We sell Windswept Maples Farm Eggs and Maple Syrup in our Miles Smith Farm store, so I thought the tour would be fun. Their place, which is at Loudon, is only eight miles from ours.
Larry and Melissa Moore make maple products for bulk and special orders and keep the farm stand attached to the sugar shack stocked with tomatoes, sweet corn, pumpkins, and other vegetables. Melissa also manages three beehives that produce delicious honey and two smaller core colonies separated from the main hives. A nucleus colony is made up of only five frames. The Moores raise lambs for the ethnic market, sell grass-fed beef, and have 150 laying hens. Some of these eggs are sold at the Miles Smith Farm Store.
In 1983, when Melissa was engaged to Larry, she was working for the Dairy Herd Improvement Association, collecting milk samples for member farms. The samples were sent to a laboratory for analysis and measurement of their fat and protein content. The information helped dairy producers make informed decisions about herd management.
Later, while Melissa and Larry were raising their three sons, she had an off-farm income, writing for farm journals and working as a school librarian.
Melissa has lived and worked at Windswept Maples for over 38 years.
“Now I’m just too slow to stack the hay in the hay cart,” Melissa said. “I can help with the unloading or the delivery, but I’ll leave the rest to Larry and our three sons. I figured out years ago that this helps keep our candy open as many days as possible throughout the year. My role is therefore to maintain regular schedules from June to October, then again during the busy Christmas period. Of course, we feel like we are living in the sugar shack in February and March. I make maple sugar, maple cream and dry granulated maple sugar. I tried to develop lollipops. When making maple candies, I work the syrup at high temperature. My experience is that the ingredients in lollipops harden quickly, and I haven’t been able to make a lot of them in one batch. I am still working on my technique.
Besides maple trees, the Moors have cattle. Larry manages the farm, including planting, harvesting and haymaking. Son Jeff manages the 28 pair Angus cow / calf cow / calf herd, while Melissa does her part in helping Larry manage the crossbreed sheep herd.
When it’s January, all the action is in the lambing barn. Lambs can be born anytime, day or night, and often need human assistance. Fortunately, Melissa doesn’t always have to go out in the cold for the midnight sheep checks.
“Before going to the barn, I look at the camera. If all is calm, I will stay in bed. If I see a lamb lambing, it’s in boots and a cold trip to the barn. We subscribe to a software application called Calving App. I can record the birth of each calf on my iPhone, then download and print all the records to keep in the office, ”said Melissa.
Like other farmers, the Moors spend their “vacation” days visiting other farms and equipment dealers. But Melissa and Larry adopted a pretty nice plan for the time. Each trip to an equipment dealership is accompanied by a visit to a place unrelated to work. For example, a trip to Forrester Farm Equipment in Chambersburg, Pa., Might follow a visit to a quilt store in Lancaster County. Or a run at the New Holland dealership in Ceresville, MD, was paired with a visit to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. But she let Larry go on a trip to New York State on his own to examine a manure spreader. “As much as I wanted to go to the Landis Arboretum in Esperanza, NY, the thought of making the trip home with a used manure spreader in tow didn’t sound too fun.”
A few years ago Norman Bowles, an old friend from the milk tasting days, asked Melissa, “Is being a farmer what you expected?” “
Melissa replied, “Well, Norman… I guess you have to be there for the long haul. It’s never boring. There are tough setbacks, but there are so many grander moments. It’s a good life with an abundance of fresh food and the chance to put your dreams and plans into action.
The fall store hours of operation at Windswept Maples Farm in Loudon are Thursday through Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment.
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, NH, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local produce.