Sunday, March 22, 2015


After months of thinking Oprah would give birth any day (and listening to Nathan say "I'm sure it will be tomorrow..or the next day..."), we woke up Thursday morning to these little faces!

Boy above, girl (with interesting markings!) below. They have super model long legs and are bouncing around like they're on stilts!

Here is super pregnant Oprah just before lambing. She sure was uncomfortable! 

Wait, what is that little animal in the photo above??

That's Pip(squeak)! She's an 8 week old Nigerian Dwarf Goat. She's about 10 lbs right and maybe 12" tall, and will only be 18-20" tall full grown. 

She is the funniest animal we have had on the farm yet, hands down. She follows us into the house and plays on the couches like they're mini-mountains.

Pippa also thinks she's a dog. Abby doesn't want much to do with her, and runs by her snarling (typical), Ryan sniffs her all over and licks her with his eyes bugging out (also typical) and Zoey is just...sweet.

She follows us everywhere and then hangs out where we're working, eating grass and bits of forage. 

Can't take your eyes off of a baby goat, not even for a second!

My mom visited this weekend with her sidekick. Lucy was *not impressed* with the house goat. 

Pippa does have a purpose, though, other than being extremely and ridiculously funny and cute. We're hoping that she can eventually be a companion for Thomas...which brings me to the hard and sad decision. We've decided that we should find a different home for Maggie and May. Unfortunately, our rented farm was great for them (they were always out loose eating all the blackberries, etc.), but this farm is just too small for 2 large pet goats (they weigh 4 times more than Pippa will full-grown). We don't have any pastures with any forage at all, and we are so short on grass that we really need to focus on the sheep operation that we have going on. We're only going to part with them if a good home comes along. 

Sweet May...

Why can't the animals stay off the roof??

Pretty PIA (no longer suits her name now that she actually sleeps in the coop instead of trying to roost in a tree every night!).

We now have gravity irrigation almost done to our garden and front blueberry beds. I think we have 15 raspberry canes, 20 blueberries and a few other types of berries to try. We also bought a mixed plum tree with 5 types grafted together. Yum! Oh, and 2 fig trees. It's hard not to go crazy in the garden when it warms up outside!

Front yard looking better now - with our poor man's (I mean...creative farmer's) pallet deck!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Spring is in the air!

I had this post all ready to go yesterday and then I had to go to work before having a chance to publish it. While I was at work, a big windstorm came through and took out seedling tent out, wrecking 10 trays of pepper and tomato seedlings...then our dishwasher and washing machine both broke (hoses chewed by rats...great..time to step up our rodent control!) and now it's pouring rain. Bah humbug! But here is some spring from the last few days...

Cuties! New Marans chicks that are living with our 50 new meat chicks.

Expanded garden area now goes up the hill! Looking much better than last year.

You got worms for us??

High kicking

I didn't realize these snakes could swim! Shortly after this, the ducks caught a snake, played tug of war with it and then ate it...

What's that clump in the right corner?

Pile of sunbathing chicks!

Miss Muddy Paws loves to run around in the pond.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Busy Week

Wow did we get a lot done in the last week of sunny days.

On Wednesday, we went for a hike and then out for breakfast where we drew out some farm planning/mapping on a napkin. It was exciting to see our farm and gardens all drawn out (until I had to blow my nose into the napkin...I'm getting over a cold). Then we stopped by the nursery and picked up tomato seeds, a couple of rosemary plants (ours struggled where I had them planted in too much shade), a few more blueberry plants, raspberry canes and a couple of other berries to try - one gooseberry plant and 2 sea-buckthorn shrubs. Sea-buckthorn is a plant that's talked about a ton in permaculture since it's nitrogen fixing plus the berries are apparently very nutritious (but not too tasty on their own, raw). I'm getting more and more interested in permaculture ideas - everything I've read and watched makes a lot of sense for conserving water, generating more soil and making a farm more productive and rich over time instead of stripping all of the nutrients away like in traditional agriculture (and then having to add them again every year with more fertilizer).

This brings us to the next Wednesday project: swales! We started digging a swale (well, I started...Nathan looked a bit shocked at the giant mess I was making, but he has come around to its cool-ness) around the edge of the pond. I really should have been using a level since swales need to be along the contour line of the land (their point is to hold water and gradually let it seep back into the ground). Instead, I used the pond water as my level. As it filled the trench I was digging, I made sure I was digging in a way that let the water stay still instead of flowing toward or away from me. We shall see if that makes for a level swale...

Everyone loves the swale...except the chickens! Perfect, since on the hillside (the berm) we planted giants beets for future pigs to eat, kale for the livestock (it apparently grows huge with thick stalks) and some grass to see how it does there. The swale seems to be acting like a moat that the chickens won't cross, and the ducks don't bother with those little grass seeds. It will be a different story when everything sprouts! Not quite sure how we'll keep it from being duck feed instantly...

As I was digging, I kept feeding worms to Victoria (the other ducks don't trust me enough to take worms from me yet - and they're the ones we raised from ducklings! Figures.) and she followed me around the entire times. She also managed to get some of Silver's fluff stuck to her face..

On Thursday we planted a bunch of red and yellow potatoes in the hugelkultur beds, and then we planted all of our tomato seeds in trays as well as our leftover pepper seeds from last year. We decided it wasn't worth trying sweet peppers again since we didn't get too many compared to the effort of planting them, but we didn't want to waste any leftover seeds. Plus, the red pepper jelly that I made with the small sweet peppers was really good so I wouldn't mind getting enough for some more of that. We've been putting our seedling trays in the seedling house that our neighbours gave us - on sunny days it gets up to 42 degrees C in there! We bring them in at night.

On Friday we took Zoey and Ryan (too much for Abby) on a bike ride along the trail behind our house. It is a flat gravel trail and it was beautiful and sunny. The trail backs along all kinds of farm and forest - such a nice ride and very tired collies afterwards! When we got home, we finished our blueberry/raspberry hillside bed. We used wire to fence it off from the chickens (3 strands across the front of the bed - seems to be working so far) and Nathan build a cute little gate at the side so we can go in and pick berries.

The herb garden area at the bottom right of that photo seems to be too shady for our herbs so I set to work building a new spiral herb garden (yup, another permaculture technique...). 

Herbs that like well drained, sunny areas go at the top (like rosemary) and herbs that prefer more shade can go at the back (like cilantro). I used rocks that I found around the property, and then filled the bed with maple leaves, alpaca manure (still a pile of it in the shelter in the front yard) and soil from an old garden bed in the front yard. 

We'd like to put paving stones in most of the front yard this summer but we need to find a good (inexpensive) source for them. The dirt patch is where there was originally a garden bed, but we are leaving it for now until we find the stones. No, we didn't get another dog - that's Reba the corgi who's staying with us for a few weeks. 

These girls like to lie together - so cute! They even chew bones next to each other out in the sun.

On Saturday we turned in most of the rye in the front yard so that we can try to plant grass there. It will be a challenge since it's very shaded by the huge maple. Nathan built a compost pile out of the alpaca manure and hay, so we should have some nice more nice compost for the garden in the next month.

Phew! What a week. Our first batch of meat birds arrive on Thursday! They are a breed called Sasso and our plan is to have them follow the sheep through the pastures in rotation. Sheep eat the grass and fertilize, chickens follow and scratch through the manure looking for bugs and fertilizing some more. Fingers crossed that everything we did to help our pastures this year gives us better grass! It is definitely looking good so far, and with lots of pasture rotation hopefully it will just keep getting better. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


This early spring is fantastic! Let's just hope it doesn't mean a super dry summer...

Last week we went to Tofino overnight. It wasn't perfect weather, but we did get a few sunny hours on a nearly abandoned beach on the second day. It was sooo nice to be walking along the huge, sandy beaches. The dogs ran and ran and ran some more. Abby got a bit sore but we let her keep only get so many vacations!

We bought some asparagus roots to plant in the garden this year and got inspired by the nearby farm to try some hugelkultur beds. Yep, Huuuuugelcoooltoor (we've been having fun with the name) is basically making garden beds using pieces of wood all piled together, then covered with leaves/hay/manure/soil. As the wood decomposes, it keeps the bed nice and damp and adds nutrients to the soil (it also can take some nitrogen out in the first few years as it rots, hence the manure that we added). The best part of making them was that we just happen to have a ton of wood that we needed to get rid of, so putting the beds together was super fast. We went from a bare gravelly/grassy slope to garden beds in 2.5 hours. 

Chicks enjoying the sunshine.

Almost done covering with compost. We seeded them with clover to act as a ground cover until we're ready to plant some berries and veggies. We are also trying quinoa seeds in one - we haven't grown quinoa before, but I got the seeds last year and never used them so we'll see what happens. 

It must be spring...House Chicken is back! She knocked on the door this morning and marched on in like she hadn't spent the last 5 months as a farm chicken.

Dogs on stumps...this was a beautiful hike that my parents and I went on when they visited last week. Lucy had left her stump by this point.