Friday, December 24, 2010

Blogging 'cause I'm bored....

Actually, I think it's more because I am looking for reasons to NOT go outside right now. We are in a heavy rain and wind warning for today. Everything is already lakes and puddles from the last couple of days, but we are supposed to get another 20-30 mm of rain in the next 8 hours or so. Ugh. I will definitely be doing indoor jobs today. Like cleaning the mud off the floor from all the mucky little paws that go in and out each day. I am super-busy this season. Luckily, most of the dogs I have in are awesome, and get along with others quite well. Only 3 sleeps, and a bunch go home. I have to admit, I am pretty tuckered from all the activity! But, I think I have pulled in enough money to buy the car, and that was my goal. I've been turning away dogs for ages now. I actually had a few people call yesterday, wanting to bring their dogs in RIGHT THEN. I hate turning away business, but I had to! I apologized, then politely suggested they book by October next year. I don't know of any kennels or in-home services that aren't completely booked up. Nothing like leaving things to the last minute!!

Ok, I just had a daycare dog show up that I didn't know was coming... guess I need to start working again.

But first, I need to do a little update on chickens.

I first put a light in the Dorking coop over two months ago. Finally, for the last 2 weeks, I am starting to get eggs again. AND my other chickens are laying even better now. I am getting a minimum of 2 doz eggs a day now. Plus, I had my first blue egg the other day! That was exciting, and long-awaited. The blue ones are from the 5 birds I got from Amanda this fall. I had actually given up hope that I would ever get any blue ones. So, YAY for me!! It will be fun to give everyone some unique coloured eggs this spring with my shares.

Also, I officially sold my first share that comes with a deposit cheque. I have lots of people on the list, and will be sending out the contract in January, but it's kind of cool to get that first REAL one for this summer. I can barely contain my excitement for this spring! It's not going to be easy, I will have a crapload of work to do, but it will be sooooo worth every moment!

Off to work now.... have a great Holiday Season, everyone.... from all the crazy dogs and people at the Crazy Dog Farm!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice

Well, we have gotten through the longest night of the year. I am really more stoked than I should be, looking forward to more daylight again. Is it really that exciting?? I guess it must be!
One thing I have never, ever understood. They say that this is the first day of winter. Huh? I don't get it. For me, this is the MIDDLE of winter. We have the possibility of snow in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb. Therefore, the middle of winter is NOW. We have 2 months left, then we start thinking it feels like spring.

The seasons, according to Kelly (forget societal conventions!!)

Nov-Feb = Winter
Mar-May = spring
June- Aug = Summer
Sept, Oct = Fall

Of course, this can vary a bit according to the weather, and may change over time as climate change affects our world more and more.

I love living against the grain;-)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cars and other things...

First of all..... only 3 sleeps until the winter solstice!!!! These days are getting way too short. I hate having to exercise dogs in the dark!

The last few weeks since my car died could have been really, really hard. Instead, they were relatively easy. Thanks to some wonderful people who just stepped up and volunteered to help out. First, I had a client loan me her 'work' truck. Which was a 2006, REALLY nice truck. I had forgotten how useful a truck could be! I got lumber with it, and bigger loads of cardboard, and really made use of it while I could. Then, a good friend of mine who was going away for the holidays, loaned me her car. The truck went home a few days ago, but I had the car, so there really hasn't been any long time where I was without transportation. I also found a cheap car to buy. I will be picking it up just after Christmas. It's definitely not my dream car, but the guy who owns it has babied it... it has newer brakes, and newer tires, so at least I should feel safe in it. The only downside, is that it's an ex cop car, so is a gas guzzler. I've never had a gas guzzler, and I'm not looking forward to it. It only has to get me through the next 5 months or so, then I can sell it and get a little SUV. Gotta get a car for the dogs! I would get a  truck, but it is not heated or air conditioned for the dogs, and that just won't do.
I just got word yesterday that I have been approved to get $300 from the government for my old crappy car. It is just getting scrapped. It is an incentive they are offering to get older, less 'green' cars off the road.

It is after 7:30 am (just waiting for another dog to come in) and I am FINALLY seeing a glimmer of light outside. The sun just takes forever to come up...

The lumber I purchased is being used to make the rest of the little beds for fruit trees. I have decided my goal this year is to get the rest of my orchard in. The sooner in, the sooner I can start getting my own fruit. If the beds are all made and ready, I can just go buy one little tree at a time, so it will be easier on the budget. I am getting so close to being done!

Dead Fowl Day

One of my white turkeys inexplicably died today. It was looking a little peaked yesterday, and was stone dead this morning. I started with 10 of them... now I am down to 3. This last one bothers me the most, as I have been feeding it for months! I know it happens, but when you only have 3 turkeys left, it's just kind of sad. These ones are booked into the processor at the end of Jan. My Blue Slate Heritage turkeys are looking really good, and they go in the beginning of Jan. Tastyyyy.....!

A chicken escaped again today. They are getting out a lot lately. Don't know why. I have been able to rescue all of them before a dog killed them... except for today. This one died. Reckless and the whippet, Blitzen double teamed it, and got it before I had a chance to do much of anything. Stupid birds. Why don't they just stay where they are supposed to??!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fruit Orchard continues....

Yesterday I went and got 2 new fruit trees. Quite a while ago, when I had a bit of extra money, I bought myself a gift certificate at my favourite garden center, just so I could get some trees this winter. I ended up getting the Bing Cherry I was after, but they didn't have my Fuji apple, so I settled for a Golden Delicious for now. I am getting closer and closer to having my entire orchard planted.... I originally wanted 4 each of apples, cherries, pears, and 3 plums, plus 6 or so hazelnuts. I have expanded that plan a bit... I am going to end up with about 6 apples, and also a peach tree. I want to have lots of fruit in a few years, as my plan is to expand my CSA shares to include a 'Fruit and Veggie' share, or just a Veggie share, to give people an option. The fruit one will be more expensive, of course, but I think will be popular. I always have people asking if I have fruit and berries. Plus, I am hoping I will always have extra for the chickens, and maybe for pigs if I do those one day, too.

We have been getting the torrential rains again the last while that we had last fall. My driveway is flooded again, and everything is just soggy, muddy, and gross.

I got my favourite seed catalogue in yesterday, and starting planning my order already!! I love thinking about spring! The catalogue is from West Coast Seeds. ( ). They have non-GMO, non-treated, and quite often certified organic seeds. They are also on the West Coast, so they have varieties of veggies that will do well here. I am going to try a few new things, and grow wayyyy more of the same as what I did last year, so stay tuned! I am salivating just thinking about all the yummy things in the garden!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Horse is Back!!

Yay! Katrina brought the horse, the ponies, and my little goat back the other day. I have soooo missed having them around! You should see them, though... they are all FAT. It looks like I have two goats in one goat body. I've never seen Burley so chubby! He looks good and healthy, though.

It has been doing the torrential rain thing again... just like last year. My driveway is floating away again. I looked in my well, and the water is only about 6" from the electrical box. If it hits that, I'm assuming everything will short out, and I won't have any water.... lets hope the rain subsides for a bit. I wish Mother Nature would spread the rain out through the year a bit, so we would get some drops in the summer when we really need it!

Only 12 more sleeps and then the days will start getting longer.... I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

On the Farm Front...

One thing about being car-less, is that I am actually staying at home more and getting some work done here and there. Admittedly, I have been lazy on the farming front lately, not getting much done. When I get really busy on the dog boarding side, I can't seem to get much done around the farm. I am making plans on how to start making a living from my farm faster, so I can cut down on the dog boarding sooner than later. I know that sounds terrible, as dog boarding is my livelihood, but 16 hours a day, 7 days a week gets a bit much sometimes. I worry that I will burn out.

So, I got to work the other day and almost finished my new turkey/brooder coop. The shelter part has been done for months, and is where I am keeping my heritage turkeys and my new Dorking chickens for now. They really, really need to get outside to forage, though. I finished the fencing part (except for one small stretch where I ran out of stucco wire) and cut the lumber for the door. I just need to be able to get one more roll of stucco wire, and I can finish the run completely. This coop I am designating next spring to a 'brooder coop'. I am actually planning ahead for once, instead of just getting in chickens or ducks or turkeys willy-nilly, whenever the mood hits me. I have contacted my suppliers of chicks and poults for next spring, and have arranged to get everything in the first week in May. This will get my turkeys ready BEFORE Christmas next year, and I'll only have to brood once, instead of all the time. I am quite proud of all this forethought;-) It's not like me! I have had several people asking for turkeys and chickens for next year, and I want to actually make a bit of money on it, so I am trying to treat it more like a business, than something I do just for fun. I have even had an order for some ducks in the fall! I am also planning on keeping 3 heritage turkeys for breeding next year, so I don't have to buy poults each spring. I've got that planned, too, so stay tuned!

I am also making plans to increase what I am doing in the gardens. Originally for this year, I was going to do 20 CSA shares. I am upping that number to 30. With my current car-less situation, I need to change things up, and get ahead for once, instead of barely keeping up. I am working on one online seed order. I am ordering enough seeds so I can fill at least 40 shares, so I will have enough produce left to do some farmgate sales. I am going to find a good used fridge, and build a double-gate system, so I can set up farmgate in the old storage truck at the front of the property. It is equipped with electricity and lights, so won't be too difficult to do. I think building the double gate system will be the most challenging part of this venture.

I am determined to make a success of this farm, even if it kills me.

Oh! my meat chickens went in to get processed just before my car kicked the bucket. Couldn't have been better timing... my freezer is full for the winter now! I have enough chickens to get me through the next few months, plus I have been busily harvesting veggies for winter consumption. All my planning paid off in the gardens this summer! I have tonnes of kale, mesculin, lettuce, leeks, carrots, and am still getting broccoli off my plants. Dinners have been quite delicious lately, and almost 100% grown at home.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Death of the Crappy Car

Well, my crappy car gave it up yesterday. I knew it was coming, but it is still scary for it to actually happen. I really, really wish it could've waited until May, when I get my CSA share money, and could buy a better one. Now, I have to scramble and figure things out. I will most likely be carless for a while. Which means I don't get to any Christmas parties, no more agility or flyball, and I have to figure out how to get into town once in a while to go to the bank, etc. The only downside to living in the boonies... you really, REALLY need good transportation.

I am, however, extremely grateful that my car kicked the bucket close to home, and didn't leave me stranded on a dark, rainy highway somewhere. I actually managed to drag it home, so it's in the driveway, awaiting it's fate.

So, now I am stuck at home for a while. Just think of the gas I will save, and the work I will (hopefully!) get done around here!

I was expecting to be a basket case when this happened, but I am handling it pretty well so far. I may have a freak out in a few days when I start to run low on dog food or groceries, or need to get to the bank.


Update on Compassion Farm

There is good news on the Compassion farm front. The city of Lantzville has succumbed to the pressures of society (this is a GOOD thing!) and given Dirk and Nicole an extension of 180 days for their farming. In the new year, they will be holding meetings, etc, and looking into having the bylaws changed or amended! We're not there yet, but things are looking promising. People from all over the province and country are waiting in anticipation to see how everything folds out. Other districts are already looking into getting laws changed now, BEFORE there is an issue that comes up. I will keep you posted on future developments!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Plight of Compassion Farm

Remember Dirk and Nicole up in Lantzville, who have spent hours of time with me on their farm, teaching me about farming, and making money in a sustainable way?
The city of Lantzville has given them a Cease-Farming order.
I guess some grumpy neighbour with nothing better to do decided to complain about a pile of compost in their front yard. (I've been there... there is no odour or anything untoward coming from their compost piles). Anyway, during the investigation into this, the bylaw officer decided that Dirk and Nicole shouldn't be farming on their 2 1/2 acre property. It wasn't zoned for that. They have been farming on this property for over 5 years now. Before they purchased the property, the previous owner had stripped the entire area, and sold off the topsoil and gravel, leaving a lifeless, barren land. This, to me, is just so sad. No one complained about that! There were no earthworms, no bees, no butterflies. Dirk and Nicole changed the entire property, one wheelbarrow full at a time. Now it is a healthy, happy land with lots of critters and bugs. You know how excited I get about having lots of earthworms and bugs around! (with the exception of slugs...)

Anyway, Dirk and Nicole have decided they need to get the by law changed that doesn't allow for urban farming. Many areas have already got on board with this (including Victoria, BC) and have changed by laws to allow for urban and sustainable farming. No matter what the zoning you live in. Lantzville is behind the times.
We are all helping in any way we can. Both my cousin, Lorelie, and myself, have written letters to the mayor and the powers that be in Lantzville, asking for change. There are many, many other people who are using their voices, as well. The more people who ask for change, the faster change will come.

If there were to be some sort of disaster on the Island (earthquake, etc) and we were cut off from the mainland, there is only 2 days of food supply for everyone. We import 95% of what we eat! That is just sad. We cannot live without food. This is such an important issue, that affects everyone, everywhere. Everyone should be encouraged to grow food... anywhere they can.

This is what Dirk and Nicole would like everyone to do:

We have recently been instructed by the RDN, at the request of the District of Lantzville, to cease "all agricultural activity" on our 2.5 acre far due to us being "residentially zoned". This followed a letter in September telling us to "remove the piles of soil from the property" (which we worked out with the Bylaw Enforcement Officer and agreed to and moved the one pile in question within 48hrs).

Our goal is to have the bylaw updated to reflect the current awareness and future needs of our communities. Yes, we could apply for rezoning, however this would only help "us" not the many people who are urban farming or SPIN farming.
We are writing to you because this issue impacts all of us on Vancouver Island. Many of you are aware that only 5% of our food supply is grown on Vancouver Island, thus 95% is imported. It may shock you to know that there is only 2 days fresh food supply on Vancouver Island. That means, that any disruption in ferry service, trucking or problems at the US border (75% of BC's food comes from California) would have a dramatic and immediate effect on our food supply.

To us, "urban farming" is much more than a growing "trend" throughout North America. It is the way of the future; and the future is now.
Each year:

- land prices increase, preventing new farmers - especially younger ones - from acquiring land.

- remaining farmable land (even including the Agricultural Land Reserve) is forever swallowed up by development, further reducing our ability to sustain ourselves and increasing our already extreme dependence on imported food.

In light of this, we strongly believe it is our responsibility as individuals and as a community to stop and reverse this trend of complete UNsustainability and at least work towards a model of self-reliance.

Our intention:

That together, we see this as an opportunity to "change the system". Please understand that we do not want the focus to be "us". When you read the attached letter we received from the RDN, keep in mind what they are saying means: ALL "urban farming" and SPIN farming is illegal! (Small Plot InteNsive - where young farmers use people's city backyards to grow food for sale). This includes: honey, vegetables, meat, eggs, plants, flowers, fruit, nuts - you name it! Of course, this affects Urban and SPIN farmers at the Bowen Road Farmers' Market as well as other farmers' markets in Canada where municipal bylaws have not been updated to reflect support for sustainable, local food production.

We are asking:

That you contact the individuals whose information we have provided below beginning with Lantzville Council members (and anyone else you feel compelled to). We suggest that you approach this issue in the more general terms of local food and sustainability rather than what "the authorities" are doing - focussing it on our specific case merely limits the potential for us to work towards meaningful change in broader terms.

Please share whatever is important to you about this issue (links are posted below). In your letter, make sure you ask questions, especially if you want a response. If your children would like to write, that would be great.

It is likely that Lantzville council and the RDN will respond by telling you that we can apply for rezoning (which may or may not pass). This certainly does not help the SPIN farmers in downtown Nanaimo! Again, our goal is to have the existing bylaw changed for the benefit of our entire community

(much like what Victoria and other cities have done - )

This is the letter I have written. I am not very good at doing this sort of thing, but I feel very proud that I am taking the time to step up for this important issue. I've never written a letter like this before! I am asking anyone who feels this is important to contact me, and write your own letter. I have all the contact addresses for you. My email is I will send you all the information you need to help!
Letter I emailed, and will also be sending via snail mail to the powers that be in Lantzville

I was astounded to learn of the shut down of Compassion Farm in Lantzville.

Since buying my own farm in Crofton two years ago, Dirk and Nicole have been instrumental in helping me learn how to farm sustainably, and teaching me about how important it is to have fresh, local food available. If Vancouver Island were to have some sort of disaster and we were cut off from the mainland, we would only be able to feed ourselves for 2-3 days. That's it. Set aside the fact that local, fresh food is way healthier and nutrient dense, and just makes more sense!

I realize we have set aside ALR land for such enterprises, but it is expensive, and super hard to find. It took me over 2 years to find a small piece of flat, suitable ALR land that I could barely afford. If we only allow farming on ALR, we will be making a serious mistake. There just isn't enough of it to support the growing population. Added to that is the fact that we lose ALR land to other projects and construction each and every year. One day, there will be no more ALR. Then what?

I implore you to start working on changing this outdated bylaw. We need to step up, and become leaders in both urban and sustainable farming. Victoria has already taken great steps forward, and we need to follow suit.

We need farmers such as Dirk and Nicole, not only for the food they produce, but for the education and value they give freely to the fellow farmer and backyard gardener alike.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wind Chill

I just read this on the weather report....

Clearing this evening. Windy. Low minus 9. Wind chill minus 18.

To a cold hater like myself, this is the most awful thing ever. I want to go hibernate! However, I am grateful for my cozy, warm little home on days like today. I am grateful for lots of furry little friends to snuggle up with, grateful for a fully stocked fridge, so I don't have to drive into town, and grateful for my business being really busy right now, so I don't have to worry about paying the bills.

Ok, so life isn't so bad... it's just the cold I could do without!  What I wouldn't do for some seed catalogues right now to peruse, and plan for the spring!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Snow

Well, yesterday we had our first snow of the year. Already, we've had more snow this year than ALL of last year. I miss last year. It was the bestest, mildest winter ever. Wish they could all be like that. It is bitterly cold out, and supposed to get colder. Over the next few nights, it will go down to -9 c. Of course, that's what they said 2 winters ago, and it actually got to -18 c. Stupid weatherman, doesn't know what he is talking about most of the time.  I don't like the cold! I want spring! I want the sun! I want warmth! And beware, as I will be whining about the cold for the next 3 or 4 months, until we start seeing the sun again on a regular basis.

I am counting down the days until the winter solstice. That is my favourite day of the year, 'cause then it starts getting lighter later. That's my day to celebrate. Then I get funny... it will be 2 days into the increasing daylight, and I will start to say " I notice a difference already!" My energy level will start to come up a bit. Right now, I am sleeping a lot. Especially compared to the summer. I miss the days when I was getting up at 5:30 or 6 am, and enjoying it! Now, I am hard pressed to crawl out of bed by 7 or 7:30. If the dogs didn't need to go out and I didn't have to work, I would most likely sleep in until 8.

I am supposed to go to flyball practice today. It was cancelled last week, and it feels like forever since I've been. But, of course, it started snowing again about an hour ago. It's starting to accumulate. I am way too chicken-shit to drive over the Malahat in the snow. Especially since I have bald tires and no brakes. I keep telling the Universe I need my new car NOW, but it is taking it's own sweet time in manifesting me a new car. It had better hurry up! My dogs are getting chubby, and we all need some flyball practice!

I'm going to go watch the snow fall and sulk for a while now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Muscovy Ducks

Remember a few weeks ago when I was going to ask more questions about getting some Muscovy ducks? I've been doing research on them, and in the process, I found a lady who was just giving away 7 of her ducks! Normally, people sell them for about $14 or $15. That's what I was going to have to pay in the spring for some.
So, two days ago, I ran out in the pouring rain and mud, and got myself a little flock of ducks! They are about 4 months old. They reach sexual maturity at about 7 months, so they will be of breeding age come spring. What a score!!!

Muscovy ducks

There are 2 definite females, and 2 definite males, and 3 of which I am unsure. You can eat their meat and eggs, and sell their chicks, so I think my investment will pay itself off. They are also extremely useful around a farm. People who have them around horses, etc, report a reduction of up to 80% in the fly population. They also eat slugs (my nemesis!!) and other bugs.

Makeshift 'quicky' shelter for my new ducks!

I made a quicky shelter for them out of pallets, hay, and an old tarp. I am going to make a bigger, better shelter for both the ducks and my layer hens, and put them out in the pasture, so the chicken coops can recover and grow grass and weeds again. Right now, they are just stinky mud, and it is getting quite disgusting. Pasture raising is also the healthiest way to raise your poultry! I am just hunting for a used car canopy (cheap!) to use for them. Also, because the Muscovy's have REALLY sharp claws, they will be excellent to put for protection for the chickens. I was worried about 'coons and such, but I think these ducks should solve that problem.

I have never had duck before. I guess these ducks are super-lean, and look more like beef, but aren't gamey or anything. I will try some next fall, and let you know!

What else can I tell you about these ducks? Oh! They are quiet... no quacking! And they are roosting ducks, not swimming ducks. They can swim, but don't need or usually want to much. All in all, very interesting, and should be alot of fun!

Electric Chickens

My poor chickens.
Last week, I was wanting to put a light into my Dorking coop, as they have completely stopped laying, and I need more eggs. I was rearranging my extension cords, so I could make it all work. I plugged in the cord in my coop with the layers in it, and went to rearrange the light. Suddenly, there was a great SQUAWK behind me. One of the chickens was laying by the fence, it looked like her foot was caught or something. I ran and picked her up. His foot wasn't caught, she was just acting funny...
I shrugged and went on with my rearranging.
A minute later, the chickens all freaked, and flew from one side of the pen to another. Then, they freaked again. Then, another big SQUAWK! and one of the chickens looked like she got sucked into the fence. She just lay there, looking at me. I picked her  up, put her down, and she walked away like nothing had happened. The birds kept freaking. I couldn't figure it out!
Finally, I noticed the plug I had just thrown carelessly over the fence was actually touching the fence with the prong parts...
It all came clear.
I was wearing my gardening gloves, which just happened to be coated with rubber for waterproofing. This is why I didn't get zapped! The poor chickens got it anytime a feather even went near the fence.
I don't think I should be allowed to work near electricity anymore;-) What a dumbass.

Poor chickens!
They all came out fine, no one was permanently damaged, and lets face it.... it was really funny to watch!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another Scrape...

Well, I got myself into another funny scrape this morning.
I am caring for a coonhound. She is a lovely girl, but very independent, and does not yet have a recall built in. She just does what she wants for the most part.
Somehow, she got under or over the back fence this morning, and into my neighbours yard. I still can't figure out how she did it. She is NOT a small dog, and I really can't figure out how she materialized over there! I tried calling, but she gave me the 'screw you' look, and trotted further away. I silently freaked inside... sometimes hounds will get on a scent, and just GO, and no looking back. They can cover a lot of territory, and could be really hard to find or catch.
I had to walk away from her direction, along the fenceline, until I found a portion I could manipulate and squeeze under. It has been raining on and off for days, and the ground is wet and mushy and cold. Not pleasant!
After I got to the other side, I saw that the naughty hound had gone under yet ANOTHER fence, into the mobile home park behind me. Great! Joy! Happiness! NOT!
So, off I go crawling under another fence. This one was a bit higher off the ground, and not so squeezy. Miss Hound saw me coming, and booted it the other way. She new I was going to get her! I scooped some treats out of my pocket (thankfully I always have a pocketful of treats for such emergencies) and she hadn't been fed yet, so I guess she was hungry. She looked at me, then made the decision to come get a treat. WHEW! What a relief! There was the great chance she could've gone the other way, and I would've ended up chasing her forever and ever.
I snapped a leash on her, and crawled under the first fence, and enticed her with a treat to follow. Then she pulled me over to the fence to visit the rest of her friends who were so patiently waiting for me. I then led her back to the fence bordering my yard. I looped the leash around my wrist... I was NOT going to risk losing her again at this point! and started to crawl back under. Going back was WAY harder than the other way. Of course, what should happen as I'm half way through the fence, all contorted and trying to squeeze myself as small as possible?
The phone rings!
Of course, being a business owner, I don't want to take the risk that it may be a new or existing client, and they may not leave a message for me, they may just call someone else...
So, I reach into my pocket - not an easy task, as I am in a position I can't even describe at this point, and get out the phone. I notice it is one of my favourite clients, so I press the button and answer.
Then I started laughing so hard, my client couldn't even talk to me! Thankfully she is one of those wonderful people with a sense of humour, so I told her the predicament I was in (meanwhile Miss Coonhound is pulling as hard as she can to get away, which makes my situation just that more difficult!). We both had a good laugh at me, made our appointment, and hung up. Then I had to wiggle and squiggle and worm the rest of the way under the fence.
Then I had to lure Miss Hound under. Not as easy as it sounds, as she is a big girl!

We are all safe and sound on the right side of the fence now. I have changed into clean, dry clothes. It is now raining out, so I am glad I wasn't crawling under fences later than I was. I fed everyone, and put them in their beds for a little bit so I can recover. Luckily, it is a holiday day today, so I can relax a bit. I will tell you that Miss Hound has completely lost her freedom privileges, and will be on a leash for the rest of her stay here. I am not taking the chance she escapes and decides to run the other way!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making More Plans and another Farm Visit

Through doing dog agility, I have met a fellow farmer. She and her family have a 50+ acre farm not too far from here. They have beef cattle, Boer goats, Muscovy ducks, and sheep. Plus lots of dogs. What's a farm without lots of dogs??!! Anyway, Jody invited me out for a visit and a tour of her farm. I am continually researching what different ways I can make money from my farm, so one day I won't have to do the dog boarding anymore, and I figured this was a great chance to get some ideas.

Jody was amazingly helpful, and gave me lots of good information, and my little brain has been going a mile a minute since I got back.
Partly because I fell in love with her little goats. The Boer goat is traditionally a meat goat, but Jody says only about 10% of the goats she sells are for meat. The rest all get sold as pets. They were super friendly, and very cute. I actually cried a bit when I saw two little kids (about 3 months old). I've never seen anything so amazingly adorable. They have little floppy ears, and the friendliest expressions on their faces. I guess they are a friendly and docile breed.
I think I want a couple! I've been going over plans in my head about how to make it work with the boarding dogs. I think my own dogs would adapt to them very well. If I had 2 little goats, they would go a long way in helping me to clear all the brush and grass I have growing around, and keeping all the brambles in check. That's my main reason for wanting them. They need no extra feed, so upkeep and costs would be quite low. I am thinking of getting a breeding pair, then they would have a couple of babies every 8-10 months or so... these I could sell for about $150-$175 each. I think its' a win-win situation. I get free land-clearing, and the goats get an all-they-can-eat smorgasbord.
Jody's babies are born in January. She has invited me out to see the little ones just after they are born. I can't wait! They are weaned and ready to go in April. So, I have lots of time to figure out some dog-proof fencing. I am going to leash train the little goats, and make sure they grow up super friendly, so they will be easy to handle and move about the property.

They also raise Muscovy ducks. Jody sells live ducks, and meat ducks, and eggs. Next time I go out, I'm going to ask many more questions about those, too. Who knows... maybe another way to make some income on my little farm!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Frost

Well, all of a sudden the nights are COLD, and we had a really sharp frost last night. It went from being 8-10 degrees C at night to less than zero the next night. Yuck. I am decidedly NOT a winter person. I am already starting to count the days until we start getting more light again. I am not liking this 'get dark by 7 and not light until after 7 thing. And it gets worse before it gets better.

We have had some really, really gorgeous days this month... I have finally been getting off my butt and doing stuff in the gardens again. I cleared a bunch of beds (mostly by just smooshing everything down) and put a layer of hay on them for the winter. This should start composting, and by spring I will have some water-retaining, earth-worm loving, beautiful soil. I am not doing fall rye again this year. What a pain in the butt that was this spring. Trying to dig it in, then it just pops back up and keeps growing while you are trying to plant, and then a bunch of it went to seed, and I'll never get rid of it now... hay just seems so much easier! Hopefully I'm right about that.

My Cochin chickens are not having a good time of it. The male, especially. No matter where I put him, he gets picked on, plus I worry he doesn't get enough food. So, the other day, I had a 'brilliant' idea. There is an old rabbit hutch on the property (it came with a rabbit when I first moved in, but Maggie killed it within about 2 minutes of being on the property). Anyway, it's just been sitting there, getting all overgrown with grass and weeds, so I decided to put the Cochins in it. They are not happy there, either. They refuse to go out the little door to the 'outside' area of the hutch, and are just staying crammed in the little indoor area. I even put their food and water outside, and they will reach out with their necks to eat and drink, but won't go right out. Then, earlier today, I found Maggie had opened the hutch door, and had her head in the coop. That's it, I thought.... those Cochins are DEAD. I got her out, and checked... miraculously, they were still alive! And seemingly unharmed.
Then, a while ago, I found her in the hutch again.
I got her out again. Checked. My Cochins were still alive! Maggie was sticking her head in the coop to eat poo. Not eat chickens. Wow! I was floored. Not that eating poo is a good thing, but it's a darned site better than mascaraing my chickens! She had ample time to kill them, and chose not to.
Am I a proud doggie mama, or what??!!

But, obviously, this hutch isn't working, either. So, tonight, I am going to try moving the Cochins in with the meat birds again. If I have them as a pair, instead of the male by himself, maybe they will do better. The meat birds will only be there for another 2 or 3 weeks, so hopefully they can make it work until then.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Horses, sheep, and other livestock

A couple of weeks ago, Katrina, who owns the horse and ponies that normally board here took them all away to go eat grass on a new field. Review, the horse, is such an iggy-piggy, that he has eaten my field almost bare. That boy just never stops!
She loaded up the equines, then we decided it would be good for her to take my little goat, Burley with them, too, so he wouldn't be lonely. She didn't even have to entice him into the trailer... he just hopped up and snuggled underneath Reviews neck.
My field looks so empty and bare without them. It is lonely, and the farm doesn't seem quite as 'farmish' without them.
Hope they come back soon!!

I have also been approached by some other people to keep 5 or 6 sheep in my field. They would use the sheep for herding practice. If they do this, it would be in exchange for herding and/or agility lessons. My idea! Herding lessons are super-expensive.... $40 for a half hour.... so getting a few free lessons now and then would be awesome. I can learn, and Kybosh can hone her skills.

I picked up my 2 new buff Cochin chickens on the weekend. They are very pretty... a really nice golden colour. The male isn't fitting in very well, though. Two days ago, I found him with his head buried in a hole by a fence post (just like you see ostriches do in the cartoons!!) and his butt in the air... several of my laying hens were pecking at his butt. Poor guy! He is do docile, he is just not defending himself. I picked him up and put him in with the meat birds for the rest of the day and night. Then, last night, all he wanted to do was go back in with the layers. He was lonely for his girlfriend, I guess. So, I plopped him back in with the 'girls'. I am watching carefully to see how he does. Hope he's ok, as I really don't have another place to put him right now.

I am also having challenges with the 3 little free chicks I still have in my living room. They are very healthy and robust, but they are starting to escape. One flew out yesterday, and Reckless almost ate him (or her??). Now I have to watch every moment to make sure they are not going to get into trouble! Two more weeks, and my meat chickens go in to be processed, and then I can put these little guys outside. If they survive that long!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another Visit

Yesterday, a cow from the neighbours yard came to visit.
Some of you who have been 'following' for a while may remember last year when a couple of cows came to visit. It took the owner hours to get the cow back into his own yard. The cow really, really didn't want to go! At the time, I thought...."wouldn't it be nice to have a border collie to herd this cow?!"

This year, I had my little border collie.
We've had all of one lesson in herding, but my little Kybosh has great instinct. I haven't a clue what I am doing.
The cow came over really early in the morning, and I had all the dogs out, and was on my way to feed the chickens, when the dogs all rushed the cow. Blitzen, the whippet, got there first, jumped up and bit the cow on the ass. I guess he thought he was a border collie.
He got a good swift kick in the ribs for his trouble.
The other dogs continued the chase. Maggie, Boom-boom, Kybosh, Reckless and a little terrier, Kira. Blitzen was cowering on the ground at this time, crying.
The cow was back in her own yard in moments.

Then, the stupid cow came back later that day. Cows are supposed to be smarter than chickens... aren't they???

This time, I saw the cow before the dogs did. I rushed them all inside, except for Ky. I told her to 'get it'. Not a herding command, lol, but I panicked, and said the first thing that came to mind.
Anyway, Ky had that cow trotting easily back towards the fence in no time. She looked back at me once to ask if she was doing the right thing, and I told her good girl, and keep on going, and she escorted that cow right back to her own yard. No fear in that little girl! Now I really want to keep up with the herding lessons when I can afford it. It will be so helpful here on the farm in the future!

I called the owner of the cow, who came straight away and fixed the fence. Yay! No more cows for a while, anyway.

Oh! And Blitzen is just fine. The cow obviously didn't get him too bad, and he recovered in moments.

Chicken Rescuer Extraordinaire

I have spent too much of my time this week rescuing really, really stupid chickens. This is where dog boarding and farming do NOT mix!
I am caring for a big Rotti right now. He really is the nicest rotti I've ever met, but watch out chickens! About three days ago, a chicken escaped from the coop. Rocky got it. He's fast for a big guy! Somehow, I wrangled the chicken out of his mouth- while at the same time, I was trying to keep ANOTHER dog from grabbing her,( I still am unsure as to how I did that...!)  and told the chicken she was stupid, and threw her back in the coop.
The chicken survived being chomped by a Rotti!
Yesterday, another chicken escaped.  Rocky got this one, too! This time, I was able to grab him by the tail before he got a good hold on her, put him inside, and then grabbed the chicken and told her she was stupid, and threw her back into the coop.
Later that day, the same stupid chicken got out again.
This time Reckless and a whippet were running about. They both saw the chicken at the same time, and were both on her before I had time to blink. Somehow, I had to hold BOTH dogs back, then with a third hand grab the chicken. Sound difficult??? It was! At some point, I managed to grab both dogs, throw them back a couple of feet, then grab the chicken REALLY fast, before they could grab her again. Amazing how quickly you can move when you have to!
I took the naughty chicken inside, and clipped her wings before I put her back in the coop. Then I had a discussion with her as to how stupid it was to ever, ever leave the coop. Next time she may not make it back alive!

During all three chicken attacks, my three girls were out, too. I do have to mention just how proud of them I am. They kept a respectful distance from the chickens each time. They have become true farm dogs. When I was holding the last chicken, I let all four of my dogs sniff it, yes, even Reckless. I wanted him to get used to sniffing without grabbing, and it's easier to do when the chicken isn't squawking and flapping about. He did really well, and it was a great learning experience for all the dogs.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A New Obsession

I think I am becoming obsessed with chickens. I keep wondering how many coops I will need to build before I am satisfied. I have 4 now, and will most likely need 2 more by spring. Not a good sign!

My girlfriend Amanda offered out 3 baby chicks for free. I see that FREE word, and I jump at it... doesn't seem to matter what it is. So, now I have little baby chicks in my living room, because I have no place else to put them. I don't know what will happen when they get too big for the brooder. I had better come up with a plan... SOON!! I am amazed, though, that the dogs haven't even tried to eat the chicks yet... not even my naughty boy, Reckless. I guess they are getting used to having chickens all over the place!

Then, my other girlfriend heard about a pair of Cochins up for grabs. Somehow, I found myself saying 'yes' to those, too. I don't even know why! Cochins are a bit rare, but they are more for pets rather than utility. They don't lay a lot of eggs, and are a bit scrawny eating. The only thing redeeming them are the fact that I've had someone offer to buy babies from me next year. The male had better be fertile!

I've also ordered  2 more varieties of heritage type breeds from my friend Amanda for next spring. Light Sussex, which are dual purpose, and soooo pretty. ( I stole the picture from your website, Amanda... please don't sue me;-)

I think I also ordered some either Lavender or Blue Orpingtons... can't remember which now. Both varieties are dual purpose, so at least I will be able to make use of both males and females.

Sigh. So many chickens, so little time. And space.

On another note, I harvested a bunch of sunflower seeds and roasted them yesterday. I had planted my sunflowers so late this year, I really didn't think I would be able to harvest any of them. I've never had home-grown seeds before. Are they EVER so much better than the crap you buy in a bag! What a difference! I am definitely planting WAYYYY more next year, so I will have enough for shares, and enough for myself to roast and munch on all winter long.
I accidently harvested one of my Snack Jack pumpkins, too. I picked it up to see if it was ready, and the stalk just snapped. Does that mean it is ready??? Anyway, my job tomorrow is to open it up and see if the seeds are any good, and roast them up, too. The pumpkins themselves are super-cute and little.

I am still making my own ginger beer. I made a giant batch about 2 weeks ago. It was the worst batch EVER. I ended up throwing it down the sink it was so bad. I know what I did wrong, anyway, so hopefully it won't happen again.
This week, I made apple. It should be ready in a day or two. I've really missed having it to drink the last couple of weeks, though.

The sun has come out to visit.... guess I should go think about getting some actual work done around here!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update on Chickens and Turkeys

I keep forgetting to update on my chickens and turkeys!
I got 25 Cornish giant chickens and 10 white turkeys in last month from a new hatchery that I haven't tried before. They were the littlest, wee-ist little birds I have ever seen. Some of the turkeys were DOA, so out of 10, I ended up with 4. Out of 25 chickens, I still have 20. They are about 4 weeks old now...  almost half way through their lives. They seem to be doing quite well, though, and are eating me out of house and home. Yesterday, I started letting them out of their brooder, to explore outside. It has been sunny and gorgeous the last couple of days, so the little guys won't get cold. I hope!

The heritage Blue Slate turkeys I got in June are doing AMAZING. I have had them on a special 'heritage' feed almost their entire lives, and I'm pretty sure it is making a huge difference. They seem to be very close to the size my last batch was when I got them processed... only they are just half the age. I will probably get them done in Dec or Jan, depending on when I feel like eating a turkey;-)

The new Dorkings I got in from my friend are also doing well. When they are ready, I want to put each one in a coop with about 5 or 6 females, and see if I can get some fertile eggs from them. If I could start breeding my own, I would be that one big step towards self-sufficiency... I wouldn't have to buy chickens anymore! Plus, I could sell the babies for $7-$10 each, and maybe make a bit on the side.

I got a bunch of new egg birds wayyyy back in April? I think. They are JUST starting to lay. A bit. I feel like I have been feeding them for free for a very, very long time! I can never keep up with demand for eggs. I always have more orders than I can fill. 3 of my egg shares that I sold finish in about 3 or 4 weeks, so that should lift some of the egg pressure. Need more eggs! I put a light into the layers coop until about 10 pm each nite, so I hope that is going to help bring up production again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fall Chores

Well, I have been planting my head off, and I think I can see the end in sight...

Except I forgot to leave enough empty beds for all the garlic I plan to put in.
My plan is to at least double the garlic I planted last year. I kept a bunch of the biggest, bestest bulbs to replant this fall. I hope to have at least 600 of the Galiano garlic, plus I've ordered some Russian Red, and some Yugoslavian. Yugoslavian is my ultimate favourite garlic, and you have to order EARLY. Last year I tried to get some in early August, but the garlic growers were already sold out. This year, I ordered the day the catalogue came out, and should be getting my shipments any time now. I didn't order a lot of either variety, but I will keep saving my own seed from each year, and should be able to sell a few, and then double my inventory each year.

Anyway, I have almost finished planting all the seed starts I did... a bit later than I had hoped to get things in, but so far the weather is co operating with me. It is still really warm out, even though we are getting rain on and off. I hope this warm lasts a while longer! It's nice to enjoy it without having the constant worry about water.

I think the best thing I did this year was the mulch. I got the idea from Ruth Stout. She was an old gardener who gardened into her nineties using mulch and more mulch. People would come for miles to drive by her gardens and watch her at work.
But this is mainly because she often gardened in the nude.


Anyway, I digress...
A client of mine just loaned me one of her books. The principle is simple. Plant everything in mulch. Keep adding mulch. There were several crops of mine that were doing just lousy, so I covered them with a bunch of hay, with the intention of replanting with another crop, and within a week or so, BOOM! Little green plants started to pop up all over, when I had completely given up of ever seeing anything. EVERYTHING is planted in mulch now.
I am making more garden area as well. I keep collecting cardboard. Lots and lots of cardboard. I am putting it down over the pasture, then putting a row of hay, then putting yummy horse poo on that, then some soil (mostly to keep the dogs from eating the poo!) then another layer of hay. By spring, it should be nicely composted, and perfect for planting all the crops I have planned. And I have a zillion crops planned. I am excited for spring already!! I am already eagerly anticipating the fall run of seed catalogues, so I can start deciding what to grow, and which varieties to try next year.

I really want to take a bunch of pics for the blog, but my memory card ran out of room in my camera. I need to remember to go buy a new one soon. I like to take pics each year in Sept, so I can see how things change and progress over the years. I will get more pics soon, I promise!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Little Note about Peas

My little note about fall crops of peas is.... DON"T DO IT!!
All the books I have read tell me to plant a second crop of fall peas. Last year, I planted too late, and I ended up with chicken feed and compost.
This year, I planted on time. What the books don't tell you is that fall peas go straight to the starchy stage. No sweet, succulent pods this time of year. They are baaadddd.
The moral of the story... don't believe everything you read, and don't waste your time, money, or pea seeds for a fall planting.
Just plant lots and lots in the spring, so you will have enough year round.

And that's all I have to say.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall is here

Well, it definitely feels like fall around the farm these days. A lot has happened, and I haven't been keeping up with the blogging as well as I should have. My bad.
At first, it was soooo frickin busy on the dogboarding end, that I could barely breathe. Now, it's so slow, I am entering panic stage. I am trying hard NOT to panic, but sometimes it just sneaks up on me.

When I bought this farm, it was because it was my dream to live off the land, sustainably, and grow my own food before I was 40 and I got too old to enjoy it.
Last month, I hit the big 4-0. EEEEKKKK! What a scary thing! I only feel like I'm about 28, so now I tell everyone that 40 is the new 20, and I am still young. Which I feel young, so really I guess that's about all that matters.
The Universe was a big meanie to me on my birthday, however. I was lucky enough to get stung by a wasp the day BEFORE my birthday, then again on the day OF my birthday, then AGAIN ON THE DAY AFTER my birthday. I couldn't believe it! My arm and leg all swole up, and the only reason it didn't get worse was that I was at home when it happened, and was able to get benadryl into me within moments of getting stung. I was not impressed!
Honestly, this farm was the absolute best thing I have ever done. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the life, and how every day is an adventure, and you never know what is going to happen, or what challenges you will face. The finances are still scary at times, but if I think back to 2 years ago when I bought this place then immediately lost my job.... I've come a lonnngggg way. At least I don't cry every night, wondering how I am going to pay my mortgage. I will never starve, as all I need to do is go into my backyard, and pick some veggies. I am learning how to preserve food the traditional way, and I even cook proper meals for myself. Cooking is NOT my thing, so this is actually a big step for me! I am learning all about keeping chickens and turkeys, and researching into having pigs and maybe a milk cow one day.

Ooohhh, I want a milk cow sooo bad! I am on a cowshare, so I get raw milk each week from a lovely little Jersey, and it is so delicious. It is never enough for me, though! I make my own butter and yogurt from it, and will be trying cheese when I have more time on my hands. I keep thinking about getting my own little Jersey, but if I did that, I wouldn't ever be able to go to another dogsport function again. That little cow needs to be milked every day, twice a day. I am considering having my own cowshare, but done a bit different. If I could find 4-7 people who want fresh, whole milk each week, and we all go in on the cow together, then each one of us will milk once or twice a week. I think this is a fantastic idea, because we would all share in the expense of the cow, and I could make sure I got weekends off milking to go have some fun;-) My only major stumbling block to really going forward is that I am afraid I will get someone who doesn't take the milking seriously, and forgets... then the cow really suffers. In the meantime, I will keep planning and collecting names for interested parties.

My well went very, very dry a few weeks ago again. It was dry for over 3 hours. That was by far the longest time it went dry. It was scary. Luckily, it started raining the very next day, and the well is full again. It is astounding to me how much water I use just irrigating the gardens. When it filled up at the beginning of August, I thought I was set for the rest of the summer. I had a week off watering, which was wonderful, then it was hot and dry again, so I had to start up. The well was depleted in a matter of 3 days. It really puts the whole water thing into perspective, and I have to make it my priority to always be conscious of how much I use. Even in the winter when we have 'lots'. I FINALLY got one of my water tanks hooked up to the downspout, so when it rains again in the next day or two, it will fill up. I am going to use that for the livestock on a regular basis. I'm not going to take from the groundwater as much anymore! The best thing I did with the gardens is the hay. It saved me hundreds of gallons of water... and hours of watering. Now, I am just automatically planting everything in a hay or mulch. If I start now, by next spring it will be starting to compost, and should be even more water efficient.

On Sunday, it will be my second anniversary on my little farm. What a landmark! And, to top it off, my Aunt and Uncle are coming to visit. I haven't seen them for 15 or 20 years. They used to have a 20 acre farm in Victoria, of which I spent alot of time on when I was just a wee one. I had such wonderful times and memories of their farm! I'm certain this is why I wanted a farm of my own so bad. And I'm pretty certain I can blame my dog obsession on them, too! They had border collies - they were working dogs, and so amazing and smart. I remember they had puppies one time, and oooh, did I want one of those bigtime! My parents were wise in not letting us have a BC on a city lot - that poor dog would've been bored to death. But, my obsession grew from there, and got me to where I am today. Dog obsessed, and farming! I can't wait to see them and catch up on fun times, and have someone to talk to about my two favourite topics... dogs and farming.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Getting Down and Dirty

Well, things are really easing up on the dog boarding side. Now I'm back to panicking about money again. As time goes on, the panic times should be getting shorter and shorter.

I have had more time and energy to get back into the gardens, though. Yay, for that! I really missed it when I couldn't get out there on a regular basis. I've planted beds and beds of onions, lettuce, spinach, mesculin, kale, chard, purple sprouting broccoli, and cabbages. I planted peas, too, but only one or two of the beds I planted is doing very well. The others.... not sure. They may have gotten eaten by birds or sowbugs, or rotted, or something. Regardless, the seeds went into the ground and disappeared. So, I am going to replant with some more of my spinach, chard, and lettuces. I've planted about 10 beds in the last few days, but still have a zillion starts to transplant still. I need to have better time management next year, so I can get everything in before fall really hits.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to Make your own Ginger Beer... YUM!

I am going to teach you all how to make your own ginger beer. Ginger beer is the original soda pop. It's what we used to drink before Coke and Pepsi, and all the sugary crap we all drink so much of, and that's what I was addicted to for soooo long.
Now I'm addicted to ginger beer! So far, I've made blueberry, blackberry and ginger ale. I am going to be making peach later today, and next week... maybe mango? You can try all sorts of flavours. The berry ones definitely get fizzier faster, and if you ferment them too long, they EXPLODE all over the place. It's an adventure in every bottle!

To make ginger beer you have to make the culture first. This is what provides the correct bacteria for the fermentation process, and makes your pop fizzy!

Get a quart sized mason jar, and fill it 3/4 full of filtered water. This is important, as if there is chlorine in your water, it will kill what you are trying to do.
1 tbsp of ginger cut up in smallish pieces
2 tsp sugar.

Mix well. This culture likes to be stirred, so you can stir it once, twice, or more a day if you feel like it. Cover the jar with cheesecloth, and leave on counter.

Every day for the next 6 days, add in 2 tsp of ginger, and 2 tsp of sugar. Stir, and keep on counter.

At the end of the week, you have your culture ready to make ginger beer!

Make your flavour syrup.
You can just make 'Ginger Ale' by boiling a 1/2 gallon of water with 2 1/2 oz of grated ginger, a splash of lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Bring to a boil, and simmer for a 1/2 hour.


Make a flavour syrup. You can use almost any fruit or berry, or mix 'em up! Apple raspberry? pomegranate blueberry? Peach, mango, blackberry, whatever you like.

To make syrup:
1/2 gallon filtered water
6 cups of whatever fruit or berry you like
1 1/2 cups of sugar. For the sweeter berries, use less sugar.

Bring to boil, let simmer for 10 minutes. Do a taste test, make sure you like what you have. Adjust sugar, etc at this time.

Let cool to room temperature.
Strain syrup mixture into 1 gallon glass jar. Add another 1/2 gallon of filtered water. Add 1 cup of culture. Stir. Cover with cheesecloth, and let sit for 3-7 days. Stir twice a day.

At the end of the days, put into sealable bottles. I will take a picture of one soon, so you can see what they look like. I got mine from the local recycling depot for 50 cents each. You can reuse these things for years, so they are a great investment!

Let bottles sit on counter for 1-3 days. Put the berry ones in the fridge after just a day or so, or you will get an explosion. The ginger ale can sit a bit longer. The fridge stops the fermantation process. Fermantation is NOT an exact science, so you will have to do a bit of experimenting on your own. I think things fermented faster in the summer than they will in the winter, but only time will tell!

After it is cooled, it is ready to drink. I have a bottle every day now, so they don't last long, but apparently they will last a few months in the fridge.

Note about the sugar:
It seems you use alot of sugar while making this drink, but keep in mind the bacterias eat it all up, so you are left drinking little or no sugar at all. Just healthy probiotics and good stuff for you.
I am more regular than I have been in years.

Too much information????!!!! LOL.

Crazy Time is over for now....

Well, the crazy busy time is over for the moment. I had a bunch of dogs go home 2 days ago, and it's taken me this long to recover. That's just sad.
I have a bunch more dogs going home on Monday and Tuesday, and I think I even have a night with only my own dogs.... I am going to just sit back and enjoy it! That almost never happens anymore!
Then I have to get busy and make sure I am pulling in enough money for the winter. Classes to plan, and I want to expand my daycare dogs. I have more than I used to, but my goal is to get another 10 dogs coming at least once or twice a week by the end of Sept. Then that should do me for them moment!

I got back out into the garden this morning, and planted a bed of spinach. I still have wayyyy more to plant, but I hope to get on it this week, and get most of it all in. I need to be prepared for winter! I've been saving my grocery reciepts for over a year now, and my bill has gone down by about 70% this summer... that's a trend I would like to continue! I am eating lots from my garden, and am making my own drinks now (lots of ginger beer... more on this soon!). I am making sure I have something fermented in my diet each and every day. The whole fermentation thing took me a while to adjust to. You think 'fermented... EWWWW'. After you do it a bit, though, you get used to the idea, and actually look forward to the fermented foods. I just get sad when I realize how close we have come to completely losing this knowledge on how to prepare foods like this. My lunch today is cherry tomato salad with fermented beets and cheese and balsmic vinagrette salad and some sourdough bread, with ginger ale to drink. It cost me about 50 cents with everything, and I will be really full and everything is yummy and healthy!!
I have officially lost 14 lbs eating tradionally like this now. I'm not trying to lose weight, it just comes off. It's the coolest thing ever!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Well, I have done absolutely NOTHING in the gardens for about 2 or 3 weeks now. I've been trying, but August is my super-busy dog boarding month, and I can't seem to escape the dogs for any time at all to get things done. I have garden beds that need cleaning out and replanting, I have trays and trays of plant starts that desperately need to get planted... two weeks ago! and I have compost to make, and compost to spread on the beds, and on and on and on. For the first time in months, I find myself just wanting to sit and vegetate in front of a TV. It's the first time I've even thought about TV in a loonnnggg time. I think I am burning out. I am also busy just trying to 'have a life'. I didn't realize how busy, until my friend came to visit several weeks ago, and almost every night, I had somewhere to go, or something to do. Monday's are flyball practice, Thursdays agility, Wed nites I take shares up to Nanaimo, and Tues nites I do local shares. I think I get Friday nites free.... Whew! No wonder I am tuckered out!!

I have been eating lots of groceries out of my gardens since my last post - and enjoying every single bite! Oh, garden stuff is so much better than store bought, there really is no comparison!

I have a bunch of dogs going home in the next day or two, then I'm gettin' down and dirty, and catching up on my gardening! I haven't even sprayed my EM or my plant tea extract for over 2 weeks! That's just BAD. I get all panicky, thinking WHEN am I going to have time to do everything???

Then, to top it off, I have my new chickens and turkeys arriving probably tomorrow - and of course, I'm not ready for them yet! I need to go get more chicken feed, and I don't know when I'll be able to get to the feed store.

Do you have the sense I am feeling a bit overwhelmed these days??? YEP! But, at least I am paying my bills for the moment, so I had better stop complaining, and just suck it up for a while;-)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Confession time

Ok, I have to admit I have a confession to make. My main goal for having a garden (besides making money) is to be self sustaining and self sufficient, so I have to buy less groceries, and I will know exactly where my food comes from.
I was perusing the garden today, and realized I hadn't even had a salad from it for several weeks now. I keep 'saving it for the shares'. Somehow, I think I need to put EVERYTHING into my CSA shares, so my members are happy, that I have nothing left for myself. This is so totally not the point! I am somewhat disappointed in myself.
Luckily, I can start changing... today!
I picked a red cabbage, and a head of lettuce, and some Sungold cherry tomatoes - ALL FOR ME! Along with a cucumber a client gave me from her own garden, I am now eating a tomato and cucumber salad with balsalmic vinegrette and feta cheese. It is sooooo goood!!! Sometimes, you just get so caught up in the business end of things, you forget why you are doing something in the first place.
I am going to make some coleslaw for tomorrow night, and I am now determined to have a salad or something from my garden each day. The crops I've been planting the last few weeks should start being ready in about 2 or 3 weeks, so I should be able to feed myself for several months now.

A note about Sungold cherry tomatoes. These are a hybrid, but I am going to be making them a regular in the garden. I am planting WAY more next year. They are, bar none, the best cherry tomato out there. They ripen earlier than the Sweet Millions, (which used to be my favourite) and are just as prolific. I eat them like candy. They just pop into your mouth so easily!

My new and lofty goal for next year is to grow enough food for 20 shares (I just did 5 this year) and for myself, too. This is to finance a newer and better car for myself. I am driving a complete piece of crap, and will be amazed if it makes it through the winter. I need better wheels! I will also reinvest some of my share money back into the gardens - so I can continue to grow more. I have a deal with a friend who has a greenhouse to grow all my starts.... WAY more than what I did this year - so I can have crops ready earlier and better than this year. I am going to work all winter on amending the soil that I have, so more of my crops work out - many did not this year. It was quite the bummer, and I am determined not to have a repeat next year!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Little cabbages two weeks ago. They are now alot bigger, and closer to harvest time!

Well, the rain we had last week was fantastic! It completely watered everything, and filled my well up! I can stop worrying - for this year, at least! I feel so much better about things. It is supposed to get really hot again this week, so I'm super glad the rain came when it did. I am still being frugal with it, though, I don't want to abuse my water priviliges!
I had an entire week off watering, so that was nice, too. I had to start watering again this morning, but because the rain did such a good job, I only have to water each bed for about 20 minutes - instead of the 40 minutes I had to do before the drought.

The deer have been out munching quite a bit lately. I obviously have been too lax with the deer control. I need to get on it! They have stripped my new fruit trees more than once - when I have time this fall, I guess I had better fence them in - and some of my veggies got a good munching last nite. Damn deer. They are so quiet and sneaky, even the dogs don't hear them coming in the middle of the night.

I have tried planting kohlrabi for the first time this year. I think I might even get some little kohlrabi's! I've been researching the companion planting, so have planted the little kohl's with beets. Both seem to be doing very well. Can't wait to see what a kohlrabi tastes like. Never had one!

There was a bunch of slugs out this morning... all were having sex. Ooooh, that made me mad! How dare they procreate when there are so many of them to begin with? They died. They all died. I massacred them. I don't even feel bad about it! Slugs having sex is NOT something you need to see early in the morning. Just so you know.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rain, rain, beautiful rain!

It's finally RAINING! A good, slow, soaking rain. It's just what I ordered! The gardens will be so happy, and I won't have to water for days or a week. I was so SICK of watering! It was an endless chore, but it was more the stress of always having to watch how much I was using. My well would run dry regularly. At first, I was watering 5 beds a morning, and 5 at night. Then it was down to 4, then 3. The last week or so, I was only able to water 1 or 2 beds at a time before the well would run out. It was quite discouraging. I was falling farther and farther behind, and the plants were getting just enough to survive, but not to thrive. Hopefully, it will rain like crazy, then be sunny and nice again, so everything will grow gangbusters.


About three weeks ago now, I made a trip up to Lantzville to visit Nicole and Dirk on their farm. They have a 2 acre organic produce farm, on which they make their entire living. You may remember I went up there last fall to visit, too. Nicole spent a good 2 hours with me, taking me for a tour, answering all my questions, helping me all she could. I learned so much! They start planting their potatoes in February... mine didn't go in until April/May. I'd better get on it better next year! The other major thing I learned was to keep planting. All year long. They never stop planting seeds. So, when in doubt, plant some seeds. Want to earn more money? Plant some seeds. Feeling down because of the weather? Plant some seeds! I've taken this advice to heart, and over the last 3 weeks or so, I've planted about 2 or 3 thousand seeds. Maybe more. Most of them were planted in seed flats that I borrowed from a friend. This is a bit more time consuming, but the savings on water is astronomical. Many of what I planted just 3 weeks ago is already ready to go into the garden. Some of it already has gone into the garden. I've planted 2 types of kale, purple sprouting broccoli, mega mesculin, 4 or 5 kinds of lettuce, onions, winter cabbage, and I can't remember what else. Peas! About 6 beds of peas. This year, I think I planted them early enough that I should get a crop off of them. Last year I was about 2 weeks too late. Everything I plant is getting the mycroizzial fungi, and I am doing weekly dousings of the EM and the plant tea extract. I've had some amazing successes with these products. I had bought a sad little lemon tree in the spring, hoping to get some lemons at some point. The little tree had been shipped up from the States without even being rooted out, and was so stressed - it was literally on it's last legs. I had potted it up in hopes of it perking up, but immediately after, a dog ripped it out and tossed it 'round and 'round the yard. That poor lemon tree! I thought it was a goner for sure. I repotted it, used the plant tea, the EM and my compost tea on it weekly for the last 4 weeks or so. It's looking AMAZING! The leaves have all greened up (no more sickly yellow leaves), it has lush new growth, and is flowering like mad. I've been taking the flowers off for a while, so the little tree can continue to grow and get healthier before it starts to fruit.
Other successes: tomatoes have a ZILLION blooms and tomatoes forming. Some of my squash and watermelons and zucchini are looking fantastic (some of them never took... just wasn't meant to be, I guess). I just hope everything is looking good on time to get a decent harvest out of them. If not, there is always next year, I guess!


I finished making my own ginger beer the other day. Blueberry flavoured. It was fantastic! Didn't last long, though! I am busy making some more, and plan to keep it going so I always have a new batch coming up.

I also ordered 25 new meat birds and 10 new turkeys from a different hatchery. They will be here late August. I plan on stocking my freezer before winter sets in, so I will never have to worry about eating through the winter. My heritage turkeys and 4 little Dorking chicks I got a while ago are doing well - they are getting big! Now that it's rained, the ground should be soft enough to finish building them an outdoor run. Guess I'll have to get on that, too. So much to do. A friend gave me some fencing and a gate from an old dog kennel, which I am going to use for the run. FREEEEE! It's my favourite word;-) My other score this summer was the new garden center that opened up near by - they were giving away seeds. Lots and lots of seeds. I was a total pig and took LOTS of them each time I went. The seed savings for me should be good next year- I got all sorts of stuff. Carrots, broccoli, squash, zucchini, watermelon, onion, and so much more. Too much to list.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Learning to 'put up' food for the winter

As you know, I have been changing my diet, and researching ways to preserve food, so I will eventually be able to live entirely on what I grow here on the farm. That day is getting closer sooner than I thought! I just signed up for an online (FREE!!) course on how to preserve food. I have always wanted to learn to can, but it just seems like so much WORK! I've just discovered there is an easier way. Yesterday, I harvested all my beets. The greens went into salads, but what to do with all those beets? I wanted to can, but all that work seemed daunting. Then I remembered you can ferment all sorts of veggies. Sounds a bit gross, but the flora it creates is super-healthy for you, and helps to keep your colon clean and you digesting well. So, I filled 2 jars with sliced up beets, added sea salt and water, and in three days... voila! Preserved beets. How easy is that? I'm going to do a couple more jars, and add apple cider vinegar... that sounds delicious!
Over the last few years, I have spent a fortune on juice and drinks. I just get tired of drinking plain water all the time. This week, however, I am learning to make my own pop - Ginger Beer - the old fashioned way. No chemicals, no additives, no preservitives. My friend made some last week, and was it ever delicious! I am going to try making blueberry flavoured. Then maybe raspberry. Then, something else. I will have endless yummy, healthy drinks for just pennies a gallon. No more store bought stuff for me!

If you are interested in learning about preserving food the old, OLD fashioned way (before canners) try this link:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Panic averted... for the moment

Well, it took about an hour, but water started coming out of my hose again. I didn't put my head under the covers like I threatened to do, but was it ever tempting! Instead, I started looking at Craigslist, UsedNanaimo and Kijiji. Low and behold, a guy just over in Chemainus (about 10 minutes from here) was selling some used 100 gallon water tanks! So, I ran right over and bought the 2 he had left. They aren't the full solution, but they will help! I go over tomorrow to pay him and help him load them up... he is going to deliver them for me. I am going to arrange them under the rainspout, so they will fill up (IF we ever get rain again) or if the worst was to happen, and I run out of water, at least if I have to get some trucked in, I will have somewhere for the delivery guy to put it!!

I decided not to give up on the gardening thing. Last year, I panicked, and started harvesting everything early, afraid I was going to run out of water. This year, I am just going to be very frugal with the water, and hope it lasts until the rains come again. I planted 3 beds of kale, some kohlrabi and some beets this morning - hand watered everything, so not a drop was wasted. It will take alot of my time, but I will continue to hand water until the bitter end...

I am also starting more seeds for my fall/ spring crops. I wish I had more seed trays, but I am just making do with what I have right now. I have been using my EM and my mycchroizzal fungi with everything I have planted, so we'll see how big of a difference that makes! I also went around the entire garden the other nite, and sprayed EVERYTHING with the EM. We shall see!

While I was having my panic attack yesterday, I saw the coolest thing... a snake zooming away with a huge slug in it's mouth! I ran in to grab my camera, but of course when I got out, the snake was gone. No wonder there are so many big, fat snakes around this year... easy pickings with all the slugs around here! It would've made a great picture, though.

A few days ago, I suddenly remembered I had planted a grape plant last fall. I had completely forgotten about it... bad farmer! Expecting the worst, I went to check on it. It was completely covered with weeds and grass, but I think that's what saved it - shaded it from the worst of the heat. It was alive! And looking healthy, to boot! Amazing. I watered it, and talked to it for a while, telling it it was a good little grape plant, and hopefully it will continue to flourish, and I'll get some grapes in a year or two!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Panic Attack

Well, I am sitting here having a total panic attack. The rain we had last week wasn't enough to help much. Last night, my well ran low, so this morning I have been very, very careful with it. I just went out to fill a watering can, and NO WATER CAME OUT. I never seriously entertained the idea that my well would run competely dry... I thought I would just have to be very, very careful with it. Now I feel a bit frozen. I don't know what to do! Where do you get water? I know you can get it trucked in (at great expense) but I don't have a holding tank. If anyone has any bright ideas, I'd love to hear them. I am FREAKING OUT.

I spent the morning transplanting seedlings... how do I water them? It had better rain very, very soon. A good, heavy, soaking rain.

Think I'm going to go put my head under the blankies now... I need to figure this out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Changes in my diet...

So, today I wanted to share with you the changes I've made in my diet the last few months. I have been researching (quite by accident!) on going back to a very traditional diet. Basically, if my grandma wouldn't have recognized the food, it's not on the menu. That's not to say I am being anal retentive about it - I let myself have some processed crap once in a while, but I find my body not liking it much when I do.
For dinner tonite (as an example) I had a stir fry with snap peas, zucchini, garlic, potatoes, broccoli (all fresh from my own garden) and pasture raised pork, and mushrooms (from the store.) It was delicious! And oh, so good for me!

Some simple changes I've made to get the process started:
  • no more refined sugar. If I need sugar, I now use unrefined cane sugar
  • sea salt instead of table salt
  • sourdough bread (fermented foods are extremely good for you... and yummy, too!)preferably made with whole grain flour, not white or whole wheat flour
  • unpasturized honey (pasturized honey has a glycemic level that is through the roof - the heating process does that. Plus, unpasturized has certain bacterias that are very beneficial to us)
  • Raw milk. This one is my personal favourite. It is illegal to buy (stupid government) so you have to find a cow share to get into). Raw milk has beneficial bacteria and microbes we all NEED to be healthy, and OMG is it ever good. You have to get your milk from grass-fed, hand milked cows. The grass fed is the healthiest way to keep your cow, and machine milked cows are the scary type... bad bacteria builds up in the machines, and that's why we now need to pasturize our grocery store milk. Think about it - 100 years ago, people drank raw milk every day, and no one died from it. It was only when we industrialized the process that people started to get sick.
  • Butter from grass fed cows. NO MORE MARGARINE! I now make my own butter from my milk each week. The stuff from the store is the same old story - made from corn and grain fed cows... NOT healthy for you at all.
  • meat - now I only get my meat from grass fed cows, pasture raised chickens and pigs. Also, I raise my own eggs from pasture raised chickens. These eggs and meat have lots of natural omega-3's, and other healthy nutrients we need. Again, it's how we raise the animals that has the most impact on how healthy the products we get from them are. Eggs only became 'bad' when they started raising them on corn and grain (not a natural diet) and keeping them in little cages or cramped in close quarters. Sad.
Slowly, I am adding a new element into my diet, making more of my own foods, growing as much as I can, and trying to buy organic when I can afford it.
Some huge differences I've noticed - the most noticable thing is that I don't get any zits anymore! I have only had one in the last 3 or 4 months. My skin is clearer than it's been since I was a kid. The zit I did get was just about 3 weeks ago. I was all rush, rush, and panicky - didn't have time to make something good, so I went to McDonald's. Within HOURS, I had a brush of pimples all over my chin. Geez! They have since cleared up, and I haven't had another since... I think that's telling me something!
I have more energy - I work 16 hour days, running 2 business', and I'm not totally dragged out all the time. I used to be, even when I wasn't working hard.
I have lost 10 lbs, and I am not even trying to. It is coming off slowly, but surely. It's great!
I still am not getting any major sugar cravings. I didn't realize I used to eat so much sugar - I thought my diet was good. Not. Now, I have a little piece of chocolate each day, and unless I get really stressed out, that seems to be enough.
My teeth seem to be getting healthier. I always have taken good care of my teeth, but have fillings all over the place. I have recently had a few fillings fall out, and can't afford to go to the dentist. BUT, the cavities I have in those places are hurting less and less, and getting less and less sensitive to temperature. Interesting!

So, I'm not telling you this to nag, or say that this is the only way to eat. Just Food For Thought;-) To me, it actually makes sense. This is how people used to eat in the olden days - before cancer was a common word, before everyone was chubby, and before tooth decay was rampant.

If you want to find out more, go to

Monday, July 12, 2010


Well, I have just been sitting here waiting for a dog to get picked up, looked outside my window, and it's RAINING! I almost cried for joy, I was so excited! This morning, my well ran out of water, so it really couldn't come at a better time. Don't worry, the well replenishes itself, but it does mean I am using too much water to get the gardens done.
Now, everyone, do a rain dance for me.... let's hope the rain continues long enough to actually do some GOOD!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Heat Wave

Well, it's happened. We are officially in a drought. We haven't had any rain to speak of in over 6 weeks now, and none in the forseeable forcast. All I do is water, water, water. Some in the morning, some in the evening - it's a constant cycle. I do have to say, my hay/mulch plan is working wonderfully, though. Instead of beds drying out in just a few days, they are lasting from 7-9 days without water. I figure, even though I've got double the beds I had last year, I am using about 50% of the water. My veggies are looking fabulous with this heat, though. I harvested my broccoli this morning... it is the nicest looking broccoli I have ever seen in a garden. I have to admit... I am a bit proud of it! I will definitely have to do more next year, since most of it will go into shares this week.

I have ordered my EM and my M. Fungi for my planting next week. I can't wait to try it, see how big a difference it makes. The kale I seeded several weeks ago is ready to go into the garden beds, but I'm not planting it until I get my new stuff!

I have also harvested all my garlic this week, and have it on the front porch to cure. I got some honkin' big garlic... you can never have too much garlic! Peas are almost done... they will be done either this week or next. I've already dug some under, getting ready to plant the kale in the same beds, but I've also started planting more peas in some of the beds that didn't do well. Peas will fix the nitrogen in the soil, and add some quick organic matter, so whatever I plant in there next will be fabulous.

One thing I've noticed this year, is the amount and variation of wildlife I have in my yard this year. I've seen a zillion snakes...all sorts of gorgeous colours - red, yellow, brown and green ones. Each time I see one, I get all excited... SNAKES EAT SLUGS!!! I will encourage these little snakes all I can! I actually really like snakes as a rule - not afraid of them at all. The other thing is birds... way more variety of pretty little songbirds. Bright yellow finches, and some yellow and red birds that I have no idea what they are. I am taking this all as a sign that my yard is healthy and thriving.

Since the heatwave started about a week ago, I've changed my working pattern. I have been getting up between 5 and 6 am, and going out to exercise dogs, and get as much gardening done as I can before it gets too hot. The weird thing is that I am enjoying getting so much done so early in the day. I don't even set my alarm... I just naturally wake up. When I used to work a 'real job', you couldn't drag me out of bed by 8... I would have to press snooze several times. I guess it makes a huge difference when you are doing something you love, and working for yourself. It's awesome.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cousin comes for a visit...

My favourite cousin, Lorelie came to visit yesterday. She has recently taken a course at the Gaia College up island, and came to share some of her new-found knowledge with me. I learned so much! It was awesome. She brought me some Plant Extract Tea, so we could try it on some of my veggies as a foliar spray, see if we could perk some of my squash and cucumbers up. Not a joke... we just did it yesterday, and already I see a few new green leaves coming up... they have been sickly and not very healthy this year so far, and I'm convinced that it's because I have new soil, and it doesn't have any organic matter in it yet.

To make plant extract tea:
Fill a 5 gallon pail 3/4 full of nettles, comfrey or horsetail.
Fill rest of bucket with clean water (no chlorine in it) Lucky I'm on a well!
cover with a lid, and let ferment for 10-14 days.

At the end, it really stinks, but you mix 1 cup of tea with 10 cups water, and spray it on your plants.

I am also making manure tea - just dumped a bunch of horse poo in a garbage can, filled with water, and am mixing a cup of that with a bunch of water to fill a watering can (not very scientific!) and watering my plants with it - I am trying to start to do that every 10 days or so.

She also told me about adding ocean water to compost - adds all the minerals you need for your garden. I plan on making a trip down to the ocean very, very soon to get some!

EM or Effective Micro organisms

I have heard of this before from another friend, but Lorelie really put it into perspective for me. I am ordering some as soon as I get paid.  You can get it from  He will ship it to wherever you live.

Mycrroizal Fungi.... (am certain I didn't spell that correctly...!)

To use when seeding or transplanting. Combines with roots of plants for a symbiotic relationship.

The amazing thing is you should never, ever use even 'organic' fertilizers in your garden (commercially made stuff that is). What she was taught was to improve and make the soil healthy, then your plants will be healthy, and be better able to fight off fungus and bugs and disease. Makes sense, and I've heard that before, but wasn't sure how to go about it. Now I have the tools. I have already started my Plant Tea Extract, and it will be ready in about 9 days, and can't wait to see how things start to grow, grow, grow!

She told me some tips on making a wormfarm, which I've tried before and failed at. This way makes more sense to me... I think I will try it again soon, so I can get that worm poo growing;-) I won't describe it now... it is getting late, and I am too tired.

It's been threatening rain for a week, but we haven't actually got more than a drop or two. We need it, BAD! Now, I just checked the weather station, and it's supposed to get super hot this coming week. I've been busy all week putting hay and mulch on almost all the beds, and hope to have that finished tomorrow. The less pressure I put on the well, the better. Even if it keeps the moisture locked in the beds for a few extra days between waterings, it will be a great help. I may work on putting an extra layer on, just in case...

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!