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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Milestone

Notes from the farm...
Hot, Hot, Hot!
Farmers never seem to be happy with the weather, but from what I’ve heard a lot of non-farmers were getting sick of the heat as well! We were a little worried about the chickens and turkeys in the heat, but they seem to be faring well. Once again I am glad to be raising the “heavy red” birds rather than the commercial “white rock” breed – I’ve heard of others that have been losing their meat chickens in the heat wave. My heavy reds are bred for free-range systems and are more tolerant to heat, cold, etc.

Our turkeys have been having the hardest time in the heat – I discovered, though, that they enjoy getting a “cold shower” with the hose, so I have been cooling them off that way. The ducks are doing great and don’t seem to mind the heat at all!

Our vegetables have been affected by the heat/drought as well: our early peas haven’t been doing as well as expected at all, but the next crop looks good so far, and the carrots are way behind where I expected them to be. The tomatoes and squash, however, are loving the heat and are growing well! Our cucumbers are late, but the plants look bigger and healthier than any other cukes I’ve grown in the past so I expect a good yield.  

OSEB Program is Done!
Rowantree Farms marked a business milestone last week – I graduated from the Ontario Self-Employment Benefits (OSEB) Program. This provincial program helped me start my business with 6 weeks of intensive business training last October-December, plus access to regular business classes and mentorship as well as financial support while the business was in its “launch phase”. I can’t say enough good things about this program or the organization that delivered it: Sudbury Learning Initiative. Without this support I would not have been able to launch my farm business in the same way.

Allison Muckle
Rowantree Farms
705-694-0165

Monday, 11 July 2011

Herding Turkeys

Notes from the farm...
In the news!
You may have seen us in the news these past two weeks. MCTV came and filmed the laying ducks, and then we had a a great article in Northern Life! We’ve already had a good response from people who saw the media coverage and have been asking to buy duck eggs. We’ve had interest in meat chickens and vegetables as well, but we are currently sold out of both.

Herding Turkeys:
We conducted a little experiment this year when it was time to put the turkeys outside for the summer. Whereas we usually catch, crate and carry our poultry from the barn to the field across the road each summer, I wasn’t relishing the idea of doing this for 50 turkeys! We decided to try herding them across the road and it was a big success. Progress was slow, but the turkeys stuck together and we didn’t encounter any cars. This is definitely something we will try in the future and we think the stress level of the birds was a lot lower this way. We wished we’d had a video camera because it was quite a sight to see! 

Vegetable Report:
After that big rainfall and then many days of sun, the vegetables are growing well! Last week out veggie boxes contained a good variety of vegetables: spinach, garlic scapes, radishes, green onions, sunflower sprouts, head lettuce, lettuce mix, mint and rhubarb! The first snow peas are out and there should be a lot more peas on the way. We even have a few small zucchinis almost ready for picking. The greenhouse tomatoes are thriving and we are crossing our fingers for a big harvest in August. We have tried planting lettuce mix and tomatoes in the same bed to save space and it seems to be going well.

Mama Hen adopts “large” family:
One of our hens went “broody” about a month ago so I gave her a few fertile chicken eggs to sit on. Only one hatched successfully, but this gave me an idea...the single Ameraucana chick had hatched only 2 days before I was due to receive another 50 day-old laying chicks. When I got my 50 chicks, I brought the box into the brooder pen where “mama hen” had her chick. As soon as she heard the peeping she jumped up and began clucking at my feet and I could almost hear her saying: “give me my babies!”. I let the chicks out and she began to frantically try to herd all 50 chicks to a corner of the pen where she could watch over them. Since then she has become their adopted mother and I once spotted all but about 10 chicks huddled underneath her body and wings while she snuggled them close for warmth – how she fit them all I do not know! Adopting 50 chicks is a pretty amazing feat and has earned this chicken a secure place on our farm for years to come. Now all she needs is a good name...any suggestions?

Allison Muckle
Rowantree Farms
705-694-0165