Ruth Scruton shows off some tomato plants started in her high tunnel at her home farm in Farmington, NH. She is the 5th generation of Scrutons, and the first woman, to own the 450 acre lot. (Photo Credit Bernie Liberi)

Hi I’m Ruth Scruton and this is a snap shot of my life, a 3-day diary.

First a little bit about me. I’m the past president of the Associated Women of New Hampshire Farm Bureau and a member of the NH Timberland Owners’ Association.

I’m a daughter of Frank and Pauline Scruton, whose legacy, in part, is raising a growing number of farmers. I’m an 8th generation NH farmer. I own a diverse farm with a wide range of agriculture activities happening on any given day. I still have a variety of livestock left over from 20 years of running the Traveling Barnyard.

My drive to educate and advocate for agriculture stems from being brought up on a progressive dairy farm that produced, processed, and delivered wholesale dairy products. At a young age I was responsible for the feeding and care of young calves. These skills have served me well as I’ve expanded into more agricultural operations.

I’m proud to be the 5th generation of Scrutons, and the first woman, to own the 450-acre lot now in conservation easement. I also own 600 acres of managed timber and farm land. My gardens, high tunnel, and fruit orchards would not be as large as they are without the help of my boyfriend, Bernie Liberi.

I have two sons involved in farming. Chris has Evergreen Ridge Christmas tree Farm and Aaron has a hay and timber operation. My two daughters share their knowledge of agriculture and gardening with their children. I’m fortunate to have all children and grandchildren live close by.

Monday June 9th

Morning chores, which are no chore for me because I love to care for my animals, consisted of feeding and caring for chickens, ducks, peafowl, sheep, goats, alpacas, donkeys and beef cows. I also gathered chicken eggs, checked on the ducks and peahen that are currently setting on eggs and smiled as I watched the peacocks show off!

The 4-H Teeswaters lambs arrived this morning. They came from Pitch Fork Farm in Michigan. We were supposed to get them at Maryland Sheep And Wool Festival on our way back from a vacation in Florida, but both were cancelled because of COVID-19. Instead, the lambs were picked up in Rhinebeck, NY, late last night. I so enjoyed sharing 4-H experiences last year and will miss these events as the 4-H shows in NH have been cancelled.

My grandsons helped me mulch the sunflowers with some old hay we had cleaned out of the hayloft yesterday, when my son Aaron and his family helped with loft repairs, organizing, and putting the first load of 2020 hay in. After finishing mulching the boys and I had fun searching for the ladybugs that had been let loose on Sunday to control aphids in the garden.

We moved some more livestock panels over to the garden gate. These along with netting will be used as the structure to cover the blueberry bushes. Last year the peacocks ate the blueberries before they turned blue.

Ruth Scruton removes a frame from one of her 11 beehives to search for a recently added queen bee. There has been plenty of excitement in Scruton’s apiary this year, having already retrieved two swarms.

My daughter-in-law, Michelle, and I suited up to check on the three beehives that we had added capped queen cells to on May 26. We found all three queen bees and saw signs of them laying. Then we marked them with a blue dot, this year’s color. Marking queens make them easier to find and tells us their age (beekeepers use different colors for different years). We didn’t take time to check the other eight hives.

After lunch I worked on face masks. I had requests for bees, hunting and patriotic masks. And I found some other cool fabric to use. During a break I looked out the window and could tell something was wrong in the bee yard. Went outside to see a swarm of bees circling high in the field. I started drumming while phoning for help and the swarm started to lower and landed on a branch about eight feet off the ground. Help arrived and we shook them into a cardboard box, and then transferred them into a small hive. We added some honey frames. They must have liked their new home because they stayed, success! Maybe we should have checked all the beehives earlier.

Tuesday June 10, 2020

After morning chores my sister Barb came for a visit. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen her because of COVID-19. I’d planned to help her out with NH Maple Weekend and attend a baby shower to welcome her first grandchild in March, but they were also cancelled. She brought us some Patch Orchard of Lebanon, NH, products like hard cider, maple syrup, and honey crisp apple trees! We drove to my daughter Bethany’s house, my first visit to one of my children’s house since COVID-19, to pass down baby things. Afterwards we stopped at Tides, a small local fish market, because Barb wanted to bring home fresh lobster. Our next stop was my son Aaron and his wife Michelle’s farm; I loaded a plastic layer in her truck to be used next at the Patch Orchards pumpkin patch. It makes good economic sense to share equipment between farms. Then back to my farm for Barb to pick up plants started in the high tunnel. She got tomatoes, peppers, melons, and flowers as well as some freshly pulled garlic from the high tunnel. When I was saying goodbye, I commented that with so many gardens, no matter where I am, I am pulling weeds! I pulled a few from near where I was. I know I will see her soon, as she will be returning the equipment.

While I enjoyed my visit, Michelle worked the hay field. Aaron, his sons, and myself joined her to help bring in the hay. I drove the tractor that pulls the baler with the hay wagon attached behind that. I like my tractor driving job better than stacking hay on the wagons job.
Home to do evening chores.

Ruth Scruton prepares to head out to the hay field on her John Deere tractor. “I like my tractor driving job better than stacking hay on the wagons job.” Who would disagree?

Wednesday June 10, 2020.

After morning chores I wrapped some young apple trees that had been damaged by woodpeckers. I had called UNH Cooperative Extension and sent pictures of my problem and they suggested wrapping the damaged trunks.

Planted my new Honey Crisp Apple tree that my sister gave me. Stopped to take pictures of the kiwi berry vines that are covered with buds, and remembered the small plants I got in the mail 4 years ago. Installed drip line irrigation for our onions and green beans.

Painted some hive boxes, trying to stay ahead of my expanding apiary. Reviewed Conservation Easement report from last week’s visit. I love walking the piece of land that my father and grandfather were born on. The “old Place” is a sentimental treasure. Unfortunately, the Easement report found one tire and some off road tire damage.

Made some lip balms to fill an order as my supply was low. I believe small farms have to have a value added plan to thrive. These lip balms have my honey and bees wax in them. Evening chores. And finish writing this for AW. This ends my 3 days sharing with you of what’s happening on my farm.

If you have question about what I’m doing on my farm, find this article on the Associated Women of NH Farm Bureau Facebook page and comment with your questions and I’ll try to answer them!