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Mid Winter

Posted 10/16/2013 12:08am by Samantha .

(Taken from our old newsletter)
Wow! Time flies when you are busy farming! I can't belive it's been almost a year since I've added a newsletter here. I think over the past 11 months, we've sent out more email updates than actual news letters. So, I guess I'd better re-cap some things that have happened since March of 2011.

Looking at the list in the newletter below (spring 2011) we got quite a few things done towards our goal of farm sustainability:

-  Evestroughing went onto the garage and barn to prevent soil errosion. We also added many rain barrels at the down spouts to collect water, so we don't need to run the pump as much. This spring, we'll add a piping system to these barrels that can take overflow water away from the buildings and prevent manure from washing into areas it shouldn't. 

-   We DOUBLED our pasture areas last year! Our wonderful piggies cleared the ground first, then we removed remaining scrub trees, leaving larger shade or fruit producing trees in place, then re-seeded the soil with native legumes and grasses. This will allow for our cows, calves and chickens to have lots to eat over the spring, summer and fall. Below you can see a picture of the cows enjoying the weeds before we did a final rock pick of the area before reseeding.

-       We replaced our broken trailer, so now we can buy animal feed in bulk. The added bonus to this, is now we can purchase SOY-FREE certified oragnic feed! Having the ability to buy feed by the ton means far less trips, and less fosil fuels used by us. 

-       We may have found a local certified organic goat farm! If all goes well, we'll be able to offer their organic goats milk, cheese and meat this year.

-       We have begun clearing land in the 'back forty' that will be suitable to use as hay fields. Hopefully by summer of 2013, we will have 6 acres that we can harvest hay bales from, all while maintaining important buffer-zones (forest, creeks, etc).

-      In the summer of 2011, we had a number of helpers come to stay at our farm. In exchange for food and lodging, they helped with various farm chores and tasks. It was a great experience for our family, and the help was WONDERFUL!! We have plans to host more helpers this growing season.

This past year, we also had our first taste of happy veal. We kept one bull calf from our Jersey cow, Summer, and he was the cutest, furry little guy you've ever seen! We fed him lots of milk (over 1500L of it!) and he grazed along side his mother and our Dexter cow, Winnie, all summer. Our children loved him and cared for him where they were able. His death was quick, painless, and humane. We were't entirely sure if the kids would eat an animal they were so close to, but they told us it would be an insult to him if they wasted him and didn't eat him. We have been enjoying his life-giving gift to us, and even made some amazing Bratwurst Sasuage with him. 

Our next calvings will be in the spring and late summer. We are hoping for at least one heifer calf, as this would mean another milking cow for the farm. It will be over two years before we could milk her, but by then, we know we'll have far more pasture, and our own hay.

We have added a few new sows to our herd of heritage hogs. Our plan is to keep producing a spring and fall litter, but to also add a late summer litter. The reason for this is we often do not have enough pigs to fill customer orders for sides of pork, and every year after Christmas, we run out of most of the pork cuts we bring to the Ottawa Orgnaic Farmers Market. Especially now that we are offering three types of sausage: Mexican Chorizo, Farmers Sausage, and Bratwurst. We are also looking to begin producing some dry cured meats this year.

We will also have a new purebred Berkshire boar coming this spring. We like to keep mating pairs together to avoid inbreeding, so this new blood line will be added to mate one Bob and Marley's offspring.

This year also marks the start of our adventures into cheesemaking. So far, we have begun to produce simple cheeses like Cottage Cheese, Queso Blanco, Mozzarella, and Boccacinni. When the milk supply increases in the summer months, we will begin to try making some aged hard cheeses.

With spring fast approaching, we'll have lots more updates soon! 

Special thanks to Oliva, Audrey, and Casandra for the great photo's they took while here helping on our farm. Most of the shots above are taken by them, and boy, could these girls work hard! And thanks to Henri, who built fences and gates out of almost nothing, and they are still working! And thanks to Gregoire who helped stack the wood that is keeping us warm this winter!