The latest time saver at the farm is a movable milking station. The cows graze to their hearts' content in cordoned off sections of pastureland, and the Wottons move the station with their tractor to them. The cows are fed and the land is fertilized in rotation. Windy and Sadie wait their turn for milking at the end of a warm summer day in the pasture. (Photo by Elissa Paquette) (click for larger version)
August 15, 2018OSSIPEE — Kathey and Joel Wotton have lived in Ossipee — 30 Circuit Rd., to be more precise — 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 Kathey. "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 Kathey'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.
Their broilers live within portable structures out on pasture land not far down the road. We take a ride over to view the cows grazing contentedly nearby. With the recent addition of a portable milking station, they can be conveniently relieved of their milk in the morning, graze all day and then be milked in the evening. The Wottons pull the shed into place each day with a tractor and set new fence lines to demark the next day's grazing area.
The land owners have the benefit of keeping their pasture land from reverting to forest, and the Wottons are able to set their animals out to pasture. They enjoy the grass, and the acreage is fertilized in the rotational process.
Joel points out the stretches of darker green grass where the chicken pens have been situated. They, too, 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 Kathey.
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 weasels.
Closer to home, a quick tour of Granite Farm, which also appreciates having land farmed by the Wottons, shows a quarter acre of organic sweet corn growing tall, and fruit trees and hay fields against a mountain backdrop.
Back on their property, where the farm stand is located, 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 fruit.
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.
And further back are pens with pigs. It's hard to keep up with demand for pork products at the home farm stand and the Wolfeboro Area Farmers market they attend each week on Thursdays.
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 garden land is gradually expanding.
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 at 30 Circuit Rd. from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. all year long or stop at the Wotton's booth on Thursdays at the Wolfeboro Area Farmers' Market at Clark Park (opposite Huggins Hospital) 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Kathey and Joel may be reached at 539-8134 or Wottonfarm@gmail.com. They welcome all inquiries.