Backyard Farming: Open House at The Hay Loft, March 31–April 1

With a mission to restore backyard farming, Cathy McLean will be holding an open house at the Hay Loft, a farm supply store in South Berwick, from Saturday, March 31st to Sunday, April 1st, 8:30 to 5 p.m. From Fosters:

When I was a kid, I would do anything to be around animals,” said McLean. But it wasn’t until many years later at the age of 20 that McLean finally got her own first farm animals — two horses named Wahoo and Diamond Jim.

Today, after 23 years as a health care professional, McLean has a home on Knights Pond Road in South Berwick with two dairy cows, three beef cows, 20 hens, four roosters, two sows and four horses, including Itchy, a wild mustang from the plains of Nevada. And just down her driveway, she and her fiancé, Tom Tetu, own and run the Hay Loft, a farm supply store.

But her dream now is to help bring backyard farming back to many more families in her community and Maine.

“Restoring backyard farming to Maine is definitely what I want to be part of,” said McLean, scratching behind the ears of Mother, the one cow she vows will not become meat.

As part of this effort, the Hay Loft is holding an open house 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 31. and Sunday, April 1.

One of her heroes in the backyard farming department, Barry Person of Emery’s Bridge Road, will be there to talk about raising pigs. He will have his own pork for sale and a small group of piglets with him for a hands-on demonstration.

In addition, McLean will bring some hens — perhaps a few Ameraucana’s, New Hampshire Reds or Barred Rocks — to encourage people to take up chicken farming.

“It takes six to seven weeks start to finish for roasting chickens,” she said. “And free range chickens eat ticks in the yard.”

The SPCA of Stratham is scheduled to bring kittens, puppies and baby goats for adoption. Anyone who adopts that day will get a free bag of food. And for every $50 in sales, McLean will give a bale of hay to the SPCA.

Finally. McLean will be offering local farmers a place to recycle grain bags. These bags are actually #5 plastic and not accepted at the dump. The Hayloft sends them to Maine Harvest for Hunger, which uses them to transport food around the state. Farmers will also be able to have a hay analysis on that Saturday…

The Hay Loft sells lobster rope mats made by Sue Volger of South Berwick; whoopee pies made by Creekview Baking Co. in Eliot and beans from down the road. She also sells eggs from locals, and said she never turns anyone away who wants her to carry their eggs. She will be selling meat from her cows, chickens and pigs as soon as she gets the state’s OK. Read more…

The Hay Loft Open House will run 8:30 am to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 31, and Sunday April 1. For more information, call 207-384-5554 or email cathy@hayloftfarmsupplies.com.

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