We landed on June 15th around 9pm. We couldn't see much as there was fog everywhere. The next day, we awoke to our farm and found our little pasture behind the house full of wildflowers up to my shoulders!
We were stuck for 2 weeks quarantining (before they changed the regulations to allow vaccinated people skip it), so we wandered about. Boy were we shocked! The little pasture there is was overgrown and full of berry brambles.
I had studied the farm via aerial photgraphs I got from the Nova Scotia government, dating back to 1971, and google earth pro. I was in for a big surprise! All those "roads" I saw that go around the farm were completely hidden by flora. Not only did we return to the house to find ourselves having a tick party (ew!), but we had barely seen 3 acres of the 155 acre farm.
As time went on, we managed to see about 11 acres. We realized the best way to clear the pasture would be to use goats.
Although having dairy goats would be cost prohibitive (dairy regulations), meat goats were our best option to clear the brambles and get the pasture back to better forbes and grasses.
We started looking for goats.
We then hired someone to put up our perimeter fence. I ordered all the materials, and got a local tree farmer (Wayne Silver) to bring us 230 wooden posts. The man we hired used an excavator to level a pad for our greenhouse, as well as make a path that would later be lined with a fence. We asked him to dig out our pond, which was weirdly VERY shallow, and he made a fucking mess of it. I asked him to stop. The following day when he was attempting to pound posts in the ground using his skid-bucket-thing, we saw his true colors. He did NOT know what he was doing. He put the posts in crooked, if at all. He argued with me non-stop about the distance between the posts, etc. I designed the fence myself, and knew what I was doing. He did not. He even broke multiple posts, on purpose, in a rage, when he couldn't get them to go in. After showing up to work 4 days in a two week period, and many exhausting arguments, we fired him.
Long story short, we tried again and again. It's hard to find help. 4 months later, still no fence. But Milo and I have not given up, and worked on it little by little, as we juggle all the infrastructure builds and managing the animals we have.
In this photo, you can see posts, a gate that was installed, and part of a pallet fence. Also, no filter.
We got our Toulouse Dewlap Goslings in July. It was my bad idea to get them before the house was built for them, later realizing we were not as good at "winging it" when building shelters, as we expected. We used pallets and built them a house. We made them a fence from old doors we found in the barn, and they were our first babies.
We had a rough time of it, but we ended up with a great house for them.
The next project was to make stalls in the barn to keep our soon-to-arrive pigs inside until we had fencing. We started getting better at winging it.
Before we bought a utility trailer, we paid $3/pallet, and had 40 delivered. Then $4/each for another 30. Then we got a trailer, and I started finding them everywhere. We quickly learned what is trash to others is our bounty! There are a lot of people willing to offer suggestions on where to find them, and I got good at it!
On July 28th, our pigs arrived: two young breeding females (called gilts), a castrated male (for food), a breeding boar, and a bred sow!
She had her piglets 2 weeks later.
And in between the pigs arrival and the piglets' birth, we incubated and hatched out Bresse chicks and Guinea keets. It was all happening a little too fast, even if I had planned it all out carefully, assuming more can be done in a day than humanly possible. Schvoopsie!
I never expected to still be trying to have the fence built by this point. Being regenerative farmers, we needed to have our animals out on the land, and moving. So Milo and I proceeded to build a paddock just outside the barn. I planned on puting our electric fence within it, to ensure everyone stayed put and safe from predators.
And it worked! We put up a quick-fix shelter for them (shed-in-a-box), and got the 2 gilts and castrated male outside first.
Then came the goats: one breeding buckling, and 3 doelings.
We set them up next to the pigs, and kept them apart for about a week.
They didn't seem to mind one another, and soon started sharing a shelter at night. The first (and maybe most interesting) thing to happen was that the pigs went into the goat shelter and ate all the shit. Pigs don't shit where they sleep, but goats do. Thanks for cleaing up, pigs! And the goats went to work eating the blackberry brambles. We had harvested and eaten as many as we could while doing a million other things. There are many blackberries and raspberries on the land that we will continue to harvest for years to come. We gave the goats the first patch we didn't want.
Did I mention this little LGD came with the goats? He's a fucking handful, and it's weird having a dog that isn't the family dog in the house. We love him & named him Duke.
In the 2 months we have had him, he has grown so much & now weighs over 80 pounds. Also, he has already met a porcupine. I should have taken pictures. It did not go very well, and ended up in a late night emergency vet visit. DUKE!!!
During this period, the chicks and keets grew so quickly. We eventually built 2 mobile coops (chickshaws a la Justin Rhodes) and got the other fowl outside.
They hadn't been let out yet in this pic.
In the midst of all this, we were finding and picking raspberries, blackberries, quince, apples, grapes, and white walnuts. There is so much food growing wild, we really didn't have a chance to harvest much at all. Next year, we hope to have time to harvest these goodies to the fullest. We have enjoyed all of them. I made jam from the grapes, and plan to make nut butter and apple juice, as well as more dried apples.
Walnuts apparently can be used to dye things. Stained my hands.
The wind blew down the goose yard fence, and they were liberated. Funny thing- the geese stayed. And it's way better having them run around.
Then we hired some guys to put up our hightunnel greenhouse. Hazaah!
We got Lemonade & the piglets outside with the others.
We built Duke a doghouse.
We made an outdoor pen for the Boar, while he waits on the fence for his real freedom.
And we end on a double rainbow. There is more to share, regarding hunters and trespass laws, our beautiful forests, a myriad of fungi.... another blog. For video tours and updates (no editing), check out our YouTube page: the potty-mouthed farmer.