Nye Hill Farm
Nye Hill Farm is a diversified New England farm, certified organic, in Roxbury, NH
Welcome to Life on the Farm...
Wendell Berry once asked, “Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming?” And he answered his own question. “Love. They must do it for love. Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable.”
Here at Nye Hill, farming is a labor of love. We are raising our sheep for wool and our hens for eggs. We love our horses, goats, pigs, llamas, oxen, steer and one mule, all given over to our care. By helping build our stores of compost, they are helping us naturally rebuild and restore our soil. We keep our bees for pollination and their hives sit gracefully in our blueberry field. We’ve planted our gardens to support butterflies and hummingbirds, even earning the recognition of Monarch Watch for creating, conserving and protecting monarch habitats. We tend to our orchard for apples, peaches and pears and our small vineyard for grapes. We tap our Sugar Maple trees to make pure maple syrup and we grow a plethora of good, healthy vegetables, all for our table, and yours. Oh, and we brew beer.
Birthdays here are celebrated with dinners, in the kitchen where we take all our meals, but birthdays are a bit more. The cooking is more involved, the table is set more formally and it’s set for more people. More time is spent, more laughs are had, more thoughts are shared. The most recent of these
THE ENDURANCE* *apologies to Caroline Alexander, whose account of Earnest Shackleton’s antarctic expedition, of the same title, is unparalleled; all coincidences intended I began to be followed by a voice saying: “It can’t last. It can’t last. Harden yourself. Harden yourself. Be ready. Be ready.” The first verse of Wendell Berry’s “Song in a Year
Comprised of 116 now mostly wooded acres, Nye Hill Farm was established by Nathan Nye in 1790. By 1850 Nathan’s son, Gardner Nye, had built the farm up to include a herd of “milch cows, working oxen and other cattle and swine”. In that year the farm produced twenty bushels of wheat, fifty bushels of Indian Corn, forty bushels of barley and three hundred bushels of “Irish Potatoes”. Two hundred apple trees yielded one hundred bushels of apples, and forty tons of hay were harvested. By the 1920s, though, the farm was in the hands of a Yale Professor of Divinity, who kept it primarily as a summer resort for his family.
In the years that followed, Nye Hill was, for the most part, a farm in name only, though its sweeping, natural, open spaces were guardedly preserved by a succession of thoughtful owners. In the late 1990s a physician and his wife purchased the farm and began the work of lovingly reviving Nye’s sense of place. We are honored to continue that work.
Nye Hill is situated in Roxbury, Cheshire County, in New Hampshire’s Monadnock region, “the quiet corner.” Our town celebrated its bicentennial in 2012, and Nye Hill Farm was recognized as one of Roxbury’s historic sites. The foundation of “Schoolhouse Number 3”, built by the town of Keene, New Hampshire, in 1774, remains intact on the grounds of the farm today. Salmon P. Chase, who would later serve as a United States Senator, the Governor of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln and, finally, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, taught in Schoolhouse Number 3 for a short time in 1825.
Then fifteen years old and slight in stature, Chase was younger and smaller than at least a few of his pupils. Not long into his tenure at Schoolhouse Number 3, Chase’s attempts to instill some discipline in the student populace “aroused the ire of the older boys to such an extent that they carried him out and put him in the snow bank by the shed door.” No quitter, Chase, he returned to his post where, shortly, “…in an escalated scuffle he struck a boy named Ben on the head and buttocks with his ruler.” Ben’s father, it turned out, was a member of the local school committee and Chase was thereafter rather ignominiously dismissed.