Monday, September 28, 2015

Sun Setting

Snapped from the car by GK4 en route to the farm last weekend:

No matter how crazy the day may have been, there's nothing like a beautiful Georgian Bay sunset to soothe your spirit.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dawn til Dusk

Day begins early at the farm. Though with our brief summer fading to fall, day break comes a wee bit later each morning.

Its dark when Jonah and I head out to do our morning chores.

First we feed and water the cats, the rams (who are in the barnyard this time of year), the goats and the pigs. The chickens are busy in the early morning so I leave them to their work, and feed them later in the day when I gather their eggs.

The sheep have spent the night in the yard, and by the time the other animals are fed daylight has arrived, signaling it is now (relatively) safe to take them to their pasture.

The coyotes and wolves tend to hunt at dusk and dawn when the light is dim and shadows for hiding are abundant. (Unless they are really hungry, in which case they will hunt at any time.) So I wait for full daylight before taking them out, and bring them in for the night before the sun is down.

The sheep know the drill - they and Bonnie run to the gate and wait when they hear me coming. In this case the gate is 3 strands or portable electric wire that sub divides the pasture into smaller paddocks - more efficient for grazing and easier for Bonnie to supervise.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Road Trip

I took a road trip today to south of Guelph ON area, shopping for some new ram genetics.

Here's the lad I came home with:

He's a three year old. Check out his magnificent rack. I hope he still has it tomorrow - the other guys are discussing who is going to be the new boss ram.

There's a reason they call them rams!

Some people put newly grouped rams in a very small pen so they can't charge a great distance/speed while they get sorted. Personally, I've never found it better one way or another - less speed but immovable object(gates) on other side of who ever is currently being whacked - sometimes hockey player receive more injury from the boards they hit than from the guy that hit them.

I'll be a little nervous until tomorrow, when the new pecking order should be resolved, hopefully with everyone in tact...

Friday, September 18, 2015


The livestock, the garden, and knitting have kept me busier than usual this summer.

The garden seems to feature winners and not-winners each year, with no two years seemingly the same.

I always get a lot of tomatoes, but for quite a few years I've had a black fungal growth on the base of most of the beefsteak tomatoes. And many of them have been gnarly and misformed. Not this year. I'm drowning in excellent results!

There are only so many tomato sandwiches one can eat. (I don't know what the number is - I haven't hit it yet!) Gazpacho is a lunch time favourite too. And DW cans up a lot of stewed tomatoes and salsa for the winter.

But I found a new recipe to try on Pinterest the other day and tried it out for supper last night. It was wonderful! Its a Jewish recipe called Shakshuka - an 'all in one pan' dish; in this case, my cast iron skillet.

This is my hearty serving for one hungry farmer version.

Start with a little olive oil on medium heat and put in a chopped white onion. When softened up, add a chopped garlic.

After several minutes, add a chopped green pepper (also from the garden).

After about 5 minutes more, add three good sized tomatoes, coarsely chopped.

When this has worked itself into a stew, about another 5 minutes, add a little cumin, paprika, cayenne and sugar - I used about 1/4 tsp of each, and a bit of salt and pepper.

When all that is reduced by half (ish) crack in a couple of eggs fresh from the chicken coop.

Turn heat down, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes - for firm eggs - more or less according to how you want the eggs done.

Then - into my favourite pottery man sized bowl, sprinkled with a little Parmesan and parsley and chow down with a side of warm naan bread.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Morning has broken

The morning is coming a wee bit later each day now that we are in mid summer. This morning saw a beautiful sunrise on the heavy dew at the farm. The goats are just finishing their breakfast treat in the barn and looking out to see what the day will bring.

In the background, those tiny dots are the sheep. I took them to fresh grazing at day break. They always seem to know, before I open the barnyard gate, when they will be going to a fresh paddock. They rush, many kicking their heels in the air. By day four or five in a paddock I have to open the gate, rattle the chain and call them to come. They saunter through the gate giving that "meh" look.

To get to this morning's paddock, they had to go out across the pond yard, down the lane, and into the paddock. They ran all the way, knowing that fresh clovers, trefoil, many grasses await.

Everyone want their breakfast!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Settling In

The goats are settling nicely into their new farm.

Happily, they're already nibbling on weeds that the sheep don't like. Haven't seen them go at a thistle yet as there are none in their small yard. But there were a few burdock plants I missed when weeding and they ate the burrs and all (yay). Burdock is the one plant I will spot spray on the farm - burrs in the wool wreak havoc!

Besides a freshly baled round bale of hay and the weeds in their yard, I'm introducing the young does to a small grain ration supplement - tasty grains and soy meal mixed with molasses. This is a feed supplement that I can give them only while they are separated from the sheep as it contains copper - which is necessary for goats but toxic to sheep.

Finally, the goats have discovered the inside of the barn. Once they got a taste for the grain supplement I moved the grain trough and their water inside so they will learn its ok to come in.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Arrivals

New arrivals to the farm yesterday!

Five young does, born in late April this year. They are 'mixed dairy breeds' type.

To begin with, they have a small yard off one side of the barn, and a large pen just inside the adjacent barn door. They have a common fence with my Shetland ram and wethers. In the evening when the flock comes in, they have another common fence.

Sheep and Bonnie and the goats will sniff each other out for a time. Once the goats are settled in they will join the sheep flock.

I've enjoyed making sheep cheese over the years, but some years they have little or no extra milk to give me. Not that I'm complaining - its usually from a ewe who's lambs died that extra milk presents itself.

I've always wished for a dairy 'family' cow, but even with my extended family I'm sure we couldn't use anywhere near that amount of milk. Perhaps a few goats - heavier milkers than sheep but much less than a cow might be worth a try.

Of course if I don't find a Billy by fall there won't be any goat milk come spring!

Here are the new girls:

Of course Jonah is going nuts with these new sounds coming from the barn. Something else to steal attention from him!

So he doesn't get too jealous, here's a picture of him standing by the lavender garden: