Just a bit of Garden overview

I have been playing it careful this year, its been a odd spring and my hunch was that we would have late frosts and a longer fall, I have the row covers and more to make that end season longer on some things if needed but overall, I went with a number of quite short season seeds..

So I am well aware that compared to someone that went out and bought starts, my garden is just starting in some ways but given that my last hard frost was less then a week ago, it was the right thing to do for sure..

I also outsourced my tomatos and peppers this year, a fellow garden friend in the area is working on plants this spring and I am all about sharing, (plus she had the most amazing heritage plants so many of them) so I have ordered a whole host of new to me kinds and will grow out and see if I like them and if I adore them, I will save seeds

My early planted crops are rocking, my current seeded out are all up and going well, but we will be planting lots more in the next two to three weeks.

DSCN6461thanks to a friend and some bartering, we were able to come home with precut posts, she was clearing a bit of smaller woods, and I needed garden posts! Win, Win.. This is just a sample of them.. We also have been able to get a number of wood pallets for a different project.

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they will have used older sheep fencing nailed on to them for a total growing height of 4 and half feet

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Some of my early planted greens, beets, turnips, and strawberries in the background.. I am slowly weeding out the middle of the pigweed as we eat it.

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My first rows of planted suger peas are over two and half feet tall at the moment, with my smallest peas being four to six inches tall, all the peas for the year are planted now, grow babies grow

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Hay bale garden, this year we are growing climbing beans over them.. the Beans are up.. there are two sets of beans in each hole, two holes on each side and one on the top of the bale, ideally it will cover the bale in green.

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Mays Off-farm Trip..

On my to do list for this year included taking the time at least once a month to go to a local site or event and get off the farm even if only for a few hours.

We headed out to the Bog for a nice picnic lunch out..

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The Alfred Bog is a little piece of boreal (northern) forest, hundreds of miles south of anything like it. Yet, at 4,200 hectares (10,000 acres), it is the biggest bog of its kind in Southern Ontario, big enough to give refuge to many plants and animals that were stranded as the warming climate pushed the boreal forest northward. This domed peat bog has been building for 10,000 years and shelters many plants and animals that are rare or endangered, some of which are of national significance. Examples include the Bog Elfin butterfly, Fletcher’s dragonfly, spotted turtle, white fringed orchid, Atlantic sedge and rhodora. In fact the bog has been designated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as a “Class 1 Wetland” and an “Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI)”.

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Being a domed peat bog, the Alfred Bog is unlike the kettle bogs most commonly encountered south of the Hudson Bay lowlands. Kettle bogs are found typically in depressions such as those found when a huge block of glacial ice is buried and subsequently melts, leaving a pond in which vegetation has crept in from the edges until the whole surface is covered with a flat, quaking mat. Domed bogs drain in all directions from the dome and the only nutrients received come from rain and snow. The dominant vegetation in both types of bog is sphagnum moss, known to gardeners as peat moss. Sphagnum moss thrives in the interior of bogs where cool, wet, oxygen starved, nutrient poor, acid conditions prevail. The dome is formed over millennia because sphagnum moss has the ability to wick up water from below. These conditions produce a unique community of plants and animals.

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Alfred Bog lies in the east end of an abandoned channel of the Ottawa River . This was the main channel of a great river flowing down the Ottawa valley to the Atlantic Ocean. It drained a glacial lake centred in Manitoba. Because of reduced flow and glacial rebounding, the river abandoned its old channel and moved to its present location. Mer Bleue, lying in the west end of the channel is Alfred’s smaller twin.

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The most significant impact upon the bog over the years has been the conversion of the bog land for agricultural purposes. The first settlers in the area found the bog to be of little use for farming and an obstacle to building roads. Nevertheless, over the years drainage around the margins has reduced it to about a third of its original size.

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Rhurab Goals for 2015 – 300 pounds

I have set goals for a number of the bigger crops in terms of poundage, it would not make sense to do so without having a idea of what things produce.  otherwise I will have little to no way to meet my goals for production this year, I am aiming for 6 tons for house use and putting up for cellar or pantry goals, and 4 tons for the critters.

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Rhubarbs goal for the year is 300 pounds and I am clearly going to make it and then some.. I have 30 plants, and even only doing a half picking of the big stems on them, I am getting between seven to ten pounds per plant so far based on my weights.  I will be only very very lightly picking the biggest stems from my two best plants that are being allowed to go to seed side by side.

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The red rhubarb will be used for baking, canning etc, the big green-pink will be used for relish, rhubarb pickles, rhubarb juice and so forth.. This is my BIG canning bowl, that is 40 cups of diced, washed and ready rhubarb for processing.

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I have firm plans to take a second picking and then some selective picking over the rest of the year..   I will do a final update in the fall on rhubarb total but my spring pickings are going very well indeed..

What is your rhubarb goals for the year..

 

Posted in Food Storage, gardens | 2 Comments

Readers Question

Any idea as to why the beef prices have gone up so high? Feed problems? Mad cow? What is going on with the price of food?!!

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/16/steak-bacon-get-more-expensive-cattle-hogs

“When you to go the meat counter and say, ‘Wow, that steak’s only $3.99.’ But it’s not a pound. It’s eight ounces,” says John Kleist, lead agricultural hedge strategist, eBOTTrading.com, a brokerage and research firm.

The reason steak dinners aren’t getting any cheaper: livestock markets, including cattle and hogs, have seen significant increases in prices, and consumers are feeling the pinch.

There are, to put it simply, fewer animals to eat. During 2014 herd sizes for cattle and hogs were down versus the previous year, and chicken flocks were also lower. It’s an unusual occurrence for all three to have smaller numbers, said analysts at Urner Barry, a firm that closely follows protein prices.

That led to record-high futures prices for cattle and hogs, which translated to high prices at the supermarket meat counter

The origins of the record-high cattle prices lie in ethanol and the 2013 Midwestern drought. Cattlemen compete with ethanol producers for corn. A shriveled US corn crop in 2013 intensified that rivarly and sent grain prices to unprecedented levels. The drought also baked pastures, which is where cattle spend most of their lives.

Unable to profitably feed the animals, ranchers culled them, which caused the herd size to shrink to its smallest tally since 1951 in 2014

Hog production slid in 2013 and into the first quarter of 2014, caused by losses from the highly infectious porcine epidemic diarrhea virus known as PEDv. Infected older pigs at a minimum lose weight, and the disease is usually fatal to piglets. It doesn’t affect humans or meat quality.

But as producers started to better control PEDv, hog futures and wholesale pork prices fell. This year’s drop in corn prices because of a record harvest encouraged producers to, well, pig out

Side note pork prices are holding steady in Canada more so and in some cases went down because our government and the Russian government have been have tit for tat issues.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/russia-sanctions-vladimir-putin-retaliates-sanctions-canada-1.2728885

Canada announced new economic and travel sanctions against Russian banks and high-ranking officials Wednesday, just ahead of Russia issuing its own ban on Canadian agricultural products.

In retaliation against Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree limiting the import of agricultural, raw and food products from countries that imposed sanctions against Russia. The decree lasts for one year, a spokeswoman for the Russian Embassy told CBC News.

Russia’s sanctions on Canadian agricultural products are expected to hit the pork industry, although a spokesman from the Canadian Pork Council said the industry has “not received any official notices that would indicate a disruption in trade at this point

In 2012, Canadian agricultural exports to Russia were worth $563 million, with pork and pork products making up most of the top five exported agricultural products from Canada to Russia. Numbers from 2011 indicate Russia was Canada’s 13th-largest agri-food export market that year, although the pork industry says Russia is Canada’s third-biggest market for its products.

In 2013, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz visited Russia to try to improve exports to the country and announced Canadian livestock companies had signed deals worth up to $11 million. The visit came a month after Russia imposed new restrictions on meat imports

Then come the next hit

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/california-drought-to-squeeze-produce-prices-but-so-will-other-factors-1.3024691

California is the primary source of many of Canada’s imported fruits and vegetables, including:

  • 84 per cent of broccoli and cauliflower.
  • 76 per cent of fresh strawberries.
  • 68 per cent of lettuce.
  • 69 per cent of carrots, turnips and other root vegetables.
  • 89 per cent of almonds.

Prices of some of those products have increased in the past year, but it’s hard to draw a clear line between those increases and the drought, say Bishop and others.

Between February 2014 and February 2015 prices rose 3.5 per cent for fresh fruits and 8.4 per cent for fresh vegetables — compared with overall inflation of 2.1 per cent.

Lettuce prices have jumped about 40 per cent in that period. Part of that is likely due to the shift Californian farmers have made from so-called row crops, such as lettuce, carrots and tomatoes, to higher-value perennial crops like nuts and wine grapes. But it’s hard to separate the effects of the drought from other factors that affect retail prices, such as:

  • Fuel prices, which have been falling and made transport cheaper.
  • The low Canadian dollar, which has made U.S. produce more expensive.
  • Other weather events, such as frost.
  • Labour disruptions, such as the farm workers strike in Mexico, where some produce comes from in winter, and wage pressures.

“Periods of drought often get exaggerated in terms of their impacts on retail food prices,” said Richard Barichello, professor of food and resource economics at the University of British Columbia. “The larger likely effect is to shift land away from producing hay and livestock feed and more into valuable crops.”

No substitute for fruit and veg

The University of Guelph’s Food Institute estimates the price of fruits and nuts will go up between one and three per cent in 2015 while vegetable prices will increases by three to five per cent.

Sylvain Charlebois, lead author of the forecast, says if California produce gets too expensive, Canadian grocers will have to find a cheaper alternative because unlike meat, which can be substituted with other food that provides protein like eggs or fish, fruits and vegetables “have no substitutes.”

And although locally grown produce is finding a foothold in some grocery chains, it could never make up the volume of lost Californian imports

As you can imagine, I really disagree on the idea that we could not produce our own food here in Canada but sadly we hit a real problem..  lets look at bc fruit, they are contracted to sell their crops out of country, we grow it but we are getting eat only small or in some cases non of it..

  • B.C.’s two largest tree-fruit crops are apples and sweet cherries.
  • In 2013, B.C. growers produced more than 103,000 tonnes of tree fruits including apples, sweet cherries, peaches, pears, plums/prunes, nectarines and apricots, as well as other tree fruits. This is almost a quarter of the total Canadian production.
  • B.C. exported $41.7 million in cherries in 2013 with the top markets in Hong Kong, United States, Taiwan and China.
  • B.C. apple exports have increased almost 30% in the past two years. In 2013, B.C. exported $19.1 million in apples and top three markets were the United States, Mexico and Taiwan.
  • The B.C. tree fruit packing industry has just completed more than $5 million in upgrades to its fruit packing equipment and to help packinghouses modernize.

I really could go on, but its just more and more examples of the above, its all interwoven, bottom line..  in a rough quote, when hedge funds start buying farms because the money is made because everyone has to eat.. they want their profits

The prices will rise.. I see no end to it in truth.. grow your own if possible, and I think you will see a even bigger split between the have*s and have nots..

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/soaring-farmland-prices-a-crisis-in-the-making-don-pittis-1.2420223

If you knew there was a very safe Canadian investment that skyrocketed by 20 per cent last year, you’d probably say that was a good thing.

But when the thing that’s going up in value is farmland, Christie Young says it’s a crisis in the making.

The latest survey by Farm Credit Canada shows the price of farmland in Quebec rose by a staggering 19.4 per cent last year. Nationally, Canadian farmland from coast to coast has risen by an average of 12 per cent a year since 2008. That’s more than five times the rate of inflation.

For people who already own farmland, soaring prices are a windfall.

But Young, executive director of FarmStart, a group trying to help young farmers get into the business of farming, says Canada is facing a sea change that bodes ill for agriculture.

“The average age of farmers is 60 years old across Canada,” says Young.

“According to StatsCan data, about 50 per cent of our land assets will be transferred in the next five years. And of the retiring farmers, 75 per cent of them don’t have successors. It’s a transition we’ve never seen before in agriculture. And it’s one we are wholly and completely unprepared for.”

FarmStart has two incubator farms in southern Ontario to bring new farmers into the business, but at current prices, Young says there is no way those starting out could earn enough from their farms to make a living and pay their mortgage.

Overpriced land

It is a problem that Rejean Girard, who farms southwest of Montreal, understands.

He bought his small plot of land near Saint-Cesaire 20 years ago. But Girard says the return he gets from the sheep he raises would never pay for that land today. By that measure, he says, the land is overpriced by about three-quarters.

The steadily rising price of land has caught the attention of savvy Canadian investors. Global investors have an interest, too, but in most provinces only Canadians are allowed to own farmland.

That has created an opportunity for Canadian farmland investment funds like Bonnefield, Agcapita and Assiniobia, which have been assembling blocks of farmland and selling shares to high net worth Canadians.

The president of Toronto-based Bonnefield, Tom Eisenhaur, says farmland has been one of the most lucrative and secure investments especially when markets are volatile, and “a better hedge against inflation than gold.”

Eisenhaur says he expects the price of land to continue to rise, if not at the same rate as over the past decade.

He quotes a United Nations survey that shows world food production will have to double over the next 20 years.

“While it’s trite to say, no matter how bad or how good things get in the markets, people still have to eat.”

Profits from rising prices

While Eisenhaur is profiting from rising prices, he scoffs at the idea that funds like his are responsible for the land boom.

He says that while farmers buy and sell some $15 billion worth of land each year in Canada, third-party investors like his company trade a mere $100 million worth.

So it seems clear that farmers’ pursuit of more acreage is helping to push up the price of the land.

That seems to be in direct conflict with what Girard, Young and many others say about the difficulty of paying for farmland with a farm income.

That is, until I speak with Gary Brien who farms near Chatham, Ont

“The way we’ve looked at it is more of a way of life. It just so happens the land has gone up as we accumulated it over our lifetime,” says Brien. “I really don’t think we own it. We’re just using it while we’re here. The value to us may not be in a dollar value.”

Brien says that the last few years, bumper crops have pushed up farm incomes to record levels, so farmers have had cash to spare. And when farmers have money on hand, their non-monetary way of thinking of land, combined with the tax rules, encourages them to put that spare cash into farmland, whatever the price.

“Farmers don’t like paying income tax,” says Brien. “And if they get a bunch of money and have a choice to pay income tax, or buy more land, they buy more land.”

Bigger and bigger

That tends to mean existing farms are getting bigger and bigger, able to take advantage of the efficiencies of expensive modern farm machinery and make the money to buy more land.

But that doesn’t help the farmers who are just starting out small, without inherited family land and little prospect of paying off a mortgage, even if they could get one.

“We have farmers in rural areas paying far over the productive value of the land that they are buying because they have the income or there are such scarce land resources that they’ll pay anything,” says Young.

“For a new entrant looking at that landscape, it is almost impossible to conceive of buying a farm.”

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Wordless Weds

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Duck Breeding Program

I am not raising a beef calf at the moment, I went to get a calf this spring, I did, I am picky on what I get and where I get it from, I get my week old calf*s from Farmer R, I know they have their first feedings, I know how they are treated, and I know how their mothers are treated etc.

And boy was I in for a shock, my normal 50 to 100 dollar calf was sitting at around 400 for a week old..  ok then.. so the price of beef at the moment in crazy and I am not paying 400 for a calf, I will wait a year or two for the price to come down on it, as the supply will catch up to demand to a point.  (plus I have a lot of beef in the freezer and cellar) so I have flex to a point..

But there is a catch, if you are only eating out of the freezer or the panty and not putting anything back.. you have a issues for sure..  add in the fact that I have limited steaks and limited stew meat, but boy do I have lots of burger :)

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No problem, I got this..  I increased my duck breeding program..  my amazing machovy duck breeding program, no other duck breed will work for this plan..

I was on the hunt this spring and the last of the ducks came out of quarentee this past weekend and all my duck breeding pens are in force, I have a total of three active breeding pens, each pen has a set unrelated ducks, for a total of six unrelated breeding lines that are being started with this year, this should allow me to breed out for a number of years before needing to bring in new blood if I want to, but it also allows me to trade with friends and provide them with a nice mix of bloodlines.

My first hen is sitting currently, and she is due this week if my dates on her sitting solid are right, she is with grumpy drake..  I had to laugh I put silver girl with pretty drake and they went into the pen that had the big goose straw house, well she loves it.. she strutted in and looked in and went.. YES! and made a nest and laid her first egg, made me laugh.. that pair should produce outstanding ducklings.

The third breeding pair is a nice chocolate hen with a sweet but HUGE Bard black and white male carrying chocolate himself.

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Now I should be able to get the hens to have a min of two sitting on 12 to 16 eggs, for a min of 50 ducklings to raise this year..  that’s 100 steaks or 50 steaks and 50 pounds plus of stew meat..

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Add to that another 400 pounds or so of duck meat for other uses.. o my..  that is a lot of meat, I expect that to be honest, the prime cuts will taken and the rest will be used as hound raw food..  The feathers are used for the garden use. They are a wonderful 0 Mile farm critter in the sense that nothing at all will go to waste.

I will need to cure out a good amount of them into Salt Cured Duck Breast Prosciutto and then give them a gentle smoke for awesome smoked meat sandwiches.

So are you adjusting your breeding programs based on costs this year, are you increasing the amount of meat chickens you are raising, are you hoping to pick up a young kid or lamb to raise for the freezer this fall.. I tell ya even the cost of lamb this year is crazy high.. Its almost double from last year..

I am looking forward to doing a fully done cost out program on the duck meat compared to raising my beef, it will be detailed to be sure..  I wish you all the best of luck on finding a way to grow more of your own food, be it eggs, meat, milk or fruit or veggies..

Trust me, I may not get to the store much but I read the flyers and the prices are rising and then some!

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The Freeloader.. Critter wise that is..

I have been watching and reading a number of old and new blogs, and I have joined a number of local homesteading and livestock groups, and I am struck over and over at how many new and older hobby -homsteaders  are stuck in this rut..

The free loader, in the past two months, I have been visiting friends locally and I have been gifted and or asked if I would take X or K free loader, you can eat him, but I just can not do it.

Typically its a male freeloader.. be it rooster, drake or ram or billy, someone got attached as a wee thing, and suddenly, they have to many rooster, the boys are fighting, blood is flying and the poor hens, missing feathers at best, beaten and bloody at worst..

Have to admit that this is the kind of free loader problem that makes me the most angry, if you are going to keep to many male fowl of a breed, then you should at least have a different pen, shelter and so forth, so that your hens are not suffering for your choice.

The second free loader I see often is a bit different, its the bottle baby, o my, shake head.. sigh.. Kijji is full of them.. Not for meat, companion only, so sweet, have a pet, he will keep x company.. raised this altered male for bla.

If anyone keeps track of the space, time, feed, hay put into that pet, their heads would spin, that bottle baby could live years and years and you are throwing money away, some of the most frugal folks I know will make this mistake and it can take years before they finally get to the point of moving that pet along..  or it gets moved from farm to farm, seller to seller till its at the point on its forth home in two years that is given away and finally the fifth owner will butcher and enjoy, for them they got a great deal! (I know, I have been gifted a number of these pets) but for the first person that put the time and money into them, straight up loss.

Now I am going to own up to my own bottle baby story, I will admit to be guility of keeping not just one but two bottle babies, Dirty face, and bubbles.. Dirty face passed away at the age of nine and Bubbles is still with me.. they are females and they produce me offspring, but they are still dead ends because they do nothing for my breeding programs, No offspring from them have EVER been kept.  They earn their keep in babies and milk, but they are GENETIC free loaders..

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They are not the only one.. o no.. Tippy toe is a perfect Genetic Free loader Case, I was at a bird sale, a nice big box came up, mixed meat doe, bred on such a date, proven mother at eight months.. awesome, I snapped her up cheap cause she was a plain black thing, until I looked in the box an went hmmm.. meat breed my foot..

Tippy toes was and is a pet! She is little doe, she has the best temperament I have ever seen, she produces on average ten kits, she breeds easy, she raises what she births but she makes babies that take weeks and weeks longer to reach growout weights an even then, they never will, they will be five to six pounds rabbits, where my meat rabbits full grown are double that, they reach butcher age on time, hers would take six months to get to what they can do at 14 weeks..

So her kits are used as raw food for the hounds, its just not worth the butcher time to me, but she does need to pull her weight on the farm.. so you most likely thought one of two things, (farmgal is a big meanie) or why is still in the breeding program..

Well even though she is a Genetic dead end, as none of her genes will be passed to the next generation, she won me over as a pet, she is the doe that rushes to the front to get pets, she is the one that asks to be picked up and cuddles in your arms..  She will get to stay as long as she breeds and stays sweet.. yes its a waste to a point because I only carry three does and one buck in my rabbit program, that means that she produces 1-3rd of all my kits and they are not coming into the kitchen, this would be a issue that I would have to look at much harder if my two big meat does did not produce me enough rabbit meat for the year.

So there you have it, the three main free loaders

The Extra Male.. but he is just so nice, I love his colors, but its a rare breed, or I just can not butcher him..

The Bottle Baby- Runt, Weaker, Not a good Genetic producer but much loved.. but I spent all that time keeping said baby alive, and we bonded, and it loves me..

The GENETIC Dead End, this comes in two forms, the altered male that is the companion that takes time, effort and money, that gets passed around till finally ending up X amount of homes down the road that steps up and freezer camps him, or he stays on the farm for 15 years and costs the homesteader not just money but one of the prime keep back spots (yes I am picking on the homesteader or hobby farmer here, because no farmer keeps back a altered pet livestock, unless its as a teaser and that implies a much larger very tailored long term breeding program)

or the female that is breed from but should not have any offspring kept back from,  the farmer would eat her or seller her at the auction and replace her with a female that improves the breeding program, the hobby or homesteader will try and breed up, they will struggle for years, not enough milk produced, small babies, weak babies, hard birthing, health issues and so forth, they will say things like.. I am just keeping her till she gives me her replacement..  when they should be saying something like, I am limping her along with her twins till I can either butcher then feed my family with them or sell their meat to give me the money to buy a quality replacement ewe or doe

Ah, its hard at times to step away from the heart and even the eyes(often a freeloader is kept because its so pretty) and do what is best for your farm and your breeding programs.

Its a battle and a learning curve, farmers learn it and live it. Homesteaders take longer and can go either way and hobby farms, well, almost all of them have a few of these around..

I would give the rock solid advice of, do not do it.. freezer camp them, but I know that only time will have a hope of changing folks minds on this subject..

 

 

 

Posted in Critters, Life moves on daily | Tagged | 2 Comments

Working on the Horse Training Obstacles

We got different ones laid out and now comes the hugely labour work of filling them in.. slow but steady will win that race.. got one of the 2nd biggest done so I can start working on it.  three more sets to go…

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My Sweet Little Freeloader..

Miss Puddin is without a doubt one of the few freeloaders on the farm, she earns her keep by being cute, sweet and purring when I pet her. That is a lead in and a connect to a coming post.

DSCN5934However taking it to a more interesting note, I have been able to with about five min worth of work, totally take to Puddin off store feed, she is currently on a fresh greens diet, once my fruit and veggies starts producing, I will be adding in a bit of them, at the moment she gets veggie or fruit scapes from the kitchen, (the pigs in the barn are sad about the lack of house scraps, between Puddin and the chickens and me saving egg shells for the garden) they are having to make due with garden weeding scrapes.

I also so a little sprouting for her, a bit of wheat, or barley or a bit of sunflower seeds, she loves it and I love that am able to feed her off the farm. She also gets her hay rake filled for backup and roughage. I will ideally move her to home cut, dried and stored farm hay as soon as possible.

She was on wild yard greens last year and thrived! I expect that she will do the same this year.

 

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Wild Mustard Greens with Pasta

This is a lovely patch of self-seeded mustard greens, and its a big one, we snipped of 3 cups of fresh baby mustard greens, they are on their second or third set of true leaves.

DSCN5726I cooked up some pasta, while that was done, I chopped two slices bacon (our amazing large black bacon), a whole onion,  a green onion from the garden, cooked the bacon and onion together, just before the pasta was ready, I added the greens and green onion and heated though, nicely wilted, three heaping spoon of thick sheep yogurt( yogurt or sour cream would work), salt and pepper to taste, Drain the pasta, blended and parm cheese on top..

DSCN5850 great way get your greens in, the amounts above made three portions for full meals, or two big ones as I have a half plate size but was very full afterwards.

 

 

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