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2004 Highlights from Blue Heron Farm

Visit to Nirvana

A long time and dear friend John Bogert started living his post retirement dream last May, with the purchase and outfitting of a "serious boat". Departing in May of 2003 from Marblehead, Mass., John took the boat, named Nirvana by the previous owner, across the Atlantic, down the coast of Europe to Cape Verde, and then back across on the Trade Winds to the Caribbean. We were able to join him in Grenada for a wonderful 2 week sail to the country called St. Vincent and the Grenadines. How can you hate 85 degree crystal clear aquamarine water, great fishing, nice cold beers and other "boat drinks" and spiny lobsters on the grill? This trip was especially enjoyable given Norma's injuries/illness in 2003 and because we were even able to watch the Patriots win the Superbowl!

Sugaring Season

Every once in a while we get a really good sugaring season, and 2004 was one of those. We produced a record crop for us of over 800 gallons of syrup, most of which was of the lighter color grades (USDA Grade A Light Amber and Grade A Medium Amber).

Barnyard improvement project

Utilizing cost sharing funds through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), we modified the paddock area to the north of our barns to eliminate water run off that could carry manure off the farm. The project involved quite a bit of grading and the erection of a large block retaining wall to move water away from the paddock and out into a nearby hayfield. Any water coming off the concrete slabs behind the barn is now routed through a grassy "filter strip" that is designed to capture any solids before they can move off site.

Ilsa loses her foals

Another bit of bad luck visited us in July, when our beautiful mare BHF Ilsa foaled with twins. Twinning in equines is very rare, and most often they do not survive, as was the case here. Both foals were fully formed, but were stillborn. When she was ultrasounded 11 months previous, we saw no signs of twins, probably because one was hidden by the other. Fortunately, Ilsa responded well to treatments and she survived the ordeal.

The Bungalow

After many years of watchful waiting, in October, we were fortunate to be able to purchase back the last remaining part of the farm that had been sold by previous owners. With this purchase, the farm has been returned to its boundaries going back to at least 1797, the first mention in the deeds of "a 130 acre farm".

The parcel is about .8 acre, and is the site of a small summer camp built in 1952 by the Murray family. For many years, the camp was owned by Mr. Malcolm Greve a retired school custodian from New Jersey. Unfortunately, just 2 weeks after the closing, Mr. Greve passed away rather suddenly. We were truly saddened by his passing since we had wanted him to see the renovations we planned for his camp.

Renovations to the camp (now known as "The Bungalow") required a complete overhaul and included all new wiring and plumbing, complete insulation top to bottom, lots of sheet rock, new Pella windows and doors, new hardwood floors, a new kitchen and bathroom, a new heating system, and addition of a large exterior deck. All renovations were carried out to meet the Massachusetts Building Code by local contractors, including Jerry Ferguson Electrician, Country Oil and Plumbing, Osterman Gas, Friends of the Sun, King House Painting and Wallcovering, Doug Johnson Window and Door Installation, and particularly David Hazlett and his son Jason.

For a more detailed look at the work on the Bungalow, a PowerPoint slide show of the work is available online.

Outdoor driving/riding ring

In the fall, we started earthmoving to create a 70' by 160' sand-surfaced ring for riding and driving. Our previous ring was much smaller (50' x 90'), and not suitable for driving work. The grading work on the ring was finished in 2005 and a nice sand surface put down. We have purchased a 2 rail vinyl fence with gates that will be installed in spring of 2006.

New "Spinner" cart

We decide to upgrade our horse drawn vehicles this year by purchasing an Amish Made "Spinner" cart. The Spinner is much lighter than our previous Meadowbrook cart, and has several nice feature, including being an "easy entry" type, and having hydraulic disk brakes. Unfortunately, we as of January 2006, we are still waiting for the seller (Running Brook Carriages in Woodstock Vermont), to send us the toe rail and touch up paint we ordered when we first bought it, but in all other ways, we are very happy with the cart.