Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paddock Measurements

Used one of those rolling measure things hubby borrowed from work; but couldn't find a clipboard in the 30 minutes I had to do it between when he came home and when the sun was going down.

Now to sort out what fence we're buying...

Friday, September 23, 2011

KSCC Saving Patterns

Despite my desire to grow our own healthy food, and live out in the country with the clean and quiet air, I'm about as far from a Luddite as you can get. I'm a huge nerd and really couldn't cope without my high-speed internet.

I love free-use, open-source software like Firefox. If you're still using I.E. you have no idea what you're missing! Firefox is free to use and download, very simple to navigate, and unlike internet explorer, you can remove it later if you don't like it.

Mine has an extension on it called Scrapbook. It works sort of like your bookmarks do, but it saves the entire site. So you can go and visit it offline later, or if that site goes down you can still access the information. I use this all the time for my KSCC patterns. Saves me from printing out tons and tons of patterns (gotta save the forests!), and I never loose a pattern because someone forgot to pay their server fees.

If you don't want to add Scrapbook, you can print patterns and crafts "to file". You do this by going into print, then select "print to file" instead of whatever printer you use. This allows you to save the pattern as a file on your computer. I believe windows always saves the file as a ".doc" but if you've got the option ".pdf" is the best because it's the most used. 

For paper patterns I always back them up in the computer with my scanner. You don't need an expensive or fancy scanner if you're mostly doing documents (although I have digital copies of my old photos too). That way I don't have bits of paper floating around to loose, spill coffee on, have the kids doodle on; and they are way easier to find! I just name all my patterns with something descriptive like "knit page boy hat" and use the search function when I feel like making one later.

Just remember if you're saving patterns for your own personal use you're not going to have any problems. But you've got to check copyright rules before distributing them to friends (even if you're giving them away for free) and you should never charge people for something you got for free even if you put it on a disk or something.

The end of Hen & Pen

Penny died last night, she'd be acting a little funny the last few days, just not around as much as normal. Not showing up for her normal struts around the yard with Teddy, wing in wing (almost).

Lesson we learned: we should have eaten them when we had the chance.

They didn't live long past when we had that conversation, and they ended up being kicked out to the barn instead. If the meat birds had gone in when they were supposed to both these ladies probably would have found themselves on their way as well.

So, no more naming the chickens, and we're going to keep buying dual purpose because the layers we have now are going into the pot when they are finished laying.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Garden: The organic way.


Our farm is what I would call "Pesticide Free" because we don't have the capital for organic certification or all organic feeds (nor do we produce enough now, to make it a sensible investment) . The animals that do get feed are mostly the chickens & horses. We will be giving the momma cows some grain over winter to keep their weight up because they are pregnant, but the babies are always going to be grass fed/grass finished.

Also, our neighbour sprays. A lot. I have no control over what he chooses to do on his own land, and have no plans to ask him to stop, since he was here long before us. So we're going to have some pesticide drift over onto our property. Drives me crazy, but again, really nothing I can do about it. That would also prevent us from ever achieving organic certification if we wanted it.

However, I can say I'm never going to go buy something that isn't organic to spray on my plants. In fact it would have to be a pretty bad infestation for me to go buy anything all. Sacrificing a small portion of the harvest to our insects does not irk me in the least. I try to promote healthy predator populations, and if we do have a problem there are many very simple home-made organic solutions. Things like spraying milk on mildewing squash, which work very well.

"Crammed together with five or six others in tiny cages, hens aren't able to stand up, stretch their wings or even lay their eggs in a nest. They live their entire lives in a space no bigger than a sheet of notebook paper."

In a tiny little cage is no way of a chicken to live. Chickens love to bask in the sun, roll in the dirt, and hunt for bugs. Free-range may be stretching it a bit for commercial productions; these birds live and die to feed us, so let's at least afford them the chance to move around.

Helmans has already switched to free-run eggs. You can help by emailing McDonalds to make the switch (link above) and purchasing products from companies who make positive changes towards supporting animal welfare.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bye Bye Manure Machine

Hey there is something missing here!!

This dangerous, no longer useful apparatus is completely out of the pasture! I'm so glad too, I was really worried about Maddie hitting his head off it one day, especially as they are coming into the barn past it now.

There is tons of delicious composted manure underneath the machine. For whatever reason, the land all around the manure machine is very poor, compared to the rest of our pasture which is very rich. There is lots of clover, showing poor nitrogen in the soil, and the soil is very hard and compact. May be there is a high sand or clay deposit here under the soil compared to the rest of the pasture. Either way, it means I've been breaking my back spreading all the black gold from under the old machine out all around it, which the chickens are very happy about.

Hubby had to slice the whole thing apart with the chain saw so we can get it out of the field. It took us about 3 hours start to finish with the boy's help. I definitely feel I can sleep better at night knowing this is gone! One more off the T.D.B.W. (To be done before winter) list!!

Although it's a neat piece of old farm machinery, even if this had been in good condition I wouldn't have wanted to keep it. It took up a large part of the pasture, and it was dangerous for the horses. There is still a large section in the cow part that we haven't removed yet & that dump cart itself. 

Belle, Cancer & Friendship

In the Field

Horse-lovers, you've got to listen to the first article in part two. About the man with brain cancer, his seizures, and his beloved horse Belle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Paddocks to Pasture & Poor Megs

Poor Megs!
Just took off the skin so it's really superficial
but it could have been a lot worse if she had
gotten really tangled
 What was that I was saying about doing today what you can put off until tomorrow? Especially when it comes to fencing... We had a funny summer, couple dry periods but when it rained it poured! And all that water sitting in the ditch really compromised the dividing fence, so it was falling down & getting looser and looser.

I had it on my T.D.B.W. (to do before winter) list, but apparently I didn't get around to it soon enough.

You can see bits of her hair are still on
the fence
It didn't take too much to find out where she'd gone through the fence. Right beside the feed bucket, so she probably aimed an air-kick (she rarely actually kicks other animals, but she likes to show off) at someone and missed.

 So, I push aside other things that needed to be done and got straight to taking care of this fence before anyone else got hurt. It took hours and hours of back-breaking, hand-killing, I'm still soar the next day work. It's all down and out of the field but our yard looks like a I'm showcasing some sort of red-neck art installation.

I was trying to clip the fence at each post, but so many of the posts were rotten off at the bottom they broke when I tried to get the fence off them. These got rolled into the fencing so I removed the whole thing from the field in 4 big chunks. Plus digging out the 3 pieces of re-bar holding up extra fencing in the ditch between paddocks (I understand why those were there, but an extra long T-post would have gotten that job done better & safer!). I also got the last of the galvanized wire off the bottom line around the paddock, it was still in good (tight) shape, but we weren't using it.

For the winter we've got one big pasture, which is just fine. It was about time for the horses to start coming into the barn for meals (need to do that so I can change blankets when it's cold) and the only time I was splitting up the animals was to feed Maddie anyway. I'd still like to confine the cows in a paddock over winter, so they don't damage the grass; but based on what I've seen at other farms, cows don't really stray from the warm barn unless forced once snow hits the ground.

Meg is all cleaned up now, took some coercion on my part (not a fan of spray-things), but relatively painless all around. If the wound had been any deeper or I had found it sooner it would have been a vet call to close it all the way. As it was the wound was already mostly closed and had stopped bleeding (she probably did it overnight). She's also mostly sound on the leg and still running around like an idiot just in case the vet does come. So I sprayed some Iodine to keep it from infection and applied a liquid bandage for livestock (the silver) to keep it closed.

Flashy Girl!
I could have wrapped the wound but I know the goats/Meg would have taken that off very quickly so this was a better option (plus I'd have to catch her twice a day to change the bandage, eating up time I don't have). I would cold hose it but we've had a big temp drop in the last few days so that is already keeping the swelling down. Hopefully it will close and heal just fine, although she'll probably have a little scar where the biggest part of the wound is. Keeping her outside, and all the blood flowing through the leg as she moves is the best thing to do now that it's covered. I'll be keeping a really good eye on her leg for the next few days, watching for swelling, oozing, and if I'm going to need to reapply the bandage (if we do get either, I'll have the vet out for antibiotics).

We're definitely keeping the liquid livestock bandage in the first-aid trunk from now on. It wasn't cheap ($20 for a small can) but the amount of time/wraps it's going to save me, it was definitely worth it!

Ducks out for a stroll

The ducks have taken to the habit of going out in a big flock for morning and evening strolls about the farm.

I am so enjoying having the Muscovy, we picked them up just wanting any breed of duck to have on the farm, but they've been a really enjoyable addition. Very nice dispositions, very quiet, and just adorable with their little waggling tails!

I wonder how many we'll have next year...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cook: Home-made is Best

I usually go with the processor method, but mine
is busted, so volcano it is!

If you've never had home-made pasta you just don't know what you are missing! It's much easier to make then you think it's going to be, and is very high reward!

There are 2 methods I use to make the dough:

The Volcano

This is where you place your flour directly on your counter-top, then make a little depression in the centre and put your eggs in that. Then use your fork/finger to incorporate the eggs and flour and create your dough.

The Processor

This method is much faster and easier to clean up! You can put all your pasta ingredients into your food processor, then just quick little pulses to combine it all together. As long as you don't over-work the dough it will remain soft and yummy.

Rolling it out.
Once you've let your dough rest you need to roll it out flat.

The Rolling Pin

This method is really labour intensive, and again, messy. You start from the middle and roll outwards, turning the dough as you go to stretch it nice and thin. You can use a pizza cutter, or just a knife to cut out the pasta.

Pasta Press

I had quite the epic journey to find my pasta press! Apparently a lot of home-cooking shops don't sell them. If you're lucky enough to own a Cuisinart mixer you can get an attachment pretty easily, but a free-standing reasonably prices pasta press was very hard to find. I ended up paying about $40 for one that mounts to the counter, the bracket broke within the year.

The press was definitely worth the money though! It's much easier to create nice thin pasta and the back part of mine cuts spaghetti.

I really recommend everyone try to make pasta at least once, because the taste is going to turn you!!

Cats are for Lovin'

Peaches after her bath on her first day
She was covered in fleas, full of worms, and has
a nail so grown over it had gone into her pad

Seems very appropriate after the "commercial kennel" seizure story from the weekend.

Cat Crazed doc was on CBC and is viewable online, it's a great watch if you love kitties.

I feel very strongly about how we should make spay/neuter clinics available to everyone, paid for through licensing programs. I really don't mind paying the $15 to have our dogs licensed each year, especially knowing they will be hand-delivered back to us if they ever strayed.

I also feel people should take responsibilities for all their feral kitties. The dressage barn I used to work as, as much as it seemed a little nuts at times, did an amazing job of caring for their colony of around 8-12+ cats. They remained at that low number because of TNR, and feeding the cats regularly. 

You can get a special TNR rate at some vets in our area, I believe the cost is around $80. Yes, that is a lot of money for something you may not feel you have to pay for. Especially when you're caring for 5, 10, 15 cats. But I've also been to many barns where they don't control the population and having 100 un-managed cats running around isn't healthy for anyone, including your livestock. You need to either maintain what has decided to make your barn home, or find another humane solution. 

By contacting your local cat shelter you may even be able to find TN ferals or barn cats at a very discounted rate if you're willing to provide a home. These cats are very difficult to place because of their natures and are a drain on the shelter's resources.

We picked up our kitty Peaches from a barn that does not control their cat population. On top of having been pregnant with Oscar around 6 months of age, both cats have both mental and health problems. Even being managed in a loving home, they are not "normal" cats.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Outdoor Feed Station

It's just too beautiful to bring the ponies in, even for meals. They love being outdoors so I hate to lock them in, plus this is much faster. However, the goats love getting into the horse feed, so we had to put Maddie's feed bucket where they couldn't get into it.

This has worked very well. We didn't use a post because they all have electric fence on it, and it's not nice to get zapped while you're eating your breakfast. In the future we'll build something more permanent in their shelter (To Be Built).

Now, if only I could get Maddie to stop dribbling food to the goats...

(Blog note: I wrote this before Meg got hung up on the fence, she's fine, more about that Tuesday. As of the 15th we're not using the feed station any more, it did work really well for a month though and we'll be incorporating outdoor feed stations into the plan for the paddocks next year.)

Have room in your heart/home?

Photos by the Toronto Star
I'm not in anyway personally affiliated with this story, just that I heard it on the news, and it is relatively close to us. I want to pass on this information so that we can all help these dogs.

PawsRUs Kennel near Shawville Quebec has had over 500 dogs & puppies seized.

People have know about this kennel for years.
Canadian forum has a posting back from 2004 by a woman named Lorie Gordon. The Ottawa Citizen carried this information about what happened. Basically Lorie purchased a Labrador from PawsRUs in 2002(?) who developed a heart murmur and hip dysplasia and had to be put to sleep. PawsRUs gave Lorie a golden retriever as a "replacement" dog, and that dog either came with or developed sever mange, and also has problems with epilepsy.

Both hip dysplasia and epilepsy are well known genetic problems with these breeds of dog, and responsible breeders preform genetic screening to prevent breeding animals who might pass on these problems.

PawsRUs sued Lorrie Gordon for liable in 2006 for calling the "commercial dog breeder" a puppy mill online.  PawsRUs won a judgment for $14 000. It seems Lorrie Gordon has appealed, I'm not sure what the trial date is (conflicting unreliable information online) or what is happening.

I want a pound dog seems to be right on top of the story.

Montreal Dog Blog is actually involved in the rescue.

On Friday PawsRUs had over 500 dogs and puppies removed from their property. A lot of the dogs reportedly have skin and respiratory problems. conducted the raid, and would be the best place to start if you want to help.

This story is still developing, but if the animals are won in court, eventually over 500 dogs are going to need new loving homes.

Listen: Podcasts

The Bottom Line

Was a great podcast done by Dr. David Suzuki (a very well known Canadian ecologist) very smart, and I really learned a lot from the one on soil bacteria. I really hope they are coming back to do another season!

The Self-Sufficient Gardener/Hunt Gather Grow Eat

Done by the same person, they are wonderfully researched and very thoughtful. Lots of information on gardening, raising livestock and living sustainably. If you've got one area of interest it's pretty easy to search through the records, you won't be disappointed.

Growing your Grub

Great organic gardening information, lots of expert guests. Market gardens and small farm information too.

Ontario Today - with Ed Lawrence.

Every Monday for 30 minutes, Ontario Today has Master Gardener Ed on to talk gardening and take listener question. There is a reason they have many international listeners, and just celebrated Ed's 30th year on the show. I really miss when they had him on for a full hour!

If you've got any more you'd like to suggest, I would love to hear them! I've always got podcasts on while I'm cleaning/organizing/cooking around the house - just makes the work go faster.