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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The slushy snow only lasted a day but mother nature is making a fool of us all for thinking it was spring!

Little duck prints in the snow are even cuter then big duck prints in the snow!

Ducks taking refuge out of the wet stuff on the goat's see-saw. 

Everyone is hungry and excited to see the hay wagon.
We've run out of bales so we've got more coming today, will have to order jut a few more for next year.
This is all hay that got stuck under the pallets from the goats jumping in the hay,
there is lots more left in there but it's really time-consuming to get out to the animals.  

Thor & Megs have a really acrimonious relationship these days.
Meg has always been very dominant and will push any of the other animals off "her" food, Thor has taken exception to this. So any time she puts her ears back at one of the other critters he puts the run to her. 

She's not trying to kick him, actually she's quite intentionally aiming high over Thor's head, she's far more scared of him then she's letting on.

There they go again!
I'm just standing around laughing my butt of at Meg finally getting pushed around by someone!! 

Now Thor is happy!
Everyone has their own pile, Meg's been told to behave 
I'm sure he'll have her joined-up in no time...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day Project

We've had some Mallards hanging around the edge of the farm. If I get up early enough in the morning, or on a quiet afternoon I usually get to see them out of the corner of my eye taking off from the pond.

While trying to retrieve my dogs from the bush just over the line on the neighbour's property (they were chasing the duck!) I found out why we've been seeing so much of the wild ducks lately.

So I figured a sign was in order, the neighbours don't usually run through there but I wasn't sure I'd catch them before they came back here to start planting.

We'll have to keep a closer leash the dogs so they leave the poor duck alone, and hopefully we'll be able to catch a little glimpse for some more ducklings on the pound in the very near future!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day from the Booth Boys Barn

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Big Fat Yankey

Poor girl, shouldn't tease her for being pregnant!
Expecting early June kids, EXCITED!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick Cat Repair

 What a week!!

Rufus had a little abscess on his side, I missed getting a picture of it, but basically it grew to be the size of about a golf ball but more oval shaped. I could feel it petting him, it was soft but firm and would not slip around under this skin (which is what happens if it's a little fat ball). Not sure how he got it, could have been a cat bite (he arrived with a good scratch on his nose) or an insect bite, or something else.

The best treatment was to just leave him be & let it burst on it's own, which it did, and now he's feeling  much better. I thought he'd be on the other side of the barn as soon as I got him with the liquid bandage, but he really didn't seem to mind. A ball of frozen ground beef really helped with that though!

Burst Abscess
Sporting some bling of his own

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Goat Repair

 Around here we spell "trouble" H.A.R.R.Y.

Not sure what he did to himself, but looks like he might have ripped it trying to crawl under the fence or something.

Iodine & liquid bandage again, I should just start bringing them with me to the barn every day!!

(I keep everything in the house so it stays at an even temperature)

I will probably have to clean up the ripped skin in the future, but I wanted it to stop bleeding before I did anything else. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Quick Chicken Repair

 I've run out of good animals names and the new hamburgs have been saddled with "Spotty" and "Dotty". Yep... Poor things.

'nyway, the hamburgs have a neat high-stepping gate, but dotty has been spending a lot of time, either laying down or when she does move she's REALLY picking up her feet, so I noticed quickly something was off. The trick was catching her!

I was told by her last owner that they were great birds, always running around the barnyard. I will tell you, my chickens who run around the barnyard, who peck and scratch in the dirt, wear their nails down very quickly. Dotty's nails are not nailed down. Nor are her feet those of a particularly young bird.

Regardless, first of all her nails needed to be cut. This is just like trimming a cat or dog's nails, try to avoid the quick. So her toes just got a little trim, as soon as her foot heals she should be out scratching around.

She also had a few small cuts in her foot so I used iodine and then my liquid bandage to cover it. She's still hopping around quite a bit but looks a whole lot more comfortable and has been out & about out of the barn finally.

Spotty & Dotty are just attached at the wing-tip though, I've never seen anything like it. If Spotty goes out to get a drink or go look for food Dotty will start screaming bloody murder for him to come back. So at least I don't have to lock them in a little cage to keep them breeding pure, as they're doing that on their own.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cupcake liners

Cupcake liners are something I never remember to pick up at the store, so I made these homemade ones on the weekend instead! Very simple, I did find making the edges not straight (I made them wavy) made them bend easier.


Pasture Clean Up

Wasted Hay
Texans look away.
Quite a bit was still frozen in the middle
Something the article suggested would happen
Making little bunches to pick up
 Overall the winter bale grazing went well and we'll do it again. Next year I'm going to combine it with restricting access to one bale at a time, as well as keeping the cattle penned away from the feed over night. (This is based on another study I'll share later)

In the mean time, I have to clean up the hay rings left from the hay out in the field. There was only one bale the animals didn't eat and it was very very mouldy. Probably bales wet from the edges of the hay pasture.

The original article says that a few inches of hay is fine, the grass will come up through it, but anything deeper needs to be chopped or moved.

Ideally we'd be keeping the animals off the acreage we'd used to winter bale graze, with limited space and no fences we're not able to do that this year, so manual labour is my only solution.

Or this one I spread around to even out the nitrogen

Most of the bales got eaten completely down
and don't need any attention

Pastures are coming back nicely
and hopefully well fertilized for this summer! 

Trouble goes by the name "Harry" around here
On the ground they want nothing to do with it
but now it's all piled up on the trailer... 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Musky in the Egg

Muscovy ducklings right before they were about to hatch!

 We started off this spring with 3 duck nests with 29 eggs. Well the cows got one nest (it was in a bad spot anyway) and then Andy let the PBPs out and they got the other nest; but Daphne picked a great spot up in the loft and after 35 looooong days (for me!) they're hatching!!

I candled all the eggs the day before they hatched, because I wasn't quite sure of her hatch day I've been keep careful track of when they're going to hatch.

I could see movement in 5 of the 7 eggs, and put Xs on those ones with a sharpie. The 6th had a duckling in it, but he doesn't seem to be moving, so that one has just a / on it & I put it back under mom just in case. The last egg was rotten and got buried in the compost.

One thing I learned this week is that duck eggs take a long time to actually hatch! I thought they'd be more like chickens who barely take any time between the first pip and when the chicks are out & running around, but they can take as much as 24 to 48 hours between that first pip and actually hatching.

Once they do hatch they're absolutely adorable!! Little tiny muscovy babies, we're all so excited to see them.

I put food and water up there as soon as the babies started hatching, because they're up in the loft they aren't going to able to keep using this as a nest spot for the ducklings as they grow (because they can't fly up there with mom). I didn't want mom trying to take them too far for food until I get a chance to move them all once they've all hatched.

Daphne's pretty pissed at me for mussing with her but she actually looked relieved (if that's possible for a duck) and stopped hissing at me as soon as I brought the food up.