Diana was born on a small dairy farm in Hinesburg and came from a long line of sugar makers. Starting with Diana's great, great Grandfather Morrell passing his sugarhouse down to great Grandfather Morrell, to Grandfather Tucker, then to her father, Cletus.
As a child, Diana has fond memories of riding through town with her father and brother to go to the sugarhouse on the back farm and spend the day. Gathering the sap had moved from horse and tank to a tractor pulling a pung with a gathering tank for collecting from tree to tree. Sugaring is still in the family with Diana's brother, a cousin, and Steve & Diana all having their own sugarhouse.
Technology has changed the process, we're “on line” which means using tubing, although the computer is used to inventory and for sales. Sugaring got into our blood when we moved to Maine 30 years ago for a change of pace from the life we had. We've attended workshops, Mapleramas, sugaring demonstrations, anything that will further our knowledge of what we do to produce the best product ever.
Here at Breakneck Ridge Farm in Blanchard, we strive to retain traditional values mixed with modern technology. Until 1993 when Diana started teaching, one hundred percent of our income was derived from our land. We have experimented with various forestry practices on our wood lot. Stephen harvest trees in the winter, does planting and pruning in the spring, and thinning in the summer into fall.
We were recognized as Maine’s Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year in 1995 for our efforts. From February through April we are busy in the sugar bush, stretching and replacing lines, gathering, boiling and canning syrup. The farm takes center stage in the summer with buffalo births, fencing, and haying, minor construction projects, and working up firewood for next year’s sugaring.
By late August, Diana is beginning another exciting school year and I am putting the farm to bed for the winter. Then he heads back into the woods for another season of harvesting. To insure that our days fly by, we spend as much time as we can with our family. We have had 5 generations within 20 minutes drive of us, the light of which is our two granddaughters.
We are active in civic organizations and rarely a week goes by that we are not at one meeting for community or school. Its hard to stay home when there are so many organizations that you care for. We are open to the public on Maine Maple Sunday and during the summer we host various groups for educational tours of the farm and forest. If you’d like to join us, check our special events web page for upcoming dates.
Since 1987, we have processed maple syrup here on the farm for retail. The process starts in the summer with the cutting and splitting of firewood to be ready for sugaring the following spring. The sugaring season runs from about the first of March through the middle of April.
The sugar house is open to the public on the 4th Sunday in March 4th Sunday in March and that preceding Saturday, but we welcome visitors any time we are boiling sap. Tasting samples are given out through out the season.
This 'liquid gold' is sold in area stores and at the farm. Mail order is also an option.
We carry a variety of sizes ranging from a half pint to gallons bottled in easy-to-carry plastic jugs. Now we are also featuring an assortment of glass containers that add elegance to your table. Our maple syrup is an all natural product, Nature's Pure Way.
A relatively new addition to the family farm, these once almost extinct animals now number more then 300,000 head in North America.
They are a wild animal, making them somewhat unpreditable. They are quite a bit larger then fallow deer and both the male and female have horns. For these reasons it is best to keep the fence between you and the animal. When bison are born, their average weight is about 30 pounds. Adult males can weigh over 2,000 pounds.
…. buffalo meat is very low in fat and cholesterol yet high in protein. Buffalo meat is sweeter than beef, is not gamey and is good for you. What little fat that is found in buffalo is predominately high in polyunsaturates and essential fatty acids. Polyunsaturates are the 'good' fats that our bodies need compared to the saturated fats that can lead to health problems.
There are many delicious ways to cook buffalo from stews to steaks.
We are not certified organic. The reason for the lack of certification is that we have to put a little processed fertilizer on the hayfields about once every 5 years or so, whenever the soil samples show we need some help. We do this because the compost we are using is lacking a little is some of the nutrients and after a while we must add a little extra.
We process our animals in a USDA inspection processing plant just down the road in Guilford. It is a small plant where the inspector is not rushed thus insuring a thorough inspection. All the meat is vacuumed packed which means a longer shelf life."
Come visit our farm and tour our facilities. We do not use artifical stimulants or growth hormones.
In our newest barn there is 6 foot high glass panels on the second floor that overlooks the grazing bison. No need to worry about climbing stairs because the front of the barn at the second story is at ground level.
There are tables and benches to sit at, to eat, or to just relax.
In 1958 and 1959, my grandparents planted the 15 acres of remaining fields with white spruce. In the 1960's they bought a 60-acre parcel on the Church Road, which did not have any common boundaries with the homestead.
In 1977, Diana and I bought the Orth lot, a 140-acre parcel that lay between my grandparent's two lots, thus making one large continuous lot. This lot had a house on it that we restored and moved into. We have lived in this house for 25 years and raised our two children there.
In 1979, my wife and I bought the Mitchell lot, a 750-acre lot, which was across the road from my grandparent's homestead. Breakneck Ridge is on the north side of this lot, thus the name Breakneck Ridge Farm. On this lot was a farm house and barn surrounded with about 10 acres of fields. We sold this farmhouse and barn with 22 acres. Across from my grandparent's place was an old homestead, which had burned in 1951. There were 28 acres of pasture around this homestead and another 12 acres of hay fields on the River Road. It was at this point that we decided to do some part time farming. We wanted to keep the fields open and raising Hereford beef seemed the logical solution. In 1988, we started putting up 7-foot high game fence around the pasture. By the end of November, we had 5 acres fenced with 25 fallow deer within the enclosure. The next few summers were devoted to more fencing to allow for the growth of the deer herd.
In the year 2000 we cut the white spruce that Paul and Ruth planted in the late 50's. We cut the trees to bring this area back into fields as it was in 1953. Now these fields are fenced in pasture for our buffalo. As the trees were growing, we did not notice the view changing that much. Now that the trees are gone, what a spectacular view.
In 2006 we replaced all the fallow deer with American Buffalo. We are enjoying the new challenges of raising the magestic American Buffalo.
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