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133 Route 103 Sutton, NH 03273
Home » Farm Profiles, Merrimack County (Concord/New London Region), Sutton

Mountain Farm, Sutton, NH

By Helen Brody

A mutual love of all animals was the bond that forged the friendship between Arthur Mountain and Jess Blaney, but it just so happened that their special passion was for Arthur’s horses, the ones that Jess used to shoe.

Deep as their affection was for those noble beasts, however, farming was their special calling, so in 2006 they decided to trade one of their horses for a cow­­­– a genuinely necessary animal for a start-up farm.  “Next,” says Jess, a blue eyed, rosy complexioned blonde, “we were offered some piglets to raise during the winter.” Arthur agreed but not before demanding that the farmer pay for their feed.  “So basically we got feed for free and sold pigs for slaughter,” he says.  And that pretty much cemented the couple’s interest in for-profit farming on New Hampshire’s RTE 103.

But then arose the age-old question of how to pay for the purchase of enough animals to make a money-making working farm.  As they already had been breeding Labrador retrievers, they continued as breeders, sold firewood and used their profits to buy chickens, turkeys, pigs, and a few cows.

But as it is with all farmers, learning that demanding trade is an on-going process, and indeed, Jess and Arthur are even now learning as they go. “Once, we bought a bred heifer, but the owner had no idea when the heifer would deliver. Then, early on a January morning, we woke up and there was Maggie, tiny and steaming and like all young, very hungry.”

To keep the calf out of the bitter winter winds, the couple did not think twice about bringing the new comer into the first floor of their house

Among the things that Arthur and Jess learned was that while farming was hard work, it was also infinitely rewarding, and even more, working their farm was, a source of enjoyment. There are five acres in active use and a remaining 13 that are just land and woods.

As for their first floor, it has become a sort of boarding house for all the young animals that need some tender care. Beyond the confines of their sanctuary, they have Black Angus cows pastured in Bradford and Newbury. “Thirty-five cows is as many as we can handle and that is, in fact, our goal,” says Arthur.

And as customers are increasingly ask what their animals are fed, they feel  their mix of hay, grain, and pasture makes the healthiest blend. But again, while their intentions are good, getting the sweet hay down the steep pasture’s hills precludes the use of the truck. And so every five days, Arthur must roll the bales of hay down the steep slope. As has often been noted, no one ever said farming was easy.

Their chickens, they kill, scald, and pluck by hand but have recently bought a machine that can do the work.

Their beef and pork is slaughtered at a USDA facility, and when the meat is ready, it is sold out of eight freezers, including two with glass tops that used to feature Hershey’s Ice Cream. “Gives customers a better viewing opportunity,” notes Arthur.

Jess and Arthur have also incorporated a “pick your own pig program,” a plan where the couple give the pig purchased by a family, “tender loving care” on the farm and send periodic e-mail pictures and updates as it reaches butcher weight.  At the time of slaughter, the purchasing family may give custom cut instructions. Arthur and Jess hope that such a program will give the children of the owners some insight into how pigs are humanely raised and slaughtered for their morning bacon.

Unable to price the products profitably for restaurant sales, Arthur and Jess deal directly with the customer from their farm and at farmers’ markets. “We keep very careful balance sheets,” says Jess, who just happens to be the daughter of a banker. With that keen eye on the books, and, of course, all the work that attends a working farm, Jess can say at last, “we are finally breaking even.”

Mountain Farm

Arthur Mountain

Jess Blaney

133 Route 103

Sutton, NH 03273

603-456-2739

www.mountainfarm.biz

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Published on: May 31, 2010 Last modified on: May 12, 2016


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