Being the slightly autistic, OCD person that I am, I have continued doing research during this waiting period. Being unemployed is boring as hell, but I'm very busy most days with my farm prep. I've even reserved our YouTube channel: "The Potty-Mouthed Farmer".
Recently, I came across a food self-sufficiency report for Nova Scotia that showed the farmers in the province are producing more chicken, eggs, onions, maple syrup, and carrots than they consume. Since we're not interested in the global footprint that is exporting, I had a closer look.
Lamb & pork were low on the list, and high on ours. That's great news. We can expand the intended size of our flock and drift (that's what you call a group of pigs). Beef, honey, tomatoes, cucumbers, and potatoes were almost not being produced. Also great news!
Bad news (kind of) is that chicken was the fastest way to make income, and a big profit margin. But, in order to make that big profit margin, you have to raise genetically engineered chickens you can't even breed, and they are sad chickens. SO, we will still hatch and raise our fancy French table chicken, and I'll raise them for us and for (hopefully) a handful of restaurants.
All the other animals take a year or so to grow to harvest, and we will only produce veg and fruit in the frost-free months. Ergo, it's going to take a while to get things going.
Good news is that we get to have Highland Cattle. In case you are unfamiliar with this particular one of Scotland's many gorgeous breeds, here is what they look like:
And if that isn't gorgeous enough, allow me to introduce you to a calf. I swear, this is not a bear:
Having cattle adds a few challenges; mainly that we have to fell more trees and make more silvopasture. Highland Cattle, in particular, prefer a wooded pasture, and are apt to eat just about anything. They are hearty and will be very easy to keep happy, foraging through the forest-pastures. They also winter very well within a forest, and never need to be kept in a barn - not even to have those beautiful babies! What this really means is, not only do we have to carefully fell more forests than we thought we would (while making sure to leave maximum diversity in our forests), but we also went from having 7,900 feet of fencing to build to more like 13,000 feet, and we will be doing this work ourselves. We hope to be able to have enough forest-to-silvopasture conversion, as well as have enough fencing done to get our cattle by spring 2022. That's less than a year from now, so we shall see. Having 3 heifers and their calves (we will buy them as pairs), and one bull means we need a lot more space for them. It also means we can run the sheep with the cattle (lovingly called by regenerative ag farmers- the flerd - flock + herd), and it won't mean more daily fence moves, since the sheep were already in the plan.
One of the things that is boosting my self-confidence about farming is that even though I am drawn to rare and unusual breeds, it surprisingly turns out most of them are the healthiest, easiest animals to keep that will make regenerative farming possible. Most of them can forage for anything and require little to no feed (except in winter when the grass is gone), don't need to be kept in a barn, and give birth quite well on their own.
Side note: we added a new and final breeding gilt to our drift (that means a pure-bred, registered, immature, female pig. Her name is Petunia, and she is our baby of the drift. She will still be pretty small when we meet her @ 12-14 weeks of age.
Stay tuned for exciting information on how very granola we will be! Our next blog is going to be about the horse powered farm. Get ready!