Life on a local farm fits Frank Harrison perfectly
Taking care of flocks of chickens, guinea fowl, geese and turkeys, as well as rabbits and bees, is a giant commitment. But for Frank Harrison, it’s a way of life he’s glad to have chosen.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” he said. “And I’m the poorest I’ve ever been.”
Harrison owns Harrison’s Poultry in Candia, one of the few small farms in the Manchester area.
He began by selling turkeys in 1995 with his brother and moved to his current location on Tower Hill Road in 2005, where he could expand his farming efforts.
Visitors may be surprised to find a farm in the middle of a heavily wooded area. Chickens run free through the woods, while others are happy to stay in their pens. Even Harrison jokes that he doesn’t end up with a farmer’s tan because there’s so much shade from the trees.
“Everything here is food,” said Harrison.
And it takes a lot of time to grow all that food.
His day starts early, feeding and watering what sometimes amounts to 800 chickens. He lets the heritage chickens out, shoveling cages and putting in fresh shavings and cleaning nest boxes. It can take the full morning to make the rounds to all the pens.
Afternoons are spent mending, buying supplies and heading out to farmers markets to sell his goods. Evenings are back making the rounds to be sure all his animals are fed, watered and safe.
And that doesn’t take into account the gardens he maintains – both on his own property and at other locations – where he grows a variety of vegetables.
Once a week he checks his apiary, where bees are busy making honey. Each July and late August to September is the time to get the honey out and package it.
Chickens are butchered several times each week, as he meets demand by some customers and for his three weekly trips to local farmers markets.
Every spring, he maintains 350 taps on sugar bushes to make maple sugar and syrup, having built his own sugar shack just last year.
“The biggest job is just collecting (all the sap),” he said. Once collected, he can produce a gallon of syrup each hour to 90 minutes.
Customers, friends and family sometimes pitch in to help Harrison, especially if he needs a day off. And he has a network of friends also in the family farming business through the Seacoast Growers Association and Seacoast Eat Local, which helps promote business and the movement toward “slow local food.”
“Sitting down with family and friends with food you prepared – there’s nothing like that,” said Harrison, describing a meal he prepared almost entirely of food he personally grew.
Harrison is well aware of what life is like for most people, having spent 20 years as a CAD engineer, drawing the artwork for microwave circuits. As the business started to cut back, he thought more and more about going into farming.
“I’ve never worked as hard,” said Harrison. “Today, there’s a sense of purpose in what I do, helping people have a better life.”
Learn more about Harrison’s Poultry Farm at www.harrisonspoultry.com, or call 587-0323. He can be found at the Hooksett Farmers Market on Wednesdays.
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