Gully Hill land: Agriculture or athletic fields?

By on Jan 11, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Farmland, athletic fields, a festival space or an ecological park? The Gully Hill Conservation Easement Committee is weighing all of its options as it decides the fate of one Concord parcel of land. “I would say at least probably it needs to be used for open space,” Concord Conservation Committee vice chairman James Owers said. He added that given the 114 acres acquired using conservation commission funds, the city is legally obligated to stay within certain uses. But what “open space” really means was up for debate Tuesday night. Some Gully Hill committee members thought the land off Loudon Road along the Merrimack River should be reserved for agriculture and “passive recreation” like hiking, skiing, walking and bird watching. Others proposed more active recreational use, like another White Park. The 69 acres of fields, bordered by wetlands and wooded areas, have long been in...

Farmers Helping Farmers

By on Jan 8, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

Do you know any farmers that “work out?” If you think I mean going to the gym, you’re wrong. An old Yankee Farmer once told me that as a boy he lived with his grandfather and worked the farm. But when he became an adult he had to get an “off farm job” or “work out” to keep the farm going. “Work out” was the farmer’s term for having an off-farm job with a regular income. Today lots of farmers “work out.” They have off farm jobs to keep their farm from becoming house lots. Farming has never been a “sure thing” with a regular income. Because of the movement to support local farmers and buy their products farming is improving slightly. But then there are 99.9% of food eaters who don’t buy locally. It takes a lot of work to reach this 99.9% to help the see the advantages of supporting local farms. One way to let the 99.9% know why it’s important to buy locally raised...

Water, Water, Everywhere

By on Dec 28, 2016 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

In winter water is everywhere but mostly it’s solid ice or frozen snow. To survive winter cattle need extra hay but they also need water, lots of water. Cold not only freezes fingers, it makes water solid. Cattle will die quickly without water so one more job for farmers is making water available. Fortunately several years ago, with help from U.S.D.A., we buried water lines four feet underground and installed frost free hydrants to most of our pastures at Miles Smith Farm. Frost creeps into the ground but rarely makes it four feet down. Since the water lines are below the frost line they won’t freeze. To access those underground pipes of flowing water we also installed hydrants that connect to the pipes. A handle on top of the hydrant turns an underground valve on and off. When the handle is “Up” the water flows. When the handle is “down” the underground valve closes off...

Sign Language on the Farm

By on Dec 20, 2016 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

As the trailer backed into the holding pen I put up my hand to signal stop just before the trailer hit the building. The truck driver, my husband Bruce, understood and stopped the rig at just the right spot. Farming and hand signals go together. At Miles Smith Farm Bruce and I have created our own vocabulary of hand signals for all farm work. With equipment running it is impossible to use spoken language to direct equipment or cattle. Tractors, bobcats, trucks or mooing cattle are so loud, voice commands don’t work, hand signals do. The first step to using hand signals effectively is eye contact. Once you have the equipment operator’s attention the correct hand signal is critical. Stop is easy but I’ve gotten creative with other signals. To lift and deliver a thousand pound bale of hay I open and close my hand like a jaw and point to the field where the hay goes to....

Concord farmer asks city for agricultural commission

By on Dec 17, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

When Rob Morrill looks at the supermarkets and big box stores on Fort Eddy Road and the sprawling campus at the nearby New Hampshire Technical Institute, he envisions the fields he once farmed there. Morrill, who runs Morrill Farm Dairy with his family in Penacook, is asking that Concord officials try to remember agriculture when it comes to land use decisions. “Concord should feel very fortunate as a capital city, that there are two dairies operating,” he told the Concord conservation commission this week. Morrill made his case standing in a city hall conference room, next to a rendering of what once was. It depicted Concord in 1899, with city streets and buildings on one side of the Merrimack River, and a patchwork quilt of farm fields on the other. To help preserve the farms that remain today in the face of increasing development and declining agricultural infrastructure, Morrill...

Nonprofit helps struggling horse owners care for their animals

By on Dec 17, 2016 in Stories | 0 comments

Before two starving horses were rescued from a Weare property this week, Becky’s Gift Equine Relief received a call. The nonprofit, started by Canterbury resident Kathy Lang in memory of her daughter, Becky, helps horse owners care for their animals before the situation gets too dire. In the case of the Weare horses, they were past the point where Becky’s Gift could help them. The town’s animal control officer decided the horses needed to be immediately removed and sent to Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester. “We don’t take horses – we support and work with Live and Let Live very closely,” Lang said Friday. “We go out, we check the horses, we make sure the people are able to take care of them.” “Sometimes,” she added, “they’re not.” The owner of the under-nourished Norwegian Fjord mare and pony in Weare may be charged with a crime. Weare police said they are investigating. “People...

Turkey Talk

By on Dec 15, 2016 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

Through the picture window in my bedroom the outline of the house is clear in the snow. North facing tree branches are white with lines of snow, shinning in the moon light. The ravine behind the house drops forty feet then rises another hundred feet on the other side. From my chair I look directly into the tops of the trees growing in the ravine, a favorite nesting site for wild turkeys. Turkeys can fly but they don’t go far or high. At dusk a flock a turkeys will stand in the pasture on the far side of the ravine. One or two tom turkeys (males) chase the younger birds until they take flight into the tree tops. From the top of the hundred foot ravine the birds don’t have to fly far to reach their tree top perches. Each bird runs about ten or twenty feet flapping their wings. At the edge of the hill they lift off and flap another forty or fifty feet to the top of a tree. The...

Freezing Farmers

By on Dec 13, 2016 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

I knew it was coming. Leaves had fallen off the trees, the grass stopped growing and that dusting of snow was a clear sign but still I resisted. The morning the Bobcat would not start sealed it. Winter is here. Frozen fingers I can deal with, frozen water I can deal with but frozen equipment not so much. The bobcat actually started as expected but apparently there was condensation in the fuel tank which collected in the fuel filter causing the Bobcat to stall. Bruce, my husband, took a few hours, jumper cables, a torpedo heater and fuel additive to get it started again, twice. “How do your animals manage the cold,” is a question I get a lot. Cattle need food, lots of food to stay warm in the winter. Bruce and I work hard to get them food. Our hay bill is about $30,000 a year which we pay to other local farmers. We tried making our own hay in the past but with equipment, labor and...