Thursday, December 3, 2009

Going to "farmer school"

I've been going to a two session seminar on "Growing Your Farm Profits" offered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Doing their workbook exercises has been a great opportunity to clarify our farm vision and to plan for future projects. It is also a wonderful opportunity to meet other area farmers who are much more experienced than we are....although I am heartened by our relative success in our first year of production. We have ambitious plans including a flock of milk sheep, heritage dual purpose chickens and of course, our pork production. Also very interested in getting into organic beef cattle and researching various options.
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!!

Goldie: a little red-haired piggy girl

Not a very good photo, but the moment I saw Goldie, our little red part Tamworth piggy, I knew she was a keeper! Just like Carmelita, there are some animals who are destined to become a permanent part of the farm family. Goldie is incredibly friendly, loves to get her ears scratched and of course, loves her yogurt and granola bar treats. She is definitely a pig with personality!

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.
Esmerelda (Esme) and her litter have been separated into two pens and the little piggies are still enjoying their heat lamp as they sleep in a huge pile. All are growing although the two littlest are a bit behind the others. And Esme has quickly taken to being hand fed left over granola and yogurt bars from Stephano's Bakery and immediately climbs up to look over her pen for treats.