by Sally Colby
Andrew and Annie Hubbard are breathing new life onto a multi-generational farm in Princeton, MA. Andrew explained his great-great-grandfather started the farm as a dairy farm, and the dairy operation continued until it reached Andrew’s father. After Andrew’s parents sold the milking herd in 2000, the family kept the farm and started selling wood pellets and bark mulch.
Over the past three years, Andrew and Annie have been reintroducing livestock to the farm. They started with beef cattle, then added poultry and hogs.
The beef cows at Hubbard’s farm are primarily Hereford-Angus crosses. “I was familiar with those, so that’s what we started with,” said Andy. “Several local farmers helped us.”
Today, Hubbard’s Farm is home to 48 beef cattle of various ages. Cows are bred to purebred Angus bulls via A.I. In order to maintain a year-round supply of beef for customers, Andrew stretches the calving season out as long as possible. To provide a consistent diet for cattle, the Hubbards make haylage and corn silage and grow about 30 acres of dry hay.
Cattle spend most of the time on pasture, and cows close to their calving date are brought to an indoor pen for close observation. When the cow/calf pairs are old enough or the weather is suitable, they return to pasture. The entire herd is fed a combination of home-grown corn silage and hay silage. Calves being finished receive additional grain for three months prior to processing. “We bring them up to about 1,200 pounds,” said Andrew. “It takes about 13 to 14 months to get them to processing weight.”
To provide a more diverse selection of products for customers, the Hubbards added laying hens, broilers and hogs to the farm. Andrew said their veterinarian helped them connect with a swine breeder, and after learning more about the different hog breeds, Andrew was told people prefer meat from Berkshires. After purchasing both Berkshires and Durocs, Andrew agreed that Berkshires are a superior meat breed. The pigs are raised outside with a hut for shelter, and in addition to foraging, they receive grain.
Andrew explained that when various meats were first available, getting the word out was a matter of adding the information to their existing wood pellet newsletter and website. Customers can purchase meat in several ways. “A lot of people buy a half,” said Andrew. “We also sell individual cuts. The most popular cuts are ribeye and ground beef.”
In addition to selling directly from the farm, the Hubbards also sell meat at a nearby farmers market, or customers can subscribe to one of several meat CSAs. Annie explained how the meat CSA works: “It’s a six-month CSA, and it’s rolling so people can sign up any time. We offer several different packages: there’s a large family package of 20 pounds of meat each month, and it includes beef, pork and chicken. The small family package is 10 pounds of meat each month. We also have the chuck wagon, which is ground beef and sausage. The breakfast club includes ham, bacon, breakfast sausage and eggs.”
Annie described the crock pot special, which includes beef roasts, country-style pork ribs and chicken and all beef or all chicken cookout specials. The Hubbards are flexible and will gladly adjust the contents of packages to suit individual tastes. Although first-time customers are sometimes overwhelmed with the choices, Annie found that offering a variety of packages provides an opportunity for people to try several meats in various cuts. Hubbard’s Farm uses social media to keep customers informed about what’s available as well as special offers and contests.
The Hubbards welcome visitors to the farm, and a frequently asked question is where the animals are housed. “When people ask about that, we always offer to take them on a tour so they can see the barns and the fields,” said Annie, adding that children love to see the animals on the farm. “People also ask us what the animals are fed, and they like the fact that we grow our own hay and silage.”
During autumn and winter, Hubbard’s Farm sells wood pellets. Annie said many customers who regularly purchase wood pellets were pleased to learn they could also purchase meat. “About 60 to 75 percent of customers who come here to buy wood pellets will also buy meat or another farm product,” said Annie. “That has really helped us.”
In addition to the home farm, the Hubbards lease acreage where they grow sweet corn. “This year we’re growing two varieties of sweet corn,” said Annie. “This will be the first time we’re doing that. Sweet corn is sold on a stand, and customers who come after hours can purchase it on the honor system by the dozen or the piece. We also sell bushels of corn to a local restaurant and at the farmers market.”
Hubbard’s Farm also grows blueberries, which are available at the farm store and farmers market. Although she and Andrew are trying to keep the farm to a manageable size, Annie said they might grow pumpkins this year to sell at the farm stand. “One of our goals is to not become overwhelmed because we want to do the job well,” said Annie. “We try to start everything small and let it grow with us.”
Visit Hubbard’s Farm on Facebook and at www.HubbardsFarm.com .