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Wotton Farm in Ossipee "just grew" on its owners

KATHY AND JOEL WOTTON at the Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market. Each Thursday they bring raw cow's milk and a variety of cheeses produced from their Guernsey and Jersey cows to market in Clark Park between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. Chicken and other meats, and eggs are staples as well. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
August 28, 2014
OSSIPEEE — Kathy and Joel Wotton have lived in Ossipee at 30 Circuit Road since 2001. The farming life has always appealed to them, so naturally, what began with the desire to eat wholesome, chemical free food has expanded from vegetable gardening to animal husbandry.

"We never made a conscious decision to farm," says Kathy, " It just grew."

They bought their first cows in 2008. Their four dairy cows, Jerseys and Guernseys, valued for their high butterfat content, produce about 14 gallons of milk a day. The family takes what it needs, and the rest of the milk is sold at the farm as is or in the form of butter, yogurt or cheese.

All the products are made with whole, unpasteurized milk and flavored according to Kathy's whim. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Provolone, Derby, Edam, Manchego are just a few of the varieties she makes. She holds up a round of cheddar, flecked with dried tomato, basil and garlic: "I'm taking this to the market tomorrow," she says delightedly.

It's been curing since November. At last it's ready to share.

We take a short, jouncy ride up the street to Esquire Farm, where the owner, a lawyer, lets the Wottons pasture their Cornish Cross chickens – the type that mature in 10 weeks rather than six, like the Jumbo Cornish Cross variety, known for physical problems associated with their rapid growth – and their calves, Emma, Annie and Violet.

The broilers live within portable structures. Joel points out the stretches of darker green grass where the pens have been situated. They are moved daily, which offers the chickens fresh grass and insects to forage in addition to their feed (unmedicated) and the earth, a dose of natural fertilizer.

"We haven't had to worry about predators with the calves out here with the chickens," says Kathy. When the calves have not been there for one reason or another, poultry have been picked off two or three at a time by animals such as prowling raccoons, foxes or weasles.

A quick tour around the farm shows the Wotton's quarter acre of organic sweet corn growing tall, and fruit trees and hay fields against a mountain backdrop.

Back on their property, kale, spinach and lettuce (cold weather crops) flourish in neat rows and eight foot tall tomato plants in a hoop green house, attached to wires along a framework of pipes overhead, are laden with mostly green fruit. The summer's been cool this year.

Among them are heirloom varieties such as Mountain Princess, Amish Paste and Purple Prudence, each with particular attributes that vary in color, density, shape and flavor.

Beyond the gardens are pens with laying hens, separated between "the girls" who are fed organic feed and those who get the regular unmedicated feed. A dozen of the regular eggs is priced at $3,50. The eggs of the chickens fed the organic feed cost the customer $5.50 a dozen, a reflection in the difference in cost of feed -- $30 a fifty pound bag versus $15 for the same amount.

Kathy says she's thinking of doubling the number of hens fed organic feed. Though the eggs are more expensive, they sell out.

And further back are pens with pigs, a couple of the older ones separated from the piglets are heading off to be served up at Global Awareness Local Action's (G.A.L.A.) Farm to Table Feast coming up in September.

And in the distance, cows can be seen consuming hay on land rough with tree stumps on its way to becoming pasture. Pigs are useful at turning over stumps following tree clearing. Joel explains that when they bought their place, the woods began close to the house.

The gardens and pens now in evidence have come about gradually with a lot of hard work.

The Wottons have a heating and cooling business that Joel now works at just part-time. He enjoys farming and says he'd like to devote all of his attention to farming, but that they can't afford to do that yet.

People interested in buying their farm's products can visit the farm on 30 Circuit Road from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. all year long or stop at the Wotton's booth at the Wolfeboro Area Farmers Market at Clark Park (opposite Huggins Hospital) on Thursday from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m.

They'll soon bring their goods to market in North Conway at the gazebo on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and plan to participate in winter markets planned at the Mountain Grainery on Route 16 in Ossipee.

Kathy and Joel may be reached at 539-8134 or Wottonfarm@gmail.com .

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