Powering Your Doomstead On Apocalyptic Guinea Pigs.

Very interesting overview of a eco-farm, raising little pigs, permaculture and creating their own bio-energy.. Worth the read. Tons of photos and a great personal overview.

Ps, don’t let the title throw you off on this one..

Dark Green Mountain Survival Research Centre

I am Proud to announce my first ever guest post. Some of you have heard of her before. Thats right. I bring you MrsC5. She is why I am here in South America. Getting through a Nova Scotia winter without her would be intolerable. Professor of Sociology, Activist, Organic Farmer, Peak Oil Prepper, Poop Composter and all round tolerater of me. I present….

Bioagricultura Casa Blanca Guinea pigs 5 sm

by MrsC5

Disclaimer – I hope my comments are accurate.  My apologies if I there are inaccuracies in my description and understanding of the farm.

We recently had the opportunity to visit an organic farm called Casa Blanca in the area/municipality known as Pachacamac, south of the city. The scenery reminded me of being in Argentina with its industry, dusty dry conditions, roads with minimal paving.

Casa Blanca is not simply an organic farm.  It is also an experiment in ecological agriculture in terms…

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Jayda -Pretty little goat kid

Jayda is growing nicely, she is a share milk goatling, she is with her mother all day and has her own box in the pen to sleep in at night, they sleep side by side often so her mom can be morning milked.

She is big enough that sooner then later she will be weaned but in truth I like the freedom of once a day milking. As you can see, she like her mother and father have been allowed to keep her horns.

She is a sturdy girl, great bone, nice body length, proper treat placement and I think a pretty color, she has a outgoing, active temperament. Well please with her

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Coltsfoot: Harbinger of Spring, Medicinal Plant or Aggressive Weed?

What a great overview of Coltsfoot.. I am on the medical side and collect a years supply for drying each spring. I had been careful and never moved any to the farm, preferring to wild forage it, but I think I might have to dig a dozen this spring and move it onto my own land to make sure it stays easily available to me.

Laidback Gardener

20170423A Stefan.lefnaer, WC Coltsfoot is one of the first flowers of spring. Photo: Stefan.lefnaer, Wikimedia Commons

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) is, in some areas, the very first flower of spring. Its charming yellow flowers emerge very early, often in February in mild climates, yet as late as May in cold ones.

The bright yellow blooms resemble dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale). Also, after they finish flowering, they also bear fluffy white seed heads like those of a dandelion. Add to that the fact the two plants belong to the same family, the Asteraceae, and you definitely have the potential for confusion.

In fact, many people do indeed take coltsfoot for a dandelion, at least while it is blooming. However, the two plants are in fact easy to tell apart.

Coltsfoot blooms on leafless stems that seem to arise directly from the soil. Its leaves only appear after the flowers have faded…

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Support Local- Fresh Maple Syrup

While the local maple syrup season was a challenge and without a doubt one of the poorest I have had on the farm. Just up the road from me is a different zone and while he had a very short season, he did get one..

I love the little signs in the driveways.. handmade and hand painted.. Fresh eggs, Maple Syrup, Honey, Fire Wood for sale..

When you don’t get your own, support local, when you can support local to the point of a five min walk or a nice short horse back ride even better. Its amazing to me how over the years I have found so many small second business within 30 mins give or take around the farm.

This years crop of maple syrup is dark and rich, a fine blend indeed and I bought a years supply of it off Farmer M.. You can see it in the little bowl.. what amazing color, what outstanding flavour.. he got the best run over five days inbetween two major cold snaps.

We had our first meal with it, other then dipping in fingers to the little bowl to try it when it came home.. I had some older bread to use up and French Toast made with sheep’s milk, farm fresh eggs, cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg with butter and fresh local maple syrup hit the spot for supper (don’t you just love having breakfast dinners sometimes)

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That and That post..

Coltsfoot is just stating to show itself in its normal places and sadly one of my favorite foraging places a nice walk from the farm had the land sold two years ago and he sprayed everything last fall..  So many things that used to grow on the “edge” that amazing full sun space of beauty, that stripe of land of between, between the farm land, between the forest, between the water ditch line.

For years only the lightest equipment could go on that land but he spent last spring ripping it up and placing in the tiles needed to drain the land better and so last year, he got the bigger spray out onto the land and sprayed so hard that even the tree line is showing signs of damage.. past the edge of his field, past the edge of the ditch, over the ditch and then into the edge into the forest.

I will have a chat with the forest owner (who lets me forage on his land) and let him know about the over-spraying, he is a bush-hog kind of guy, going much lighter on the spraying unless required. While his regular bush-hogging looks like crap when its done, the plants and the edges recover and come back very healthy from it as its only done about every five years per field.

Creeping Charlie is starting to put out the bigger leaves, I have tons of small tiny green leaves, perfect for us to make a nice spring tonic soup in the next week or two but I picked a 8 oz jar of leaves, stems and tidied them up, gave them a touch of drying time, and then stuffed the jar with them then 50% apple cider vinegar and 50% plain Vinegar and into a dark cool shelf it went, I am shaking it twice daily and in 5 days or so, I will strain out this lovely and be using it for when making homemade mayo, salad dressing and so forth.

In another week or two and they will be growing really well and over the next two to four weeks as I weed out the garden, I will be pulling bowlfuls of these and drying them for tea use for the year in 2017.

The chicks are doing great, they have their first little wing feathers starting to grow and they are gaining weight nicely, I am very pleased indeed. I have one hen sitting on a nest of eggs, I have two geese sitting on nests that are due to hatch anytime from now till end of the month, I have one duck hen on a nest and all the duck hens are laying really well right now, so Hatch 2 will be duck eggs and then I will do a touch of pen moving around and get it set up so that the other three hens start working on their spring nests and sitting for hatching.

Maude was the last ewe to lamb out this year, she had a lovely set of twin lambs and with her babies, Lambing and Kidding Season on the farm is done for 2017.. we had 20 lambs and one goat kid born this year. We had two female lambs and 18 ram lambs (I know.. really, yes really.. 18! ram lambs) and one female kid goat.

The horse’s are in fine shape, Caleb is doing so much better since his last trim and both him and Bojangle’s have been enjoying the extra training and grooming time they are getting, slowly but surely, I am getting their winter coats out. I wish I had been able to get a good photo but it was to far away. Bojangle’s as it turns out, likes water and playing in it.. he was caught belly deep in my little pond, pawing up a storm and having a blast spraying water, mud and such all around him.. lol

I picked up a on-sale leather head piece that is regular horse size and I will need to move the bit and reins over and adjust it to fit Bo’s pretty and refined head to it. I can’t wait to get out and go riding! Very limited area’s to ride in without damaging the fields and the trails are just a sopping wet mess that is mostly covered in water to the point that you can’t see what is underfoot.

Speaking of the rain, while the local area is doing fine, other area’s within two hours of the farm are not having the same luck and there has been enough damage from rivers going over their banks and flooding that some folks had to leave their homes and this morning the radio said that there would be relief funds available to help what they will not cover for insurance.

For the farm, we had a lot of rain over a 36 hour period.. the sump pump is running and the pastures are silvered with laying water but the real telling is that in some of my garden area’s the swells filled and not being able to move the water fast enough down and slower draining out, there are few area’s that it slipped sideways and created a mini-valley across my raised bed, washing it out..  I will need to rebuild those sections of the beds and I will need to replant two of the six rows for the spring pea’s.

Its still raining! Have a grand day and see you all tomorrow!

 

 

 

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Ham and Bean Soup with Spring Dandelion Greens

 

Are you looking for a yummy way to use up your leftover Easter ham bone, I was too..

Into a nice big steel pot put your ham bone, a full peeled an cut into half or quarters big onion or two med ones, 6 large mushrooms, I used dried but fresh will work, two stalks of celery (trimmed) and one large peeled carrot cut into portions and one clove of garlic and one bay leaf.

Simmer on low for a good hour or two it’s not fussy that way..  If you are using canned beans, then you are good, if not.. if possible the night before soak your beans and if you want, even consider pre-cooking them for a 40 min to a 60 min in their own pot and then draining and rinsing them before using in the Ham soup

After your hour or more simmer, take out your ham bone and meat piece if any fell off and  debone and cut up your meat into small pieces.  Take out the Bay leaf Take a potato masher and smash up your veggies to get them into smaller size and then hit the pot with the stick blender.. this is your soup base and its delightful and filled with veggie goodness.

After its been blended smooth add back your cut up ham bits, three large peeled and cubed potato’s (another carrot diced if you want the orange color as well) and your beans.. Add salt, pepper and a good tsp of basil and give that a nice steady simmer (with the odd stir) for 30-40 min till everything is tender to taste test, both potato and bean 🙂

Now comes the fun part of this soup.. hit your spring yard for two big old Dandelion heads that are just starting to form and grow leaves, this is well before blooming or even thinking about flowers. cut it off level at the ground. Pick it though, remove any brown edges and wash it fully in cool water, then trim the end of the heart of it off and you will be left with a lovely bunch of fresh tender spring green, slice them across and add to your soup.

I found two bunches right for this pot, that would have been around 4 cups of greens before cutting them up.. add for the last five min of cooking and they will cook in and melt into the soup.

 

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Getting it done..

This project had needed to be done for a while but as often can happen, things get in the way and so it gets pushed to the side at times.

The finished side looks great, amazing how many man hours it takes to do this type of work.. We were all surprised that given how bad it looks, that there were no leaks, and that the wood and such under it was in great shape. One more thing done on the repair list.

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Hatch 1-The final round up.

In a tote with wire topper and a heat lamp over it (they will move to the bigger tote with the in-floor heating  in a few days) sits 17 chicks.

This result breaks down in a few ways and we are going to look at them because this is something I think is important when it comes to farming and homesteading.. It’s that ability to live in the past, the present and the future.

The past was that my hens were not laying to steady and that I took the full ten days for egg collecting and even bought a dozen eggs, I had some crazy cold snaps though that collecting (even to the point that a few eggs had frozen cracks when checked and were used in the kitchen for the hounds) but the eggs fooled me as they started nicely and then quit

None the less because I am stat nut, I have a few breakdowns.

On the bought eggs, 2 floated and were bad, 4 were pulled as bad at the second check and 4 went the full-time, of which two hatched. Good thing I only spent 5 bucks on them.

Out of the rest, after the checks we headed into the lock down with 28 eggs, of which 16 hatched, one died, 15 are looking great..

The big Maran hen, I set 5 eggs.. not one hatched..

The Easter Eggers- I had four green eggs set- 2 hatched

And the rest are the Salmon Favrolle, all the eggs 5 days or younger hatched and all the eggs five days to ten days did not..

So that is the past data, looked at in the present.. what did we learn.

  • buying hatching eggs is a crapshoot and then some
  • The Maran hen at the age of three fertile is very poor and or she is not a popular girl, she will be either gifted as a layer to a friend and or eaten.. with those rates, she no longer has a point in my tiny flock.
  • The Easter Egger- 50% hatch rate and like the Salmon Favrolle, the freshest eggs hatched.. so that hen gets full points
  • The Salmon Favrolle girls.. a year this spring, healthy, breeding and as long as the fresh eggs are set.. they are looking good!

The feeding program is looking good, active chicks, no toe issues, no neck issues, no sky looking, and so forth.

What else did we learn.. that the hatching temps and gauges are all working well. So while the hatch in some ways if you just look at 17 chick’s hatched out of so many eggs looks like it could be a poor hatch, when you break down the stats..  The process was sound and the data very useful.

So what about those chicks.. 15 dual-laying and or heavy breed laying chicks, 2 not so useful itty bitty chicks that will be gifted or sold off the farm.

The going rate locally for these chicks are 15 per chick, so they have a value of 225 if I sold them, (which is not the plan at all) but lets assume I ordered them in and bought them, then I also have to pay tax and shipping-Delivery fee’s which would add-on 44.75

Which means replacement value on this hatch would be 269.75

Now, if you bought the cheapest chicks you can get from the hatchery as a dual purpose brown egg layer at the numbers that the chicks are at it would cost you 151.10 so I will fully admit that you can get cheaper chicks than what I value mine at.. and if you dig hard enough locally, I am sure you will find someone who is on-farm hatching that will let you get a mixed breed chick for ten..

But I know what I paid for my stock and I feel that it’s a fair price for the quality I produced as well as the breeds etc.

Most roosters will be heading to the stew pot at a younger age, then hens on the other hand will be staying on the farm to increase my layer flock numbers and as replacement hens to my older females.

On to the cleaning and egg collecting and the next hatch being set up..

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Wild Parsnip -We are finally gaining ground

Finally in our province, this nasty plant the Wild Parsnip was added to our invasive plant lists, both a very good thing (because in some area’s it had gotten so bad that you could not take walks in local nature area’s, without risk of burns from this plant) and a bad thing because in many area’s that had always used ditch cutting to control the plants. They have moved to spraying and sadly the sprays required for this plant are bad for everything else..

My own county so far has not started spraying the ditches, instead they have increased the cuttings from twice a year on the closest ditch line to four times on the inner and twice on the upper ditches. They are trying to keep their timings of the cuttings to prevent the plant from going to seed.

In a number of county’s you can choose to have your ditches not sprayed but you must sign paperwork that you are “adopting” that section of the road ditches and you must keep it clean and they will check up on it X amount of times per year an or if anyone call’s it in.

The local farmers who spray, will spray and the local farmers that don’t.. well.. they had better start doing something, or they will start being fined.

As for ourselves, we “knock” on woods have seen a huge improvement in the number on our place, The key is to understand this plant.. and hit it two-fold. When we had large area’s to take back control, we waited till it was at full height and in full bloom and we cut it down, bagged it and cooked it in the sun and then composted it per the rule of our county. How I wish I could just burn it but that is not recommended at all.

In the spring or early summer if its a nice overcast day (like today) you head out with your safety gear, shovel and extra thick garbage bag and you pull out-dig out all the plants you can find both first year and second.  This is without a doubt the best investment in regards to time and effort.. its so worth it.  Its the least dangerous because it is mainly handling the roots and gets it out when the tops are just a bit up and therefor greatly reduces the chance for your to get the sap on yourself.

We now have whole sections of the yards, side yards and of course the pastures that are “wild parsnip” free.  This has been a many year effort to get to this point.

The second one is the fact that we have a wilder area on the farm, its typically a low -no mow area, its a no-till area and its a lot harder to control the parsnip out there.. we keep taking out plants each year but we always miss some here and there..

The key to these ones is to head out at the right time and with gloves, cutters and a bag, snip off the flowers bundles, and there for remove the seeds before they can be formed or dropped..  Its better to let these second year plants just grow up and flower and then take the flowers off.. they will naturally die back and not come back as a bi-annual plant.

Again this removes cutting or dealing with the sap on the plants, and it removes the issue of cutting them down with the mower, which means that they will grow back and flower at 2-3 inch to 6 to 8 inch heights and I will miss them in my clean up and even though they only get one cluster to seed.. it means more work in the end.. better to let them get tall and easy to spot and deal with.

 

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Happy Easter 2017

Wishing all my readers a very happy Easter 2017, I wish you many blessing to come though the year and hope that this weekend, you have done whatever makes your world a happier place be it quiet time, working time, garden time, family time or watching the wee ones hunt for eggs or not.

20170417_101949

My wish for you is this, may you be healthy, may you have loved ones, may you have food on your table, a roof over your head and warm bed..

These are just a few of our new Easter Chicks that hatched overnight and were waiting for us this morning.

The humidity started to drop this morning ( I think because I appear to have done lock down perhaps one day early, so in a tag team this morning.. we worked as fast as possible to move the chicks out, topped up the water and put it back into lockdown. The Humidity came right back up, the temps just barely moved and within an hour, we had a lot of new first tooth egg cracking starting.  At the moment, we have another seven starting..

Normally I would say NEVER open it doing that 24 hour window.. but as they say.. there is Never do this and then there is.. use your common sense and fix a coming problem before it gets bigger..

So far the chicks hatched look great.. strong, good feet, and bright eyed and eating and drinking and using their heat lamp well. This was our first chick just hatched all wet and tired from coming out of its egg.. its so amazing to watch them unzip the egg and push their way out of it.

This wet little one is the big fluffy darker one that is standing in the food dish in the first photo above.. Its a wet one here on the farm today, so we are puttering in the house and other then outside chores, its a inside day.

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