About 70 students from the Davis Leadership Academy in Dorchester came to visit and lend a hand. While we worked on a couple projects and learned about sustainable farming the kids had a ball with the animals. I’m not sure if the cows or the pigs were the biggest hit but they sure liked spending time with them. At the end we came together to discuss the relationship we have with food and how to make healthier choices. It was a joy to host this wonderful group of young people and I hope they can return again.
...now browsing by category
News about the cows themselves.
“..yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts ran into me, that words and writings were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing,”
Gerrard Winstanley 1649
Gerrard Winstanley was an activist in the wake of the English Civil War where King Charles I of England (the guy Charlestown is named after) lost his head (literally). Winstanley took a group of the poorest people to the common land on St Georges Hill where they built a small community and farmed the common land.
While many people talk and write about their beliefs, it means nothing if we don’t act. I have always believed that I must own my stay here on Earth and I must leave the parts I have control over better than when I found them. I must reduce my impact to this finite planet. And I must share with my community.
My original vision was for a larger farm but there are many examples of people raising significant amounts of food on just a few acres. That is my dream and goal. And it will include everyone who wants to be a part of it. I will reach out to communities where food security and quality are not taken for granted. As the Cow Fund finishes the process of dissolving, we will continue to disperse the funds generated from the sale of the last cows to hopefully help to inspire young farmers to look at how they can change the food system.
To this end, three organizations we are supporting that are making a difference in both Boston and Worcester. Over the course of the year you may see members at Breakneck Hill Farm helping with the management of the animals and the production and harvest of food.
Please consider making a donation to them.
Urban Farm Institute, Boston, https://urbanfarminginstitute.org
The Move, Boston, https://farmvolunteer.org/themoveteam/
YouthGROW, Worcester, http://www.recworcester.org/#!youth-grow/c1thu
Here are some pictures of the YouthGROW farm in Worcester.
Thanks to everyone who has helped and supported this adventure.
The Breakneck Hill Cow Fund made our first two donations as we close down operations. The two non-profit organizations receiving the $2000 donations were both hosted by the Cow Fund at Breakneck Hill Farm in 2015. The Urban Farm Institute who came out to Southborough twice last year, trains young people in urban sustainable farm methods. They run a number of small scale (less than an acre) farms in Boston. They will put the money to work on farm supplies. The Cow Fund also donated a cow to them. The beef will be distributed to underserved residents of the Roxbury community. The second organization, The Move also trains young people by taking large groups from inner city Boston to farms to help out with various projects. They came out in October with a group of about 40 and with the help of Cow Fund volunteers we ran a number of different projects. Their major expense is a bus to transport such a large number. We plan to continue and expand the relationship with both organization at Breakneck Hill Farm. While activities on the conservation land will be limited to the orchard, production at Breakneck Hill Farm will be intensified and all the extra food produced will be donated to the Urban Farm Institute.
Two members of the Urban Farm Institute picking up the beef of the donated Cow Fund cow.
The cattle herd has been pretty tough on their winter quarters, basically tilling it. Bare ground presents so many problems to sustainability, erosion, loss of carbon and evaporation just to name a few. With the herd reduced and needing less space and the spring weather coming early it was time to seed part of the cow’s paddock. I am hoping to get the pigs in here this year and decided to plant barley. While it would be nice to harvest the barley it is more useful as a forage. The cows and pigs will be happy to grazing on it. Barley is an early germinating grain, meaning it will germinate when the ground is still fairly cool. It is also fast growing so I’m hoping to get the cows and pigs in here in May. With the ground already prepped by the cows it was a matter of simply broadcasting the seed and figuring a way to harrow it in. As it turns out I happen to have the front part of a 19th century spike harrow which works great as a human powered harrow. It was heavy enough to turn the seed in enough to cover most of it.
This shot shows the harrowed ground on the right.
The seeds on the right have been harrowed.
The goal is to eventually keep this paddock covered in forage plants. That will require exceeding the animals from most of the paddock during the winter.
Members from The Move and Urban Farm Institute made the trek from Boston out to Southborough to help move the cows to their winter quarters at 61 Breakneck hill Rd and then stayed to help take down fencing. Both organizations help to train young people to grow and connect with their food and live healthier lives. We hope this relationship will continue after the Belted Galloways are gone. Breakneck Hill Farm will continue to expand its capacity to produce food on my 2.5 acres using ecologically resilient permaculture systems.
The Cow Fund decided to make Nov 22 the last day on the pasture. We’ll be moving the cows and taking down some of the fencing. Come join us. We’ll be joined by The Move and the Urban Farming Institute,
The Cow Fund would like to give huge thanks to Kendall Sweeney who produced this beautiful video along with being a senior at Algonquin Regional HS and producing many of the senior pictures for her class is also captain of the (as far as I know) undefeated girls soccer team. She will continue to be involved as I concentrate on developing a permaculture farm at Breakneck Hill Farm (across from the conservation land).
Please feel free to stop by and see how this project is progressing.
The Move is an organization that connects young people from Boston with farms and the food system. They travel to various farms both in Boston and in the suburbs. They will be coming to Breakneck Hill Farm on Oct 17 at 9:30 AM to help with a number of projects. We will be moving the cows and taking down the fence on the Back Pasture. We will also be getting the barn and barnyard ready for the cows to come back to in November. I am hoping to secure an oak log to split into rails if not we’ll be finishing some rails and setting up some home made split rail fence. Please stop by and say hi if your in the area. We’ll be serving grass-fed burgers for lunch.
Five members of the Urban Farm Institute came out from Boston to visit Breakneck Hill Farm on a beautiful day on Sep. 18th. Our immediate goal was to pick some of the thousands of delicious and organic apples that are on the trees on the conservation land. The orchard was originally planted in the 1940’s and at one point had something like 3000 trees. Invasive plants, disease and development have destroyed almost all the trees. The only ones that survived were the ones in the cow pasture that were protected by the cows who ate the invasive plants and who also ate the apples that dropped to the ground. Drops are a problem in orchards as they harbor pests and diseases.
The goal of the visit was also to make a connection and exchange ideas between our suburban farm and one from the city. The cow fund provided lunch and we discussed the many ongoing permaculture projects at Breakneck Hill Farm.
The Urban Farm Institute is a non-profit organization that trains inner city young people in the skills to grow high quality healthy food. They have a number of properties they have or are turning into small farms in Boston. They most recently acquired the 2 remaining acres of the historic Fowler Clark Farm right in the middle of Roxbury. This will be their headquarters with a garden filling what was an overgrown lot. Congratulations to the UFI!
September 28th, 2015
Dear Breakneck Hill Cow Fund Friends,
It is with great sadness that the Breakneck Hill Cow Fund has decided that that we are no longer able to sustain a herd of Belted Galloways on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. We began this journey in 2001 to “save the cows” with a very suspicious Farmer Ray Davis. The adventure grew into a restoration project, an agricultural passion, and a way to bring a bit of Southborough’s agricultural past to life. Children and adults from Southborough and surrounding communities have enjoyed watching calves being born, cows grazing against the backdrop of flowering apple trees, families enjoying “Farm Day” and excitedly waiting to see what square the “cow pie” would be dropped on and so many of us finding peace while walking the trails alongside these beautiful animals.
Recently, The Breakneck Hill Cow Fund (BHCF) learned that recommendations for the management of the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land would reduce and limit the amount of grazing areas for the cows. Lack of rain over the past few years has negatively impacted the quality of existing grasses. These factors make the need to feed the cows hay during the warmer months necessary, and costly, to maintain a healthy herd and have contributed to our decision to close our operations.
Reflecting upon the past 14 years, the BHCF and the cows have brought us joy. There are so many people who have been instrumental in the success of the Cow Fund and so many stories and personal reflections. The present Board wants to thank the Southborough Conservation Commission, the media, our past and present Board members and everyone who has loved, supported, volunteered and enjoyed the cows on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.
The Breakneck Hill Cow Fund
P.S. We will be making arrangements to return recent contributions to our supporters. We will be in touch once those arrangements have been finalized.
A non-profit organization, YouthGROW, that provides agricultural opportunities for Worcester inner city young people came to visit Breakneck Hill Farm and the herd of cows on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. A total of 40 including staff helped put up an electric fence on the Back Pasture. After putting up the fence, the group was treated to a lunch of beltie burgers. It was a great day by all accounts.