by Edith Tucker
WOLFEBORO, NH – Alan and Carolyn Fredrickson and their two children moved in 2004 from Norwell, MA, south of Boston, to the 108-acre Top of the Hill Farm in the Lakes Region. The four-member family leases another 175 acres to use for pasture and hayfields.
Their son Erik has been planning for some time to join his father in operating and expanding the hilltop farm. He graduated in 2018 from Oklahoma State University, majoring in animal science and agricultural business.
Their daughter Anna earned a B.S. in business administration from UNH the same year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s working remotely from her childhood home, but ordinarily she works at a Boston accounting firm. Anna has come home frequently on weekends, and, working online, she keeps all their cattle’s breeding and association records, plus researches the most suitable AI bulls.
Carolyn, a full-time RN at Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, also works on the farm.
“We keep 90 head of beef cattle,” Alan said. “We basically raise 85% Herefords, plus some Maine-Anjous and Chianina (‘Chi’) for cross-breeding.”
They raise both male and female cattle, usually keeping a couple for bulls and their own females for replacement breeding stock. Those raised for slaughter and taken to the Windham, Maine, Butcher Shop are ordinarily 18 months old.
The cattle at Top of the Hill stay outdoors all year long, although they always have ready access to indoor space. Alan pointed out a bedded pack barn that provides protection for young calves.
This time of year – the infamous “mud season” – their animals are far more confined than usual. “We don’t want them destroying our fields,” he explained.
Raised on a farm, Alan grew up with cattle. “I went to the Norfolk County Agricultural High School in Walpole, Massachusetts, and that’s where I really learned about genetics,” he said. “I started my own landscaping and excavating business while still in high school, but I always kept raising cattle. I continued both when I graduated.
“Breeding is now really artificial insemination, but just in case that’s not a ‘go,’ I put a bull in with the cow to be sure she’s bred,” Alan said.
Sometimes, if he has raised an excellent brood cow, Alan will have a veterinarian from Eclipse Genetics LLC flush out an embryo and implant it in another cow to allow for the development of another. “Timing is critical, of course,” he said. “These services are available in New Hampshire several times a year, but not as readily as in southern New England.”
The Herefords and other cattle are fed a mix of top quality baleage and dry hay, all grown on their acreage. “We source some oats and barley, and, of course, provide a mix of minerals,” Alan said.
Now that Erik has decided to stay on the farm, he and his dad did the site work for two new free-standing metal board-and-batten-style structures. The smaller one is designed to replace the store that had been cobbled together in half of a two-bay garage. The larger one is an equipment shed designed to hold tractors, trucks and various pieces of equipment.
“I can hardly wait to do the landscaping,” Alan said.
“We’ve sold over 2,000 pounds of ground hamburger in the last two-plus weeks in our store to order in York, Maine, where we met customers at what was to have been a winter farmers market,” Alan said. “COVID-19 has strengthened people’s commitment to buying from local farms, and we believe that this will continue.”
Anna and Alan explained they had culled more older cows than usual, so that their walk-in freezer and glass-fronted freezer cases were stocked up far more than is usual this time of year. They also carry packaged greens, local maple products and milk bottled at Sherman Farm in East Conway, including chocolate milk.
“We also buy and raise lambs in the spring to graze with our cattle,” Alan explained. “We also buy piglets and raise them, 10 or 12 at a time. We raise laying hens, 150 at a time, and broilers in batches of 100.”
The 72-foot-long high tunnel will soon be filled with pots and plugs of flowers. Gardens will be planted with vegetables to sell at a local farmers market in Wolfeboro as well as in York.
“Bright flowers and a variety of vegetables draw lots of customers to our meats,” Alan said. “The summer season with all the tourists here in and around Lake Winnipesaukee is by far our biggest season; this year, we can only hope that July 4 to Labor Day we’ll be back to normal.”