Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On Call 24/7

One of the challenges about being a "part-time" farmer is that unexpected situations can really wreck havoc with your day.

I arrived home after a particularly long commute to see my better half running towards the gate in a panic.

Uh oh.

I rolled down the window to hear the four words that most farmers cringe at.

"The bull got out!"

I have never moved quite so fast - changing into my farm gear and running for the pasture, grabbing half a loaf of bread as I ran past the bread bin.

The damage wasn't so bad, fortunately he didn't knock out the cedar fence posts, only the railing in between. I shook my head at the damage, and sighed. Putting up the new electric wire was on the to do list for the weekend, it seems our bull didn't want to wait.  The bull looked at me with baleful eyes, and seemed to be apologetic.

We managed to get him down into the barn area, using bread and grain to lure him into the barnyard -- and then strung a temporary electric fence to keep him there. What followed was 2 hours of fencing, in the dark cold drizzle and rain.

As I pounded fence insulators into the old grey cedar posts, I realized that this is the side of farming which most folks don't think about. The fact that there is no "9-5" work day. Farmers are on call 24/7. Whether it's to assist in a lambing, fix a fence, or check on some chicks in the incubator... you are always on call.

Hours later, curled up together on the worn out old sofa in our family room, I asked with a smile "so what do you think, too much work? Should we give up the farm?"

My dear sweet man smiled at me as he grabbed the latest copy of Ontario Farmer to read the classifieds "Never".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What's a farm without a....

When I saw the ad, I thought "what on earth would we do with him?", but given the massive fly problem we have been having I thought "why not?".

And so Charlie arrived.

Charlie is an Indian Runner duck, and what makes him facinating and albeit comical is that he stands straight and tall like a bowling pin.  At the present time, he is hanging out in a dog kennel down by the barns, and being spoilt with every treat imaginable.

The trouble is, we think he's lonely.... and so we have some Indian Runner ducklings arriving this weekend. Fingers crossed that one of them turns out to be a Mrs. Charlie!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Don't waste your vote!

We have an upcoming federal election, and it is so easy to get lost in the sea of information out there when it comes to candidates.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture provided this great comparison table, which compares key parties and their thoughts on major initiatives.

I have found it to be very handy, and will make the most informed choice I can at the polls!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Growing Forward

The Ontario Farm course we took recently, "Growing Forward" has allowed us to look at our farm as more of a business, and less of a hobby.

When asked recently "what do your kids raise on the farm?" my mother-in-law replied "pets!". 

We hope to change that!

Prior to this point, we have been sort of floundering around and experimenting with different ideas, and while experimentation is good it is also costly. So we have now developed a business plan for the property, which will allow us to hopefully move forward and create a viable hobby farm that supports itself financially.

All of this is excellent news, with the only downside being that part of that plan involves selling off the cattle.  Our 50 acres is not suitable to a cow/calf operation, and so the difficult decision has been made to sell off most of the herd.

So what will we be looking at next? Sheep. We will be partnering with a sheep farmer, and learning more about their operation.  Having hands on experience will allow us to explore the idea without having to put capital up front.  If we decide that it's something we would like to explore further, we will begin with a small flock and ensure a solid foundation.  No more jumping in blindly, as fun as that was.

So the donkeys - all three of them - stay, and so do the chickens.  As for the cattle, we will have two for now. Our bull and one female.  However, down the road if we find the right home these two fine specimens will also leave the farm.

Endings are only the beginnings of new adventures - and this one seems like it's going to certainly be an interesting one!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ontario Farm Fresh

We are fortunate that we live in a province that values agriculture. We are also fortunate to live in a province that is beginning to understand the health benefits of eating quality foods.

The Ontario government will be launching a new website for farmers, producers and buyers. Think of it as a "Dating site" for farmers and buyers!  Buyers will be able to go online and find specific producers, and producers will be able to connect with buyers.

To sign up your farm for this website, visit