All about that maple

Maple Weekend is just a few days away and we have been getting ready! The sap flow hasn’t been the greatest so far this season but we continue to collect as much as we can and boil it down into delicious syrup.

So when will we be open? Well, Jeff and Steph are attending the annual town meeting on Saturday but oldest daughter Anna and youngest daughter Emily will be manning the saphouse and farm stand in our absence, along with neighbor/nephew Aaron. We expect to open around 8 a.m. on Saturday and will stay open until 4 p.m., unless we sell out. If we still have syrup to sell on Sunday, we will be open from 9 a.m. until we sell out or the weather gets into our bones.

It’s possible you might be able to request a whole frozen chicken or two, or a dozen eggs, if supplies hold up and Steph is around.

As always, we prefer cash, Venmo or PayPal. But, we also accept local checks and credit/debit cards (we pay a fee to accept cards via Square).

If you’re not sure we are still open, look for the open flag by the road (it’s hard to miss), or give us a call or text at 207-542-1449 or 207-542-1836. We are located, for those of you who don’t know already, at 262 Rockland Road, Washington, ME 04574.

Where have we been?

The short answer is: Here on the farm. Just like everyone, we’ve had to make adjustments because of the ongoing pandemic and keeping up with the website has fallen by the wayside as we took on some new projects and animals.

With that, I’d like to introduce Rosie (a Red Angus/HIghland mix) and Willow (a full Highland), who joined Two Rock Ridge Farm in April 2021.

We spent much of the spring — after a strange up-and-down maple sap run — building infrastructure to keep these two ladies safe. We were not expecting to get cows this year, but as luck would have it, things came together and they were delivered by Highland Farms of Troy at the end of April.

I was able to raise two flights of meat birds this year and tried a new-to-me breed — Red Rangers. Those are a heritage breed of meat birds that aren’t as breasty as Cornish Crosses. Rangers take a little longer to grow out and, in my case, are much smaller birds. I think if they had a little more space (I didn’t get them out onto grass as quickly as I should have), they would have been larger. I kept a few and those have gotten close to typical Cornish Cross size now that they’re in with my layers and aren’t competing with as many birds.

The first batch of birds included some Cornish Cross and we had a time with them. They arrived in April on a day of howling winds and cold. We decided it would be better to keep these small babies in the house instead of the drafty barn. I did all the usual things I do when I get day-old chicks — give them water and a little feed inside the plastic tote I always use as a brooder. Anyone who has ever had chicks knows they can be a little loud so I was suspicious when it got very quiet in the tote. I went to investigate and what I saw was devastating: Thirty wet, cold chicks.

I’m not sure how they managed to soak themselves but many of the birds were stiff and looked dead. Jeff jumped in to help me dry them and try to warm them back up. We put them on the open oven door and Jeff ran next door to grab our niece’s hairdryer. After about an hour, we managed to dry and revive all but three of the chicks. However, in the next week, they continued to die (we think from that initial stressful event) until I was left with just seven Cornish Cross birds. I replenished the numbers with Tractor Supply chicks, Isa browns and Golden Comets, but those chicks did not grow fast enough to be butchered on my scheduled-in-advance date. Most of them now live with the layers.

In addition, we raised pheasants this year for the first time. There was a learning curve there, too. They fly when they are very young — which I did not know. Lost a few of those as well before I realized I needed to cover their brooder. Then, I lost a few more when I moved them into a covered pen outside that I wrapped in chicken wire — a predator reached right through the holes and pulled the smallest birds right through. After that, I added bird netting over the chicken wire and that did the trick. We got permits to release the pheasants and friends with hunting dogs attempted to track them down. Unsuccessfully. But, they said they had fun and we might try again next year, as our release permits are good for two years.

My “old ladies” — free-range chickens I’ve had for five or six years — also had a catastrophic summer. A raccoon attacked and killed four in one night, leaving behind the bloody carcasses and the remaining four traumatized chickens. I found the spot where I thought it got into the coop and patched it with metal chicken wire. But I didn’t find the other spot where it got in and it killed three more of my old ladies. I have just one Barred Rock hen left now and it took her weeks to venture out of the coop again. I added some of the spring chickens to her coop and they are slowing warming up to each other and the young chickens have recently begun laying. I’m not sure how it’s going to play out quite yet but I somehow ended up with a rooster in that batch and he’s been cozying up to my old lady — she might still overrule him but it’s still too early to tell what kind of a rooster he will be.

We decided not to get pigs this year and are glad of it. We will probably go back to raising pigs again next year or the year after, once we move the cows closer to our house. The cows are currently living next door at our niece’s barn, which was being used only for storage and raising meat birds for the past few years. After pumpkin season concludes, we will be back at it, building more fenced pasture for the cows.

Also this spring, we purchased a new farm stand. No more sharing the sap house space for farm stand sales, now we have a dedicated building for retail. It took a couple of days but I managed to get one coat of stain on the farm stand before we opened for the season. We’ve now been open for three weekends and it’s been hectic! (But awesome!)

Did I mention we also put up a greenhouse? Just a small one to start, 12-by-20-feet, but everything inside is growing like gangbusters (no small feat considering the weather challenges of this year). If I could figure out how to get the chipmunks to stop chowing down on my unripe tomatoes, I’d be ecstatic. We are already considering a larger greenhouse space for next year.

The farm started a YouTube channel and we’ve posted several videos over the summer of different things around the farm. We continue to post on Instagram and Facebook as well. With winter getting closer, we will be evaluating how to consistently keep up with social media since we obviously didn’t do very well on that front this year.

Another thing that did not do well this year for us is potatoes. We planted more than 500 pounds of seed potatoes in May and lost nearly all of them by late July. The plants were growing along as usual, even with the dry beginning of summer. Then it started to rain. And rain. And rain. And rain. Potato beetles discovered our large crop and moved in, decimating rows overnight. We hand-picked bugs. It rained. We dusted with diatomaceous earth. It rained. We simply could not keep ahead of the potato beetles and didn’t want to use harsh chemicals. So we lost all but about 75 pounds of our harvest — most of which were consumed at our niece’s August wedding.

Deer and turkeys also took a toll on the pumpkin crop, wiping out the majority of my small gourds, squash and pie pumpkins that were planted away from our two large fields of carving pumpkins. With those, I also planted a big patch of sunflowers (also for the wedding) and those did quite well. I’ve harvested a bunch of the heads to save the seeds for replanting and I’m going to try roasting some as well. The turkeys are all up in the sunflowers’ business still…but now I know I need to harvest the heads a little sooner.

I’m sure there’s more I’ve forgotten but I think I hit most of the highlights and lowlights of 2021 so far. Stay tuned…

Outside the snow is falling and roosters are crowing, boo-hoo

OK, so, it is not actually snowing right now but it’s a gray winter day here on the farm. The part about the roosters is true though.

This photo is from a few months ago but you can still see the rooster development starting.

If you recall, earlier this year, I incubated and hatched chickens for the first time. I knew I would end up with roosters but, now, five months later, it seems like there’s a new one every day! Birds I thought would be laying hens all of a sudden are sprouting long tail feathers and towering over the the smaller chickens. Oh well, at least I know they are not all roosters (I purchased some sexed birds as well, not knowing what I would end up with from the hatch).

We still have pigs but finally have begun the butcher-day countdown. This is, by far, the latest in the year we’ve had to care for the bacon and I look forward to not breaking ice and hauling five-gallon buckets of water to them every day.

This week, I also put in our potato order for the spring. Some items already were listed as sold out! I typically don’t order until late January but as crazy as 2020 has been, I think we are going to be looking at shortages of farm supplies, seeds and other things for a while still. I feel extremely lucky to know great people who keep an eye out for things, such as Mason jars and lids, on my behalf. Other than those (and toilet paper!), most things have been available here, even if it takes a little longer to find them.

But winter is when we get to sit for a minute and reflect on what we’ve accomplished during the warmer months. Despite Covid-19, we were able to keep the farmstand open for the whole season. We sold out of potatoes (and barely managed to save any for ourselves!), squash, maple syrup and pumpkins. We have a plan for next year’s crops, turned over new areas of the fields and got the garlic in the ground when it was a balmy 65-degree day in early November. The greenhouse frame is up and leveled where we used to have a fenced-in garden of raised beds we built years ago. Plans are rolling around for new fencing and raised beds around the greenhouse, as well as what crops will be started inside and stay inside for the season. Firewood for most of the winter is split and stacked. I canned all my usual stuff, and froze some garden produce. There are boxes of squash and onions stored away, and garlic. While the freezers are not yet full of meat, the pigs’ days are numbered and we’ve got plenty of chickens.

We made some incredible equipment finds this fall, too. A small garden tractor we plan to use for weed control also came with a snowblower attachment, which Jeff intends to give a whirl once we get more than a couple of inches of snow. In the next town over, we picked up a big scale that will be great for larger amounts of potatoes and a little more professional than our bathroom scale for pumpkins.

I’m learning more about QuickBooks every day but am also planning to get back to writing a little more often during these slower months.

Did I mention we also got a new kitten? This is Gracie, shown here with Penelope for scale, and she’s very much a kitten — always annoying the other two cats and running (unless she’s asleep).

Chicken math

If you don’t follow two_rock_ridge on Instagram, you probably aren’t keeping up with the number of chickens currently on the farm. It’s 37, not counting the ones already in the freezer(25) or the next soon-to-arrive batch of Cornish Crosses (30).

Here’s what happened. This spring, I had just nine laying hens. I’ve been wanting to add more laying hens in the hope of selling some eggs in the farmstand, so I reached out to a friend who has some beautiful birds and an incubator to see if she might hatch “a few” chicks for me. Long story short, she ended up with a ton of orders for chicks and by the time she got to my name on the list, she offered use of her incubators to me.

I’ve never hatched a bird in my life. Didn’t really know much about how it works. But, I gave it a shot and loaded up the eggs — 21 days later, I had a successful hatch of 18 brand new baby chicks. More about that process later…

In the meantime, knowing it would be a while before the babies would hatch, in May I also picked up 10 more laying birds from Pleasant Pond Poultry in Turner, just in case the hatching didn’t work out.

We finished construction (mostly) on the new henhouse and when I moved the 10 now-“teenagers” out there, we determined the space won’t be large enough to add the 18 “babies” that hatched in July. So, we are working on another henhouse, which will eventually connect with the first new henhouse with chicken runs for travelling back and forth. These are both in addition to the existing coop for the “old ladies” and the movable chicken tractor that I use for meat birds.

I’ve also been trying to figure out how to raise more meat birds at once, as my chicken tractor maxes out at 30 birds…

To summarize, in the span of three months, we went from one coop and one chicken tractor for nine birds to four coops/houses/tractors and three dozen chickens (plus, a total of 55 meat birds this year alone) — this is chicken math in all its glory. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Open for business, corona-style

This weekend, we intend to open the farm stand for the season — but things will look a little different than last year because of COVID-19.

The biggest change is that we will NOT be allowing self-service. The stand will be manned (read: open) as often as we are able and we plan to have pre-weighed bags of potatoes ready to go in different weights (and we will weigh up as much as you want if those sizes are too small!). We’ve set up a table outside the stand to allow for social distancing and won’t be allowing anyone inside the stand.

If the open flag is flying by the road, pull in and come see us!

We know it’s summer and it’s hot, but masks are encouraged. We will have you back in your own vehicle — where you can remove your mask — as quickly as we can.

We have new payment methods available as well — Venmo (@Stephanie-Grinnell) and PayPal ( We will continue to accept checks and cash but are unable, at this time, to accept credit/debit cards.

Whenever possible, please pre-order meat (whole frozen chickens and cuts of pork available) by emailing or calling/texting 207-542-1449. You’ll receive a response within 24 hours, often faster, with any method you chose to contact us.

Stay updated on what’s available here.

Quick update on spring happenings

While the list of things that still need to be done seems to grow longer every day, we’ve made good progress this spring.

Potatoes planted, check.


Pigs and chickens purchased and growing, check.

Fields cultivated for weeds, check.


New henhouse construction started, check.


And the list goes on! Raised beds cleaned and ready for planting, check. Barn emptied of animals and cleaned, check. House relatively presentable in regard to cleanliness, check. Laundry mountain shrinking, check. Return to regular employment, check. Licensing paperwork submitted and approved, check. Insurance policy updated, check.

As well, I’m doing a better job with paperwork and tracking crop production and expenses this year. And (!) we also are working on a few house projects that we’ve put off for years.

I’m getting better at operating tractors, and Jeff even had me on “Big Blue” while we cleaned out the barn to save him from getting on and off the tractor repeatedly. My legs are too short for running this tractor for any period of time, I found. I had to sit way forward on the seat to get the clutch in all the way. But knowing how to use the bucket controls is helpful.


Jeff is working on another old John Deere over in the shop that belonged to his uncle in our precious little down time. Here are the “before” pictures — I hope to have “after” pictures in a few months.




There you have it, what we’ve been up to for the past month or so.

Pandemic panic purchases = stressful spring

What a time we have had trying to find feeder pigs (pigs raised for meat) this year! And then, to get a butcher date has been even more challenging. If you’ve read my prior blog, you already know some of the story, so feel free to skip over the next paragraph, which is a summary.

First, we arranged last fall for another local farmer to breed pigs for us. She uses artificial insemination and despite several tries, none of her pigs were bred. She let us know sometime in February she would not be able to provide us with piglets this year. We immediately started looking for a new source and finally got in touch with a man about an hour away, who said he had a few available but he wasn’t sure if they would survive. By mid-April (scheduled pick-up date in early May), he let me know they didn’t. Next, we tried another local farm.

Here’s where some new information comes in: I arranged for purchase of six pigs from this person, with whom we have dealt before. Over the winter, I’d been researching the particulars of licensing to sell meat and finally decided it was time to get my paperwork submitted. We made a social media announcement to let people know we aim to sell meat once the licensing comes through; this person saw the post and immediately cancelled my order. Turns out, this person feels the market in this area is too tight for anyone else to sell pork — that was the reason given for the cancelled order, which included a full deposit refund. This happened May 4.

We spent much of the day May 5 scouring the internet and making phone calls, hoping to find piglets available sooner than fall.

I begged the local farmer for reconsideration and it was agreed we could have just two piglets. A week later, after thinking about the situation, I reached out and cancelled that order. Most of my two-pig deposit was refunded, and the local farmer fairly retained an administrative fee for the waffling.

At the same time, to hedge our bets a bit, we reserved six with one person and six through a farm in New Hampshire (three hours, one way). We got a call May 8 from the closer source that said our pigs had arrived and we should pick them up the next day. On May 9, an extremely windy and snowy day, we drove an hour and a half to pick up six of the smallest pigs I’ve seen in a while. We made the decision to temporarily house them in our niece’s barn because it was so cold. They settled in with shavings and bales of hay, as well as the heat lamp I usually use for my meat chickens.


A week later, we were supposed to pick up pigs in New Hampshire. The owner contacted us and asked if we would be willing to hold off a week so she could have them vet-checked and cleared. Of course!

In the meantime, one of our six barn piglets died. It had not been healthy since we brought it home; it was very skinny and not eating well, along with diarrhea. We treated with wormer and lots of fresh, clean water in the hopes “skinny pig” would make a recovery. It didn’t. However, the other five remained healthy and happy — we moved them to their permanent outside pen a few days ago.

SOME people (cough, Jeff, cough) can’t name the piglets for fear of becoming too attached. But I can! This year’s singer-inspired batch of piglets are Jon Boar Jovi, Pork Malone, Hammy Davis Jr., Swine-el Richie and Melissa Etherpig. Enjoy this video of them just after being moved outside 🙂

But, then, more problems. As we prepared to pick up our other six piglets, we were hearing buzz about unhealthy “factory pigs” coming out of Pennsylvania. I reached out to the New Hampshire farmer with my concerns about bringing in potentially unhealthy piglets to mix in with our now healthy batch. To the farmer’s credit, our deposit money was refunded based on our concerns and all parties walked away agreeing to stay in touch for future piglets.

Pigs finally in hand … er, barn … we called our regular butcher to reserve a date for their demise. Booked almost solid. We managed to get them in this year, barely. It’ll be the latest into the year we’ve raised pigs and we’re expecting them to be monsters — a welcome change from our underwhelming sized pigs from last year.

All that said, we have been trying to figure out why it was so difficult to even locate pigs for sale this year. After calling the butcher, we are assuming people in larger numbers have decided to turn to raising a pig for meat — there have been news headlines warning of meat shortages because of COVID-19, so perhaps that is the driving factor.

I thought it would be difficult to get my meat birds into the butcher as well, but as it turns out, I had my pick of dates. Go figure! We started raising pigs and chickens at the same time, and it seems crazy to me that people might choose to raise a pig over a flock of meat birds. Pigs are a larger return but meat birds are a fast turn-around.


The birds above will only be around for about nine weeks total (some of those weeks are already gone!) before they head off to the big chicken pasture in the sky.

In the same vein of COVID-19 difficulties, it also seems more people are raising chickens of all kinds. Three stores I tried the same day did not have chick grit, which I’ve never had trouble finding before. Our local feed store now is regularly wiped out of feed, which also has never happened before.

Well, I think I’ve talked your ears off enough for now. Stay tuned for an update on all of the other goings on here at Two Rock Ridge Farm (there are a lot)!

Spring (?)

Like everyone continuing social isolation, we can’t wait for spring! However, the weather really doesn’t seem to be cooperating very well here in Maine. Today it’s 46 degrees, sunny and windy. Tolerable to be outside but still not warm enough to get gardens started or spend much time working on projects. Still, there are a few crocuses poking through, along with garlic (yay!), chives and rhubarb.


So as we wait out the pandemic and for spring temps to arrive, seeds are sprouting in my indoor greenhouses (tiny little things purchased for cheap at a discount store). And plans for a more substantial greenhouse are finally coming together! We picked up a frame this morning that we will turn into a greenhouse sometime before winter.

Last week, we got our raised beds cleaned up and ready for planting and this weekend, I raked out the flower and herb gardens as well. Jeff’s been repairing broken and bent equipment that we’ll need soon for planting this year’s potato crop — also somewhat different this year because we’ve had to ship the seed potatoes rather than picking up. But, the seed potatoes are scheduled to arrive sometime this week.

Yesterday, unfortunately, I found out that my (second) pig source fell through and would not have any bacon bits for me this spring. Good thing I’m a back-up planner — I immediately reached out to a third person (who I have been regularly checking in with about piglets) and I think we’ll be able to work out a deal. Jeff and I already have resigned ourselves to raising the pigs longer into the fall and winter to grow them to their potential — typically we send the little piggies off to the butcher by October because getting water to them becomes challenging with colder (often below freezing) temps.

Added to that, my dear friend who is incubating a new batch of laying hens for me, fell behind when the state was hit by a heavy snowstorm and power outages recently. I feel lucky to still have my old ladies (4-year-olds), which are still actively laying on a consistent basis. They provide enough eggs for the family so the delay in new hens simply pushes back my plans to start offering extra eggs for sale this year.


With few animals and plants to attend, yesterday, we split more firewood. Typically, we aren’t running the woodstove anywhere near as much this time of year but winter just won’t let go…

We had lumber delivered yesterday, too. That’s slated for a deck railing (new insurance company, but the farm is now properly covered) as well as a new henhouse. Work on those projects will kick off this week (if the wind ever stops blowing and it gets a little warmer).

While the weather’s been clinging to winter, we’ve also been working inside the house to complete long-delayed items so I like to think that we are at least making good use of our social isolation time.

Syrup available; new contact info

A week ago was supposed to be our big grand opening to the public: Maple Sunday. Instead, we (and we hope you) spent our time socially and physically distancing from everyone but family. But, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have maple syrup! After talking things over, Jeff and I have decided to offer our syrup for sale by appointment here at the farm, in the interest of keeping groups of people apart.


Here’s how we hope it’s going to work:

  • decide how much syrup and what type you’d like (I’ll be updating the products page regularly with what’s available)
  • email or call (voicemails will be returned within 24 hours) to set up a time to pick up your syrup here at Two Rock Ridge Farm, 262 Rockland Road, Washington, ME 04574
  • when your order is placed, you’ll receive a total due upon pick-up; PayPal and Venmo accepted
  • orders should be collected near the saphouse (red building in the field, visible from road); if paying in cash, someone will meet you but otherwise, you won’t see us!

In other business, I decided it was time to create an email specifically for the farm rather than giving out mine or Jeff’s personal ones, so if you have questions for us about what’s going on with the farm or what products we have for sale, just drop us a line at I’m checking it a few times a day and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can! You can also use the contact form on the site.

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