Learning How to Farm
Has been the most inspiring and painful adventure of my life. Starting out with no previous farm experience, I have gained a lot of knowledge and skills since 2007! I know what I like and don’t like about it. I know that every day contains a little shit and an a little happiness! I know that time minutes spent in the barn or on the land is more fulfilling and rewarding than any vacation or holiday. So I farm!
Life truly is a journey and you can learn more about mine here ABOUT Me.
I operate a Farm Store on my farm, and on-line and I am a pasture and grass farmer who uses sustainable, ecological, humane and organic farm practices and principals. I raise a variety of animals, respectfully and environmentally on 50 acres of land located on highway 6 in Grey County.
I focus on making more organic matter than the land would naturally make on its own. By allowing and assisting the carbon cycle and soil food web to flourish and increase my farm lands fertility naturally, without synthetic inputs. And I am not alone!
A COLLECTION OF PASSIONATE FARMERS
Over the years, I have been lucky to have met and partnered up with some amazing local alternative farmers. Together we grow a huge selection of respectfully raised, pastured, 100% grass-fed and Certified Organic meats, dry goods and produce.
Each farmer specializes in growing the best quality meats, dry goods or produce and together we offer you a huge collection of the best food in Ontario. Together we have changed how food is sold in Ontario and how animals are grown. 15 years ago finding a farm that raises heritage pigs outside was difficult, now we are all over the place. 11 years ago when my dream to be a farmer was just a dream, it was difficult to find pastured chicken, duck and turkey, or 100% grass-fed lamb or soy free pork.
Now, we all work hard to raise the very best quality foods to share with you!
Our animals are provided with free access outside; weather and predator permitting. The old adage, “your chickens always come home to roost” is true. Our free-run laying hens and meat birds, all come indoors to roost just before the sun goes down and the weasels, coyotes and raccoons come out. Each night we shut the door to their coups to ensure they have a safe place to sleep.
We feed all our animals (except for the 100% grass-fed beef, lamb and bison) mixed organic (Certified Organic and Organically grown)grain feed rations in order to provide them with minerals, salt and kelp,(a sea weed which is full of good nutrients). These organic and natural supplements are a proactive approach to health. We also feed shell flour, a tried and true organic method that reduces parasites naturally. All feeds are free of antibiotics, hormones and synthetic additives.
All the grains we grow or purchase are grown organically by a few farmers in Grey County or ordered from Halma Organic Grains Inc. We are this regions Halma Organic Grain Dealer and Bio-Ag Dealer. We sell Certified Organic Grain and Animals Health, Soil and Farm supplies to other small farmers. If you are a fellow Eco Farmer and need any feed, mineral, seed or soil amendments, please email or call for Price Lists. We make our living selling locally and we do the same when purchasing.
The Pastured Pigs are born in the barn in the spring and fall and are big enough to stand the cooler nights when we put them outside to enjoy the full spring, summer and fall growing season. We give them shelters so they cuddle together in their straw bedding. Sometimes at night, you can hear them snorting around for a midnight snack of fresh grasses. By the end of the summer, we have a nicely worked area from their rooting and digging.
We cut and bale our own hay; fortunate to have land that has a lot of old perennial grasses that have been used as pasture and hay fields for more than 15 years.
As Grass farmers, our entire farm operation relies on the health of our soil and the grass it provides. All the animals on our farm are on pasture. We use organic and ecological soil management practices to maintain the soil health. This includes fertilizing with manure produced only on our farm and only after it has been properly composted. Proper composting encourages worms and that wonderful good bacteria. The finely textured perennial grasses that are native to Grey County grow well on our hilly clay based soil. We have spent a lot of time and energy since purchasing the farm in 2006, improving the soil, hay and pasture lands.
In many fields, we don’t take a second cut of hay, but we cut it short and leave it to feed the soil, this is called green manure and it helps improve the organic matter in the soil. Or we fence the field and let the cattle eat it off and they leave their manure as a really awesome fertilizer! Saves diesel fuel too.
When needed, we lightly rake or disk the top of the clay soil to open it up before winter to help flatten out the ground and break up the top layer of soil so it accepts frost seeding in the spring. The existing grass remains while the new seed is allowed to find a place to live.
We perform soil tests regularly so we know if what we are doing is working, or what direction to look to next to improve soil fertility and the carbon cycle.
All our animals drink from the same fresh well water we drink. We have fenced around ditches and creeks to keep our pasturing animals out to ensure safe drinking water and fulfill our goal of being good stewards of our small piece of land. We have added a livestock yard and manure storage area to ensure we store our natural fertilizer safely.
Accurate records of what works and what does not work with our soil conditions and trial and error both prove to be helpful in developing the best plan for the needs of our land. Our system seems to be working for us as our land is responding by becoming a stronger partner in growing better grasslands and producing more hay to feed our animals.
We treat illness or health issues first with herbal or natural remedies. The few ailments we have experienced were treated first with herbal tonics, essential oils and extra care. We have very few health challenges, due to good house-keeping and no crowding. Our beef cattle have a low parasite count, so it seems the organic, no drug approach is working.
Most illnesses have been remedied without the intervention of antibiotics or drugs. Any animals raised for meat that have received medications, have not been sold as meat but utilized in other areas, for breeding or sold at market.
Thank you for your interest in How We Farm. Check out the rest of our website for more details, or Contact Us to send an email, give me a call with any questions or stop by the Farm Store, no appointment necessary.
All the best,