Category Archives: homestead

Egg layers, and a token turkey

Jelly, the rooster
Jelly, our mongrel rooster and confused alarm clock

We have a mixed group of layers here, and their rough and ready leader, Jelly. We have a few Americaunas, a few black Austrolorps, and  a Rhode Island Red. Some of the ladies are quite elderly, though they seem to produce an egg just fine every now and then, even with the snow and cold.

They are free range  24/7 in the good weather. In the winter, they cozy up in a stall in the barn and peck though last fall’s pumpkins and gourds, go out on sunny days and shuffle back in at dusk. They eat organic layer pellets – we keep looking for a source of feed with out soy, but no luck yet. In the good weather they don’t eact much of the pellets anyhow, they get a lot of grass and bugs and fresh milk. They have a lovely hoophouse to call home then too!

hens weeding the garden
Hens weeding the garden

We also share the farm with my daughter’s pet broad breasted bronze turkey, “Thug”. Thug lost her sister. “Gangsta” (don’t ask…please…) to a horrific head injury over the summer. Thug is now the “chosen bird” on thr farm, accrding to MArika, my daughter. This phot is proof, obviously:

Thug, queen of the farm
Thug, queen of the farm

Thug has recently taken to laying large, speckled eggs wherever and whenever she feels mother nature’s call. They are yummy, it’s like eating an extra large egg :) Apparently selling turkey eggs never really caught on with megaAg cus the darn turkeys took forever to lay, and were, naturally, *larger* than a chicken, so they couldn’t stuff them all into some obscenely tiny crate. Thank heavens. Here she is as a poult (that’s the word fro a baby turkey, go figure!)

Baby Thug
Baby Thug, our broad breasted bronze turkey hen

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Filed under Chickens, homestead, Sustainable living

English Shepherds & Farm Collies

I’ve had a “farm collie” or an English Shepherd by my side for over ten years now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What is an English Shepherd, or a farm collie, for that matter? Well, there’s a bit of controversy (typical I think of just about every ” breed” organization). But essentially, the farm collies were part of every day life here in America back in the day. As small farms began to die out, the farmer’s dog, unregistered, of course, also began to die out. Becasue small pokects of the original breeders dogs remained, and because passionate supporters of these dogs came to the rescue, we are still able to find wonderful, working eamples of this landrace breed. Here’s a fantastic website on them: as well as . For those of you intersted in the English Shepherd, here’s the breed info:

Border collies became more popular as “farm dogs” becasue they are superb at controlling large number sof livestock – what they do, they do extremely well. The farm collies’ job was three-fold – herd, hunt, guard. And, though a good farm collie was (is) always on farm duty, they are also melllow enough to kick back and hang out with the kids, or just chill in the house. They come in lots of colors, but most take after the old fashioned ” scotch collie” before the introduction of borzoi blood into the breed. English Shepherds are a rare, registerable breed, and many think their blood runs deep in the old farm collie lines. All I know is that they are good dogs – good friends, good workers, good looking and first rate helpers in every sense.


We lost our working farm collie to cancer (he was raised his entire life on a working organic farm, how does that  happen?) in 2010. “Jake”, half rough collie and half English SHepherd, helped with everything from chasing hawks away from the hens to herding pigs to hunting vermin in the hay barn. Though he never really “retired” in his last few years he was an amazing therapy dog, working 40 hour weeks with me as the resident Alzheimer’s wing dog. He knew who needed a hug, and who wanted to play, and who just wanted company.

Our new pup, “Levi” is a purebred English Shepherd. He’s only 9 months so far, and as such is still a baby. He’s starting to show some very good guarding instincts, and is attempting to herd, though it’s more “bouncing up and down” at this point! He’s definitely  showing some amazing hunting skills. He’s a gorgeous tri color, and is very sweet natured and, yes, goofy at this point. We are looking forward to watching him learn!

Levi, 6 months
Levi, 6 months
Levi in the snow
Levi in the snow


Filed under Farm Dogs, homestead

Little Piggy!

A Gloucester Old Spot breed boar (male pig) at...

A Gloucester Old Spot (not our little piggy!)

We’ve started raising a few pigs, mostly for all my, shall we say… unsuccessful… cheese experiments and of course all that extra milk while I perfect my cheesemaking skills. Also because my family loves bacon, sausage, ham, and of course, pulled pork. I am a firm believer in healthy fats, (A La Sally Fallon and “Nourishing Traditions”) and it’s very hard to source good leaf lard for baking. Yum. So, off we go on another adventure!

I’ve raised Gloucester Old Spots, a lovely, quiet breed with a gentle disposition but poor fecundity due to a limited gene pool in this country, as well as Tamworths. Tams are really great on pasture, but are very active, and because of that slower to grow out. They are also escape artists, we’ve found, and are very very fast!! Peter and I picked up al ittle GOS crossbred pig, we are looking for another piglet for company for him. So far he’s happily ensconced under the barn, learning all about the wonders of electric fencing.When that lesson is firmly entrenched, he’ll go out on the pasture.

Here’s a little about our pig raising philosophy.

Though we have sold half of this pig, we’ll be getting another piglet or two soon. If anyone is interested in pasture raised, organic pork, contact me. We will sell by the cut, side or whole pig.

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Filed under homestead, Pigs

July farming classes!

Grow Your Own! 

Backyard Organic Gardening Classes at 

Dancing Dog Farm, the week of July 7 – 14, 2011

To register, email: or call 603.289-2426

The Backyard Organic Chicken Flock –  Meat & Eggs on the Table       

July 7, 9am – 11am; fee: $20
Simple ways to add home raised organic eggs and poultry to your backyard – everything from choosing the right breed, to raising chicks, to feeding and managing layers and meat birds.

Backyard Barnyard – Easy Ways to Integrate Small Livestock into Your Backyard Farm                  July 8, 9 am – 11am; fee: $20                                                                                                                                                        Learn how to increase the biodiversity of your backyard by adding small livestock – chickens, bees, even dairy or meat goats are easy to raise and add to your food freedom! 

The Homestead Dairy – Raising Goats is Easier than you Think!

7/14; 9am – 11am; fee: $20
This class is a great introduction to raising backyard organic goats for milk, cheese, or meat. Covers breeds, diseases, feeding, care and housing, milking and processing. Hands on with our dairy goats.

Composting, Vermiculture (worms!) & Compost Tea                             

  7/16, 9am – 12pm; 9am – 12 pm; fee: $35
Using your own home-made organic compost is the single best thing you can do to increase your garden’s fertility, ward off pests, and keep diseases at a minimum. Come to Dancing Dog Farm and learn how to properly build a worm bin, compost tea brewer and a thermal compost pile.

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Filed under Farming Classes, Goats, homestead, Raw Milk, Sustainable living

We are an official WWOOF host farm!

A picture of compost soil

Image via Wikipedia

I’m very excited to announce that we have finally become a host farm for WWOOF! What’s WWOOF you say? WWOOF is  “world wide opportunities on organic farms

here’s our profile! 

One-half day of volunteer help is traded for food and accommodation, with no money exchanged.  The WWOOF-USA Host Farm Directory lists more than one-thousand organic farms (not necessarily USDA certified organic) and gardens across the country.  The Host Farm profile contains information about the location, general responsibilities,  and lifestyle of the host.  Any farm, community, or garden project in the US that is willing to host and accommodate volunteers can participate in our program.  We encourage all types of volunteers and hosts who can cooperate to strengthen sustainable agriculture worldwide to be a part of WWOOF-USA.  The program is open to anyone 18 years of age or older, regardless of experience.

WWOOF farms offer a variety of educational opportunities, including growing vegetables, keeping bees, building straw bale houses, working with animals, making wine, and much more. With over a thousand farms in all 50 states, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, there is something for everyone.

Here’s the WWOOF link

Some of the things that  we do here (or are planning on ) at Dancing Dog Farm that would include WWOOFers are:

Small goat dairy

Cheese/yogurt/’kefir making (small scale)

Treatment-free apiary (small scale)

Pastured Poultry  brroding, pasture management, slaughter, rules and regs, marketing

Laying hens

Compost – bokashi, thermal,bokashi,O2, compost tea

Soil food web/microbiolgy (with microscope work)

organic fruit

organic vegetables


hugel kulture

solar applications

hoophouse construction

Food preservation

electric fencing

Farming classes

Strawbale shed

bread oven

small grains

farm dog training

marketing – social media, website, hard copy collateral

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Filed under apples, Cheese, Chickens, Cows, farmers market, Farming Classes, Goat milk, Goats, homestead, pastured poultry, Raw Milk, Sustainable living, treatment free bees

Growing the Holistic Apple

MIchael Phillips


Peter and I travelled to Jack and Kim Mastrianni’s Maple Frost Farm in Langdon NH today to take part in NOFA NH’s Holistic Apple Growing Workshop with the legendary orchardist Michael Phillips. Michael is the author of “The Apple Grower” and a soon to be released book, “The Holistic Orchard” and is a commercial holistic apple grower in the NH White Mountains. He’s a veritable font of knowledge of all things apple (and other tree fruit) and was a delight to listen to. Peter thinks it’s one of the best workshops he’s had the pleasure of attending. Michael and his wife ( reknowned herbalist Nancy Phillips) run Heartsong Farm. MIchael’s organic apple growing site is simply

Jack and Kim were wonderful hosts, with a truly spectacular, immaculate homestead organic farm. The Mastrianni’s raise Leicester Longwool sheep, an endangered, historic breed. One of Kim’s older ewes even lambed while the group was upstairs listening to MIchael’s morning lecture! Jack is the co-president of NOFA NH.

We learned so much from the conference, and are eager to apply our new knowledge. We expected to learn about apple culture, but wound up learning a whole lot more – and have many many more questions too. Peter was particularly interested in Michael’s description of the “Arboreal Food Web”, as it was a new term describing the biological cycle with the tree’s branches and trunk.

We learned the fascinating links between the soil food web and the health of the apple tree itself, and the health of the community of trees. We learned about pulsing applications of compost and organic sprays to the rhythm of the tree’s growth and preparation for seasonal changes. We learned about the beneficial insects and the not so beneficial insects. We learned about the value of comfrey planted in the orchard, and the role pollinators and nectaries play in the healthy orchard.

We are looking forward to learning more from Michael as we expand and create our own orchard. We are looking forward to learning more about hugelkulture, bio char, and spraying raw milk in the orchard in his next book!

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Filed under apples, homestead, living food, permaculture, Sustainable living