Where in the world did Springtime go? With the blink of an eye we have headed straight into June, and I’m at a loss for where the time has gone. The hustle and bustle on the farm has filled our days and nights, as we busily prepare for the Summer season ahead of us. So….ready or not, here we go Summer!
Since we haven’t written in what feels like forever, I think the most important news to share is that we have a new family member, of the fur variety. Hank arrived on the farm on May 9th, and has since stolen our hearts and tested the patience of Sophie and Lily. Hank is a Leonberger / St. Bernard cross. He is going to be a big boy! We love him so much already, as he sprouts like a weed, and even the girls have come around and accepted their little brother. He keeps us on our toes, fills us with joy and is always putting a smile on our faces. He has such a personality, and yet is such a chill guy. He has done so well with all of the animals on the farm, including the donkeys who I was the most nervous about. He is shaping up to be the best little BIG farm dog there ever was. Sophie and Lily are the best of teachers too, making sure he sticks to the rules and learns his manners.
One of our biggest Springtime projects was moving our vegetable garden to a new location in the yard. While our previous plot served us well and gave us harvests each year, the looming Spruce trees at the side were cutting down on the sunlight and keeping one half way too wet.
We picked a new spot, with full sun, a little incline for drainage, and located right beside the bee hives for optimal pollination. Dan dug off the first layer of sod, rototilling the soil underneath to break it up. We added in the soil pile we had been saving up in the back field, filled with aged manure and nice top soil, working that into the ground. Once the plot was worked and ready to go our next task began…a garden fence!
Mostly, we needed to keep Hank out of the garden, so we devised a plan, grabbed the chainsaw and headed out back to the bush. Dan bucked down tamarack logs for the posts, sharpening them at the ends so we could drive them into the ground. After each post had been pushed into the ground around the garden, we started the hard part. Of course Pintrest was to blame, but I had fallen in love with a picture of what they call a wattle fence. So back to the bush we went, this time for all the willow, ten truck loads to be exact! The willow was weaved through the posts of the garden to a generous height, and voila, our wattle fence was complete. It was a labour of love. There were times I regretted my decision. But it is beautiful, its finished, and it does it’s job of keeping hank out of the vegetables.
Spring also welcomed some new residents to the farm, who will hang out here for the Summer and then hit freezer camp come Fall. That’s right, our hogs have arrived for the season. This year is the most pigs we have raised yet on the farm, but so far, things are going well. We have nine hogs in the usual pig paradise section of the field, where they have access to a shelter, grain and fresh water, as well as all the mud holes a pig could wish for, lots of willow for shade and shelter and tonnes of room for exploring. Thanks to our LOOP program, we have also been able to almost cut our feed costs in half! We have been lucky enough to have a couple of store pick ups in the last month, as well as an impromptu pickup with the flat deck trailer that included all the spinach, kale, beansprouts and watermelon! Needless to say, we have some happy pigs on the farm!
Our other group of Summer residents are forty little broiler birds. My husband is a handy man when it comes to all of our animal pens and shelters, and he created the perfect meat chicken mobile coop. Our littles are enjoying life on fresh grass, and can be moved along as needed. They are also getting in on some LOOP spoils! These birds will stay until fall when they get processed and sent to the freezer. Hank also finds them very interesting, and can often be found sitting outside their coop with Lily.
A select few of the littles whom we hatched here on the farm, and whom became friends of those we hatched, are living out their days in the pickup palace as they grow. This way, they have access to our other chickens through fencing so they can become familiar with them until they are big enough to be let out with the entire group. I will admit, having no chickens in the house feels a little weird after two batches of hatches and a couple of pools filled with chicks in the garage. Oh Springtime chicky babies, you never get old!
The ladies of the big coop are enjoying the longer days and the long grass in the run as the season have changed. Chantecleer as always, keeps his eyes on all the ladies, and they all love free ranging in the run on a warm day. The ladies are not forgotten when it comes to the LOOP goodies, and the coop in the morning is a real buffet! All this love means one thing for us too, all the eggs! We are averaging at least a dozen a day at the moment, and with that, eggs orders are flying out the door. And of course, egg pictures never get old, especially in Summer.
The three little pigs can be found most days lounging about their forest pen. Tui likes to sun tan, although it makes me a not happy farmer as he tends to get a little sunburnt if he stays too long. Thankfully there is lots of treed shade and even a little stream running through their pen. Perfect for cooling down. The three little pigs are eating like kings with their LOOP foods, indulging in yogurt, fresh fruits and vegetables and juices. We are so thankful for this program and for everything it does for the animals on the farm.
The donkey boys are shedding out their winter coats and getting their sleek summer look on. They spend their days running around the field and often can be found over by the pig pen. I am sure they are trying to negotiate for grain from the hogs. They are so funny to watch out in the field in the evenings, chasing each other back and forth. We look forward to all the summer woodland walks with the donkey boys.
Beetle and Bailey are looking a little different these days as they both sport their new hair cuts. Thanks to the help of my father in law and a friend of the family, both of the alpacas received their Spring shave down. I am so thankful for all the help we had and the amazing setup which made the job so much easier than anticipated. While they look a little naked now, they will feel so much better in the Summer heat and they will have their coats grown back in time for Winter. We saved the fiber and took it to the local mill where it will be turned into wool. Enjoy the following before and after pictures, I know they still make me chuckle.
Not to be forgotten, the goats have been enjoying the freedom of their englarged pen. They now have access to a side field, with stream and bridge and lots of exploring and snacking options. They still startle me when I see them through the fence behind the garage, but they do love getting out and exploring the woods. When we take the dogs for a walk out in the bush there, they are sure to be close behind.
We are happy to report that both of our bee hives are thriving so far this season. With our treatments for mites and foul brood out of the way, it will be no time at all before we add on the honey supers to the hives. The best part of moving our garden has been listening to the busy bees working while playing in the dirt. My circle garden of happiness around the hives is also doing well, with little sunflowers sprouting up everywhere. I think it’s going to be another Summer for the bees on the farm, and we can’t wait for our own home raised honey!
It’s sure to be a busy Summer here on the farm, but it feels so good to have everything done, and ready to go for the season. The greenhouse is empty of plants, the seeds are all in the ground, feed is set up for the animals, pastures are filling out nicely and we are so excited to enjoy the sunshine and warmth that’s on its way. I think we are in for a great Summer here on the farm!