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Co-owner with son and wife of House of Hayes farm
(Sweet Pea Farm)
Where did the name “Sweet Pea Farm” come from?
Years ago my wife acquired a herd of goats. At that time my mother used to grow Freezonian peas. Since every herd was given a name, hers became Sweet Pea because these goats liked to eat the sweet Freezonian peas. Our farm actually dates back to the 1830s and the Hayes families were some of the first settlers in Granby during the 1690s to early 1700s. They originally came from Scotland, moved to England, then Windsor, Conn., and finally to Granby. The name of our farm, though, is truly House of Hayes Farm.
Tell about your role in the farm…
Basically managerial. I am responsible for the retail activities such as our goat cheese, the processing room and keeping the books. At first my wife Dorothy started making the cheese, whereas I started producing the yogurt, but these days I’m more involved in field work and accounting. My son Daniel and his sister Ellen keep records for the cows and now they have robotic milkers so that is quite exciting. Dorothy tends to the goats along with working in the processing room with the yogurt, goat cheese, and milk from the cows. She also creates the recipes and is a vet tech by trade (she worked at Salmon Brook veterinary hospital). This has come in quite handy when one of our animals becomes ill. We are involved in the farmer’s markets at various locations in Connecticut as well. Of course, when someone needs a hand anywhere on the farm we all pitch in to help.
Where do you get ideas for the
The corn maze is my pleasure. It is my summer release since traveling is pretty impossible during our busiest season. Around the year 2001, while on vacation in Pennsylvania, I saw a corn maze near the Strasbourg Railroad or Hershey Park area. After that I began looking into mazes and found that there were only two in Connecticut; one at Lyman Orchards and the other near Lime Rock. A young high school student in Michigan wrote a paperback book describing how to design a maze using the grid system. I believe he has a company now that will go to farms and help with forming mazes using GPS.
I use the grid system myself and do not rely on GPS. Looking on the internet I found an idea from a farmer in Australia that involved putting clues in the maze so as to make a game of it. So I went on to choose a yearly theme and compose multiple-choice questions for visitors. The first one was about Granby history. I bet few people realize that a section of our town was called Pegville because a shoe factory was located there. Pegs held the upper leather parts to the soles of the shoes.
We have had a variety of themes over the years such as circus and national monuments. This year I re-worked the 2006 cow maze. Seen from above it is a cow being milked by a milk maid with a robot pulling its tail. This is a nod to the new technology that we have been fortunate to have here on our farm. The maze covers 3.5 acres and is a bit on the smaller scale when compared to larger farms such as the one in Spencer, Mass., that was about 15 acres and where last year some people got lost. Size doesn’t really matter, it is the time spent in the maze and here this is a bit longer due to the game questions.
My dad helps out with it. You have to first design the labyrinth on graph paper and then the fields are planted so as to help form the “picture” that will eventually become the network of paths.
Who is someone that inspires you?
I had a distant relative named Barbara Crouse who lived near the Historical Society when I was a child. Although my mother insisted that all of us kids learn piano or another instrument, it was Barbara Crouse that encouraged me to stay with it and enjoy music. She was the choir director at First Church; I was in the choir then and these days I have been singing once again at First Church. My mother also was significant in passing on an interest in music as she got me a guitar with Green Stamps. I was self-taught since I could read music and before my marriage I was in a garage band, which was a lot of fun. This interest has stayed with me throughout my life as even today I like to jam with a close friend when I can find time.
What is something enjoyable you like to do here in Granby?
Of course, Granby is a great place for hiking. McLean’s game refuge, the entrance near Barndoor Hills road is just fine. Enders State Forest is especially beautiful. I was in the fire department for more than 30 years and we pulled quite a lot of people out of the falls area there at Enders.
I also especially like meeting new people in town and seeing old faces. We do a farmer’s market at Lost Acres right before each major holiday of the year. It’s fun to see so many local people milling around. Recently we were featured in Open Farm Day and there again I was delighted to see people from all over town.