Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So awesome blogger can't contain the BBB any more!


Also known as... I ran out of space on picasa for all the pictures :#
BBB logo
So, I've had to move the blog. I really apologize to anyone who has to update links, bookmarks, RSS feeds, I hope you stay with us!
I've gone straight over to the dark side and into wordpress since that's what my website server supports.
I'd also like to apologize for the messy & sudden switch over, I was trying to upload some more pictures today and we're just right out of room!
The blogger to wordpress import isn't perfect so please let me know if you notice any coding problems on the new blog. I had to copy all the blogs one at a time & may well have missed one.
On the upside, I was able to import over my old Nes' Garden blogs so you can go back in the records of the new blog and see my first venture into gardening & blogging.
More new posts tomorrow! It's been a busy week, I cleaned out the bull pen & hubs fixed the barn door, plus I forgot to blog about my purple potatoes!

Monday, April 30, 2012

What Eggs Do you Choose?

Having several Easter Eggers sitting (on & off as always...) we've got 4-5 nests going right now, we'll see if any of them actually hatch this time! I was asked on the weekend which eggs I would select to have the hens raise, which which is a really good question.

The first answer is all of them, we really want hens that can incubate their eggs naturally, a trait that seems to be largely bred out of modern chickens. Of course, if your hen is sitting she's not laying, so you don't want them all going broody all the time; but we want chickens who both lay really lovely eggs and will hatch some really lovely chicks!

So the second answer is that I pick eggs that have been given the best reviews by our customers, my own experiences as well as chickens I like. Hen will not lay eggs exactly like the ones they came out of, what they will la,y is a combination of their rooster & hen's eggs (look to the rooster's hen for an idea of what he would lay); but picking good eggs also gives you the best chance of getting good eggs from your future hens.
A rotten duck egg

You want to avoid any eggs that are cracked or excessively dirty. You also want to avoid any that appear porous when candled, partly because spotty eggs can be a sign of bacterial contamination as well as porous eggs being a symptom of weak shells that can break easily.

I usually don't get around to candling the eggs right away, but with 2 roosters & 3 cockrels running around, fertility is not a problem for us! I do try and candle half-way through or if any eggs appear discoloured. You want to remove any bad/rotten eggs as soon as possible so they don't contaminate the rest of the nest. Rotten eggs are usually fairly obvious, the inside looks dead.  
A good duck egg, about 3.5 weeks old

I try to record when the eggs should hatch so that I'm ready that day to check the coop a few extra time & check on the chicks (although I usually forget to write it down!!). I have found it completely necessary to write large Xs on all the eggs with a sharpie because of other chickens sneaking in to lay additional eggs. I've had one of my poor bantam easter eggs going from sitting on 6 eggs to 15 in one day. She was trying to cover them all as hard as her little chicken self could! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Maddie's Nap

 Every time I try to get a photo of him he gets up, but he does this almost every single day, and I think it's hilarious every time he does!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The piggies out for a walk

 I was out in the field yesterday so figured I'd let the pigs out for a little run around. They've moved to Maddie's stall, so they've got lots of space, but I hate keeping them inside even though our fences can't keep them in yet. Thor is VERY curious about the funny little dogs things, and they were staying in the paddock pretty well until he got too curious and out they slipped.

I went around to herd them back but they just looked so happy I had to sit down for half an hour and watch them play.

Miss Piggy took the manure pile to get in a good roll

While Wilbur stuck his face in the grass and didn't
get it out of there. 
We'll be replaced the external fences very soon, and then the pigs will be able to go out in the field every day. For now they've got the sunshine coming in from their wood-slat door and lots of hay to play around in. I throw their feed out over the whole stall so they have to dig for it to keep them busy.

They sure do come running when I call them though! Here pig, pig, pigs!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why we're not CO, why I hate labels today

I've been working away on extra fun things for the farm, not.

Things like researching certification costs and benefits, I find myself frequently contacting these organizations to ask, no what is it your organization is going to do for US? Why should I send you my hard-earned money? What are you going to do with it?

Not surprisingly, I don't seem to be getting many e-mails back...
(Except from Practical Farmers, I think they've got some new members!! Very impressed)

One that we'd especially love to participate in, but is not going to happen any time soon, is becoming certified organic. There are a few reasons why:

(1) And I would LOVE to be wrong on this one, looking at the CSI organic certification policy manual (CSI being the closest group too us), to my math, it would cost us $1450+ to become certified, and $1200+ every year to maintain that certification; and that's just for Canadian certification. Becoming CO will not add $1200 to our bottom line, we're not big enough and no one wants to pay $15/kg for chicken.

(2) Does it really make more sense to truck in tons of organic food for $$$ more money, when we can get the same quality non GMO feeds grown more locally? Now, there is some leniency in the organic regs to make up for this dichotomy, but if we can get organic feeds, we need to use it and pay for it.

(3) Logistically, for instance we're sending the cows out to another farmer's pasture for the summer so we don't have to bring a bull in (again, we're too small - not worth the money, hassle or risk without proper facilities); and this causes all sorts of issues and would be a paperwork nightmare for the CO people.

That's it. It's all about the money really.

Other then that we will be fully organic compliant as soon as we get a hedge row growing along our back fence, and even that I'm not sure we even need it (our neighbours don't spray right up to the fence).

So if we're not going to be C.O. what else can we get in on?

A lot of these certifications cost money, where it's $20 or $1000; I'm having a hard time seeing the benefits of "officially" labelling our products. I want to be supportive of some of these initiatives, but at the same time we need that money to stay on the farm to support our initiatives.

Instead I'd just like to label our products myself:
  • Hormone free
  • Antibiotic free 
  • Cruelty free
  • Bee friendly
  • Bird friendly
  • Fish Friendly
  • Farm fresh
  • Ecologically minded
  • Sustainably minded
  • Heritage minded
  • Organic 
  • Local
  • Grass-fed
  • Family farm
  • Low oil
  • Small scale
  • Full of pain in the ass goats
But try fitting all that on a 2x4" sticker.

We are, however, part of Foodland Ontario.
Which basically means our food is grown here, in Ontario. Well... duh...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Adopt a Pond, Help protect our Wetlands

We're big supporters of Frog Watch & the Ontario Turtle Talley, and I've submitted more then a few sightings (& hearings) to them.


It really takes only a few moments to send one in & you're helping to map out the habitats, and get a rough idea of their population.

Last year we found an endangered Blanding's turtle on our driveway & headed towards a very busy road (at our old house); so I snapped a few pictures, and got him turned around back towards the pasture where he really wanted to be.

With the pond on property we're trying to figure out a balance between providing space for wild critters, and re-claiming much needed pasture space around it. So we haven't quite figured out what we're doing; but so far it's been home to a lovely bunch of leopard frogs, as well as the mallards that just moved in*!

*I wrote that then thought to myself I should go sneak around & check and see how they're doing. The nest has been abandoned, looks like something got into it. Lots of eggs were missing, several were opened. I'm really disappointed, but that's nature.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012