Monthly Archives: March 2012

Clover Hill Heritage Farm Photo’s

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Mars Hill wind farm,in Maine, can be seen behind us on the ridge. You can make out sticks on the top of the hill that are the windmills.

As seen from our field, this is the barn, built last summer, but the photo was taken in October when the leaves were changing. Behind it you can see through the trees, is the workshop built the year before.

This guest cottage only had two guests last summer. (it didn’t get finished until August) I hope it gets more use this summer. Great for sleeping when the nights are cool, but it sits out in the open, alongside the orchard and heats up during the day – making it quite stifling midday. Maybe we’ll get to insulating it at some point to make it comfortable no matter the time of day. It needs a coat of paint or stain, and a shade tree beside it. It keeps the rain off and the critters out, though.

I loved the whole process of setting up this little cottage. This one was built off farm, and delivered to us on a flat bed truck. It was amazing watching it being pulled off the truck and slid to the level spot chosen for its' view. The next few will be built by us, a little bigger, hopefully, with room for a small fireplace or cookstove, and perhaps we'll get creative with outdoor solar showers, or in-ground bath-tubs! I would like to make a spot for a fire pit to set up a tri-pod and chain to hang a cooking pot. Maybe set up a little oasis back there for private morning coffee. As with everything, the ideas are evolving.

This Coop is 8' x 10'

The chicken coop window boxes

The chicken coop was more or less finished in 2010. It’s been painted, had flowers planted around it, but the nest boxes aren’t done and neither is their screened-in-run. They will free range, but I want a place for them to go to hide if there are hawks, eagles, racoons, weasels, or any other predator that loves the taste of chicken. It’s large enough for 15-20 chickens (although I will likely only have a dozen) and has a spot that would work well to place a brooder. It is tall enough to place a small loft for feed storage, too.

The window boxes have some kind of ornamental pepper in them and another kind of draping annual of which I don’t know the name. I got them from the garden centre and thought they were pretty. I’ll plant seeds in there before the chickens come, and they will be pansy’s and stocks. The perennials along the side are Monkshood, Lily, Delphinium, and Cranes Bill geranium.

Some of these flowers aren’t good for chickens, if they eat them, so they will be moved in front of the house when it is complete, or donated to a neighbour who doesn’t have chickens. The screened in part will be at the back, away from the window boxes and surrounding a walnut tree there.

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Corn brooms

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I have already acquired heirloom varieties several hard to find vegetable seeds and will germinate some this summer to see if they are viable, and save this years seeds to plant next year. I have read that heirloom seeds (depending on the species) can last up to three years and still be viable, but I have actually experimented with several seeds over five years old and still had more than a 50% germination rate. Some of my seeds are quite rare, though, so I don’t want to mess with best before dates and risk losing them entirely. Once I get to the farm this year, I will do a complete inventory of seeds and figure out what needs to be added.

Earlier in the year I spoke to a man in Colorado who has several pounds of broom corn seeds that he wants to trade for a seabuckthorn tree. I have to admit, I was tempted to send him one in trade for the broom corn but didn’t because I know across border shipping can be tricky and I wasn’t so sure he wanted me to get into the paperwork for exporting live trees. I thought it would be less fun, but more practical to just purchase broom corn seed.
I have a homemade corn broom that I love and thought I might try my hand at making a few more. If I understand it correctly, you plant the broom corn (Sorghum vulgare) and the seeds grow at the end of some pretty sturdy stocks. You cut the stocks, remove the seeds and bind the stiff grass type stock with twine to make your broom. Check out Youtube for how to make corn brooms.
The broom corn comes in a variety of colours, too, so you can make some really pretty, natural brooms.
Here is a picture of mine in its’ spot in our little guest house…

Farm name chosen !

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Bouncing about with farm names for the last few years now, and it turns out we have one that works. CLOVER HILL HERITAGE FARM specializing in heirloom varieties and heritage breeds.
I like the feel of that. So when we have our goat herd or our sheep flock they will be registered to our farms name when born. A baby goat born at our farm will be named, for instance, Clover Hill Adam (if we are having our “A” year) or Clover Hill Zola (once we’ve been doing it for 26 generations). Some farms do it this way to easily keep track of the year a goat was born. I don’t know if there is another reason for it – there may very well be – but I suppose I will find out soon enough.
Our huge field (about 30 acres) along side our driveway heading up to where the house will be is covered in timothy grass and red clover. In early June, when all is in flower, the scent is intoxicating. And although that field won’t always be in clover, we will have it planted somewhere because our own clover, timothy and other grasses will be baled for winter feed for years to come, I’m sure.

Back at it…

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Back at it…

It’s been a long while since I posted anything. But today, spring is definitely in the air! I am energized! The sun is shining, I have music rockin’, and I’m supposed to be cleaning out a closet, so of course – now is the perfect time to write.

Looks like this summer we will be breaking ground on the house. I am so excited about this particular part of the development for several reasons, not the least of which is progress. We bought the property 5 years ago thinking that in 3 or 4 years we would be able to move. So, 5 years later and looking at a few more years before the transition, could look like somewhat of a disappointment. But it’s not. This dream has evolved drastically in the last 5 years. We have started down a few paths, planning the farm, that made sense until we really did our research. Now, I am confident that when we arrive and dive into the market garden and filling the barn with small animals, the choices we have made are the right ones for us. It is easy to see why some new farmers can get so overwhelmed. I was, and I wasn’t a farmer yet.

Every summer at the farm starts early in the morning clearing, checking, mapping, repairing, building, moving, planting, and ends late, exhausted. This summer we have barn stalls and fences to build as well as starting work on the house. I am reluctant to plan any more than that given that last summer we felt obliterated by the end of it. I would love to have some time to have my sweetie hang out in his hammock and strum the banjo for a while. Oh, Lord, love that sound!

More decisions have been made about livestock. We have determined which breeds of animals will start on our small farm, and all for specific reasons.
Orpington chickens are the breed of choice because they are a heritage breed that still knows how to forage for food, set chicks, and be around people without being terribly flighty or aggressive. They are considered a dual purpose breed since they produce a respectable meat bird and lay eggs on a fairly regular basis. With the proper lighting in the coop, they may lay all winter. But, honestly, I like them because they are really, really pretty!
You can have a look at a really nice one here http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/chicken-breeds-eggs.html

I have located a farm that will sell me hatching eggs of some of the nicest quality birds I have seen. That sounds like fun, huh?

Also located breeders for alpine goats in New Brunswick and nubian goats in Quebec, so shouldn’t have to go far for some quality herd sires and does. Alpines and Nubians are both dairy breeds of goats, and produce enough milk to make cheese and soap. They are playful and sweet and I can’t wait to have goats!

I have been in touch with a few sheep breeders and one in particular that works with icelandic sheep. I have been following this breed of sheep because of what I have read in ‘slow food’ circles and there seem to be a bunch of foodies that prefer icelandic sheep. Their meat is beautifully marbled without being fatty, mild in flavour, and the sheep are small enough to be handled for shearing without too much difficulty. Their fibre is lovely for spinning, too.

I hadn’t initially thought about having pigs, however I do love bacon! The more I learn about pigs, the more I want to learn about them. It seems that the difficulty in raising pigs comes from confinement issues that wouldn’t arise at our farm. We have a lovely sloping spot with ancient apple trees flanking the edge of the forest as it opens to a small meadow. Perfect for pigs to find shelter under the trees, and wallow in the little valley created by the convergence of two hills. There is a spring pond there until August most years. So, we are torn between Tamworth pigs, which are easily attained in the area, and Guinea hogs, which aren’t. I would prefer Guinea hogs since they don’t get as large as the Tamworth and would be much easier to handle for a first time pig farmer. Maybe I’ll turn up a breeder in the area. Keep your fingers crossed – grass fed pork is delish!

After a few years of cheese making and soap making and getting used to the farm schedule, I hope to have time enough to add a cow or two. I am thinking about scottish highland cows because they are extremely hearty and can exist on low quality pasture (not that ours will be low quality, but it may take a few years of pasture management to improve the soil quality) They are smaller in stature and have wonderful furry faces!

Add to these a few geese, ducks, turkeys and maybe a draft horse, and our small barn will be full. In a few years, we’ll have our schedules down, the market garden in full swing and sippin’ sangria on the porch at sunset.(that is, after we lock up the chickens so they don’t get eaten by foxes, called in the sheep and goats, milked the goats and cows, added bedding to their stalls, fed everyone and closed all the gates – ya,…. then, sangria on the porch… while snoring.)

Long winter….

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Usually through the winter I try to fill my time with things that keep my mind occupied and creativity flowing. I had a few projects this winter that came upon me on a whim and turned out not too bad.
I made dolls for the first time and had a blast with those. They needed hair and dresses and jewelry, of course and I had fun imagining them in their adoptive homes with my nieces.

I made pies, bread stix, ice cream, gifts, gained a few pounds, and made it through another winter as easily as if I had indoor plumbing, electricity, and close proximity to the grocery store(which I do). Yup, gotta admire those who accomplish more than that without it!