The Farm

Juniper Hill Farm

Originally, the farm at Juniper Hill encompassed close to 600 acres.  Today, it is a mere 30 acres of combined pasture and woodland.  The land around the farm, like so much farmland and woodland in New England, is criss-crossed everywhere with granite field-stone walls, most of which were constructed when pastures were hurriedly cleared during the "merino sheep craze" of the early-to-mid 1800's.  When the market price of merino wool shot through the roof, farmers who had been barely stitching together a living on this rough New Hampshire soil responded accordingly and quickly readied their farms and pasture land for this new breed of money-making sheep first imported from Spain.
"Can't remember--did I sleep here?'

"The house was built in 1789, the same year George Washington was elected president"

photo by Andrea Geesaman
The house at Juniper Hill was built by Israel Balch in 1789, the same year George Washington was elected president.  It was situated not more than 10 yards from the edge of the roadway that was once a not-so-busy coach road (today a private drive).  It was a small farmer's cottage, built like so many other cape and salt-box houses of the period, with only two rooms down and two rooms up.  A keeping room was added to the house in the early 1800's at about the same time as the larger barn was built.  As is typical of early New England homes, all rooms of the house are centered around a massive central chimney.

photo by Karl Smizer

Over the years, additions were added here and there so that house, barns and sheds were eventually all connected (smart planning for getting through snow-filled New England winters).  Today the floor plan of the house resembles what is often referred to as a New England big house--little house--back house--barn. When we restored the house in the early 1990's, the goal was to keep as many of the original features as possible except the plumbing, the poison ivy that practically covered the barn, and the landscaper who, instead of tackling things like the poison ivy, spent most of the work day sleeping in his truck.

photo by Andrea Geesaman
Another goal was to use the farm as it was originally intended.  That is, as a home for a small number of farm animals which might have been typical for very early colonial subsistence farms. To that end, we chose to raise heritage breed animals.  Heritage breeds are those livestock breeds that are threatened with extinction as a result of the dramatic changes in farming practices over the years, and the shift toward more specialized breeds to satisfy the requirements of modern food production.  The protection of these rare breeds of livestock is not simply an exercise in nostalgia but an investment in the earth's bio-diversity.  Here at Juniper Hill, we have provided a home and instituted breeding programs for a variety of heritage breeds including Leicester Longwool and Cotswold sheep, Randall cattle, Oberhasli goats, and a variety of endangered poultry.

For more details on endangered breeds, and on The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, click on the links above.

photos by John Hession

The farm, house and gardens at Juniper Hill were recently the cover feature of New Hampshire Home Magazine 
(Nov/Dec, 2009)


  1. Who needs a watchdog when you've got a Randall? She (?) looks like a skunk snuck into the barn. But I just want to comment on your Event calendar...How on earth are we expected to keep our Carbon Footprints in check faced with this tempting list of places to go and things to do?

  2. Lovely home... and your garden blog is promising to be a regular read for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts... and my what a good writer you are so far!

  3. Hi Tovah: The Randall is actually a "he." Well, sort of. "He" is an ox and, yes, all the kids around the village call the Randalls "skunk cattle." They have a look very much like Lineback cattle, which have a similar coloring and also the white stripe down the middle of the back. I agree with you..if I would attend all the gardening events I'd like to, there's no way I could claim to be "green.!"

  4. Hi Holly: Thank you for the kind words and I'm happy to hear you'll be checking in on us from time to time!


Thank you for your comments!

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