Horses have been an integral part of the farm since it was established in the 1700’s. While the focus in the past was dairy, draft horses did heavy lifting on the farm. It is only in the last generation that tractors have replaced the role of the draft horses.
It is our belief that horses, wherever possible, should be allowed to be horses. Horses are herd animals whose natural environment is open, grass plains. A great deal of thought and care was given to the design and layout of the equine facilities with the primary focus on the horses happiness and well being.
In 2000, we renovated the existing dairy barn and converted it to an equine facility. Renovating a nearly 200 year old structure poses many challenges, but the beauty and character of an old hand-hewn post and beam barn simply cannot be replicated in a new structure. Aside from the aesthetic charm, there is no doubt that they had a knack for building things right back then. The stalls all have southern exposures to provide warmth and light in the winter, but at the same time, the barn is oriented in a way that provides a cool, airy environment even on the hottest, most still summer days.
The stalls are designed to allow the horses to maintain visual contact with each other. Each stall has free access to its own private paddock to minimize feelings of confinement. The floors have rubber mats and automatic, heated waterers. In addition to the private paddocks, there is virtually unlimited pasture. Whenever possible, the horses are turned out as a group to allow them the herd environment of their heritage.
At Old Orchard Farm we are blessed with an abundance of fertile fields and pastures. Most equine facilities are forced to limit the amount of time the horses have on pasture and their pastures are run down from over browsing. We, on the other hand, follow a careful rotational grazing program that has been developed in conjunction with the Natural Resource Conservation Service. We follow a strict nutrient management program to be sure that our fields and pastures remain in top condition. In keeping with our philosophy of sustainability and renewable resources, we have a state of the art manure composting facility that, combined with locally sourced wood ash, mostly replaces chemical fertilizers on the farm.