Saturday, October 29, 2011

Removing Strings & Bale Management

First tie a big string to your scissors so you don't
loose them in the hay.
At least that was the theory, mine are out in the
field somewhere,
good thing they are safety scissors...
(dull ends, only half as dangerous
to misstepping animals)
Cut the string and hold it in one hand, try and
get as many of the strings as possible
(less work).
I like to go in a bit of a spiral so I can keep
the strings I have loose and I can free up
more to cut.

Pull & VoilĂ !
Your bale strings should all
come off together in an easy
to tie bundle

 It's important to remove the strings with horses because they can get caught in them (especially as the bale gets eaten & the string are loose). Also they get wrapped in machinery used in the field. Plastic twine degrades very slowly, if you can use, or have your hay guy use, natural twine it's much better (less likely to hurt animals & it degrades).

It's easier to remove the tight strings right away, rather then being too busy to do it for 2 weeks then going around after the bales are rain soaked and the animals have been eating them.

Of course, if you remove the strings you're going to loose more hay to being trampled on then if you'd left the strings on. So it's a judgement call.

To tip over the bale, pick a nice spot about 1/2' from the top and push, HARD. If you can get a rocking motion going it's easier, but usually if you can't push it hard enough to get it over the first go you probably need a second person. Pushing down hill is easier then up.

Goats are Friendly

Not all goats are this friendly, ours were bottle raised and they are BIG time sucks!!!

This is me trying sneak around to get a photo of them as they graze the lawn (having slipped through that hole in the paddock fence that I can't seem to find, again!).

Munch, Munch,
Hey MAAAA!!!


Got food Maaaaa!?!?

Sometimes even goats take bad photos

Food? Food?
Got food?
How about some pets then?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hot Water Bottle Cozie

So my husband accused me of being an old lady the other day (I'm 26 for the record) because I bought a hot water bottle. My response was "No I'm not! It warms up the bed really nicely when it's cold, I just need to knit it a cover and we're set!". At that point I conceded that I am in fact, an old lady. 

Either way I just started this one Coco Knits because it looks really simple and quick. It's probably going to take me awhile to find the spare time, but I tend to get things we need done much faster then fun projects.

And for the record, I love my hot water bottle. It's very cozy right down at your cold feet, and even hubs is coming around to it. <$6 at Wmart, and much cheaper then an electric blanket or cranking up the heat.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Site

I've launched our new site, and would like to introduce our new farm name: Booth Boys With that we've released our price list, but I'd like to go into that in a little more depth here.

Chicken 3-5 Kg $7.50/kg $5.58/kg - not organic,
not free range
7.99/kg - Dundas, organic
Eggs Dozen $4 $3 not organic,
not free range
$6 doz - Dundas, organic
Beef Variable $10/Kg
all cuts
Variable $4 for ground beef
to $20++ for steak/roast  not organic
Eastern Ontario, organic

Recent supermarket prices are not on sale, at a very large international chain store known for it's low prices. Those are the actual prices of meat in our area from Oct 21st. The "EFAO prices" are from then EFAO website (go to "market prices"). They do a survey of local farms selling at farm gate and have an average for prices in the area.

These prices are just to start and we may be adjusting our prices over the years, as things change.

I thought I'd provide this list for people just starting up, or maybe some people with more experience that want to yell at me. We don't have anything available now, but in the spring we'll be opening up a farm-shop on site.

Everything is farm-pick-up-only as per Ontario law. 

We're also hoping to have turkey next year, and our goal is to get some pork in as well. Depends on how things go.

I really wanted to auction off Billy's first fleece as a fund-raiser to get him some ewes to play with (funny story... Billy is a rig, yeah we messed that one up good!!). Since wool is under a farm-gate only regulation I'm happy to keep it & knit something lovely. Or maybe I'll make a little sheep toy and we'll do something with that instead.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Got another talking-too

Every time I think we're doing okay we get a visit (or in this case a quick call) from our favourite farmer, and the both of us get a butt-kicking over something!

And every time we do I'm appreciative of the advice, feel like we're learning and thankful to have someone that'll kick our butts before we do something really stupid! After all, the man has been farming his entire life, we've been doing it for 4 months.
Those things are darn heavy!

This time it was the hay bales, we turned all ours up so the animals wouldn't be able to push them around very easily. WRONG! Turning them over on their side means the rain will run off them instead of soaking into them. Which I wish I had learned before the last week of rain! I spent about 2 hours trying to push them over, and got 6 or 7 on their sides, the others are soaked.

One of the things I probably should have asked before we bought the cows, were things along the lines of "what are they?" "what are they bred too?" "how old are they?" etc. ... We didn't do any of those things! But we trust the Farmer quite a bit, and knew he was going to pick out some nice ones for us (he was our landlord for 3 years). Plus the Wiggins stock is pretty well known for being great cows.
Gertie (LimoXSH) & Steak

So I learned Burger & Steak are pure shorthorn, which is great. What is even more exciting is that Hilda & Gertie are bred back pure shorthorn for next year! Which means if Hilda gives us a cow-calf we're definitely keeping it! Also the Farmer has a shorthorn bull for next year too so we're going to organize a little visit for Hilda & Gertie (and Hilda & Gertie Jrs) back to the farm next spring. Give our pastures a little rest (which is great because I was worried about no-inner fences & keeping the cows off the grass early when it's wet), and get them preggers again for another year.

Hilda & Burger
Burger is going in quite soon, Nov 7th or 8th with some of the Farmer's cows. Which means we're weaning them next week, probably on the 6th. That means I've got to get my butt moving to get some hay out into the sacrifice paddock, and I'd like to start feeding the little guys some treats in there. Then we'll lock Burger & Steak in that little paddock and Hilda & Gertie out. At least that is the plan.

Luckily the Farmer also as an RFID tag for Burger for us, which is great because we didn't know a thing about that until 2 weeks ago when he told us...

Sometimes we're so lost & clueless it's funny even to us. Everyone's gotta start learning somewhere, right?

How much is that Moo in the window?

Wondering how much it's going to cost you to add more livestock to your operation?

You can start with local online classifieds, but generally private sellers charge a lot more for their animals. If you want to go the auction route, it can be a little more "exciting", you should bring someone along or educate yourself about how to determine age and health of the animals you're interested in. However, the payoff is that the animals are generally far less expensive.

You can get online auction reports, check you local auction websites. Of course there is no harm in just going to have a look for a few minutes without the intention of buying anything (just leave your pocketbook at home...)

Ontario Cattlemens Association has links to a few reports.
Ontario Sheep also does.

For small scale operations, try looking in "off" seasons or when sales seem low. Keep an eye on what is going on in the market, it can save you hundreds of dollars. Lots of people try to get rid of "extra" animals before winter so they don't have to feed them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beautiful Fall Day

Burger is going to freezer camp Nov 7th or 8th
Can't believe how big he is already!
Steak has always been a little smaller,
although he's pretty big too!
Steak is going to stick around until the Spring.

Tired dogs are happy dogs!
Nice to have great neighbours,
they don't care a bit
about us being on their land.
Took the dogs for
a run down the lane way on the ATV.

Diego is about ready to have that cast off

Yes, Harry, Hello Harry...

Horse enjoying having their rain sheets off.
Poor things have been in them for a week and a
half with all the rain we've had!

'Course what is the first thing you do after
you get your blankie off?

Finally got a half decent picture of Megs
Too bad she's FILTHY!!
Oh Maddie, you always look so
exasperated with all the non-sense around here.
Love that nice round belly though, he's looking
so healthy & happy!

Still can't believe what a big boy he's turned
into! From that scrawny little lamb only a few
months ago.

Madaket's new Feedbag

Maddie showing off the new
fashion trend
Meg is enjoying her freedom so much she is refusing to come in the barn except if it's really pouring and miserable. Otherwise she's quite happy skipping around the back paddocks eatings all the nasty cow hay (while the cows eat the nice green horse hay...).

It's gotten so bad Maddie won't come in for meals either, apparently he can't be without his new beloved for 15 minutes. So we came up with a solution that pleased everyone, and I am now a feed-bag convert.

(Obviously I could keep halters on everyone and  go out and catch them for meals, which would establish a routine and after a few weeks they would come in on their own every day. I don't have time right now for that. If Megs having a day where she doesn't feel like being caught, it can take 30 minutes - 2 hours to get a hold of the brat)

Loving Retirement!
I've heard from other people that feedbags are a great way to feed your pasture horses.They don't take nearly as long as bringing the horses in & out (and cleaning up after them) and they can't fight over food, because the picked-on horse just leaves. 'Course you still have to catch them and take the feed bag back off when they are done.

Either way, cost me $16 and Maddie can finally get his dinner in peace & quiet, outside where he wants it, near his beloved yellow monster.

Plus Maddie is one of the messiest eaters I've ever met!! Dribbles his food all over the place. With the feedbag I know he's getting his dinner, instead of the goats & chickens! Even if he were in his stall I'd keep feeding Maddie with the feedbag now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cook: Salad Dressing

Simple lunch
w Feta & Cucumber

For this one I don't have a recipe, just a suggestion you go on a google hunt, but please give it a try!

I make my dressing with:

- 2 dashes of olive oil
- 1 - 3 dashes of vinegar (depending on how I'm feeling)
- pinch of salt & pepper
- little dollop of dijon mustard
- tiny bit of minced garlic

So I know that's not really helpful, there are lots available on the net that have measurements & instructions. After you make it once you can start playing around to make something you really like.

Balsamic vinaigrette is SUPER easy to make at home and is absolutely delicious. Salads are one of my very favourite things to eat, mostly because (like scrambled eggs) I add almost anything to them. Just take whatever is in the fridge and you can make a salad, you don't even have to have lettuce. Also you get lots of veggies and it's a low cal meal (provided you don't add too much feta).

My kids don't really like this dressing, but they are still pretty little & I make mine very tangy.

Egg Schedule

Blank Schedule.xlsx Excel

Blank Schedule.ods Gdocs, LibreOffice, etc.

Blank Shedule.pdf

In honor of our little EE, I have to share, some of my crazy-person digital records. The excel sheets will automatically give you 30 days of dates to fill in, you can change anything by just replacing it with your own text (egg colour for example).

I just put in the number of eggs I've collected in the corresponding boxes, and the ones momma EE are sitting on have an "x".

Keeping good records will help you determine very quickly if there are any problems in your flock. Either nutritional, or if a predator is bothering them, and you're getting a drop-off in production.

I can tell you my EEs are very prolific, but my buff is amazing! She's given us eggs 8 out of the last 9 days, while Coco (the cochin) has only given us 5 tiny little eggs in the same time.

In the next few years, I'm hoping to develop some software that would be helpful keep track of everything in a multi-species farm like ours. Reminders for worming, records for egg & meat production, and breeding. There is some software available for large farms, they are species specific and intended for big productions. I'm hoping mine will be free-use, and flexible; but don't hold your breath for a release, it's a big job.

For now, I've got my crazy-person spread sheets for everything.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

These Amazing Little Ducks

I found this while looking up good dimensions for the nest boxes. What I found was some more info that makes me loves these duckies even more!

"For years, some Canadian farmers have sworn that few muscovies took care of all fly problems on their farms. In 1989, Ontario biologist Gordon Surgeoner and Barry Glofcheskie decided to put this to the test.
"Starting with labratory trials... put a hungry five-week-old muscovy into a screen cage with 400 living houseflies. Within an hour it had eaten 326. ... it took flypaper, fly traps, and bait cards anywhere from 15 to 86 hours to suppress the populations that much."

The whole book is well worth a read, and you can download for free. You don't even have to register, just give your email & name and "continue as guest" by following the prompts. 

Muscovy are fine to go free-range because they are aggressive towards predators, they definitely have sharp-claws you don't want to get the wrong side of (although mine are fairly tame birds). They can fly, but tend not to fly far or away from the farm at all. Ours travel in a little pack all over the farm looking for tid-bits and bugglies before returning to the coop every night. They do like to swim in the livestock tank, but Muscovy are known for being more tolerant of not having a swimming area then other ducks. Although they do splash around in the chicken's water, they don't usually make that much of a mess. Their poops are not as wet and dirty as other ducks. They are also very easy keepers, our boys are HUGE. They produce tons of eggs they are supposed to be quite delicious. 

Plus they wag their little tails when they are happy and barely make any noise at all.

Fly control & all that in one adorable tasty beautiful little package!