Wednesday, November 25, 2009

breadbaking workshop Nov 14

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 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

donegal farm organic pigs

The piggie herd is growing rapidly. We added three young pigs from a farm near here...two are Tamworth crosses and the third is a Hampshire cross. I think we will eventually get exclusively into heritage breeds but for now...are happy with our selection.
Andreas was here for a day visiting Henning and got to help unload piggies.
The sow with the nursing piglets has been here for almost a month. She's a Yorkshire and her piglets are half big blacks (very pink in their infancy though) and are growing nicely into spotted piggies. Yesterday, Henning fetched Napoleon from his home near Stirling. Napoleon is pure-bred tested 8 month old Duroc boar who should father a lot of good meaty piggies with Esmerelda and Lulu who have settled their differences and are now co-existing nicely in their pen while they wait for their respective dates with Napoleon.
On the bird front, delivered our five little duckies to their new home at Robin and Stephanies farm. Too complicated to keep them at the cafe until they are old enough to go to our farm.
Hens are laying really well and meat birds are growing nicely. I am searching for a breed of Heritage chicken which will lay and be a good meat bird also. Possibly Delawares, Chanteclairs or Jersey Giants...if I can find them.
The Wilno Film Festival went well with our theme From Farm to Fork. What an eye-opening series of documentaries! Food Inc....The World According to Monsanto...The Real Dirt on Farmer John....all very much worth watching.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Autumn update at Donegal Farm

It seems that our cafe and now our farm lives, no longer slow down as they used to after Thanksgiving weekend. The Wilno Film and Video Festival now demands attention for a week and the usual outdoor clean up, firewood, etc to look after.

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!