Friday Rambles around the table – Being Prepared

Morning..  Come on in.. burr.. it’s still so cold so glad to see you layered up.. this never-ending cold just keeps on.. did you hear on the radio that this morning, exposed skin can get nipped by frost bite in just 2 minutes.

Let me put the kettle on, let me tell you, I feel really bad for those that are out sleeping rough in this, I know they are trying to bring them in but there is just not enough shelters and so many will not even dream of leaving their dogs who they can’t bring in with them.

I pray that they will all make it though this cold. I know here on the farm and on other ones that the oldest, youngest and anyone that has a underlining weakness will not make it no matter what we all do.

My oldest ewe has been dropping a touch of weight, despite having as much hay as she can eat in front of her face.. it was time to pull her from the flock and move her to her own pen where she could get extra grain to add in the extra calories.  She totally agreed as she penned herself.. she knows what “jugging means” quiet time, room service and extra grains, normally done when birthing, or if you are the daily milking sheep as being trained.

She is very happy in her extra comfy pen in the croft and is hog happy on her hay and extra sheep rations. I am hoping for one last ewe lamb from her to replace her in the flock, it’s getting to that time, where you have “the talk” with yourself.  She is at the point where her teeth are starting to be an issue.

The rest of the flock is doing good but I am expecting my first lambs in the next ten days and boy do I hope they can just hold off a touch longer so that the worst of this cold will break. I will need to do a touch of the before lambing shearing on my wool girls soon, but I don’t want to take anymore then needed.. they need that protection right now in a big way.

I have been seeing on the news that folks have been driving without being prepared for this cold, that’s just crazy! Things break down in the cold, the other day hubby’s bus that he picks up at the park and ride had NO HEAT the whole trip in.. it was a very long cold trip that was for sure.

Thankfully he is wearing his Canadian goose down big winter jacket, it’s the one that can go -45 that we got for when we lived in the arctic. However there were others not nearly so well prepared.

Not everyone can afford one of those jackets and I heard on the radio that in a number of places in the states that those that are wearing them can be robbed, I have no idea how common that is, but on the day they had it on, they said that five people had been robbed that day..  and the average in the one area was three jacket robberies per day.  It’s easy to take, on average the big jackets are worth about a thousand new and have good resell value.

I have not heard of anyone being robbed of their Canadian goose down jackets up here in Canada but you can’t keep track of everything even me who pretty much listens to different news radio all day long as I work away!

Everyone and I do mean everyone should have a winter car kit in their vehicle, everyone should have a grab bag with extra winter cloths in it and at least a few of those auto hand and toe warmers. Don’t forget your candles either.. while the flashlight on your phone will work, you do not want to drain your battery.

And while the little battery lights are cute and safe, they will not give off any warmth at all.. keeping a little candle holding gear so you can get that bit of warmth is worth it.

Prepping in some ways has gotten a bad rep in some ways due to the “shows on TV” and because in some cases folks go right over to the “its all a big X Y or Z threat” or they are dreaming about be the “big guy”  Some times people can be a bit silly on these things.

However to BE PREPARED is in fact a very good thing.

If you are going camping, being prepared is the difference between a good time and depending on where you are.. a  very bad time indeed.

If you are going on a long horse back ride, you prepare ahead, you need the right tack, the right gear for yourself.. going unprepared is pure foolishness.

Even in gardening. to not prepare your soil, your bed for the planting would be foolish and lead to far more failures than it would to success.

Yet when it comes to being well prepared for weather events, there is a lack of understanding or willingness to prepare..  Just because you have CCA and a phone does not mean you will get a tow in very short order.. the worst the weather, the more calls going out and the longer it will take.

There are many folks that are dealing with cold in area’s that are not used to this kind of cold, and it does not take much to come off a road and ditch the snow bank.. just a touch too much speed, when its this cold, the salt on the roads does not work and with so much snow, the snow plows are out full stop but they are not keeping up. It’s just math!

So make me happy.. Take a good hard look at your winter car kits, add a few more things to them. Head down to your local second-hand shop or your dollar stores and pick up some extra winter gear and drop it off to the centers that help the folks that rough it.

Give the gift of a warm meal, a warm hat or scarf or thick warm socks, every little bit helps..

Stay warm out there folks!


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Farmgal’s Photography Jan 31st

This is the new BOSS sunflower seed only with suit feeders on the end.. so far I have not had a lot of the bigger birds use it, but the black Cap Chickadee’s love it!

We got out to our local cheese factory and they have the huge cow mural on their wall, I just had to try and get a good photo of it..  No matter how I tried.. It still gives you “wild” cow eye lol.

I loved this warm glow of the sun coming though my big spruce tree.. It spoke of warmth to come. It was so lovely to have the sun come out.

No matter how cold, No matter how much snow, No matter how overcast on a grey day..  Little miss Fluffy pants had to follow us around the farm while we did chores.. She is positive she must come with us..

There were a few time’s I had to pick her up and bring her in the house to warm up as she was doing the foot dance.. but to give her credit.. most of the time she was our chore kitten.

Leeloo’s Motto in life.. ME Too.. Me Come.. Me Can Do It!

I hope you have enjoyed a months worth of weekly Farmgal’s Photography. I have enjoyed picking up the camera and I have enjoyed sharing it with you guys.

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2019 Year of the Pumpkin

I love the Laid Back Gardener Blog and he has done a outstanding job (as he does) on talking about the fact that 2019 is the year of the pumpkin.

Enjoy his post, it will tie in nicely when I talk about my own plans soon in regards to growing squash and pumpkins for 2019.

Laidback Gardener

Every year, the National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization promoting the pleasures of home gardening, selects one annual, one bulb, one edible plant and one perennial to celebrate. It’s a great way to discover a new plant or to learn a bit more about a plant you may already be growing.

Let’s look at the edible plant chosen for 2019, the pumpkin.


For many, pumpkins are associated with autumn, sweet desserts, and Halloween.

20190131B Wild pumpkins are small and hard-shelled. Photo:

Pumpkins are believed to have been domesticated in Mexico about 5500 B.C. Originally, the fruit was small with a hard shell and was grown mostly for its edible seeds. Native Americans would also either roast and consume strips of pumpkin flesh, or dry the skins and weave them into mats. Over time, varieties with thicker, less fibrous flesh were developed and used for human consumption.

It is believed…

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Canning Log Jan 2019

I am going to see if I can make this work for 2019, we will see.. its never easy at all to do something like this, forget even a few times and it slips though the cracks.

So I need to do some side notes on these..

Things I am including in the cost per jar.

  • Cost of the food in the jar itself
  • Cost if any of what is the liquid in the jar
  • Cost if any of the spices in the jar
  • Cost of the new lid per jar
  • Cost of the energy per water bath load or per pressure canner load

Things I am not including in the cost per jar

  • My time
  • cost of the jar, its a sunk cost.. some of the jars were gotten for free, some at 10 or 25 cents at farm sales, most gotten by the case on year end sales.. I currently have around 1650 jars give or take a few.

Regardless it was done in half pints, pints quarts or half gallons.. all Jars listed are rounded up and or down into pints.

Canning done in Jan 2019

  1. 18 pints of potato’s -Cost per pint jar .62 cents
  2. 4 pints Orange Cranberry Jam  Cost per pint jar 1.76
  3. 4 pints Mixed Veggie Soup-.44 cents per jar
  4. 14 Pints of Dark Baked Beans .63 cents per jar
  5. 7 Pints of Lemon Marmalade -.88 cents per jar
  6. 2 Pints salted cured Lemons- 1.16 per jar
  7. 12 Pints lemon vinegar cleaner(scape lemon parts)- .33 per jar
  8.  5 pints of Lemon Syrup – .65 cents per jar
  9. 5 pints of lime syrup- .89 cents a jar
  10. 6 pints kiwi jam 1.45 per jar

Jan Jar count.. 77 pints


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Snow and Deep Freezing Cold!

We have all seen the weather reports, we have seen the warnings. skin will freezer in meer minutes. We have been battling it here on the farm and its nasty.

We now have record breaking amount of snow for my area for the month of jan!

There are positives to this deep cold!

Snow Positive’s 

Snow turns into water in the spring. This is a good thing for the farm overall and the area, we have been in a level 2 drought for most of 2018.. we hit some level 3 drought in 2016 leading to one of the worst crop/hay season I have seen since being here.. then we had massive flooding in spring of 2017. It would be a very good thing indeed to have the snow pack melt out and help us have a slower more steady start to our spring!

Snow is insulation.  This snow is just plan good for my plants, trees and so forth. Its outstanding insulation for their roots, it will create a protective barrier to the winds where its most needed!

While it seems odd to those that live in the city, here on the farm.. Snow can mean warmth! Once you get a good cover of snow on walls or over top prepared layers it creates a shield .. think a version of igloo. This is a very good thing when managed correctly. You can move things by shovel or by snow blower or by ditch digger with critter power.

Cold Positive’s

Deep Cold will help kill off those “warmer season” ticks that have been enjoying our last few mild winters and blooming in terms of populations.. This is an Outstandingly good thing.. I will take another four to six weeks of good old-fashioned Cold Canadian Winters in return for a massive tick die off for the coming year and ideally for a couple more years to come as it will take time for it to come back.  (now, the ticks should be heading down anyway in the coming year to a point because last year was going to be our worst year due to the mice boom and bust breeding cycles) Still this cold will have a much greater effect on the lime carrying ticks, and that is a very good thing indeed.


Deep Cold is a great thing in regards to killing off pest larva. 

The Emerald Ash Borer Larva should be deeply effected by this very cold winter! That’s just excellent news.

Winter mortality for emerald ash borer is definitely temperature dependent. The larvae can supercool to a certain point, but they die if they freeze, and there is variability in tolerance among individual insects. A recent study from the Forest Service (Venette and Abrahamson–see attached) in Minnesota showed that 5% of the insects die at 0F, 34% at -10F, 79% at -20F and 98% at -30F.

This is just one example of how the deep cold can be helpful in this regards.

Squash Beatles have been going crazy the last couple years locally. Mild winters, combined with warm/hot springs means we have been getting two cycles of squash bugs, where I used to only have to worry about one most years.

Its been bad enough that on our local gardening group, there are gardeners that had such losses over the past few years that they are talking about not growing any in their gardens in 2019. Of course looking to the solid stemmed types will help greatly, compared to planting the more hollow stem kinds.

Still the cold has already been long enough that we will see a great reduction of the amount of adult beatles that are alive in the spring and if the snow and cold sticks around enough that we do not have an extreme” spring we will not only have a massively reduced adult breeding load but we should be starting our warm planting season at a more normal timing which means that we should only have one breeding season, instead of two!

So all those folks that love gardening! 2019 will be a good year in the squash garden in regards to not having as many squash beatles..   That’s worth another couple of days of the deep freeze! O yes it is!

I hope that this post made you think a little bit about how this cold or snow or combo of both of these are in fact helping the long term outlook for the coming year of 2019!




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Lets talk turkey.. Turkey Raising Plans for 2019

I have raised a lot of rare heritage breed turkeys over the years, trying this breed and that breed.. Royal palms are my personally favorites..

However they are very hard to come by, no hatchery locally carries them and their out just over priced in a crazy way at the local bird sales..

I have been over the past few years raising more rabbit meat and less turkey..  I have been able to buy local farm raised turkeys at a good price point if I want to have one or two over the year.

However 2018 was the odd year out. I did not raise any here on the farm, I didn’t like the prices of any raised locally (wow, the price went up) and I didn’t buy any from the store raised in a mass factory..

*I did buy a local Ontario turkey to have the thanksgiving dinner for Jason’s mom.. but that was a special event..

The thing is.. I missed having turkey in the house. It does have its own flavour that other meats so not.

What I do not like is the cost of raising them.. No really.. Heritage turkeys are food pigs that do not give good meat/feed rates,  heritage pullets are costly and that’s putting it nicely.

So what am I going to do?

I am meeting half way.. I am going to be buying turkey day old’s from the hatchery. I will be getting two types, both meat based.. not heritage based. Both White turkeys breeds.

One is the traditional “white breasted” that would be what is raised in the mass production houses but will be raised my way.

One will be the “mini Classic” they say? they have bred down the traditional white breasted bird to about half the size but keeping the fine flavour, the outstanding growth rates per the feed done.

They also say that these ones can still naturally breed.  If this is the case and I like them, then I will consider holding over a breeding pen of them for the winter of 2019.. we will see

The min order per unsexed is 8 per breed..

I am thinking of ordering in either 10 or 14 of each breed, that is still a touch up in the air yet.  I will be raising between 20 to 28 turkeys in 2019.

I am hoping that my single remaining turkey hen will take on some of the mothering duties, she is a very good momma and I have no doubt that she will lay and sit and will be very surprised when a clutch arrives under her in the near dark.

I will be raising them in two grow out pens, the larger ones will go to the momma hen and then mini classics will go into their own with heat lamp.

I think that because they grow so fast, that they need to be split out size wise, I will see if I am right on this or if I change it at a later point.

Have you raised the mini-classic’s?  Are you raising turkey’s this year? What is your favorite heritage turkey breed? and can you easily get access to them in your local area?


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Fast and Easy Lemon Honey Pastry Puffs

It’s a grand idea to have a box of puff pastry sheets or phyllo Sheets in the freezer for when you need to make a fancy dessert or a quick and easy tea treat that is sure to delight!

I pulled out a half roll 8 sheets total of the phyllo sheets and let them come to room temperature, in a small bowl I melted butter and I brushed the inside of each sheet with butter, layer after layer.

Once all together, I carefully spread a mix of very thinly sliced Lemon rinds that had been soaking in honey for a week over the top, leaving about an inch on the outside of the dough.

Rolled it up, sliced it into rounds, into a muffin tin, a drizzle more of lemon bits in honey on top each one and into the 375 degree oven for 15 min (I started checking at 12 min but went 14 min).  They came out golden brown edged and bubbling in the middle.

Get them out of the muffin tin before they cool down and onto wax paper or  non-stick mat to cool (fill the muffin tin to soak right away so it does not dry on hard).  I will admit that a few of them might have been eaten warm.. They were a drippy gooey delightful mess.

However I recommend that you consider serving as I did above, a tiny bit of sugar dusting, a bit of dark chocolate sauce to pop that honey lemon and a few fresh bites of fruit to cut the sweetness now and again..

I do hope you will try these at least once because if you do, you will make them again!

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Thick Plum Wool Knitted Winter Scarf

In this cold winter, knitting a couple new items just seems like a great idea, I have not picked up the needles in far to long.. it seems like so many things I love to do got pushed to the side in the past while

Its lovely that I am getting back to many of them again.. knitting is a very soothing, relaxing thing to me.

I can not get a good photo under fake lights of this amazing color.. the color above in the knitted rolled scarf flower is the true color in natural lighting 🙂

I stopped into the Canadian Wool Growers on a trip I made and picked out this great hand dyed wool made from local Canadian sheep’s wool.. Its so thick and o so soft and being fully real wool, its so warm as well!

I will need to head back that way as I need to pick up some Sheep Vaccines/Tags and a few other things in the near future. I expect I will be popping over into the wool section again.

Do you knit? Are you working on a project right now? I am not sure what my next project will be.. we will see..



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Dogwood 52 Photography 2019 – Week 4

Week 4 was a great challenge for me, I refused to have the basic idea of a hot cup of coffee, or feet by the fire.

The goal was to “tell a story that made you feel warmth”  Considering our weather, this made things quite difficult in a number of ways!  I finally snapped this amazing photo of my boy’s loving on each other in the afternoon sunshine (it was only -16)

This was my backup..  As anyone in my local area knows that as the sun comes out and the days get longer, the Asian’s start waking up.. this was the first one I have seen so far.



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Farmgal’s All Seeing Eye 2019 – Jan

Do you make money?

Ya but what did it cost you to raise that chicken?

But if you had to buy it, what would it be worth?

What do you spend to have what you have?

But it does not cost that much to keep those critters?

Why does it cost you so much to raise that lamb?

Why do you spend so much on seeds?

Its got to be cheaper to just buy it in the stores.

Ok folks.. I am going to break a unspoken homesteading rule.. I am going to talk numbers! AHHHHHH.. run for the hills.. stats, data.. hard costs.. Hauling costs, Butcher costs and more.

LOL, no really, now that I am done poking fun at things, lets get to the meat of things.

Those are honestly real questions I have been asked over and over again.

So the first thing we have to do is get a full grasp on what I have on the farm at this time.

We started the new year here on the farm with..

  • 3 dogs (two farm/house dogs and one adorable house dog)
  • 6 cats (mix of outside farm cats only and indoor/outdoor farm cats)
  • 2 Geese (bonded)
  • 1 turkey hen
  • 25 Adult chickens (breeding pen of four purebred) the rest mixed breed
  • 12 adult ducks
  • 2 adult breeding rabbits
  • 10 Grow out rabbit kits
  • 3 goats – Two Does and One Buck
  • 1 pig
  • 13 sheep
  • 2 horse’s
  • Pastures
  • Gardens
  • Hard Fruit Tree’s
  • Cane Fruit Garden’s
  • Soft Fruit Bushes

Now everything listed up there has their own roles on the farm, some of them are ready for butcher and will be done over the next while.. There will be changes to the breeding programs, the meat growing programs and so forth over the year.

This is my first year that I am totally pulling back on raising extra farm gate meat for sale.. the meat raised on the farm is for our own farm use only. If this changes, I will make notes on that.  Eggs however are open for farm gate sales.


All milk/milk products are for on farm use only!

Seeds/plants and plant productions are open to a point for use in farm gate sales

Photo sales directly related to the farm or farm critters will count towards farm income, however photography sessions and or sales not related to the farm or the farm critters does not count towards it.

The first thing to go will be the yearling sheep now that they are getting nice and big, they are ready to be done.. as I was growing them for my own use I prefer them to be larger/older then the “average” lamb. I very much like hoggart (over one year in age, but not older then two years of age)

The pig is ready for butcher as well.. its on the list but the weather must get better.

The intend is to grow less meat overall, but a wider kind of types and increase the amount of fruit/veggies/herbs we are growing.   I can raise livestock at a rate on the farm out pace’s our own needs very easily.   This is something that I need to pull back on!

So the out costs this month are in (I am early but I will not need to be buying anything more so I can round this one up ahead of time and get it out)

There are some things that were gotten before the start of the new year but I am not going backwards on this only forward, I will include it in the costs only if I buy it after 2019. Example, we are using straw as bedding, but its not being included in the costs until it comes in new bale for the new year.

I will do a different on the single critter cost out.. here is a beef example from years past.

Ok so here is our numbers for Jan

  • Hay Costs – $300
  • Feed Costs – $243
  • Vet Costs- $122
  • Ferrier Costs- $100


  • 21 dozen Eggs (at 5 dollars a dozen, which is the average cost for farm gate eggs Mix of chicken/duck eggs) – $105

So we finish the month of Jan in the hole LOL

In the Red by $660

What a great start to the year!

Honestly I am not worried, I know that the farm “saves” us money and that we get a yield back on our investment in a big way, plus we know how the animals are raised, the food grown and the processed.

I have tried to do a hard track year but things keep getting in the way.. the last time I did a full hard track year and was successful at doing so ALL year long was a while go.. I need to do so this year and get a firm grasp on where we were, and where we are.

However having said that, in many ways we are starting a lot of the yard/gardens over again because of what happened last year.  This will means many things will be up in the air in regards to what can and will get done.

Throw in the fact that we are in for a wild weather ride and we will see..




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