Friday, July 29, 2011

More Babies!!

Just went outside for a minute, found a raven on my duck enclosure, chased him away. Looked inside, and what do I see? At least two baby muscovys just born! They must be recent, as they were still damp. Whoohoo! I am so excited! I was actually almost ready to give up on MamaDuck2, as she's been brooding for a very, very long time. I thought the babies were due over a week ago. What do I know??!!

The last batch of Muscovys are doing awesome, too. I've had them in an ex-pen in the field for over a month now, and they are growing like crazy, and getting adult feathers. Another couple of weeks, and I'll probably let them forage in the field. When they get too big for the friggin' ravens!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Business With a Plan....

I've now been through the process with my biz coach. He is forcing me to think outside the box a bit. I've come up with a really good business/farm plan for the next year. BUT, we all know from my blog posts that farming rarely, if ever, goes to plan! So, I am using it as more of a guideline. Some goals to reach, some timing I need to practice.
My success next year depends on two things. One, I need to expand the gardens like crazy. I will need to double what I have now. To do that, I need 2 more loads of soil, and lots and lots of cardboard. I think I may finally have a line on the cardboard, and I am going to start booking solid with the dog boarding, so I can make enough money to get the soil. If I can get it this fall, and work on building the gardens all winter, I will be a head of the game, instead of just catching up like this year.
The second thing I really, really need is my greenhouse. I am planning for a 20 x 100' structure, with a seed starting bench down one side, and a large crop growing bed down the other. I will be able to start my tomatoes, etc early next year, so I will be ahead. I also won't have to drive to Nanaimo every week. I will save a lot just in gas! With the crop growing beds, I can grow things like mesculin and spinach all winter long. Sales 12 months a year! It would give me such a leg up!
The challenge arises when I try to figure out how to get my greenhouse built. I will need to make between a 5 and $6000 investment. Soooo, how the hek do I do that? That's where the 'outside the box' thinking comes in. It was suggested that I get some investors. The plan is this: get some really awesome people to prepay and prebuy their veggie CSA shares NOW for next year. In return, because I have all this amazing greenhouse space, I will be able to have a bigger selection, bigger bags, and start earlier in the year. I would need 15 investors to do this. It was also suggested that I put this money into a separate account, so if I only get like, 2 investors and can't go ahead with the greenhouse, I can give them their money back. The only problem with this plan is the fact that I am wayyyyyyyyyyy too shy to ask for people to give me money in advance, so I am just doing this blog post to put it out into the universe, and see what comes back to me. !!

In the meantime, I am going to go ahead like my greenhouse is already being built. I am going to get an electrician in to bring up power, so I can plug in soil heating cables, and then I'm going to get a foundation down as soon as I can. Then the universe will know I am serious about it, and just give me my greenhouse:-)

I have been starting fall crop seeds like crazy the last couple of weeks. I should have (so far) about 1000 kale plants, 400 cabbages, 400 purple sprouting broccoli, and various mesculin and lettuces coming up. I still ask myself, though... is this enough? I think I need to plant more. And more. I seriously don't think I can plant enough right now.

OH!!! I am ready to open my farmgate stand! Dom the HandyMum came over the other night, and helped me move/hang my gates, AND then she found me a free fridge! I got it delivered yesterday, cleaned it all up, and then just plugged it in this morning. I will stock it this evening, and then I should be all ready to open tomorrow morning. How exciting is that? I will be getting some signs up in the next week, and when that is done, I will really start advertising it around town.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fellow Blogger

A fellow blogger wrote the following post. She puts things a bit more... eloquently than I do, so I asked if I could copy and paste, to help spread the word. She said yes!! Plus, she takes pretty pictures:-) This is a link to her blog...


After the war the big super markets were the thing, they stood for all things American. They were new big, new, shiny, clean and full of everything, much of which has proven not to be good for us. What we didn’t know was that our milk, meat and chicken were filled with hormones and antibiotics. Preservative laden packaged foods that OK – some tasted pretty good, it’s hard to beat Rice a Roni or Sara Lee cakes, but the additives like salt, sugar and fat have proven to be deadly. We also did not know that much about the the farming in this country. We didn’t know it was owned and regulated by big business. It was not the mom and pop farming of yesteryear. But in fairness those were times of bigger is better and doctors smoked cigarettes in front of you.

But we have since learned that getting our food from the land without the middleman of the packager, and the big companies is a much better way to go. The growth of small farms and farmers who farm without harmful chemicals and take their food to small Farmers Markets the old fashioned way has been a great gift to America and those who have access to them.

The new film Farmageddon shows us how these people and their livelihoods are being threatened and if the monoliths of the food industry have their way they will not exist.

I think there should more small farmers and that they should be given tax incentives to make their food more affordable and available to a wider swath of the population. I think instead of trying to snuff them out we need to help them, and in turn help ourselves.

Many of us are lucky and have Farmers’s Markets all around us. The food looks and tastes better and it’s amazing how creative and inventive people are getting with their products.

Saturday Lucy and I took a trip to the local Farmers Market, when we left she said – “We have to do this every week.”

So you have to peel them and wash them, takes a little more time but worth the effort.

What's better for you - these or the instant ones in a box? Plus look at those colors.

Everything just looks and tastes better.

I'm not a chard lover, but it's a super food and this is so pretty I'm willing to give it another shot.

Lucy is not what you would call a vegetable lover, but she was eating cucumbers raw with the special salt we found.

Donna McCue of Fat Ass Fudge has a great product and a sense of humor

They always have pretty flowers.

There is a new film out called Farmegeddon. It is getting great reviews and was edited by Cob Carlson who edited Lucky Ducks for us. Cob has been involved with the natural food movement for decades.

Farmageddon – Movie Trailer from Kristin Canty on Vimeo.

Kristin Canty is the Director/Producer of Farmageddon; The Unseen War on American Family Farms. She is a first-time film maker, small farm advocate, fresh milk drinker and a mom. One of her children was ridden with multiple allergies and asthma as a pre-schooler, and when medications couldn’t help him, she found that raw milk helped him recover. Since then, she has tried to buy most of her family’s food directly from local, organic farms. When Kristin learned that farmers and co-ops all over the country were increasingly getting raided by the government, she set out to make a film about it. She hopes that when people see it, it can change the tide of public pressure so that our government stops harassing and adding costly burdens to our small, organic farmers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Promises, promises...

The weatherman is teasing me again with the promise of rain....


Issued : 5:00 AM PDT Monday 11 July 2011

 A few showers beginning late this evening. Low 14. Tuesday Showers. High 17. Wednesday Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers. Low 13. High 19. Thursday Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers. Low 13. High 18. Friday Cloudy with 70 percent chance of showers. Low 13. High 19. Saturday Cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers. Low 12. High 20. Sunday Cloudy with 30 percent chance of showers. Low 12. High 22.
What do you think? Are we going to get a gorgeous summer rain???!!!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Barter System

Yesterday, I got one step closer to opening my farmgate stand. I have been using the barter system a lot lately, to get things I may not otherwise be able to afford. This particular man built me a lockbox and welded it onto my farmstand in exchange for doggie daycare. It looks awesome! Then, I've been giving fresh veggies to the local 'Handywoman' all spring, so I now have a nice, big credit with her... as soon as she comes back from Disneyland, she is going to install my gates for me. I also have traded chickens for hay for the goats, so I won't have to buy any feed for them all winter. It has really helped to cut down on a few expenses. I had a HUGE, unexpected bill last month, and I still haven't recovered from it financially, so it's nice that I can still keep working on projects around here. Now, all I need is a decent used fridge... would be nice if I could find a nice barter for that, too;-) If not, it will be a bit before I can buy one. The second I do, I will be able to open the farmstand. I can't wait for that.... I've actually had people who have heard the rumour that I will be opening one, and they have been emailing me asking when is it going to happen??!!! Things are starting to look wonderful in the garden. Tomatoes and zucchini's are forming nicely, so I should have lots of extra stuff to sell soon.

I've been feeling quite down of late, after losing so many crops to slugs and deer. I thought I had planned perfectly for my shares... I planted double what I thought I would need, but because I had so much damage, some crops I lost 80% of, or even more. As a result, my shares have been smaller than I had hoped. The selection hasn't been bad (better than last year!), but I've only been able to give people smaller portions than I had hoped. This bothers me a LOT, as I would really like people to sign up for a second year! Anyway, I contacted my old business coach that I had when I was in the BusinessWorks program. He really helped me then. I asked him if I could hire him back on for an hour or two consultation, so I could start thinking things through a bit more clearly. I have been so busy feeling sorry for myself, I haven't been doing much 'right' thinking. Anyway, this guy is so awesome... he said when I am 'wildly successful' we will work something out as payment. I guess he could sense I was skint or something. We have been going through the process... basically building a better business plan (which I had actually done a lot of the groundwork without even knowing it) and planning for slugs, deer, weather, and for getting my timing down on my crops and chickens. It has really helped me to get my spirits back up. I was kind of feeling like a failure for a while there. I am not 'there' yet, but I am developing a pretty good plan for my future. And, the epiphany I had yesterday was that my future starts NOW.... not next year, or the next. So, I am getting busy again, planting my fall crops. I am planting over 10x what I did last fall. If I have space, I will do even more. I need to get my quantities up, up, and up. 
I also ordered more meat chickens. I pretty much sold out of the batch I just had, and want to work on my timing, so I will always have a batch coming up. I'm pretty sure if I plan right, I can have a new batch every 3-4 weeks. I know I can do 4 weeks with the spaces I have, but I would really, really like it if I could do every 3 weeks. The next month or two will tell me that. When I get this batch in, I am going to order another batch straight away. Feels really good, having a plan. I think I just need more practice at this farming thing... I am determined to succeed.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weatherman, You Suck

It's been over a week, and we STILL haven't gotten the promised rain. I gave up on waiting, and have gone back to watering for a portion every nite. Bleh. It's so boring! I just keep thinking of all the other, better things I could be doing. Then again, I guess keeping the plants alive is a good thing;-)

Muscovy ducklings are doing well. They are growing like crazy. As soon as they are too big to fit through the bars on one of my ex-pens, I am going to put them into the field during the day. I can cover the pen with some plywood, so the ravens don't get them, and it will be so much better and healthier for the little guys. MamaDuck #2 is busy brooding her nest. Last I counted, there was at least 8 eggs in there, so hopefully I will have some more babies in a couple of weeks. I estimate they should be born sometime near the middle of July.

The goats are mostly doing well. Everyone should have a couple of goats! They are way too much fun. I love it when I call them, and they come running with their floppy ears bouncing away. It really is the cutest thing. Larry (the wether) is not doing as well as the others. The other three are fat and robust. Larry is not. I've dewormed him, as we think (hope) that is the problem. He is really skinny, and not very active. The others play and romp, while Larry just lays there chewing his cud. He is eating and drinking well, which is a good sign. They were all dewormed about 10 days ago. I will do it again in about another 10 days. Hopefully little Larry will perk up. Soon. I am worried about the little dude.

My meat chickens are doing well. They didn't grow as fast as they usually do. Turns out, I was ordering the wrong feed for them. Nothing bad, just not as much protien as they need. I changed the food about 5 days ago, and I can already see a difference in their size. I am taking half in this Tuesday, and half in next Tues. All are spoken for... Yay!! I am going to order another batch right away, and do a third the middle of August. Next year, I think I can work it so I do a batch about every 3-4 weeks, so I keep having that new crop coming up. I am being very serious about how to make more money from my farm now, and need to practice getting my timing down. I crunched a bunch of numbers, and I discovered I make no money whatsoever on my eggs. No wonder they sell so fast! The ravens have now gotten 16 of my laying hens this year. ALL of them are the hybrid layers. My Dorkings and other heritage mixes seem to have the intelligence they need to run when a bird comes a calling. So, as these hens go, I will not replace them. If I can't find a way to make money from the eggs, I will gradually reduce my layers to the point where I just get enough eggs for me, sell a doz or so a week to pay for the feed, and concentrate more on the meat birds. Look at me, being all businesswomany!!

I've been super busy the last couple of days getting all my fencing in for my new farmgate stand. It's mostly done now... I just need to hire someone to come and help me rehang the gates in their new places, then find a good used fridge, then I can open for real! It should be timed right, actually... for when my bumper crop of tomatoes are ready. The cherry tomatoes and my early girls should be starting in the next couple of weeks. Nothing better than a fresh tomato from the garden! Hopefully, I won't eat them ALL, and I will be able to save some for my CSA shares;-)

Flooded Driveway

Flooded Driveway
Too much RAIN!