About Us

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Dancing Dog Farm is a homestead farm in Ridgefield, CT. We have just relocated our farm from NH, where the farm provided much of our food during the growing season, and all of our exercise! We hope to bring a Jersey cow home soon, rebuild the goat herd and bring laying hens, sheep, forest hogs, and of course plant a veggie/herb garden. We will also bring our Warre hive and a top bar hive for our treatment free beekeeping, and run pastured poultry. And yes, we are hoping to continue our homesteading classes as well.

Jake, our Working Farmcollie

Jake, our Working Farmcollie

We call our small farm “Dancing Dog” as a tribute to my sweet working farm collie, Jake. Jake helped me take care of my family, and was my right hand man (along with a few very special human beings!) when I was running the educational farm. He passed over the rainbow bridge shortly after Peter and I met one another. Jake would literally ‘dance’ when he greeted people , he always expressed such joy in life, and his delightful, goofy and sweet greetings would bring a smile to anyone, anywhere.

Peter in the garden

Peter in the garden

Everything we raise is “beyond organic” – we use no synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. I’ve been farming organically and biodynamically for over 20 years, and at one point founded and ran a 300 acre nonprofit educational farm. I am a regenerative agriculture consultant, and offer technical assistance in educational programming, organic and biodynamic homesteading and farming to homeowners, farms and nonprofits.

Peter specializes in soil biology, (he wrangles ‘micro herds!’)  in fact his company compostwerks.com, provides products,  services and support for ecological landcare.

Our Philosophy
We believe: it is our privilege to be stewards of the land and that we should leave it in a better state than when we got it.
We believe:  children and animals should be raised in a healthy mental and physical environment.
We believe: animals should be treated kindly, humanely, ethically and have access to fresh air, clean water, green grass and sunshine.
We believe: a healthy environment and gentle handling grows healthy animals, which reduces disease and the need for medications.
We believe: healthy, biodiverse soil creates healthy, happy plants
We are so grateful to be here, and feel blessed to be able to grow good food with love for all who are nourished by it.

Turkey at Dancing Dog Farm

Pastured poultry

We have several considerations for the well-being of our animals. Each animal is allowed to express its species-specific characteristics. That means pigs will be allowed to root in the soil and forage. The cow, pony and goats graze fresh pasture through rotational grazing. The chickens are able to forage and peck at bugs and legumes. A deep appreciation for each individual animal on the farm and for the products and service they provide permeates our daily work. Our animals hold a very important place in the life of the farm. Through their hard work they turn what nature has grown into a fertilizer that further enhances soil life and health. The incorporation of animals is essential in allowing us to replace nutrients taken from the soil and grow good feed and wonderful veggies, herbs and flowers.

We have lots of milk and cheese from our dairy animals, and always have meat in the freezer. We try to put away as much food as we can for the winter, and are looking forward to building a root cellar and a hoophouse for extending our growing season.

We have a small farmstand in front  of the house during the growing season, stop by!  We love visitors, just give a call or drop us an email first to be sure we are home.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Hi Carol…love your website. Just a reminder that Roy and Nila changed the Winter market’s time slot to 11-3. Your website still says it’s 10-2. Now, watch ME forget and show up a whole hour early! Thanks for all you’ve done for the market. And your artwork is beautiful! ~~Linda Weiser

  2. Just love your paintings. Or whoever did them. I may want to sign up . Wo is the instructor and what is their back ground. My husband is not a painter but may want to just look around is that ok? Charlene

    • Hi Charlene, thank you so much, yes, those are my paintings. I’d love to have both you and your husband join me here at the farm for my painting classes, he is more than welcome to come and stay here while we create art! Downtown Peterborough is a short 1 mile walk away as well. I’m the instructor for all the classes, I’ve been a professional artist for many years, juried member of the OIl Painters of America, New England SCulpture Association, and NH Art Association. I’ve taught children and adults, and have work hanging in public and private collections throughout the country.

  3. I went to your talk on Saturday about the top bar hive and treatment free bees. Several questions arose and I wanted to touch base with you. First of all the honey you are selling is liquid honey mixed with crystalized honey. The crystalized honey has been pasteurized so you cannot claim that it is “raw”. This “Creamy” appearing honey will not crystalize like raw honey and it is processed this way so supermarkets can keep the honey looking fresh on their shelves indefinitely. Honey when extracted varies in appearance depending on the pollen source but it is never creamy looking unless it has been processed. Next, I took exception to your reference that commercial frames may be the culprit in colony collapse disorder. Currently there is no known cause for CCD but a good beekeeper rotates out their frames so that chemical buildup will be minimal. Top bar hives are a relatively new habitat and research is indicating that they may not be the best housing for wintering bees. Finally, to not use organic mite treatments and let a perfectly good hive die is foolish.

    • Hi Jackie. First, thank you and everyone else for visiting our home and farm on Saturday. It was a wonderful, and very busy day!

      I can assure you that our honey is indeed 100% raw, and never heated beyond the temperature of the hive. Because this honey is so unusual, and rarely seen, it is a common misconception to assume that it is in fact creamed honey. Creamed honey is not simply used by grocery stores to increase shelf life, many people also prefer honey in this spreadable form rather than a liquid state.That said, our honey is not, in fact creamed, but naturally crystallized.

      If you simply take a look at our farm, you will see a simple, unifying thread. Nature knows her business, far, far better than we do, and we try to farm in accordance with those natural rhythms. Do we have a lot to learn? Heavens yes. We strive to be as transparent as possible in all our practices, and will gladly show you any of our practices on the farm. In fact, we feel so passionately about these natural farming methods that we feel it is our obligation and our life’s work to share them with anyone who cares to spend the time to learn. 

      We feel it is terribly important to leave the honey in its natural raw state. Actually, we think it’s absurd to do otherwise. Most beekeepers heat their honey in order to extract it more efficiently (raw, room temperature honey is sticky and moves slowly!) robbing it of its nutritional value, resulting in a product no more valuable than a simple sweetener. Our honey is never heated for these reasons:  Honey in its natural raw state contains 2 predominant natural sugars (Fructose and Glucose) 11 enzymes, 14 minerals, 21 amino acids, all the vitamins that nutritionists consider necessary for health A,D,K, Rutin, Nicotinic acid, B vitamins, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxine and Biotin as well as Ascorbid Acid (Vit. C.).  Honey is virtually free of bacteria and rarely spoils. Raw honey contains up to 80 different substances important to human nutrition. The live enzyme content of honey is one of the highest of all foods. Honey also contains hormones, and antimicrobial and antibacterial factors. Much of raw, unfiltered honey’s effectiveness and health benefits may be due to the presence of bee pollen and propolis, but there are substances in honey as yet unidentified, that may be responsible for its positive effects.

      Raw honey contains over 5000 enzymes including amylase, a digestive enzyme for carbohydrates. The benefit of ingesting naturally occurring enzymes such as amylase is that it reduces the burden on the body to produce these enzymes itself to digest the food. Raw honey has an exceptionally high concentration of enzymes and provides an outstanding source of energy for the body.  Raw honey has also been shown to contain high antioxidant levels equivalent to that of spinach, or even strawberries, and unique to honey is pinocembrin, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

      Most honey sold today has been commercially processed, resulting in enzymes (which help digestion) and vitamins, being destroyed and protein (pollen) being removed. This processing involves heating and filtering through a cloth or fine filter paper. The end product will remain in a liquid state for a long period of time. When it finally starts to granulate, crystals will begin to form at the bottom of the jar, moving upwards (a sure sign of a refined and processed product, despite the label “Pure” Honey).

      I thought you (and our blog readers) would find this interesting: “According to the National Honey Board (NHB), (http://www.honey.com) , 82 percent of households currently use processed honey, which has been heated and pasteurized, and can contain botulism and High Fructose Corn Syrup, (HFCS). Processed honey is not as antibacterial, as raw honey, and is dangerous for diabetics and infants under 12 months old.

      May Berenbaum, Ph.D., a University of Illinois entomologist, shares that “Honey has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical problems like wounds, burns, cataracts, skin ulcers and scrapes,” Various researchers worldwide are finding strong antimicrobial properties in some honeys. Raw honey is used by many cultures as a remedy for ulcers, digestion, bronchitis, and as an energizer, as well as many other answers to health problems. Recently, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, the equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, approved Manuka Tree honey as a medicine. ”

      Back to our raw, and never *ever* heated honey. This honey was harvested last fall and is bottled shortly before it’s sold. It is exactly as the bees have made it. Hard crystallization is a result of honey that has been heated/pasteurized. The sucrose molecules precipitate out from solution when heated, which is what causes the upward creep of crystallization in pasteurized honey. Our honey is naturally “creamed” but does not have (under a microscope) uniform crystalline structure. That’s the hallmark of creamed honey, as naturally crystallized honey has many different crystal sizes. You are welcome to look under our microscope and see for yourself. The honey that we sell is liquid but has tiny granules which have formed naturally. Creamed honey cannot be repacked because it will continue crystallize and would become quite hard. (it will never become liquid again). You are welcome to repack our honey to see for yourself. This honey was harvested in September and October of last year. When honey is harvested during cooler seasons, some granulation is expected. That granulation continues to some extant the longer the honey is stored. There is variation and diversity in everything that surrounds us including honey. Just because there is variation in honey and it may not be what you are accustomed to, there is no reason to accuse us of practices that we find unethical, and go against our way of life.  

      We do wish you had brought your accusations up in public, during our talk, so that we could have discussed this in person. We invite you to come to the farm again and we’d be more than happy to chat with you. You have publicly accused us of fraud (in writing).
       
      We invited people to our home to impart what we have learned about farming in balance with nature, not just about bees. I believe we did so to show people that diversity in a small farm can really work. We simply have to  look to nature to see what practices work. Chemical treatments of hives, and pastuerizing a precious food like honey is shortsighted and foolish, in our book. We let goats be goats. They are not confined and make their own choice as to what to eat. We let bees be bees too. We’re not so much in it for the honey, we’re in it for the bees. We do not determine what size their cells will be. They make their own food.  It’s not about how much honey we produce, it’s about creating diversity and natural food.

      Our bees overwintered quite nicely in the top bar. I’m quite certain Sam Comfort, in NY state, would have a lot to say about your suggestion that top bar hives have trouble overwintering, as he has run many hundreds of them. Studies can always be manipulated. How were the bees managed? What type of bees were they? Were the queens strong? Was there a dearth or a strong flow that year? What was the weather? Were there competing hives? 

      As to commercial beekeepers being responsible for CCD, I don’t believe that’s what I said. However, your statement “ a good beekeeper rotates out their frames so that chemical buildup will be
      minimal” speaks volumes. I for one, do not want my honey to be contaminated by ANY chemicals, if there is anything I can do to prevent that I will. I also do not want to weaken my bees with chemical treatments, or any treatments, for that matter. I do believe that the commercial beekeeping industry is most certainly part of the kaleidoscope of problems affecting the bee population worldwide, just as the commercial beef industry is responsible for more virulent strains of e coli and more occurance of mad cow than ever before. Thousands upon thousands of hives treated constantly and aggressively with chemicals, bred specifically for greater honey flow and not healthy immune systems, and moving mind boggling numbers of bees from commercial, pesticide, fungicide and herbicide laden crops has indeed contributed to CCD. Is it the sole cause? No, certainly not. Is it a problem, and has the industry created a bee that is weak and unable to thrive in stressful conditions? Absolutely.
       
      Finally, I’m not a fool “for letting a perfectly good hive die”. What I said was some bees will naturally die from pressures (diseases and mites) and that those bees probably don’t belong in the hive anyway. Check out our link on the Collapse and Recovery Syndrome in bees. http://www.kirkwebster.com/index.php/collapse-and-recovery-the-gateway-to-treatment-free-beekeeping ; The bees in that hive will naturally be more genetically resistant to such pressures. I do occasionally see some dead bees outside the hive and I do not go running to the medicine chest. I’d rather have a strong hive that doesn’t need a crutch to survive. There will be many more environmental issues our bees will need to face in the coming years. Let’s get them back to being *native* bees that are naturally strong and resistant to mites and other diseases and pests, that make moderate amounts of honey, ( let’s stop breeding these giant, weak Holstein cows of the bee world that are sold now) lets bring back the small cell sizes bees were meant by nature to make, and give them a fighting chance to make it on their own, with no help from us. I don’t know about you, but I want my bees to be strong and independent, and to be able to survive and grow on their own. Treatments are a crutch, plain and simple. We may have fewer bees but in the end they will recover and be far stronger for it.
       
      Just so you don’t think we’re crazy, we have provided some links that support our beliefs. We invite you to attend the annual Treatment Free Beekeepers conference in Leominster, MA. It brings the best and brightest in treatment free beekeeping, from all over the world, to Leominster MA. It’s worth every penny, and we guarantee you will come away with a very very different perspective on raising bees.
       
       

      This is the description of the honey we sell:

      This honey is produced by Kirk Webster’s bees in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.  The honey is pale yellow, thick and opaque with a high moisture content and naturally cyrstallized velvety texture.  Many customers mistake it for creamed honey or spun honey but it has never been heated or filtered and we bottle it at 80 degrees F.  The flavor is complex with overtones of clover and basswood with hints of apple and lemon. The Vermont honey pairs extremely well with anything dairy: cheeses, butter, cream and milk.  Take care to store this honey in a cool place where it will not exceed 90 degrees.  Excess heat will begin to clarify the honey and it will lose its subtle flavors.

      Possibly the most influential treatment free beekeeper in the US:

      http://www.beeuntoothers.com/Dee_Lusby.html

      Kirk Webster’s site: (the source of our VT honey)
       http://www.kirkwebster.com/

      How Kirk extracts his honey:

      http://www.kirkwebster.com/index.php/8-late-summerextracting-honey-and-expanding-nucs

      The Treatment Free beekeeping conference:

      http://beeuntoothers.com/

      A great post on why raw honey is is so important:

      http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=96

      An exc. post on the importance of Collapse and Recovery in bee colonies:http://www.kirkwebster.com/index.php/collapse-and-recovery-the-gateway-to-treatment-free-beekeeping

      Extracting honey from TBH:

      http://beenatural.wordpress.com/top-bar-hives/management/harvest/

      The treatment free beekeepers list serve:

      http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Organicbeekeepers/

      To establish a community where beekeepers can learn a Natural Organic Beekeeping Field Management without the use of drugs, chemicals, essential oils, herbs, FGMO, acids, fungicides, bacterial/viral inhibitants, micro-organism stimuli, and artificial feeds, while learning how to regress size of combs and retrogress honeybees back to more uniform natural sustainable sizing(s), more in tune with Nature’s natural breakout of such by latitude and longitude, relative to climate/region lived in.

      Why? Because healthy happy bees don’t need any additives!

      http://beenatural.wordpress.com/top-bar-hives/

      One of the leaders in TBH’s and natural beekeeping: Sam Comfort

      http://anarchyapiaries.org/

      There is a great deal of research on the bee’s mmicrobial gut health and supplementing it with probiotics, in the exact same way human beings do for their own health. here’s a fascinating post:

      http://beenatural.wordpress.com/probiotics/

      And here’s a product for that: http://www.beeassist.com/

      A great site on natural beekeeping:

      http://beenatural.wordpress.com/natural-beekeeping/

      Another natural beekeeper: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9693

      Good blog post on pure honey:

      http://beenatural.wordpress.com/natural-beekeeping/hive-products/

      The UK”s leading natural beekeeper: http://www.biobees.com/

      chemical free (not neccessarily treatment free) bees
       http://www.backwardsbeekeepers.com/

      http://www.badbeekeeping.com/beeblog.htm

      • I have to say I never heard of creamed or crystallized honey being pasteurized. Crystallization is usually a sign of fresh raw honey. “Creaming” is the processes of stirred crystallized honey so that is has an even and smooth texture. It otherwise is not different than crystallized honey. Crystallized and creamed honey are my favorite forms of honey. It improves the flavor OH SO MUCH!!! in my opinion.

  4. Oh, I love your website. I have just begun cheesemaking in earnest and was delighted to find that you have a farm store that sells good milk, and goat milk! I look forward to visiting your store soon. I am in Ashby, Ma not too far away, I think.

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