Observatory Hill Farm is a farm of yesteryear, in more ways than one. It is a bit larger than the size of the typical family farm of the 19th century, a 40 acre block. An additional 7 acre triangle was added to the farm after it was cut off from the adjoining block by County Highway A. Only about a third of the farm is tillable land, and the remaining hilly acres are ideal for pasture.
Indeed, this land was once a dairy farm owned by the Gaffney family, and the remains of their home silently give witness to their hopes and their hard work that once took place here. Today a tall, vigorous lilac grove nearly covers the mound where the original homestead stood, tucked into the southwest corner of the acreage to preserve as much useful land as possible. Apart from the lilac, only the water well and a tumbled-down windmill remain at the homestead site as evidence that another family once dwelled there.
The pasture land remained idle for several decades after the previous owners left the farm, and in that time it fell victim to invasive non-native plants, which aggressively displaced the native prairie wildflowers and grasses.
Today, by using strict rotational grazing techniques and the age-old practice of replenishing the soil with our sheep’s manure, we are endeavoring to rehabilitate this land into vibrant, healthy pasture. We are always working to eliminate the invasive plants and allow the grasses and prairie vegetation to once again thrive here.
Our sheep are our partners in this endeavor, because only through their grazing and fertilizing our soil can this pasture reach its potential. They share this space with our local wildlife, wildflowers and insects, including the Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons and Eastern Bluebirds which visit our property annually, the Monarch butterflies which rely upon the milkweed plants to raise their offspring, and the ever-present white-tailed deer.