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 Logo Designing

Image

When designing a farm logo,or any logo for anything, there is one golden rule.

For the love of goats, don’t use free clip-art!!!

I have tried to explain this to many people of late, there is a greater value in a custom logo then you may realize.

Say you’re developing a logo for your start-up business (farm, or other). You’re in a rush, or don’t think you’re arty enough, or just don’t think it’s that important; so you decide to scope out google and find a free logo you can use. Great right? You just saved yourself a ton of money.

So now you’re growing your business. The logo goes on your products, or on some signage, later you start advertising, gaining more business, growing your brand, even get some shirts printed up.

Now, Jane down the road decides she really likes the look of your logo, and it’s freely available on google, so decides to use it too. It does not matter if you have been using that logo for years & years, you do not own the rights to it, and there is nothing you can do about her piggy-backing on your advertising. Maybe someone intentionally steals your logo because they don’t like you, or maybe it’s just an accident – doesn’t matter.

The same thing applies to those self-serve type logo websites, even if you purchase a copy of the logo for business uses, unless you are also buying the rights to the logo, they can sell it to anyone else they want to.

It’s is never a good idea to completely change your logo after you’ve been using it a number of years. This should be how people recognize your business at a glance. I.e. You see the cow on the back of my car, then on the sign by our place, or on a shirt from the baseball team we sponsored, come by or check out the website, we’ve got a new customer. If I decide tomorrow that our new logo is a picture of grain, we’ve lost that chain I’ve been working so hard to build up.

Custom logos are not very expensive. I do simple ones for $80, I’m sure you can find someone cheaper. If you don’t think you’re arty enough to draw something, just try. It does not need to be complicated, simple is actually best, and there are lots of great logos that are just words. As long as it is something you, or something you’ve bought it from, has created; you have a legal standing to sue Jane’s butt off for stealing your stuff. A custom logo also means you have something that reflects your business, that no one else has, and makes you stand out.

If you are choosing to buy from someone be VERY wary of people who do not send you rough copies of the logo you’re working with them on. I’ve seen more then a few people design & sell off free-use clip-art, it makes me incredibly angry, because they are stealing from their clients.

Good luck & happy drawing!

Egg Sorting

Cartons all lined up
nested one inside the other

Since we’re now getting about a dozen eggs a day, I have a new daily task! Sorting & cleaning eggs.

When you’re selling from home/farm-gate you don’t need to size or grade your eggs, but I find it’s a lot easier for customers. We have 4 carton sizes

Jumbos: +72g
X-Large: 64g+
Large: 57g+
Small & Medium is anything below and I don’t sell anything less then about 45g.

I also don’t sell anything more then 80g, I just find they are too big and break too easily.

We don’t wash any of our eggs. I only remove any stray feathers or small amount of dirt with a dry cloth.

Little bit of dirt on this egg

Using a commercial egg wash, or a bleach solution is good for cleaning eggs but it also removed the natural ‘bloom’. This is a thin layer on the outside of the egg that prevents water loss and bacteria. So un-washed eggs last longer.

If you’d like to clean them you can wash them as soon as you get home with a bleach solution = 15ml/4 litre standard household (5%) bleach.

Sand paper marks

Most of the eggs come out of the coop clean, those that have a tiny bit of dirt or dis-colouration I just take a bit of sand-paper and remove that.

Anything that’s really dirty (like an egg laid on the coop floor) becomes a lovely treat for the dogs. In fact they are so into the eggs they follow on my heels as soon as I leave the coop until I’m finish grading eggs. I’ve had a few eggs stolen out of my un-attended baskets as well!

It’s a good idea to give your eggs a quick wash with water or dish-soap before you want to eat them. I generally don’t, depending on what I’m using them for.

Natural Speckles

Our eggs are fertilized, at least they are supposed to be, we have a lot of hens for two roosters! That does not change the nutritional value or taste of the eggs in any way. The eggs are collected several times a day so they never have a chance to develop.

Once the eggs are all cleaned up & weighed it’s time to candle them. I do this with a flash light and a little stand I made from a toilet-paper tube. You can see the egg in the picture is beautiful! You want to make sure the egg is fresh (no large air pockets) and is free from internal spots. Sometimes a little bit of blood or protein gets inside an egg as it’s forming, they are fine too eat, but unsightly so I try very hard to make sure none of customers end up with any of them.

If you’re unsure if your egg is fresh or not, place it in a small glass of water.

If it floats chuck it out! 
If it sinks, it’s good to eat.

Mother Earth News did an egg study a while ago showing you could keep unwashed fertile eggs on the counter-top for 6 months and still eat them. Please don’t do that!! But our farm-fresh eggs should be good well past the time it takes you to eat them up.

Our house carton is always interesting, it’s full of the largest, smallest, wrinkly, speckled, ugly eggs.

Can’t stop talking about eggs!

First of all, we have duck eggs!!

I hope the gif is dancing
He’s supposed to be dancing
Duck egg!

I’ve been waiting for them to start laying because they are under the lights with the chickens. Winter isn’t really the best time for little ducklings to be born, but the coop is quite warm at night with all the chickens in there so I think we can do it. I hope we can.

For now I’m collecting the eggs and we’ve got a few people interested in purchasing them to eat. I haven’t had one yet, but I hear they are richer then a chicken egg, and don’t give you the egg burps. I have already heard people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs, but please don’t take my word for that one!

The other thing I want to talk about is our Marran eggs. We still haven’t really determined that our girls are real marrans, and if they are they are ‘poor’ quality ones because their eggs aren’t dark enough. One BIG bonus I will say about them, over the black/red stars, is that their eggs shells are so smooth!

I don’t know if this is a diet thing, or just a genetic thing, but the marran & polish eggs are incredibly easy to clean, the dirt just slides right off. With the black/red eggs, who have rough shells, I have to scrub away at the shells with sand paper to get the dirt off.

We don’t wash our eggs for sale because doing that removed the ‘bloom’ from the outside of the egg. That is a thin layer on the outside of the egg that helps to keep is fresher longer.

Sandpaper marks

Mother Earth News did an egg study showing they could leave unwashed chicken eggs on the counter at room temperature for up to 6 months and they were still edible. Again, don’t take my word for it, and please don’t try it!

So I gently wipe off the eggs with a dry cloth, sand paper any stubborn dirt, candle, sort & store. I’ll do a whole post about this to show my process soon.

In the coop again

New Egg Cartons

Very impressed with Berry Hill! Our order & shipping were carried out really quickly, they’re in Canada too and we got our cartons only a few days after I ordered them.

We bought 50 regular egg cartons, but they do hold the xls just fine, the jumbos are stretching it a bit.

So we’re selling a few dozen eggs a week already!

The new waterer

Set us back about $70, but I really like our new waterer & wish we’d bought one a long time ago. Definitely worth the money!

It’s very easy to fill (as long as you read the instructions first…), the chickens love it because the water stays clean, and it holds a lot of water so I don’t need to re-fill every day even.

I really like this one because it’s deep enough for the ducks to easily drink out of it. We bought the 7 gallon (their last bucket was about 2.5 gallons).

New leg Bands

Along with the egg cartons I got some leg bands so we can tell some of the chikens apart.

Momma EE #1 and #2 are now really
EEs #1 and #2
One of the new black stars

I found the trickiest part was catching the chickens & getting the leg bands on right side up. These are the wrap around kind that don’t require any special tools.

The green ones are a tiny bit too big for the chickens, I should have gotten one size down; but none have fallen off yet.  The blue ones fit the little EEs perfectly.

I banded our 4 EEs as well as the 5 black & whites (4 marrans & 1 BPR) and the 3 black stars. I didn’t band the red stars because they’re all going into the stock pot (we may keep one or two, we’ll decide that later).

It’s already been great because I can tell which ladies are laying eggs! (If I catch them in the act)

Don’t they look cute!?
The chick creep

I did this when we got our first chicks too, it provides the little guys a safe place to get away from all the adults, as well as feeding them the chick starter where the adults can’t steal it all. Momma EEs have already figured out this is a safe place where the chicks can get feed, so they’ve been leaving one at a time to go eat themselves, while the other chick-sits.

New Site

I’ve launched our new site, and would like to introduce our new farm name: Booth Boys Barn.ca. With that we’ve released our price list, but I’d like to go into that in a little more depth here.

MEAT AVERAGE
WEIGHT
OUR
PRICE
RECENT
SUPERMARKET PRICE
EFAO AVERAGE PRICE
Chicken 3-5 Kg $7.50/kg $5.58/kg – not organic,
not free range
7.99/kg – Dundas, organic
Eggs Dozen $4 $3 not organic,
not free range
$6 doz – Dundas, organic
Beef Variable $10/Kg
all cuts
Variable $4 for ground beef
to $20++ for steak/roast  not organic
$16.12/Kg
Eastern Ontario, organic

Recent supermarket prices are not on sale, at a very large international chain store known for it’s low prices. Those are the actual prices of meat in our area from Oct 21st. The “EFAO prices” are from then EFAO website (go to “market prices”). They do a survey of local farms selling at farm gate and have an average for prices in the area.

These prices are just to start and we may be adjusting our prices over the years, as things change.

I thought I’d provide this list for people just starting up, or maybe some people with more experience that want to yell at me. We don’t have anything available now, but in the spring we’ll be opening up a farm-shop on site.

Everything is farm-pick-up-only as per Ontario law.

We’re also hoping to have turkey next year, and our goal is to get some pork in as well. Depends on how things go.

I really wanted to auction off Billy’s first fleece as a fund-raiser to get him some ewes to play with (funny story… Billy is a rig, yeah we messed that one up good!!). Since wool is under a farm-gate only regulation I’m happy to keep it & knit something lovely. Or maybe I’ll make a little sheep toy and we’ll do something with that instead.