northernhomesteader


Let it snow…?
February 26, 2012, 8:01 am
Filed under: Chicken, Chicks, Coop, Farming, Gardening, Homesteading, Livestock, Organic, Pig, tractor | Tags: , , , ,

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Hmmm…from Friday afternoon when I could see a few patches of grass and was getting excited to start thinking about gardening…to Sunday morning…after receiving more than a foot of snow!

Poor Petunia the Pig is most certainly not impressed. Short legs make for an unpleasant walk through all of this fluffy stuff. Looks like I will be plowing some pig paths shortly…and the driveway!

The chickens don’t seem to mind it too much, although I suspect that they will hang out inside their coop for most of the day.

Well…a the farmers often say…we need the moisture….

Happy snowy Sunday all!

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Horses or Tractors…what do you think?
February 23, 2012, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Animals, Farming, Gardening, Homesteading, Horse, John Deere, Livestock, tractor, work | Tags: , , , , ,

Another great post from Heritage Breed Farms. Definitely worth checking-out their excellent blog too!

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Definitely a tough call….
I think in the end, at least for now with the limited time that I have available for homesteading activities, that I will have to stick with tractor…..



Wordless Wednesday – The Pig and The Pug enjoying breakfast
February 15, 2012, 6:54 am
Filed under: Animals, Blogging, Chicken, Dog, Farming, Homesteading, Livestock, Pig, Pug | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pugsy is one of our two “farm dogs”.  Petunia is our pot-bellied pig.  For a pig, she is not very greedy when it comes to sharing her food with Pugsy, as you can see from the pictures below.  Enjoy!

Petunia & Pugsy enjoying breakfast

Continuing to share breakfast

Breakfast is done...off to visit the chickens!



To do or not to do….where on the list should it go?

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Thank you for this great post over at Not Dabbling in Normal You’ve inspired me to consider the lists in our lives a little more deeply.

Do you have a “to do” list…or does your spouse have a “honey do list” for you? Do you use multiple lists or different areas in your life? Perhaps one for groceries, one for repairs, one for homestead upgrades, one for hobby wants/needs, etc?

I would be lost without my lists, and my wife would definitely also be lost without hers. I am a techy-type, so prefer to keep my lists on my iPhone’s “notes” app or as calendar entries on my Mac. Tanya prefers the large coiled scribbler method. In fact, I am actually writing this blog post in the Notes app…after having added the “lists” idea to my list of blog post ideas….

We most definitely have a number of different areas to build and manage lists from We were able to knock a few off the various lists in 2011, including:

-clear land
-build coop
-get chickens
-get rooster
-get feather plucker
-learn to process chickens
-fencing and fencing and fencing (this one is definitely not complletely finished yet…)
-get pigs
-get rabbits (well..only one doe so far…so that item is also still on the list….)
-provide heat sources for the aforementioned critters…and also keep their various water dishes in a liquid state throughout the winter
-learn how to and make yogurt

Plenty of items on 2012’s list, including:

-get more rabbits
-build rabbitry and rabbit arks
-put in garden
-more fencing and cross fencing
-begin compost piles from all the critters “night soil”
-look at worm bins (as our 2011 worm bin didn’t work out too well!)
-dig a well
-determine and implement alternative heat sources
-explore solar and/or wind power options
-dig a dug out/pond
-consider ducks
-consider goats
-learn how to and then dehydrate food
-learn how to and then can food
-learn how to and then preserve meat through smoking, etc

Should be another fun year!



Predator Patrol

 

This morning while I was waiting to renew our passports I enjoyed an excellent post from http://3acrehomestead.blogspot.com/2012/02/barred-owls.html  They had captured a great picture of a barred owl, and it reminded me of how our ladies (and Flounder) deal with predators.

While I don’t think that we have any barred owls, we do have a resident great horned owl.  Thankfully,  it is not around when our chickens are out, and to date (touch wood) we have not lost any chickens to aerial assault.

While owls don’t appear to be a problem for us, Red-tailed hawks are a different story all-together.  They are a constant aerial visitor year-round, and our hens stay pretty vigilant.

If you have ever noticed a chicken respond to a potential attack from above, it is definitely something to remember.  Being a prey animal and fairly close to the bottom of the food chain, chickens have a lot of potential predators and must remain wary.  However, they are also omnivores and so must eat what they can find.   Mother Nature has provided them with a somewhat unique threat detection and food detection system.  Basically, one eye sees things that are close, while the other eye sees things that are far.  So when chickens are scratching for goodies, they typically will step forward, scratch, step back and then look with the one eye before eating whatever interesting morsel they’ve uncovered.  However in order feel safe, they must keep the other eye to the sky, so to speak.   If and when they spot a threat (be it a hawk, low flying plane, or suspicious cloud formation), they freeze in spot….  After many minutes, they will slowly crank their head so that the far-sight eye is pointed sky ward…and ever-so-slowly scan to see if they have been spotted.  This process can take quite some time before they feel secure once again.

One of my funniest chicken-moments is looking out at the coop yard and seeing one chicken playing statue…while the other chickens are looking at her wondering what she’s doing, as they had only just come out of the coop and missed the hawk flying over.  15 minutes later…all is back to normal again!



King of the Coop

Care to meet one of the newer additions to our little farm family?  This is Flounder, our rescue Ameraucana Cross Rooster.
Why is his name Flounder?  That is an excellent question!  Perhaps his previous owner was a big fan of Disney’s Little Mermaid?  I just don’t see the resemblance between this rooster and a fish of any stripe….  However, Flounder certainly made a “splash” with our feathered ladies when he arrived!
Back at the end of September 2011 I spotted an advertisement for someone who needed to re-home one of their roosters.  This particular rooster was not doing very well in their coop due to a bigger, tougher, and meaner bird who was the dominant male and not afraid to show it.  My wife and eldest daughter went to visit, and came home a few short hours later with our first rooster…traveling in style inside of a spacious dog crate in the back of the SUV….
When Flounder was introduced to the ladies he went straight to work.  It started with fluffing and flapping, then there was some strutting and stretching, and after a short while…crowing!  Yes indeed, our little acreage now has sound effects!  The ladies were all suitably impressed, and for the first few days they all jostled to be the closest chicken to their new man.  Once the revised pecking order was in place, all was well and Flounder was clearly the king of this coop.
Did I mention the crowing?  Somehow we had imagined that roosters only liked to crow in the morning, as a way to welcome the sunrise and say “Hello” to the brand new day.   A rather romantically bucolic notion, don’t you think?   Apparently Flounder did not receive that memo.  Don’t get me wrong, he does like to crow in the early morning.  He also likes to crow in the late morning.  Noon warrants a crow, as does early afternoon and late afternoon.  Evening…you guessed it, also a good time to crow.  Even bed time after lights out is occasionally serenaded with rooster song….  In hindsight, I wonder if Flounder was really being bullied in that other coop…or if his previous owner simply didn’t appreciate the coop-tunes!
Ah well…such is life on the homestead, and to be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way.  In fact since Flounder has joined us, he has been very busy doing his roosterly-duties, and this when combined with one very dedicated broody Silkie hen…means that we now have a few hen-hatched, hen-raised chicks in the coop!  How do you like that?  Thanks Flounder, good job!



From the desk of a brand new blogger….

Well…one of my 2012 New Years resolutions was to finally start a blog….  So here we are, a brand new blog entry from  brand new blogger.

To be honest, I do not really know where to start, so perhaps I will start at the beginning of our journey into self-sufficiency….  Make no mistake, we certainly have not yet “arrived”, but we are definitely closer than where we were 5 years ago.

We own a home that is Southeast of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and we are situated on a 16 acre piece of land at the end of dead-end road.  We have only a handful of neighbors…and plenty of moose and deer who like to visit. We have  two dogs, and many cats.  I am a husband and father of three, and most recently became a grandfather as well.  Our 3 daughters, son-in-law, and granddaughter are all integral parts of this family team, and we are working together to create a better lifestyle for today and for the future.

Back in  2006, we first began to understand the impact of the food that we eat upon our overall heath and well-being.  More accurately…we began to understand the negative impact that the antibiotics, growth hormones, and factory-farming-conditions that our food lived in and with had already had and were continuing to create.  We decided that it had to stop, and began taking steps towards becoming a more organic home.

Wow…talk about a long walk down the road of expensive groceries and supplements!  Thankfully, we have been blessed with a successful business and (mostly) understanding children, and as a result we were able to very quickly move our home from a completely-non-organic home to an almost-all-organic home.   During this time we have learned an awful lot of things, and this blog will help to chronicle some of that.  We have also learned that buying organic is only one way to protect ourselves from what might be in our food….  We have since realized that by growing our own…we can keep a much better eye on our food supply and how it is raised and treated.

What started out as a discussion one cold spring day around whether to try a greenhouse or square foot gardening, and how to go about clearing some of our bush to accommodate these…led to an initial group of four egg-laying hens…which led to more hens, a rooster (and of course subsequent chicks), pot-bellied pigs, and even a rabbit…..  For a family that up until recently had almost always bought their groeries at the local grocery store, and enjoyed many meals in many restaurants…things were about to change for the better.

Some of the topics that I plan to address will be livestock and small farm options, Northern climate gardening issues, preparing for the unexpected, and eventually alternative energy option and ideas.  Along the way I will review various books, DVDs, tools, and equipment that we have used or experienced.  I may also bring in other bloggers and guests, in an effort to share all that we have learned and are continuing to learn.

So, I hope that you will subscribe to this blog, and that you will enjoy what we share.  I look forward to interacting with you through comments, and to bringing you along on our homesteading adventures.

Talk soon!

Jason




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