Sunday, Open Farm Day

THIS SUNDAY is Bowdoinham Open Farm Day! Apple Creek will be open from 9-1pm and we look forward to seeing you! Make it a day trip by staying around for the local foods barbeque happening at the Mailly Waterfront Park 3 pm – 6 pm, the meal will include Apple Creek chicken smoked to perfection by event caterer, The Texas Barbeque Company.

Farm Map Color.pngWhat Can You Expect?

  • You’ll see baby animals including our (goat) kids, turkeys and bantam chicks.
  • You’ll see our poultry operation which includes both Cornish cross and Red Bro chickens, our two laying flocks
  • You’ll see our ruminants including our cows, goats and sheep.
  • You’ll hear about how the farm was started and meet the whole farm crew including Abby, Jake, Janet and Pete
  • You’ll learn more about how the farm supports wildlife and the ecosystem
  • There will be an on-farm store set-up so be sure to pack a cooler to pick up some steaks for the grill or sign-up for a Thanksgiving Turkey 

Things to consider- Our farm is a working farm, we’ll mow the lawn but don’t expect everything to look picturesque! Please bring appropriate gear such as close-toed shoes or boots, a water bottle and snacks for your smalls. We’ll have a boot wash and ask that if you are coming from a farm with any critters that you wash up before you walk around. Likewise if you’re headed to another participating farm, we suggest you rinse off before heading out.

What won’t you see when you visit? Dogs! Having three on-farm dogs, we ask that you make other plans for your canine friends.

July Newsletter

Summer is here in all its glory! We’ve been spending our days moving fences, watering animals and making hay. Our hay making game has improved this year with the purchase of a (new-to-us) round baler. Round bales which are roughly equivalent to 15-20 square bales have allowed us to take advantage of all the sun and get all but one of the 30+ acres of hay fields done! Now, we wait for rain!

Our new flock of hens has begun laying full-time and full-size! We are glad to have plenty of eggs at markets each week. No more awkward moments when there is one dozen left on the table! If you miss us at market you can also find our eggs at Morning Glory Natural Foods in Brunswick.

We hope you will all join us for Bowdoinham’s Open Farm Day on Sunday, July 17th. We will be open from 9:30 AM to 12 NOON. We will have a farm stand set-up and offer tours of the farm. A local foods BBQ will be served in the afternoon, so do be sure to visit the event website for all the details.

Thank you for all the support at markets, shopping with your local farm does make a difference! We are glad for your encouragement as we grow the farm.

Keeping Warm in Winter

When the temperature plummets we are often asked how the animals cope, here’s how.

20151226_105612Bedding
For each animal group we make sure there is ample bedding. For the hens that means fresh shavings on the floor of their coop and in their nest boxes. In the cow barn we put down several bales of shavings with bedding hay on top. For the ewes and does a fresh layer of hay in the barn is plenty. The kids like fresh hay in their houses and in their feed tubs (a favorite sleeping spot). The sheep are the most flexible. They love having hay in the barn so they can catch some rays, but they are also well insulated by their wool and many spend the storms outside. After the snow stops the paddock is full of sheep “snow angels” where their shapes are outlined. Sometimes they even lie so still they end up with snow caps, like in the photo of Sap Bat (below).

20151229_152606-ANIMATIONWater
Everyone drinks more water when it is cold and we often add molasses when it is windy, cold or rainy. The sweet water encourages sipping and adds some extra energy and trace minerals. We fill water at least twice a day, making sure that all the ice has been removed from buckets and troughs. The chickens need water for egg production. For every hour without water it is 24 hours without an egg! We have a heated waterer for the laying hens inside their coop as well as water buckets out in the cow barn so none of the hens have to walk too far. For the geese, water serves an entirely different set of functions. They use water for drinking, bathing and mating activities even in the coldest weather. 20160213_071528-ANIMATION
Feed, and more Feed

IMG_2859I’m always hungry this time of year and find even after a big hearty breakfast that I am ravenous at mid-morning. Likewise the animals like to snack as often as possible, particularly when it is very cold. For the chickens a generous helping of cracked corn is spread on the bedded pack of the cow barn. The ladies spend much of the morning scratching around and finding every last bit, while fluffing up the bedding for the cows.Since the cows, does and ewes are ruminants (or cud chewers) they need to keep their stomachs full to keep their bodies warm.

Unlike humans (as well as chicken and pigs) who are monogastric (one stomach) ruminants have a four-chambered stomach through which their cud is processed. For more on how rumination works visit this page for a detailed description of each chamber and its function.

Roll Call: Farm Babies

Spring is the time of year when you think of new life emerging and it certainly has here on the farm! We’re always energized by the arrival of lambs, kids and chicks even if we’re tired from late night checks on the mothers.

Roasting this Winter

Image
We already own it, so don’t worry we’re not getting paid to promote it.

I’ve been browsing  Alice Water’s cookbook, The Art of Simple Food.  Though at first I was skeptical, I prefer cookbooks with titles like, Meat, I was won over by Waters who uses every opportunity to stress the importance of purchasing meat that is “raised with care.”  She talks about how you can purchase organic chicken direct from the farmer, at the farmers market or at your local market. She even suggests that if your local market doesn’t carry organic chicken to create demand by asking them to stock it. Alice Waters, thank you.

As I’ve always been very cavalier in my approach to cooking most any meat; I’ve realized quickly, standing next to Jake at farmers market, that cooking advice can often make or break sales. People often worry, aloud,  that grass-fed meats will be tougher, but Jake and I know that proper cooking method ensure our meat tastes its best.  So, I’ve decided to share some tips from Alice Waters;

Choose a pan slightly larger than your roast to avoid unsightly splatter in your oven and to conserve pan drippings for gravy-yum!
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
To achieve medium to rare in your roasts use the following temperature guide:
For lamb or goat take meat out at 128 degrees
For beef take meat out at 120-125 degrees

Finally, for all cuts let rest 20 minutes after removing from the oven. The meat doesn’t stop cooking when it is pulled from the oven, but as it rests the internal temperature increases for a while. If you cut that roast when you take it out of the oven the inside will be underdone and the juices will run more quickly, creating unevenly cooked, dry slices. Allowing time for rest means the juices stay in the roast and meat will be much more succulent. Enjoy!

Springtime in Maine

Like you might expect Maine weather is never predictable nor dependable. Sunny days when rain is forecasted and rain when, well rain quite often. The pastures are still a bit soggy but the clearing/cleaning project for our east pasture is moving at a brisk pace. The cows and calves have been moved to a temporary oval pasture in the west mainly because they’ve been bawling for grass…and Jimmo and Lolabell made a late afternoon escape for the fresh spring clover.

The Bowdoinham Farmer’s Market begins May 23 and we will have lamb meat products, eggs, and wool. The market is located in the Merrymeeting Grange at 27 Main Street and is open from 9 – 1. For more information of other vendors go to: http://www.bowdoinham.com/farmersmarket

12 months to the day.



After several days of upper 80-degree weather and even low 90s Virginia is finally cooling down, slightly. The journey north to Maine begins tomorrow and another 12 months of unknown. My time at Smith Meadows Farm carried its fair share of ups and downs, but in the end it was a good experience. I am glad to be getting out now as chicks by the hundreds arrive to fill brooders, turkeys and ducklings are scheduled for later in May, lambs are on the loose, and calves being born. But the Shenandoah Valley is graded in 50 shades of green while blossoms of white and pink fall on tree branches like spring snow.


Now my second spring waits for me in the brown tones of Maine, 30 lambs and their mothers that will need to be sheared come May, and pines to be cleared out of pastures

No sad farewells to Virginia for I’ll be back again and no new hellos to Maine as I know her well.