LUNENBURG — It’s good to have friends in low places, especially if that place is actually Low Places Ranch.
Low Places Ranch at 281 Leominster-Shirley Road serves horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, dogs, cats, cows and much more.
Hay is their primary business which they started selling in 2016, and is what led to the opening of the feed store a little over three years ago.
But it is no longer their only product for sale — Low Places Ranch sells grain and every other type of animal feed and pet food, animal supplements, pet supplies, livestock bedding, hay netting, footwear and even baby chicks.
They sell hay farmed right on the ranch, with roughly 75 acres of hay fields that they harvest and produce to feed their customers’ animals and their own. They also sell hay they purchase from credible suppliers in other parts of Massachusetts and New England as well as from New York, Canada and Washington state.
The blends they offer (depending on the time of year and availability) are western timothy, western alfalfa, orchard grass, orchard grass alfalfa mix and timothy orchard mix.
Most farms (or ranches) that sell bulk hay in New England sell it only for horses, cattle and other farm animals — but not also as small animal feed, with the quality that would allow discerning pocket pet parents to want to buy it.
Except at Low Places Ranch. They sell bales of hay that are perfect for small pets like guinea pigs and rabbits. Timothy and orchard hay bales start as cheaply as around $12 for a timothy-orchard mix and as much as about $50 for some of the best second-cut pure timothy hay (with plenty of options in between) — that is better than the high-priced name-brand hay in small boxes going for several times that much online.
“The western timothy (both first and second cut) are GREAT for small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas. It is highly nutritious and palatable,” said Maryrae Holman, farm and store manager at Low Places Ranch.
The ranch stocks 10 different types of hay and bale options to satisfy their wide range of customers and meet the needs of all animals.
Low Places Ranch offers bulk hay delivery for a fee (as well as delivery of any of their other products in the store for a small cost based on quantity and delivery location).
They test all the hay they sell for a full nutritional profile, and they’ll even test a customer’s hay purchased elsewhere for free.
“We nutrition test all of the hay we sell because you really do not know what is in your hay until you test it. By testing the hay we are able to know values such as dry matter, moisture, protein, calcium, starch, sugar, digestibility, palatability, and other key nutritional values. Not all animals require the same diets. Some animals work ([like] performance horses) and others are creating products such as meat and fiber and others are just pets! These values in the hay help balance an animal’s diet based on their nutritional requirements,” Holman said.
The small animal and pet section in the food store has recently been expanded. They now carry a variety of pet foods including raw and gently cooked dog foods plus supplies like Packt collars and leashes (which is also a Lunenburg-based business), shavings, pellets, and other treats, toys, supplements, and grooming products.
Low Places Ranch has also started selling farm fresh eggs that come from customers that use Poulin poultry feed. They have an egg co-op where they buy eggs from their customers and put the money on their account to go toward their feed bill.
“It helps us offer farm fresh eggs to our community and customers who don’t have a flock of their own, and also keeps feed costs down for our poultry feed customers,” Holman said.
The farm was established in 2016 with the feed store opening in March 2020 at its original location at 131 Leominster-Shirley Road in a warehouse garage behind Powell’s Sand and Gravel before moving to their current storefront facing busy Route 70 in February 2022.
Holman said the original store wasn’t very customer-friendly, but was always temporary until they found a better location at 281 Leominster-Shirley Road, which they were given the opportunity to do at their new location that is far more retail-oriented and suits the business and its customers much better.
The Powell family owns the farm and feed store. They felt that it made perfect sense being from Lunenburg to open the store in their hometown, especially as Lunenburg and many of the surrounding towns are right-to-farm communities adding to the benefit of their location.
The farm being started was a result of the Powells’ being offered two free horses in 2016, and “one thing led to another”, said Holman. The menagerie has now grown to ten horses, three working draft horses, two mini donkeys, two bunnies, and one barn cat owned by the Powell family.
They’ve bred and raised two foals each year since 2016, with one currently bred now and due to foal in 2024. While not the primary business of Low Places Ranch, they plan on continuing to breed in the years to come.
Plus, they lease pasture land to 357 Cattle Company, which is owned by Holman and her partner Craig Powell, leading to “10 to 20 beef cows grazing in the fields down at the Ranch” at any given time, she said. Three cows will also be calving this year.
Holman has been the manager of Low Places Ranch since the opening of the farm. She was born and raised in Lunenburg where her family had horses; she was an avid member of 4-H and showed horses locally. Holman graduated from Lunenburg High School in 2014. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Science with a concentration in Equine Science from Becker College in 2018.
“I was fortunate to be able to bring my education and experience to Low Places Rach. I can honestly say I love my job and being part of the ranch’s journey and growth,” Holman said.
Low Places Ranch has a total of seven employees. Other than Holman and her partner, there are Ashley and Ella who work mainly as ranch hands (although from time to time you may catch them at the store, on a delivery, or in a truck/tractor during hay season), and Aengus, Bella, and Bailey who work at the feed store and do things like load customers and deliveries or provide customer service.
“We have a great staff that are more like family to us,” Holman said.
Low Places Ranch regularly holds special events on topics such as animal feed and husbandry at the ranch and at local venues.
For more information visit lowplacesranch.com and follow them on Facebook @LPRanch and Instagram @lowplacesranch. For delivery quotes, call 978-660-6244.