Not Boughten

July 31, 2013 § 16 Comments



I just finished churning the 75th pound of this season’s butter, which means I’ve got about 125-pounds to go if we’re to escape the indignity of what the boys have termed “boughten butter.” Most years, we don’t quite make it; this family has a serious butter habit, to the tune of at least four-pounds weekly. Last summer, owing to a confluence of factors, I only barely hit the 150-pound mark, and by March, we could be found skulking through the dairy aisle in search of spreadable fat.

It’s safe to say I have something of a butter obsession; for whatever reason, it has come to serve as my emblem of this little farm’s prosperity. Of all the foodstuffs we produce, it is perhaps the only one which cannot be sourced on the open market. Oh, sure, we can procure boughten butter, but there’s no such thing as boughten butter: Cultured, unpasteurized, the garishly yellow hue of cows fattened on the sweet flush of late-May grass. Once, many years back, someone approached us about selling butter, and I was honestly a bit dumbstruck: Sell our butter? I could not imagine a price that would account for all it means to us, so I gave her a pound and sent her on her way.

We are in the season of abundance, that’s for damn sure. The butter piling up, the blueberry bushes drooping and folding under the weight of their ripening fruit. Every day, Penny picks gallons, and when we are out in public (not that often this time of year, given all the gifts of the land that require tending), our blue-stained lips draw stares. The piggies are fattening into their full succulence, and in a week, we’ll put a year’s worth of beef in the freezer. The garlic is drying. The barn is full of hay. The potatoes look fantastic; owing to our remineralization protocol, potato beetles are nearly a non-issue. Green beans. The first tomatoes last night on burgers, and lemme tell you: There ain’t nothing so fine as a bloody rare burger under the first tomato you’ve tasted in nearly 11 months. The batch of dry cure sausage I hung a few weeks ago is ready, so we slice it paper thin and let it melt into our tongues. Rye is milking his goat every morning, and we eat chèvre by the spoonful. It’s going to be a hell of an apple year, too, and the wild blackberries? Crazy. Just crazy. This morning, I strolled down to our favorite yellow foot chanterelle stash and what do you know? The first of the lil’ buggers are just emerging from the forest duff.

The land gives so much and asks for so little in return. The older I get, the more I realize how true this is. And the more I wish to be the same.








§ 16 Responses to Not Boughten

  • Tracy says:

    Mr. Ben Hewitt, Butter is wonderful. I’m interested your remineralization protocol. Where would I find out about that? Love your posts. Thanks, Tracy

  • sarah says:

    your posts inspire me :) also i do know of a certain cold antler farm(also inspiring) that may need a good walk thru woods for foraging..a bit of a hard time over there….mums the word..shes so proud :)

  • vpfarming says:

    We are just two years into our homestead and are still in ‘startup’ phase without nearly the same level of bounty.

    But your post is inspiring. With some hard (but pleasantly satisfying) work and investment in the land the eventual possibilities are endless.

  • Dave says:

    Dang, that made me hungry Ben. It never ceases to amaze me how much the land in New England can produce, in such a relatively short period of time. The compressed growing season for you guys most certainly keeps you busy, but that’s a good thing. I too am curious about your “remineralization protocol” as potatoes can be a tough crop in such fertile/rich soil, even without potato beetles.

  • Wendy says:

    You’re making me drool, there, buddy! Thanks for confirming the apple forecast – I thought as much from what I saw on my trees over at the property this week. And, lo and behold – found me tons of raspberries there, too (bears must’ve been feeding well this year)! Will be interesting to see what else I uncover come spring, since I’ll finally be there full-time. Will have to figure out what morels look like – may have some of those with all the apple trees around. Hoping for fiddleheads myself – or maybe some long-ago planted asparagus (found out it was part of a farm ages past). Now, THOSE would be as good as gold! Yes, the land can give much if one is blessed to have some …

  • Chris says:

    ‘boughten’ is a good word.

    this post reminds me of one recently from the matron of husbandry (sublime perfection presented). you are both ravenous beasts cultivating and feeding on your reader’s envy. do apologize occasionally.

    i guess that’s the inside view of your boys constructed cabin. seeing all those traps made me want to tell you about Werner Herzog’s movie called Happy People that follows a year of trapper life in siberia. i highly recommend it. you can count it in your ‘primitive cultures’ studies. and if you have something against watching documentaries then you can just close your eyes and listen to his voice, cause I like the way Werner Herzog narrates. Maybe I’m like Kevin Kline in Fish Called Wanda but I don’t get excited in that way.

    • Ben Hewitt says:

      Happy People. Seen and enjoyed. Wanted more, though what is day-to-day life really like in that village?

      Herzog has such a great narrator’s voice, that’s for sure.

      • Chris says:

        Have you ever heard Bill Bryson read aloud or listened to one of his audio books that he narrates? Awesome accent.

        I don’t have a fetish, i swear.

  • Jennifer Fisk says:

    I grew up on homemade Jersey butter. So wonderful on homemade bread. I still make it on occasion with Jersey cream from down the road. I too have my garlic drying.
    Like others have mentioned, please educate on your remineralization of the potato soil.

  • Dawn says:

    We feel the same way about eggs, lettuce and tomatoes. Can’t imagine buying them or finding any that taste as good as our own. Looking forward to the day when my boys will stay put long enough for me to milk a cow or goat. I do enjoy supporting our local farmer’s markets but the less we buy at the grocery store, the more free I feel.
    I, too, echo the others’ requests for your remineralization protocol. Love taters, too! And any suggestions anyone has for keeping the deer from decimating fruit trees and shrubs. We love that they feel so welcome here but would like to eat some of our own apples, peaches, figs, and grapes, too! We haven’t had much luck with sprays and our boys are too young for us to put up electric fencing. Thanks!

  • Sandra Ragsdale says:

    Good butter is divinely satisfying!

  • Tonya says:

    You guys are rich!

  • Angela says:

    That’s so great! Exactly what I hope we have here one day.

  • nicole says:

    I live in a second floor apartment in Los Angeles with the smallest patch of grass outside and man, I love reading your blog. This one made me swoon with both happiness and a little envy. What lucky boys!

  • Mamaholt says:

    My mouth literally watered.

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