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Posted 7/10/2017 9:27am by Harding Hill Farm.

It has been nearly a year since we gathered on the farm and in the woods to bid farewell to 'Pop' (Richard H Webb). We now anticipate another week of homecoming for the extended Webb Family as we say goodbye to an important founder of Harding Hill Farm.  

Just a short couple weeks ago, we lost our beloved Elizabeth T Webb, affectionately known as 'Gram' or to many others as 'Betsy'. She often provided a place to sit down, take a break, divulge in a sweet treat, and tell her about our adventures. She was our endless support system, always interested in our projects and seemingly crazy ideas. We gather later this week with family and friends to celebrate her life, legacy, and influence on the farm and woods we share with many. 


Harding Hill Farm - 1952

Elizabeth Thomas Webb passed away peacefully on June 23, 2017. Born Elizabeth Alden Thomas on October 4, 1920 in Islip, New York, she attended St. Agnes School in Albany and then Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City. Summers were spent in Thetford, Vermont where she was a counselor at Camp Hanoun. She worked in New York City for several years until meeting and marrying Richard H. Webb in 1951. Together they established a home and small farm in Sunapee where she raised 6 children and helped run the farm.

 
Van Webb & Betsy Webb - 1969 &  in later years - Dick & Betsy at a family wedding

Her love of the ocean and spending time with family led to many summers spent camping on Cape Cod or traveling as a fairly large group to other places. They continued to travel for many years, sometimes visiting family and sometimes taking family with them. Upon the birth of their first grandchild they became Grammy and Pops to all who knew them well and they loved watching their grandchildren grow to young adulthood.

 

She was a member of several organizations in the area and was particularly active with the United Methodist Women, the preservation of the Old Town Hall/Harbor House Livery building, and the Sunapee Thrift Store.

She is survived by six children and their spouses: Tom and Jackie Webb, Portland, OR; Paul Webb and Lisa Hall, Palm Coast, FL; Brad and Andrea Webb, Hightstown, NJ; Van and Robin Webb, Sunapee, NH; Tom and Faith Reney, Sunapee, NH; Bayard Webb and Lyle Engler, Reno, NV and eleven grandchildren.


Harding Hill Farm - Webb Family 2014

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, July 15th at 11:00 am with a reception to follow, located at:

Lake Sunapee United Methodist Church
Lower Main Street, Sunapee, NH 03782

There will also be a graveside service at the South Cemetery on Harding Hill Road in Sunapee at 1:00 pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sunapee Heritage Alliance, PO Box 72, Sunapee, NH 03782.

Posted 5/2/2016 3:21pm by The Webb Family.

There has been much anticipation on the farm in the past weeks. We have been busy keeping pens clean and preparing for our ‘new to us’ Belted Galloway cows to begin calving. Tyler and I have been considering beef cattle breeds over the last year or so… debating about which breed would do well with our management style. Until now, Harding Hill Farm has always purchased calves and raised them on a grass-based diet to maturity.

In February, we made contact with a breeder in the ‘north country’ or otherwise known as northern New Hampshire. Otokahe Farm has been raising and breeding Belted Galloway cattle for many years (and making beef jerky, yum!). Kris and Bert were looking to downsize their breeding herd slightly. We made the visit to their farm, just down the road from Santa’s Village, and immediately knew these cattle had the right attributes to fit in at Harding Hill Farm. We purchased four pregnant cows due to calve in starting in April/May. The cows moved south to Sunapee shortly thereafter.

 

One of the better parts of this adventure was the timing. Tyler’s parents, Van and Robin were on a ski trip when the cows arrived. We got the cows settled, and upon Van and Robin’s return, there were 4 large cows resembling oreos hanging out in the barnyard. It was quite the surprise!

We have spent a few months acclimating them, and unfortunately fighting the spring mud in our barnyard! Things have dried up some, though I write this as it is pouring rain outside. Fortunately there is plenty of dry loafing areas under the barn. We highly anticipate the greening up of pastures as we await the proper timing and level of grass growth to turn them out on pastures for the season. Meanwhile the cows are happily eating stored fermented grass (haylage) and dry hay.

 

Why Belted Galloway or as we call them ‘Belties’? There are MANY reasons. We wanted to create a niche breed of beef cattle for our farm as we continue to develop our grass fed beef business. Tyler and I always admired the breed… who doesn’t love cows that have a white belt resembling an oreo? Also, Robin has mentioned wanting them on the farm for many years. More importantly, there are many positive features in addition to their looks! This breed was developed in Scotland in the rugged hills where hardiness was a trait necessary for survival. Being a New Hampshire farm on a windy, exposed hill sitting on ledge, this sounds familiar. They are naturally polled (no horns), which we preferred because de-horning calves is a nasty (and often necessary) job for both farmer and calf. They have a double coat of hair that provides a great deal of winter warmth, while they shed that extra layer in the summer. Because of their coat, they lack the back fat of other beef breeds. Research has shown that grass fed, beltie beef has less total calories, fat, and cholesterol than conventionally raised beef and grain fed belties. Their heritage allows them to efficiently convert marginal pasture lands into delicious, lean beef. Yum!

 

Now… more about those cute looking cows. The look of the Belted Galloways, black with a white belt, was selected through many generations… however Galloway cattle originally came in numerous colors and patterns. Now the breed colors are Black, Dun (several shades of brown), Red, and Silver. You can still get a seemingly unexpected color combination, but nearly always with a belt. The answer lies in their genetic makeup. When breeding a bull and cow, two sets of genes interact to create the genotype. The actual appearance is known as the phenotype. Belties are unusual in that Dun is the dominant color, not black like in most animals. While an animal may have a Dun color, like our cow April, she may also be a carrier for a black or red gene. This carrier gene can lead to several shades of Dun… or with the correct bull, the birth of a black, red, or silver (two dun genes) calf.

 

Interestingly enough, it turns out that April, our one Dun cow, must have been a black carrier. She gave birth to a very black calf with a white belt just last night… quite a surprise and a bit difficult to match them together! It will keep things interesting. In the meantime, we continue to await our next arrival with one calf on the ground and three to go!

Stay tuned to more adorable pictures and stories.  We can certainly thank our friends Kris and Bert at Otokahe Farm for getting us hooked on these great cattle.

 

Posted 7/11/2015 8:09am by The Webb Family.

We make hay at Harding Hill Farm every year. It keeps the fields looking tidy and weed-free. It makes the cows quite happy through the winter. We also sell a large chunk of our hay to local horse owners. Usually we yield about 4,000 bales in a decent year. That is a combination of first, second, and sometimes third cut on our own and some rented fields.

It has been a tough summer for making dry hay. The weather just didn't want to cooperate. The spring was dry, which followed with rain nearly every 3 days. We really need a dry, warm stretch of weather that lasts about 3 days or more in order to make some good hay. 

Well summertime weather had arrived, just in time for the Fourth of July. The window of opportunity was here, and to the fields we went. Make hay while the sun shines! This idiom rings true to a lot of things in life, especially in the business of agriculture. Just like we have to make syrup while the sap runs. 

Van mowed a few smaller fields at the farm before 4th of July weekend, and then he enjoyed his afternoon mowing on the hill off Harding Hill Road with a lovely view of Mount Sunapee. Our hired help, Sam E, was busy tedding shortly thereafter. Van also mowed one of the fields further up Stagecoach Road the following morning. Our fingers were crossed that the forecast would hold, and we would see sunshine through at least Tuesday. 

And then the forecast changed… with nearly 15 acres of first cut hay down, we celebrated the 4th of July with a steady rain. For those of you that may have farms, I’m sure you can relate. We are dependent on weather. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Luckily for us, the drying conditions last Sunday and Monday were perfect. We actually made some decent hay! A few sections ended up being put in the pile for mulch, but overall we made out pretty well.

For those not familiar with the steps in making hay, it is quite a production. First we must mow the field, leaving all the tall grass lying flat in rows across the field. Next, someone must go through the field with a tedder. The tedder throws the grass so that it is evenly disbursed across the field. Tedding the grass allows it to dry faster in the field. We ted as many times as it takes to get to the proper moisture level. 

On the afternoon that the hay reaches about 10-15% water and 85-90% dry matter, it is time to bale it. This moisture level can depend on a lot of factors – type of grass/legume, stage of maturity, air moisture, ground moisture, etc. The idea is to bale the hay when it is dry enough to store, while limiting leaf loss since that is where the nutrients are. An experienced farmer can tell the moisture level by feeling or smelling the grass. A farmer can also use a moisture meter to detect the exact amount of water present in the grass. When it is ready, someone heads out to the field with the rake. The rake takes the spread out hay and forms fluffy windrows. 

  

Lastly, we use a baler with a hay wagon towed behind it to pick up those windrows and pack it into 40-50 lb bales of hay. Some farms have kicker mechanics on their baler to throw them in the wagon, others just drop them in the field. We have a slide chute on the back of our baler. One person can ride on the wagon and grab the bales to stack them neatly. We then bring them to a customer or stack them in the barn for later.

We’ve got another great window of summer heat this weekend, so we are back at it in the lower fields of the farm. It’s been an interesting summer of weather, but we seem to be gaining ground now… the count is nearing 1,000 bales. Time to get back in the field!

Posted 5/16/2015 8:28am by The Webb Family.

We want to increase our cow herd, but we know we need to improve our pastures and fencing first, which takes some time and money. Many of our beef customers have also asked if we plan to sell pork too. So, why not get some piglets? At least they kind of resemble cows with those black and white spots!

 

Finding piglets in New England can be a struggle. There really aren't that many people breeding pigs, and local pork is in high demand. Lucky for us, we have friends that raise pigs in upstate New York. We wanted to get off the farm for a little weekend relaxation, and so the adventure begins...

We packed up and headed north through Vermont, across Lake Champlain, and eventually to Sugar Bush, New York. Not many people have heard of Sugar Bush, NY... for good reason. There isn't too much there, but our friends, the Burke family, run Atlas Hoofed It Farm. They bought part of the farm for $1. How do you find a farm for a dollar? Well you find an abandoned missile silo, of course! They purchased the missile silo and the surrounding 80 acres about 8 or so years ago. Then the transformation began. Now it is a bustling farm with about 25 Scottish Highlander cattle and about 30 pigs. They have slowly transformed thick woods into some decent pastures, and the concrete pad that capped the missile silo is now a central headquarters for their pastured pigs, chickens, and horses. We had a fantastic time seeing the critters with Dan, Sara, Brooke, and Dustin. The Burkes' 100+ year old farmhouse is also a great place to enjoy a farm fresh pork chop dinner with friends. Thanks again Dan and Sara!

 

After a great meal on Friday night, we headed into Lake Placid for a two night stay. What a fantastic place to be! We were lucky to have some great mountain and lake views, and we visited Ty's alma mater, Paul Smith's College, for a fun nature walk in their conservation area. 


Lake Placid, NY

On Sunday morning we headed back to see the Burkes. Their sows had 14 piglets this spring, and they very graciously reserved four of them for us. After a little bartering with some HHF maple syrup, we had the piglets crated and ready to head home to the farm. The next adventure was the ferry ride across Lake Champlain. We really hoped these 2 month old piglets would behave themselves in the back of the truck. What if they started squeeling on the boat around all those people? What if they got sea sick? Well... we got lucky, they snoozed all the way home. 


Ferry ride across Lake Champlain, from NY to VT

In the two weeks prior to our pig pick-up adventure, Tyler and Sam spent some time constructing nothing short of a Pig Palace.

 

Upon arrival, we moved them right into their new home. For now they will be housed in one area until they are trained to electric fencing. Then we plan to move them around the farm to take advantage of some smaller pasture areas. And so the great pig experiment begins...

Meet Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo!

  

Posted 4/16/2015 5:53pm by The Webb Family.

We were nervous as the season started with colder than normal temperatures and a first, rather pathetic boil on March 11th. We just kept telling ourselves that we still managed to start earlier than our 2014 start date on Maple Weekend (March 22nd). The sap trickled in as the trees slowly thawed after a cold, harsh winter. Our boils amounted to 300-700 gallons at a time. Not exactly ideal.

It pays to be optimistic. Starting during the week of April 6th, the sap started to flow. Then winter made an appearance with a few inches of snow on April 9th. After that, it really started to flow. We are talking about 120 gallons per hour out of our 12 acre orchard with 1200 taps. That's a lot. 

 

The amount running out of our small tank off 72 taps was pretty amazing too!

We boiled for 18 days in a row at the sugarhouse, with 25 days total for the season. It was a long stretch with little rest. On Saturday, April 11th, we boiled approximately 2,250 gallons of sap. It was one of our biggest days ever with a daily total of 54 gallons of syrup made! 

 

We also had a few missed opportunities... when we showed up and the 1100 gallon sap tank was overflowing and trickling down the driveway into the mud. Guess we should have gotten up earlier that day!

We are very excited to finish our maple season out with 520 gallons of maple syrup, which is well above our average 450 gallons. We will need it with a record season of customer sales out of the sugarhouse.

Thank you again to all our fantastic customers, friends, and family!

We will have our syrup available directly from the farm throughout the year by order in glass, plastic, or custom wedding/special event favors. Contact us by email. 

Syrup available at several retail stores in the area - including Wild Goose Country Store, Gourmet Gardens ~ Gifts of Great Taste, Spring Ledge Farm, Kathan Gardens, Mount Sunapee Resort, and Bartlett's Blueberry Farm