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.)