How I fell in love with farming and farmers,

I started my little farm 3 years ago now, with an admitted lack of knowledge in farming. I’d been around lots of animals, even lived on a beef farm, but I knew my own farm was going to be a fantastic adventure. And was it ever.

Between the endless late nights checking in the barn for new life, the tender care rendered towards the ill or infirmed, and the learning curve even steeper then I had ever anticipated; I feel completely head-over heels for this work.

I enter the food production system with my own ideals of how animals should be raised, and a number of which I still hold; but what I found was a deeper respect for the people who give their entire lives over to farming, and the endless toil that comes with it.

Now don’t get me wrong, the work in amazing. To be outdoors in the fresh air and on soil you can stick your hand into and call your own, there isn’t anything like it in the world.  It’s not something I would give up for anything, to be able to raise my children with an intimate knowledge of where their food comes from and with such an integral connection to this community.

I have learned the sorrows of losing a favourite animal, the joys of seeing new life, the pride of putting well-received food on to tables, and the frustrations of dealing in bureaucracy.

What I never expected was to have forged indelible friendships with my “coworkers” across the country and beyond. Hardworking, humble, open, giving and welcoming; the pastoral vision of the farm may no longer be a reality, but it lives on in the hearts of those who grow our food. From the smallest farms, to the largest commercial animal operations, no one does this for the pay-cheque; they do it because it’s in their blood.

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Farm update: Fence, Chickens, Lambs, Rabbits, it’s spring!

Farther & farther apart, I know, far too busy!

DSC_3428Spring and work has started in abundance, got to work on the garden – hoping to create a garden large enough for our family & another that is helping us, as well as a market garden.

The entire right side what’s been turned over here has already been planted with mangle wurzles (don’t ask me to pronounce it) for winter fodder for the animals & busting up the hard packed soil there (the shop used to be a pig pen). We got ours from Wallace Springs Farm. 
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The goats has had blast & a feast with this awesome free food from a local landscaping company (cedars they were pulling out).

 

 

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4 truck loads has kept them munching for quite a few weeks, they are even stripping & eating the bark.

 

DSC_3423We bought a tractor over the winter to do the fence with (was cheaper then paying someone & we have been able to get SO many of those smaller projects I was using the atv & trailer for done much faster). So we started work on the garden fence.

Brad has learned a TON about fixing the back auger on the tractor in a few weeks… we seem to finally have the right combination of sheer bolts.

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We lost my beloved dog Kayla on the road when she got under the fence and ran over to see me & the kids talking to the neighbour.

Please, when driving through rural areas with populated roads slow down. There was always kids, animals (domestic and wild) and people enjoying the country side.

Plus you’re missing all the wonderful sights of the farms as you speed along wherever you’re going.

So we put the garden fence on the back-burner and immediately started fixing the front fence. I got to knock this one out with the sledge.

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It went a lot faster with the tractor.

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We’ve been working hard and already have much of the front fixed, now we’re working on the far (open) side to create the other paddock we wanted.

 

After 2 years of debate, we settled on this welded fencing because it’s beautiful, and small squared (4×2!) to keep the goats & chickens in and it wasn’t too expensive. Brad’s been cutting posts for months from a nearby wood-lot (with permission!), so we’re doing the exterior in cedar posts and the interior divisions in T-posts.

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There is even bird-netting on the gate because my chickens kept slipping through it to get to the front.

We also have some new additions.

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Our feral rabbit, Mr. Bunn Bunn has some new friends I haven’t gotten a picture of yet.

Some new hens as well, although we’re always looking for more!

We’re getting a good number of eggs, but could always use more young pullets.

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And this very cute little call duck drakes, which they were pretty much just giving away.

He’s got his wings clipped now so we’ll see what happens when he moults!

DSC_3801We will be having some more new additions very shortly!

There is poultry brooding all over the farm.
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Margie finally had her kids!

A beautiful doe & buck set, we’ve been very lucky with our 50/50 split this year. I’m planning on keeping the doe but the little buck will be for sale, he is a lamancha x alpine. He’s got lovely sandy-brown points to his coat.

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One of Brad’s friends is also starting up a farm and offered us a great price on our cows (Daisy & Penny) as well as the 3 lambs we were raising – so they’re all gone!

We’ll be looking for some more lambs to add to the farm soon, the cows I think we’re going to wait for a little while, figure out what we want to do long-term.

 

 

Lastly, after a nice hot-spell the sheep all got sheared just in time for the temperature to drop! So they’re not too pleased, but they will be in a few more days when the temperature goes back up.

They look ridiculous (especially the jacobs with their big horns) but it’s nice to be able to see them again, and especially the beautiful polka-dot coat Lamby has grown into!

Bruce & Pie

Interestingly, both from the same place!

First pie, this would be Maple Strawberry Goat Cheese pie.20130409-095029.jpg

20130409-095041.jpg Yeah, it was delicious!!

Thanks for the recipe from Our Forest Haven!

Hubs wasn’t too impressed, but the boys & I scarfed it down.

Then there was the other thing we recently got from Our Forest Haven…

 

BRUCE!

bRUCEOh boy, is this one Trouble!

He’s got the springiest little butt around, and has been gleefully exiting every pen I put him in to go exploring. He’s only 4 weeks old, but he’s a BIG boy, and very sweet and friendly. He reminds me a lot of Harry & Deigo!! Bruce is an Alpine x Saanen mix, and I think the perfect buck for Nook (once they are older!).
nook&bruceWe were really enjoying having Nook in the house, but she is starting to get a little big and boisterous (she’s a goat after-all!) so now she’s got a friend she gets along with she’s out to the barn with Bruce.

Nook is only 2 weeks, but Bruce is even bigger then our other 4 weekers.

Once he/she(s) finally make an appearance Margie’s kids will likely be joining Nook & Bruce as well.

For Margie’s sake, hope that’s soon! She’s pretty fed up with being pregnant!
This was the best I could grab as she was following me side to side as I tried to get a photo, but she’s HUGE right now. We’re going to try to get her to nurse the kids, of course, but we’ll have to see how things go.

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Poor Margie, the flash on the camera is never kind to her…

Nootka, you make gooood cheese!

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As mentioned, I’ve been milking Nootka morning and night, feeding Nook most of the milk. After the first few days Nootka was producing more than Nook could eat, so time for cheese!!

This milk has been gently heated and just reached about 180F or 82C.

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Since it’s what I have in the house, I’m using 1/4 cup white vinegar per 1 litre milk (ant this was just 1 litre for the first batch).

Remove from heat, stir in gently & let sit. This is my milk/cheese after about 5 minutes, you leave it for about 10 minutes total.

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Strain through cheese cloth, I used 3 layers, placed over a strainer over a bowl.

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Tie to pot-rack and let drip.

I reserved all the whey for the piggies & Thor – they appreciated it!

Let drip 2 hours or so.

This recipe produces a very mild cheese, so add a little salt (about 1 tsp) a little pepper & some garlic, and DONE.

It’s that easy.

And so good, I’m making a double-batch this morning because yesterday’s cheese is gone!

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I may need more goats if I’m going to make anything other then cheese!
Because there is always ice cream…

Boing, Boing, Boing

Can’t wait to get these guys outside! As they are still rams we’ll have to wait until we can move Lamby & her buddies out to the big paddock.
(They may not know HOW to use it yet, but they are certainly up for trying!)
lamb3In the mean time, they are ridiculously adorable, especially after dinner.
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Luckily they get a lot less cute in a few months…
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Nootka’s Amateur Boob-job

nootka2I couldn’t decide between that title and “Nootka gets a bazillion”…

Okay, it’s NOT a show trim! But since we’re now milking every morning, I had to clean the old girl up a bit to keep the milk clean. Please don’t tell hubby where his beard-trimmers have disappeared too… (he doesn’t have a beard anyway! and they really worked quite well! I was able to use the guard to keep her leg hair trimmed but not shaved off).

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This is, of course, post milking. The stanchion was GREAT for holding her still so I could trim and then milk. Feet are next on the list! Just gotta find where I put my clippers… And the bag balm (which I still have to keep in the house, but spring is coming!)

 

Nook & Milk

I was working Sunday morning and returned to a lovely 4 legged new-born surprise. Nootka had no problem, and she shouldn’t, she’s 10 now but not having raised any of her kids before she was certainly confused about the small maa-ing thing following her around the stall. So we’ve set into a routine of milk & feed with little Nook.

She’s a gorgeous and very friendly little doe. I couldn’t be more pleased with Nootka’s ‘gift’ to us, and I think she’ll be retiring from kidding, we’ll see what the summer brings.
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Meanwhile… Mr.BBB built me a lovely stanchion for milking!

The purpose of the stanchion is to hold the doe in place in case she finishes her grain before I finish my milking and decides to leave. Nootka & Eva have both been wonderful to milk (although I’m currently only milking Nootka) so it will be Margie (Fatty) who really needs it.

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Threw Nootka some hay so she’d be patient for the picture, she was not impressed…

Nootka instantly recognized what the stanchion was for & hopped right up for her first meal & milk!

We’re just moving into real milk (Nook having received a great deal of colostrum already) but I’ll continue to give it all to Nook for a little while. After a couple weeks it’s time for cheese!

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Produce of my labours

Yadda Yadda Yadda, supply management, food safety, whatever – the cheese is for us.

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And milk for little Nook!

Who doesn’t have a good spot in the barn (the rams are too rough on her!) so she’s staying in my livingroom….

Ack! Tis a bonny pile!

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Finally putting the most expensive ‘toy’ to work…

Had a warm night last week & got the entire family out to clean out the muck I’d piled behind the barn. As with everything, we’re big on learning-by-doing, and next time hay-spears need to come off the bucket first… (well duh, but the tool was missing).

This was SO SO SO much easier & faster than last year doing it wagon by wagon with the ATV and trailer; and I was able to do it much earlier in the year then the ATV could have managed!

3 stalls left to clean out, then the coop…

Rabbit in Residence

This is Mr. Bunn Bunn

bunnbunnMr. Bunn Bunn was part of our ill-fated rabbit warren experiment.

On the day we were set to bring them all to auction, he escaped his box and made for the hills along with a white New Zealand. I haven’t seen the New Zealand in quite awhile, but Mr. Bunn Bunn likes to join the other animals every morning for breakfast.