foreground.
Currently, the Cow Barn provides storage for the materials, tools and equipment needed for sanctuary habitat management, and to maintain our trail system, buildings and grounds. Planning is underway to fundraise for renovations that would allow us to welcome visitors and program participants into this wonderful and historic space.”
The barn circa 1925.
Doors to a former hay wagon ramp.
Attention to detail is shown on this simple but effective shingle design.
The cow barn is massive compared to the nearby sheep barn.
Fieldstone foundations are featured on both barns.
A section of the outsized doors, commonly found on New England barns.
The barn overlooks a meadow that leads down to wetlands.

This side of the barn will soon feature an all-persons viewing deck.

Over the Walls

The little town of Hardwick, MA is celebrated for its miles of historic stone walls, some of them massive. Recently, on a bitterly cold day with threatening skies, the view from the Great Meadowbrook Farmlands was stark and alluring.

From 2000- 2004, Great Meadowbrook Farm was the site of the Over the Walls Horse Trials, one of the premier equestrian events in the United States.

Saying Goodbye to Heifer Farm

For the last thirty years, Heifer Farm has been an inspirational and multi-cultural presence in Central MA. It served as an educational center for visitors and interns who wanted to learn more about Heifer International and its mission to help alleviate poverty and hunger around the globe.

While Heifer International is still going strong, the Heifer Farm educational site in Rutland, MA will close its doors at the end of December. As usual, it will hold a free Holiday Fair for the next two weekends. I took some time today before the holiday hustle and bustle to enjoy the variety and beauty of the animals and the uplifting landscape of the site for one last time.

I encourage you to visit and donate to Heifer International during this season of giving.

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