january 2013 : farm update

I’ve been lackadaisical with my writing lately.

Turns out my new wood-burning stove isn’t going to buy itself; that means more “real” work for Mama, less writing.

In the meantime, we’ve also made some progress on the farm.

farm fence clear of brush

Just look at that fence! AHHHHH!!

We are brush-clearing MACHINES!

Of course, this kind of work usually reveals yet more work (like completely rotten fences) but that’s ok. It’s progress.

My family came by one Sunday for a pruning-bee and we made a significant contribution to both the wood pile and the to-be-chipped pile, and now my driveway is actually visible to the road. Yes.

Pigs

We’ve gotten to know the local butcher, a family affair that’s been in business since the 70’s. Nice, right? An old Italian guy, he was so kind with his time and advice and gave me the name of a farmer a bit further out the valley who would sell me healthy weaners.

We have a small back paddock that is completely fenced and has a small existing shelter. We’re going to let them clear and turn it to the best of their ability and see where it ends up when they’re done. Hopefully we’ll have a lot less clearing to do, some pork to sell AND a freezer full of meat at the end of it.

Pigs, check.

If anyone reading this is in our area (British Columbia) and knows where we can buy breeding stock of heritage pig varieties, please let me know, and please pass this on if you know someone who might.

Chickens

We are sharing our McMurray chicken order with our neighbours, which will save us a heap of money on our health papers to bring them across the border.

I’ve decided to resist the urge to go whole-hog production focus right away and am placing a more flippant chicken order this year. Beauty, temperament and egg-colour have been my guiding principles in my chick selection, not strictly egg production numbers. The image of dozens of beautiful, friendly, chatty girls in my garden is worth the small extra cost of production. Besides, I’m sure my city friends will delight in a rainbow of eggs in their cartons. And being that they’re my main companions during the day, I’d better enjoy their company!

In addition to our babes from the hatchery, we’ll also buy some point-of-lay hens from the co-op to get us started. They aren’t cheap, but you don’t have to feed them for the first 6 months of their lives (when they don’t lay yet) and frankly, it will be worth it to be able to stop buying in eggs. I miss having my girls.

Pasture

One good thing that came of the ag show last weekend – we met with a seed supplier who gave us lots of great information and advice on renovating our pastures. Sounds like the seed is going to cost about $100 per acre, and he also suggested we lime. We’ll see. It is going to be a TON of work.

One of the challenges of being small is, well, you’re small. Larger farms would hire someone in to lime and seed, but there is no way most guys would even consider such a small job as our place, even if their equipment COULD fit in our fields. (It most definitely could NOT.) The cost of seeders is prohibitive for a farm our size. $7000 for a seeder will buy a lot of organic veggies. Seriously.

The hubs is certainly wishing we had a tractor . . .

Our fields are heavy clay with lots of moss and buttercup. The previous owner harrowed them into undulating waves of soil and left them like that. Since then I think they’ve been trimmed with a bush mower a couple times a year and that’s it.

Anyway. We’ll just have to be creative. We’ll see how the pigs do with the small paddock and maybe we’ll just have to be patient and have them turn the fields one tiny plot at a time.

Water

rain gauge

So we’ve had just a scootch of rain . . .

Learning very quickly where the water lays on the farm. Which is annoying, but necessary and good information to have. The thick fields of buttercup had already given me an idea where the water was going to lay, but holy smokes, who knew there would be SO MUCH water.

flooded farm

Digging some drainage into the creek, that will eventually lead to a pond, will be a job for another day. At this point, taking comfort in the notion that knowledge is power.

Bureaucracy

Starting to put our farm plan together for the property tax assessment man. What a chore.

In our area we have to sell $2500 dollars worth of farm goods annually to maintain the farm tax rate. It is seriously less that what we’re paying now, so I’m certain it will be worth it. I was surprised to learn that no one from agriculture has anything to do with this assessment; it is the property assessment guys. Seems strange to me, but then again, pretty much everything related to rules and regulations around farming make no sense to me (a former bureaucrat, no less!).

Anyway . . . things are coming together.

We’ve found a blueberry plant supplier and placed our seed order. It won’t be long before we’re planting the leeks and onions under the grow lights . . . once we figure out where to put them. We’ve got the storage room converted into a makeshift cold room and are debating building some sort of root cellar. The house is slowly being painted, room by room, and is starting to feel like home.

6 thoughts on “january 2013 : farm update

  1. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy

    Good luck! It’s always a lot of work. Our farm makes its income by leasing out the fields to another local farmer who plants and harvests it (the farm gets the lease money and some of the profits, since the cost of planting is shared) – we don’t have the time to farm full time, so it works out perfectly and we get hay for the horses for cheap.

    Reply
  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    Whoa!!! +7 inches – over how many days? Is that a normal amount of rainfall for your area, at this time of the year?
    You guys have already accomplished SO much in a few short months, but just remember – one step/day at a time: )

    Reply
    1. The Slow Foods Mama Post author

      That was just over a day and a bit. Crazy, isn’t it. They don’t call it the “wet coast” for nothin!

      I’ve noticed since we’ve moved further up the Fraser Valley away from the coast that the rain is even more intense. Those lovely mountains catch it all for us . . .

      Reply
      1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

        Wow, what a difference compared to around here anymore – summers are getting pretty brutal (and, if your garden’s not in BY May 24 Weekend, you’re pretty much pooched):

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