Monday, 22 August 2011

Farm Tour

Notes from the farm...

Farm Tour!!!
We are hosting a FARM TOUR here next Monday August 29th as part of the Educational Farm Tour series offered by Eat Local Sudbury and the FarmON Alliance. If you are a member of ELS, you can get free transportation out here – but you must contact Amy ASAP at The tour starts at Heart and Soil Gardens in Chelmsford at 10:30am, and then visitors will be arriving at Rowantree Farms at 12:30pm. You can also just meet us at the farm using your own transportation of course! We would love to see you!

Feed Change – important!
The price of our certified organic feed has been going up and up since the Spring, and the latest jump was a big one so I called the feed mill to find out what is going on. We found out that they ran out of Ontario organic grains and were shipping our feed in from the mid-western US states. This doesn’t sit well with us – we want to support organic production, but feel the environmental cost of shipping the feed thousands of miles is too high, plus we feel strongly about supporting Ontario farmers.
What to do? We’ve decided (with much thought!) to switch to the “Maitland Valley Naturals” line of feeds which:
  • ·         Is certified/tested non-GMO (no genetically modified organisms)
  • ·         Has no antibiotics or medications
  • ·         Is grown in Ontario
  • ·         But, is grown conventionally – likely with the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
We will be switching over sometime in September for ALL of our livestock (laying ducks, laying hens, meat chickens and turkeys). We wanted to keep all of you informed of the change, and also explain why we made this decision.

Snapshot Farm Tour!
For those of you who can’t make the farm tour, we finally took some pictures of the pasture across the road and I’ve labelled everything so you can get an idea where the livestock are located:

So, starting on the left, you can see our 3 “chicken tractors”:
These follow the Joel Salatin model of meat chicken production. These chicken pens have no bottoms, so the chickens can eat all the grass and bugs they like and scratch in the ground as chickens like to do. We move the pens every day (or every other day when they are young) to fresh, clean grass. The pens also ensure they are protected from predators.
If you look hard you can see some white dots near the chickens, which are our 5 Embden geese. They have a shelter for the night, but otherwise they roam wherever they want – they mostly like to hang around where the chickens have been to eat any grain the chickens might have missed!
Turkeys and Ducks:
Moving further to the right you can see our turkeys and ducks each have their own “paddocks” fenced with electrified nets (to keep out the foxes and bears!). You can see the white turkeys outside their yellow shelter (a modified “tarp garage” from Canadian Tire). We move their shelter every other day within their enclosure. Tomorrow the whole turkey enclosure (fencing and shelter) will be moved to the far left half of the pasture so the grass in their old enclosure can grow back. I can’t see the ducks outside in this picture, so they may either be hidden by the trees or inside their shelter - they really like to hang out in their shelter (a white hoop-style enclosure) because they drink HUGE amounts of water and that’s where their water is located. We move the duck enclosure every night because they are MESSY birds!
The pasture where the birds are located right now is about half of what we fenced this year. We haven’t had to use the other half yet this year, but the turkeys will be heading out there tomorrow.
Oh, and if you are wondering where the laying hens are, they are up near the house. They spend their nights in our small log barn (circa 1930) and roam around in a large area fenced off with electrified netting. They also have a small chicken wire coop out back of the barn where they can go outside before we let them out into their “paddock” in the morning – the roosters love to go out back to crow starting around 5:00am!

Geese Update:
Finally, I’ll leave you with a picture of our geese. Geese are supposed to be able to live (and grow) eating only fresh plants and bugs from the pasture (except when they are babies, when they require grain). We are experimenting with our 5 geese to see how they do eating only fresh forage. HOWEVER, these geese are greedy creatures! You can see them here doing what they do every night – stealing some of the grain from the chicken-bucket before we get a chance to pour it into the chicken feeders. I like how you can see some grain flying through the air as they chow-down!!


Allison Muckle
Rowantree Farms


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