January 3, 2013

Best medicine

On Dec 21 winter officially arrived. According to the solstice and the weather man.  We got snow for Christmas and the Cows.  They love being out in it, keeps their feet clean, they get exercise and bit less work on our end (by way of less bedding inside the barn and spreading of manure - they do it themselves how perfect!)

Cows out for the afternoon, Jan 3 2013 -8 Celsius

This is calf feeding on the milk bar in winter
This was the first configuration for winter calf huts...it didn't work, they had too much exposure to the road             
Second configuration for calf housing in winter.   Calves from 1 week -1 year. The small white huts are mixed in to seal up the solid wall and provide for the really little one's.  I have seen up to 3 small calves pack into a small hut to keep warm. They know what they need, its amazing to watch them. I will also add that we purchased these open front houses in kits from Weber Farm Supply in Elmira Ontario. They were delivered by a speedy Mennonite named Bobby on a rainy day in September one week from time of order.  The kits came with everything pre cut and explicitly marked with directions.  They are double walled and portable (they have hooks on the bottom for moving) and all we had to do was assemble.  Lemme tell ya a nail gun is a very very worthy tool when you have 4 of these things to build.  I would highly recommend them to anyone with animals.  Even Mamma and The Dolly Llama go in there. 

January 1, 2013


I went for a delightful run this morning. First trek out in 3 weeks. Yeah, the mile-a-day thing didn't work out. On account of a massive cold/flu/strep throat incident.  Here's to running a mile a day from Jan 1 to Feb 14.  land mark days people...its important to keep me running.  The footing was amazing on the roads today, snow covered and lots of frozen bits for grip. I could really embrace the "down hill, forefoot, lean into it training" and feel confident. 

                                                                         A NYE fire
                                                warm and cozy inside the windbreak (shed)

December 2, 2012

Every day in dec

I signed up to run everyday in Dec...the original challenge is an American one.  #mile a day from thanksgiving to NYE.  I of course am modifying it to suit my life. I'm going to run 20 min everyday=2.6km or 1.6miles. Day 2 - done

October 20, 2012

Life's Good

We are well into fall here in Ontario.  We have enjoyed lovely weather and can't complain because all the girls are still out on pasture (topped up with hay) but never the less living the dream outside.  Like all of North America we lived through a drought this summer.  We had enough rain from may1 - June 30 to qualify for 'excessive rainfall insurance' and still too much rain from july-aug to dis-qualify for 'drought insurance' How that is possible i'm not sure but we are getting by and not complaining. It could have been worse.  The nice fall weather allowed us to make some wrapped oat bales to add to our stored winter feed.  and with some purchased wet bales from a local farmer that sold out - we should have enough...fingers crossed.

One thing i just love about this management style, to be clear grazing animals to make milk, i can do it myself. In these rolling hills of Northumberland County i can move and feed all the animals by just moving a couple zipper-line fences, no intimidating tractors and wagons pushing me around. I think that is why it feels right going this way, I'm confident.  

I'm a better photographer than writer so here is a bit of our story in 2012 - taken from my Blackberry;)
15 heifers moved out of the calf group to the breeding group. BEST PART - we (2 ppl, 1dog) moved them across a road and 2 km through the fields to get to their new paddocks. This can never get old - we're not just farming we're ranching. I was leading them, James on their heels.   It worked well. once cattle get used to moving daily it becomes second nature they just follow along. Never in our wildest dreams could we have imagined doing this with cattle straight out of a free stall -  i would sell our cattle trailer tomorrow -  for serious

Meat birds in a chicken tractor. Moved everyday - they love grasshoppers!

Mamma Llama is a mamma - and she is the dolly-llama

calves on the milk bar - can't even fathom confinement housing for calves ever, ever again.

Calves on alfalfa.  I learned the hard way, but alfalfa was all we had available for calf grazing, and honestly it saved us this year in the drought.  The milk cows grass didn't come back nearly as well as the alfalfa did. 

I get to live here with this view.
as of today - during the day milk cows are getting TMR in feeder wagons in sacrifice pasture. this photo they are on their way home to get milked.  going out to alfalfa hay field at night and growing some nice coats!

March 25, 2012


Our great transition from a traditional confinement dairy farm to a grass based, low cost multi - species way of life continues.   We are welcoming an early spring here in central Ontario with above seasonal temperatures.  We had a mild winter with very little snow that actually did not give great opportunity for cattle to be outdoors.  Snow/rain mix = Ice and the cows had to stay inside for fear of serious injury.    Young stock on the other hand had full opportunity outdoors here are some pictures to share.  Mostly taken with my BB - dust, chafe and what ever else is in my pocket collects on the view finder...the pictures aren't great. 
Milk bar feeding system

All huts were used this winter to accommodate the young stock.  Chopped straw was added 1/week, packs were picked every day.  The calves stayed  clean and  thus dry and warm - and they all developed great coats.    The calves liked to stick together, when given the option they would choose the large 'super huts'.  I did  notice on really cold windy days 2-3 little one's could be found in each of these small huts.  They know what they need.

For next winter we hope to upgrade to 3-4 new wooden structures and a few small huts for the wee ones.  This group of calf shelters are 25 years old and showing their age.  The one on the left took flight twice this winter so now the roof is barely holding on.  The location of this paddock/winter refuge yard proved a good wind break with a woods and hill on the west side.  I hope to keep it as a calf refuge area in the years to come for those reasons. 

The calves would spend most of their time during the day outside.

We had two hay feeders made up for winter feeding, custom made with a nice height off the ground for calves of all ages to get access to hay and wet balage.   No grain fed. 

September 12, 2011

refashion in use

I wore my trusty overall dress to the Warkworth Fair Saturday night - with my boots of course. Camera phone pic = teeny tiny. Pattern mixing stripes and plaid too - Ouu, so trendy

August 11, 2011

Everyone is Moving

Moving has been the theme around here this summer and I think it's fantastic. I love change and nothing can be better than moving and learning new things. To start it all off, James and Lindsay moved into the Farm house with mum early July. Their house on Ward rd. sold in record time and the closing date was just a couple of short weeks off. The succession plan has always been for James to move into the farm house, why not now? with his wedding just weeks away. Mum found a place in town she became quite smitten with and so the moving of 30 years of stuff out of a 3 story farm house became a second job for my sister and I. We quickly organized a moving sale and set off to unload unwanted/unused items. All said and done we made some cash and got rid of junk.

Our calves on pasture have just taken their first big move. you can see them here in this picture, they are mere flecks in the middle of this 5 acre paddock. Our hope is that the fresh start will lessen some of the dis-ease that was causing major sickness among these little guys. Coccidiosis, found in the old paddock was tormenting these young cattle to no end and living a life on meds was not something i want for them. Movement is the best practice for all health aspects of cattle care flies, and earth born disease like Coccidiosis especially.

In this photo you can see our meat pullets in a chicken tractor. James built three of these this summer, 2 for meat birds and 1 for laying hens. The idea is that they can eat some grass and live outside. The tractor gets moved every couple of days in order to keep the area clean.

This is a family photo taken at my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary, Just days before they moved into a retirement home. Nana loves that she doesn't have to cook anymore.