Reclaiming Ripley Farm

The thing I remember most about the first time we walked on what is now our dream farm at 62 Merrills Mills Road in Dover-Foxcroft is Gene's smile after he pranced through the tall timothy and red clover in the field tucked up out of sight from the road.  Hey, this beautiful eight acre field has a ton of space, he said.  There's no way we'd be able to sell more veggies than that, we told each other. 

We're happy to report that we were wrong about that!  With the demand for our delicous organic veggies, land is becoming a premium at Ripley Farm these days, growing from less than an acre in 2010 to over four acres in production in 2014. 

After perusing the aerial photos of our farm from decades ago in the USGS soil survey maps, we realized that about an acre of birch and fir between our barns and our exisiting crop land was originally tillable land.  During the 1980's our property had changed hands and part of the original field had been let go to birch and fir trees. 

Our motto is, "make the most of your available resources" before turning elsewhere.  So, with the need for additional acreage, this spring we embarked on the project of reclaiming Ripley Farm!  By the end of the project we will reclaim an additional acre of crop land and connect the two parts of the original field making a ten acre piece all together!

Facing countless thousands of 20 year old birch and fir trees, two young guys and one chainsaw have done a lot in the last six weeks since the snow lessened its grips on Ripley Farm.  The first photo was taken on April 21, 2014 and the second on May 11, 2014.

The grove of small birch and fir trees had separated the larger crop field from the smaller field near the barns in which our tomato hoophouse sits as you can see from the pictures above. 

The view from the farmhouse is very different these days!  I love it because I can see the northwest sky which is where most of the storms come from.   Before and after.

The thick wall of trees running east-west behind the big hoophouse are gone.  Now its just a thin line of trees marching north a thousand feet up the hedgerow. 

Now, you really get the inclusive feeling when you're up in the crop fields.  Here's photos from the same spot in June 2013 and now in May 2014.  The red roof building is our big barn.

See the hoophouse now?  The clumps of trees to the left of it which obscure the barns in the second photo are on the docket next...

Speaking of next steps, though we've got the trees down, we're not exactly about to till and plant!

Can we say brush?  Yes, there's a lot of it to deal with.  And then there's removing the stumps... 

But, where there's a will, there's a way! 

Wish us luck and look for more updates later this season on the progress of Operation Reclaiming Ripley Farm!