Sunday, May 31, 2009

Snow in May

Woke up to bright blue sunny skies at seven ayem but by nine ayem it was cloudy, cold, blustery and by eleven ayem it was SNOWING. Needless to say, the woodstove has been working overtime this spring. This has been a week of traumatic partings with my beloved sheep. First Aydie and Alexander off to Jodys and then Jesse and Julian to Maureens and now today, the departure of Dottie, Blaze and Marilyn to Karen and Barrys farm near Denbigh.
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.

Free range chickens, ducks, cattle

May has been a chilly and rainy month with few opportunities to get the baby ducks and geese outside. Finally a warmish day and everyone is happy to be out in the green grass.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lambs for Sale

Although I know they are all going to good homes, it was sad to see Alexander and Aydie ride off in the back of Jodie's car and then a few days later, to take Jesse and Julien to their new home just up the hill in Wilno. I wish I could keep them all...(and not in the freezer either). All in all, it was a rather depressing week...its been raining day in and out....the Bama broke off one of his cute little horns and was mopy for a couple of days as I guess it hurt him...and then the departure of the aforementioned lambs...

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?

Local pasture raised meats available

As some of you may know, the Red Canoe Cafe is now raising our own organic and/or pasture-fed livestock here on our farm in Donegal. Our dining room this summer on weekends will feature our "Feast of the Farm 100 Mile Menu" with our own pork, beef, lamb and vegetables and greens from our own farm and from the organic farms and gardens of our neighbours in the Wilno-Eganville area.
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 doubt this is a working farm.
The boys, as my adult brothers will forever be known, have had their problems with their cattle. They've had a bout of shipping fever and lost four head and now some of the dehorned calves have infected horns. The other night they penned up most of them and carefully washed the afflicted calves with peroxide and sprayed them with a disinfectant which should take care of the problem. Its all a lot of extra work.
Henning is busy building outside runs for the poultry and looking after the pigs and the sheep. We are keeping Alfie and the three maidens in the orchard where they look very pretty among the blossoms. Carmelita was in there also but she is an escape artist and we've turned her in with the rest of the flock. Several lambs have been sold and next week I will have to part with least two of them are going to Wilno where I will be able to hear them baaaing up on the hill at Maureen and Keith's.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Apple blossoms, blackflies and chickens

Spring in eastern Ontario can be a season of extremes! Today, the 20th of May was cloudy, rainy, windy and cold. We had the kitchen woodstove toasty warm all day and the past few days at the cafe (the 24 weekend) we also had the woodstove burning to keep the damp and cold at bay. We had a busy time with Paul and Maria and family staying for the weekend and a birthday celebration for 20 people on Sunday evening, as well as the usual long weekend diners and shoppers. Friday evening we had Celtic music with Heather Dale and served a whole lot of our delicious roast pork dinners as well as other tasty dishes. We went home to the farm on Saturday and Sunday night leaving Stephanie in charge and were up early Sunday morning and back in Wilno before 8 am to make breakfasts for some 30 people. I don't mind driving back early in the day: the back roads are quiet and its quite relaxing to motor along drinking coffee and watching for errant wildlife which can leap out on the road in front of the truck.
Monday we closed at two pm after another round of breakfasts and some lunches and were back at the farm by three pm to find Carmelita forlornly wandering around in the yard on the wrong side of the electric fence. Shooed her back in and she promptly came under the wire again...this time showing Alfie how its done so he escaped also. Put the whole lot in the barnyard and watered the ducks and checked for eggs and had a very short nap and drove back to Wilno again for my six pm Writers Group meeting at the tavern. Congratulations in order for Sandra Gulland who is still on the Globe and Mail best seller list for Mistress of the Sun AND showed up with an outline for her next novel The End of Magic. And Jenifer who brought along the entire revised manuscript of Virgin of the Sierra Madre and a lovely chapbook of a poem entitled Hen: la gallinas...written in English and Spanish. Obviously very productive winter in Mexico for both of them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

swallows nest in the sheep barn

Spring and everything is soooooo greeen!!! Lots of blackflies which keep the sheep running in and out of the barn where there are dozens of swallows nests up in the beams. There's a bluebird in the bird house in the orchard, a huge heron down by the beaver pond and literally dozens of robins along the driveway.

cluck cluck quack quack

On Tuesday evening we picked up our poultry at Wendy's on the hill in wilno. Three goslings had hatched and although we had only planned for two, we ended up with a trio. The hens and two gorgeous roosters were unceremoniously packed into feed sacks and arrived home no worse for wear except for one little grey silkie rooster who managed to flap off the back of the truck in his sack and hit the pavement with a fair thud. We put him in a pen by himself as he looked a bit damaged and hoped for the best and by morning he was eating and crowing and rambling around as if nothing ever happened.
I lay awake half the night anticipating the roosters crowing at sunrise. Which they did not...or at least not that I heard. I finally fell asleep again and when I got up at eight, they were crowing but the henhouse is so well insulated (and so is this house) that we don't hear them inside. I found three very fresh eggs underneath one of the silkies who is intent on brooding them so we had our own bacon and our own eggs for breakfast this morning!

Calves, pigs, hens & ducks

A very exciting action packed week at the farm. First, the boys (my brothers) trucked some 80 head of cattle up here and installed them in the back field where their task is to eat as much grass as possible and put on as much weight as possible. These fields are truly organic in that no fertilizer has touched them for years (if ever). So we will have access to lots of pasture raised beef this fall.
On Monday we picked up our six piglets from their very long Landrace mother. Landrace are a breed designed for long lean pigs, all the better for lots of pork chops. They originated in Denmark and thus the one male piggie in our litter has been christened Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Haven't named the girls yet but they are all enjoying rooting about in the spanking new piggery designed and built by Henning.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 5: Cinco de Mayo in the Spanish world. A lovely sunny afternoon with shredded rain clouds hovering and a perky breeze to blow away the black flies! The sheep are really annoyed by the bugs and they spend their day leaping the fence from the back field to hide out in the barn until hunger or boredom sends them back to the insect hordes.
Goldenthroat had a lamb on Polish day (May 2). The little tyke looks so tiny compared to the earlier crop of fat fluffy lambs. Or should I say, burdock encrusted lambs, as the flock decided to take a roundabout route from field to barn through a patch of last years burdocks. THANK GOD they were sheared so its not a disaster but it is somewhat unsightly.

The bama has been weaned from his bottle. It was not my doing. As soon as I went to Wilno for three days, Henning promptly stopped feeding him his morning and evening bottle. Men are so cruel! Bama still runs to me as soon as he hears my voice and he tries to come into the houseyard with me and he certainly would love to come inside. But we must be firm. He’s almost three months old so its not as if he’s still a tiny baby.

There’s been lots of sheep drama this week with the new fences going up and new gates and everyone being a bit confused about where they are supposed to be. Where they are NOT supposed to be is: over at Wingles’s in the hayfield, down the driveway half way to town, on top of the fences, under the fences, around the fences etc. etc. etc.

Henning arrived on Thursday evening with ducks which turned out to be not as tiny or fragile as we had expected. Nevertheless, there was some juggling of heat lamps and enclosures and now they are doing well and splashing water anywhere and everywhere.

Yesterday on a visit to Pete’s, we discovered that Wendy is getting rid of her chickens so I offered to purchase them and hopefully we will soon have six laying hens, a couple of silkies, two gorgeous roosters and two goslings who were just about to hatch!