Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Win Free Groceries


If you're located near a Sobeys grocery store and have a few minutes, click on the link above to enter for your chance to win free groceries.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Get Together

I've had a few calls and comments recently asking if there's anywhere that a group of people considering, or actually becoming self-sufficient can get together for a coffee and a chat. I don't know of any here so if there's enough interest why don't we start one. I know this years main get together and trade show was the ACORN conference a few weeks back but I couldn't travel at that time due to other commitments. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who went though so drop me a line and let me know what you liked or found useful.

So back to us little farmers in the Valley. Anyone interested in talking manure, bees, livestock etc? There is a good group on Facebook called 'Farming in the Maritimes' if you'd like to join the broader community. But sometimes it's just nice to visit and share stories and see what everyone else is up to.

If you'd be interested then leave a comment stating the nearest town/village and a good evening during the week. We'll pick somewhere central, quite likely a timmies and set a date. Anyone have any feedback on this idea?

This coming weekend we've got a gingerbread decorating contest and we're going to start work on the rocket mass heater design for the barn. I think it will take a couple of weekends to get it all up and running and to gather all the necessary parts like the barrel and piping but it will be so worth it to have somewhere warm in the barn during the winter snows of January and February.

Well my friends, it's 2 am and time I got to bed. Best Wishes!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Winter Preview

Well we've had a taste of winter with cold winds and temperatures that flirted into the minus double digits a couple of times last week. We got a little snow, maybe an inch down in the valley and 3 inches up on the mountain but now that the weather has warmed up again it's all melting. The cold weather was a good reminder that soon all the animals will be inside for a good part of their time and so we have to make sure that their homes are dry and secure. There are also the practical aspects of keeping animals over the winter, such as:

1. Do I have enough hay and grain stored for a long winter?
2. Do I have enough bedding, either straw or shavings?
3. Can I keep the water troughs ice free?
4. If I'm lambing in a blizzard in the night, do I have light and heat available for new lambs?

There are always other things that crop up too like protecting against predators during the hungry season. We've already noticed that the foxes are very interested in our hens. There are lots of tracks in the snow around the greenhouse and a small rat hole through the plastic so that will bear watching and I think that getting a small electric fence hooked up round the perimeter may not be a bad idea. We may consider moving them all over to the property at some point and putting them into the barn.

With the snow come the beginning of one of my favourite times of year, seed catalogue season.  :)  There's nothing like sitting snuggled up in a cozy house while the wind and the snow blow outside, dreaming of warmer days and the Spring flowers to come. We're less than 3 weeks away from the Winter Solstice so nearly at the hump. Soon the days will begin to lengthen and gardeners everywhere will be buying potting soil and coaxing tomatoes out of the soil and into the light.

Do you ever think about the soil under your shovel? Or under the city. What is now highway, building lot and urban sprawl was once productive farmland. In many many areas of our planet we're eroding, covering over, poisoning and neglecting the very thing that sustains our lives on this planet. Soils purify water, grow our food and allow us to raise livestock. Shouldn't we take better care of it? In North America school children learn about the great dust bowl of the 1930's when so much topsoil simply blew away with the relentless wind and the lack of rain. Farms failed, famine was rampant and coupled with the economy many families lost pretty much everything they had in the Great Depression. You'd think that since it's less than 100 years ago we'd pay better attention to such things, but instead farmers who want to build up their soil naturally are oftern ridiculed and told to 'Get with the program" by the big business end of farming. Why rotate crops, use natural fertilizers like rock powders and manure when you can spray on chemicals that are easier? Why don't we want to do that? Because it's not good for the soil in the long run. I want my farm to become more productive over the years, and more fertile. Not less. I want to leave my grandchildren with the best soil in Nova Scotia. Healthy soil promotes healthy plants and animals which leads to less disease, naturally.

If you're interested in taking a few minutes to learn about soil, here's a short documentary you may like. Available in several languages, I'll include the English link. It's just over 5 minutes long.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Warm November

We have been having the most glorious weather here in Nova Scotia for the past few weeks. The Remembrance Day Weekend was warm, sunny and not too breezy, making it perfect for outdoor pursuits with a high of 19 degrees. What did we get up to? I went fishing in the morning and then in the afternoon we did roofing, with the missionaries lending a very much appreciated helping hand. The small barn now has an upper loft floor and more than half of the roof panels are in. Still to be done: the rest of the roof panels must be installed, the tar paper put over and the whole lot shingled before the nasty weather gets here. Why? A nice tight roof will protect the animals inside and also the feed stored in the loft. Although it's the middle of November and we don't have snow or freezing temperatures, we will have them any day now and they'll continue for months so we want to be ready. It's easier to plan for it now, than wait for lambing to begin on January 18th and then try and build things in the snow and wind. The barn doesn't need to be insulated as much as a house, but having a good roof and walls that keep the wind out are very important to having healthy animals.