Saturday, April 19, 2014

Nurturing Traditions, Part 1: Sweetwood Farm

"Nurturing traditions" is the mantra for Heather Squires and Neil Yetman, co-creators and co-kidders of Sweetwood Farm in Maitland, Nova Scotia, on the south shore near Mahone Bay.
Heather and I have a mutual friend, Jennifer of Toronto, and she really wanted her two country girls to meet up. So finally I was able to make the 3-hour trip from my country home near Oxford to Heather's near Maitland and get to know her and Neil.
Yeah, I suffer with these kind of writing assignments.
The main point of last weekend's trip was to participate in Heather's cheese-making class on Sunday but we spent Saturday afternoon and evening at the farm, taking photos and making notes and for me, just generally getting the goat bug. How could I not fall in love with friendly, curious, lovely, lovely goats? (Jennifer, did you think this would happen?!)
Best writing assignment so far because it combined everything I enjoy: small holding farmers wanting to maintain the traditional ways of farming, an old farmhouse (1780), animals, good food and most of all, a great story.

If I had time, I'd write a book about how Heather and Neil finally arrived at Sweetwood Farm via Newfoundland, England, Australia and Italy. Articles will have to do for now because most of all, I want to share how they are using traditional farming methods, most learned during their ten years in Britain, to raise their animals and manage the land.Inspiring.

Wish I could be there when the baby goats -- kids -- start arriving but even I know that farmers don't want dumb city girls getting in the way at the most important time of the year. I'll have to be satisfied with updates on the farm's Facebook page (

Thedelightful farmhouse built in the late 1700's by German settlers.

Yes, they shipped this from England.
Official greeters! There are 50 guineas at Sweetwood Farm plus dozens of chickens.

This was the first day for the pigs in their "summer" quarters. Happy pigs!

The pigs will till the land so it can be reseeded to make better pasture for the dairy goats.

Heather with the ever-so-lovely sow, Tammy.

The Sweetwood pygmy goats keep the weeds under control.
These are the dairy goats, Swiss Toggenburgs, who create the milk used in Heather's cheese.

Neil says the goats are just like dogs! Affectionate and curious.

Milking by hand.
A couple of Alpines. VERY friendly goats.
Nunzio, one of three Maremmas, livestock guarding dogs from Italy.
Heather & Neil in front of the hearth that made them fall in love with the home.
Heather and I in the farmhouse kitchen. Delightful!

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