Thursday, December 3, 2009
Another three weeks at the cafe and we'll be closed for the season and will be able to turn my attention more thoroughly to the farm projects. Fortunately, Henning is between off the farm work commitments and has been putting in fourteen hour days getting the pig barn ready, organizing all our feeding regimens as well as doing the routine twice a day chores.
A fresh snowfall brought home the realities of the upcoming winter. Chickens to go to the abbatoir, waterbowl freeze-proofing, shelter for ducks and geese and the sheep wandering about in forlorn search for fresh grass. They like the cold, frisk about kicking up their heels and butting heads playfully. After all, they do have very warm woolly waterproof coats!!
Life in the newly renovated pig barn is ever changing. Our recent acquisition of Napoleon (Big Daddy), a purebred Duroc boar has cemented our committment to breeding our own piggies and controlling our supply of butcher pigs for our freezer meat and restaurant supply business.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
We had a delightful and productive day making naan, focaccia and Irish soda bread on a gloomy November day. Paula and her two daughters Rhea and Janel and Leslie and Lynn kneaded and mixed and measured and turned out these lovely loaves. We used the wood stove to set our dough and everything rose effortlessly...in fact, we could barely keep up with baking. Lunch of sandwich and soup and sampling the bread and we were all ready to have a nap by the warmth of the fire. A thoroughly enjoyable day!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I had been postponing all sorts of pleasant expeditions until November and so this past Monday we visited a sheeps-cheese dairy near Ottawa where owner and cheesemaker extraordinaire, Richard, gave us a tour of this barn and milking set up and of his cheesemaking operation. Very impressive!! Then off we went to see a herd of Lincoln Reds (looking for a heritage breed beef animal for next season). We rounded off the days excursion with an organic feed pick up at Homestead Organics and at Mountain Path Flour. A lovely sunny day for a twelve hour trip.
Next morning, Tuesday, we were up and about early luring piggy number five into the pig box for her trip to Reiche's abbatoir. That accomplished, came back here and spent the afternoon sweeping up the fall's accumulation of cobwebs and dead flies and washing windows and blacking the cookstove in anticipation of my Saturday bread-baking workshop.
Wednesday morning, off to the abbatoir to pick up the piggy and to take her to Ottawa to her appointment with Chef Steve whose restaurant Murray Street Bistro was named one of the top ten new restaurants in Canada. Not every pig we raise ends up in such fine final circumstances (although her sister went to Castlegarth which is also a noted eatery). I am pleased that the girls will be much appreciated on the plate.
After pork delivery, treated ourselves to a cafe au lait and a brioche at the French bakery in the Byward market. What a different life now then when I lived in Ottawa in my youth, sold flowers in front of the George St. liquor store, booked bands into the bars, worked as a bartender in those same bars, partied in those bars with my writer and musician and film friends. Life changes in many unexpected ways! After this short nostalgic foray into the past, we headed back to get another load of organic feed and this time made it back to the farm before dark.
The rest of the week was a combination of serving food at the cafe, cleaning inn rooms as we have ten paddlers staying on Saturday night, organizing the Wilno Film Festival, making phone calls looking for a breeding boar for Esmerelda and maybe even Lulu, printing our my breadmaking recipes, more fly sweeping at the farm, transporting all my baking supplies, fighting off an incipient cold (brandy and lemon and organic honey works well) and being tremendously surprized by our duck eggs starting to hatch in the incubator. So now, we have five ducklings in a plastic bin under a heat lamp, and more eggs in the incubator looking like they will be ready to hatch soon. Farming is never dull!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
All grown up! Our three geese are NOT going to the abbatoir. I am keeping them as watchgeese, since they do such a good job of creating a ruckus whenever anything unusual occurs. We kept four ducks and they are laying eggs which I believe is not the norm at this time of year. So I have gotten an incubator from the kid up the hill who was tired of it, and am hatching a dozen duck eggs. Our first batch of meat birds are in the freezer, and in fact are all sold. We have a second batch of 50 chicks on the go and hopefully it won't get tooo cold to fast. I also added ten more hens and we now have 25 laying birds and I am able to supply many of our regular customers with eggs as well as for our own use.
Friday, July 17, 2009
At the farm, the meat birds are growing and eating and eating and growing. They go out into their run and enjoy the great outdoors. The geese and ducks are a noisy bunch...lots of splashing and honking and quacking whenever someone arrives. The guinea fowl have hatched a passle of young uns and the whole troupe scurries to and fro in the yard. The sheep have decided that they must be with the cattle and there is no separating them. Even Alfie and the girls are no longer in the orchard and are in with the rest. So much for keeping our ram separated from the ewes!
Its just too busy for us to micromanage everyone at this point...sufficient that there is pasture and water and shelter for the night and no escapes down the Donegal road or forays into Wingle's hayfields. Dad usually comes up once a day to check on the cattle and Phill has been dismantling the granary so there's mostly someone around. Henning is busy working in Kashuby on a cottage and Tom of course is cooking madly most of the time.
Its been a rainy summer with very cool days...cool enough that the pastures are not growing as they should...the boys are feeding hay to the cattle and I just brought a round bale in to Wilno for Maureen's lambs who have eaten the lawn. We need heat for things to grow!!!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Sunday May 31 with a lively fire in the cafe woodstove and snow falling outside on the lilacs. We arrived home at the farm by three pm and had to light the kitchen stove as well. The house is cold and damp without it. The sheep however don't mind the chill and the absence of black flies is a bonus.
On Monday morning we went for a drive all the way to Berwick to check out a place that sells organic animal feed. We are thinking of expanding our current retail business in Wilno to include organic farm and garden supplies and this is part of our research. It was a sunny morning to start off but clouded over by noonish and by the time we returned at four pm it was pouring rain.
The boys were here checking out their cattle and I put my sheep inside early as they were drenched in the downpour. One ewe with a prolapse...everyone else is fine.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Several things have become clear to me as my sheep adventure continues and so I am constantly refining my approach to sheepfarming. Firstly, if we are going to raise organic lamb for our customers or our own restaurant, we need lambs which mature more quickly and put on weight more quickly, and quite frankly, are less distinctively cute than these little tykes. I can't bear the thought of having to take any of them to the abbatoir and I am not sure how I am going to get around that problem. So I have decided to sell a couple of my wool sheep and to replace them with a meat breed such as Dorpers. Problem is, most people don't want a mature ewe so they go to the salesbarn where they end up as dogfood...which is just as disturbing as sending the lambs to the abbatoir. So I was overjoyed to find someone who wants to keep them as they are...let them eat grass and be happy pets. So I chose the clever Dottie and the good mom Blaze and my blondie Marilyn and off they went in style in the horse trailer.
Friday, May 29, 2009
On the brighter side, the chicks are growing madly and are now in their big pen. I put the goslings outside in the wire pen for an afternoon and also three ducks who panicked and flapped around in that hysterical duckish manner of theirs. The goslings were ever so calm and settled themselves right down to eating fresh grass. It's still very chilly at night with a frost a couple of times so the brooder lights are all still on. Where is our warm spring weather?
Price per person. $20.00. Reservations are a good idea. 613-756-9515.
We will have a limited amount of organic chickens, farm raised pork and beef and lamb available by the pound for our customers. All our meat is provincially inspected at certified abbatoirs, flash frozen and packaged in brown waxed freezerwrap. There are no minimum quantities for an order. You can order as little or as much as you wish.
Our 2009 prices are:
Spring lamb: available as stewing lamb (bone in) or ground lamb.........7.00 per lb.
Spring lamb: leg of lamb (limited amounts available)..........................8.00 per lb
Locally raised pork: Chops, hocks, roasts.................. ...........4.00 per lb
Smoked side bacon, riblets, tenderloin... ......................................6.00 Liver........................................................................................6.00 per lb
Pasture raised young beef: roasts, boneless stewing beef..................5.50 per lb
Ground beef or ground pork..........................................................4.50 per lb
Free range organic chicken (avg 7-10 lbs).......................................5.00 per lb
Deposit of 25.00 required to reserve your order, payable by credit card, cash or cheque.
Chickens ready for delivery by mid August. Lamb in mid August. Pork and beef available now. Sidepork and tenderloin currently sold out but available again in September.
Please email or call 613-756-9515 to place your order.
Thank you for supporting local agriculture in the Ottawa Valley.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Sure signs of spring in Donegal. We picked up 100 fluffy yellow chicks at M&R feeds last Tuesday and put them in their little coop in the henhouse. A turkey roast pan made an improvised brooder hood as the other brooder light is still on the ducks. Its a chilly spring for all these little creatures. Apple blossoms are in full glory...the scent is overwhelming when you come into the yard...also the scent of fresh cowshit...no doubt this is a working farm.