Rolling Hill Farm
Snow, snow and more snow
|Posted on 16 February, 2017 at 7:55||comments (1047)|
f you've seen anything on the news about the Maritimes and the snow we're recieving, believe us when we say that we spent about 3-4 hours digging ourselves out of the snow banks this morning. We received approximately a foot or two of snow from Monday's storm, but with the 100 km wind, there were massive drifts measuring up to four feet. Today Mother Nature is giving us an extra foot or so, just to top us off.
We hunkered down indoors the past few days, only venturing out to do the morning and evening chores, which was a day's worth of work in itself. The snow is so light and deep that each time you step, you risk sinking to your knees. There were many times we sunk in so deep that we gave up and sat down for a quick break - trudging through the snow is a lot of hard work!
While attempting to do the evening chores in the middle of the storm, Liz sank up to her waist in snow and was so stuck that Nic bravely jumped off our deck into the few feet of snow to roll over and save her. Then they proceeded to roll to the chicken coop as Chloe got on with the actual chores by walking, as most sensible people would do.
By some shot of luck - though I'm sure we're jinxing it by putting it in writing - we did not lose any power, thus staying warm and cozy with a steady supply of tea in our mugs. In light of situations such as these, we've started to take a serious look into solar energy and using it to power our farm.
The animals were generally unfazed by the snow. The terrible part about having dogs in Canada is that they still expect to go for 3 walks a day, even in a few feet of snow. The wonderful part about having dogs in Canada is that with a few feet of snow, they get tired ten times more quickly. Walking them up and down our driveway a few times in snow was equivilent to a 30-minute ball run. Also Riley pulls out the cross country skiis and glides over the snow with the dogs jumping around them in the field, which works wonders for Chloe and Liz, because they just sit inside and stay warm!
Once the winds from the storm died down and no more snow was expected, Riley hitched up the horses to our homemade snow plough and the Fjords willingly ploughed the driveway and the route to the barn so that no one has to roll through the snow tonight, unless they really want to. When we were building the plough a few weeks back, we threw together a horse-drawn snow sled with leftover wood and pallets. Thanks to all of the snow, we were able to test it out on a nice sunny day last week. It supported all of our weight and we all had a wonderful time setting off into the sun.
Seeing as we're occasionally stuck inside due to stormy weather, Chloe's artistic vision of the farm is finally coming true. With all this indoor time, everything is getting a new coat of paint - including the dogs, mostly because they rub themselves against the wall right as we do the finishing touches. What were once plain white walls, have now been transormed into soft blues, yolk yellow and a glassy sage green, and the dark stained trim is being freshened with white. A lot of the paint was left over from the previous owners of the farm and it is great to give purpose to it again. With a container or two of paint, we were able to revamp half of the house interior. We're also planning on investing in some curtains, and a few little inside projects to really personalise our cozy farm house.
Although many days of winter are slow, quiet and relaxing, those days are often contrasted with the hard work of logging. Riley and Chloe have been very hard at work cutting trees down in our forest to mill for our barn renovations. The pair go into the forest and cut down the necessary trees, then Riley tacks up the horses and has them drag the logs out and to our wood pile. No tractors necessary here with our operation! And to make it easier, Chloe has an old toboggan that they now use to drag the chainsaw equiptment accross the fields. We're working on training the dogs to drag it on our behalf, but we're still a bit far from that goal.
In light of all of this snow and the continuance of winter, our first volunteer is coming in March, reminding us that spring is right around the corner. We are most grateful for the relaxed pace we take in the off-season and the fact that it gives us time to experiement with crafts, soap-making, baking and new recipies. Riley has absolutely mastered the art of making bagels, and Nic is perfecting their recipe for herb and garlic cream cheese. We also made an admirable attempt at making lye for goat milk soap, but with trial and error we realised that winter is not the time to make lye water as it freezes. We've decided to resume that project in the summer when the temperatures won't ruin the experiment.
A neighbour of ours came by to help us out of a struggle Riley washaving with the chainsaw one day, and he mentioned that no matter the problem at hand, we at Rolling Hill Farm are alwayts in the best of spirits. Bad days and sad moments happen. We get snowed in, we have difficulties, things don't cooperate, the animals don't comply, we can't find the tools because no one puts them back in the right spot or there are no dishes because we forgot to run the dishwasher. But those moments when you get so stuck in the snow that someone needs to dig you out, or when you sink so far you give up and make snow angels, or just roll to the chicken coop because it's the option that sounds most fun, those are the moments that make everything worth while. They confirm our desire to live the life we do. They remind us why we chose this life, and why we continue to choose it every single day. Until next time, stay warm and stay positive.
Happy Holidays, Now Back to Work!
|Posted on 4 January, 2017 at 13:25||comments (9113)|
Happy New Year everyone, we hope you enjoyed the holidays with loved ones and lots of delicious food. We know we sure did! The farm went on holidays for about 10 days so we could rest and enjoy each other's company for a few days without the interuption of work. We were short one of our new family members so we postponed our Christmas celebration to New Year's Eve. Nic arrived from Toronto with no issues but our newest addition, Aliette, was delayed in France and then delayed again in Montreal, totalling 3 days of travel until they arrived safely at the farm. We are happy to have them moved in, and soon we will be a full house of 5 when Nic makes the move from Ontario to our neck of the woods at the end of the month.
(The most delicious bagels, complements of Riley and their Baker's Apprentice recipe book - an early Christmas gift.)
When our Christmas day finally rolled around, we spent our morning eating porridge around the tree and opening gifts one by one. We all recieved a small collection of books, crafting materials, socks and lots of chocolate! An extra special Christmas gift this year was the gift of companionship. Liz and Riley thoughtfully gave Nic our dear Mugsy, aka Noodle, along with dog training books and their own knowledge so that Nic can train Mugsy to be their personal service dog.
(Nic and Mugsy doing their first training session)
Throughout the day we laughed, read and ate an abundance of cheese, crackers, dips and spreads while Chloe was cooking turkey dinner with their lovely sou chefs, Liz and Nic. This time around we cooked our massive Birdzilla 2.0 by quartering him, which took significantly less time and rendered a perfectly cooked bird. We are currently on day 5 of turkey leftovers, and still counting!
(Merely one half of Birdzilla 2.0)
Aside from one massive unloading of snow that lasted about a week or two, it has been a relatively mild winter thus far. We struggled trekking through 2 foot of snow with the dogs for their scheduled walks, until Riley brilliantly thought of cross country skiing around the field with them. Everyone enjoyed that, especially Liz and Chloe who stayed inside!
In recent animal news, the goats have been bred and are expected to have kids in April-May, around the expected arrival of some little Icelandic sheep (which Chloe is getting excited about while typing this, haha). We are planning on buying two Berkshire sows for breeding in the summer so we can have a litter of our own piglets in the future.
(Everyone's legs covered under heaps of blankets while Merry chews on a cow's foot and Macaroni eats the little scraps)
(Zane looking extremely cute)
(Mugsy being a Noodle)
As we settle deeper into the winter, and bury ourselves in snow, we have blueprints to draw up for the Spring, Summer and Autunm of 2017. We have confidence and high hopes for what this year will bring us. There are many changes, new projects and new people this year that we are welcoming with open arms. Until next time.
|Posted on 31 October, 2016 at 14:20||comments (484)|
In the past month, Rolling Hill was a revolving door of folks coming and going. In less fortunate news, Liz took an impromptu trip to England due to a family emergency with her (almost) 101 year old father for 3 weeks. It was quite a bumpy road for both of them, but he has now been relocated to a lovely nursing home and is doing better. Her warming smile and uncanny cheer at 6AM was missed dearly and the house was in desperate need of dusting, but Riley and Chloe managed living the bachelor life for two weeks without pecking each other too much.
As mentioned in previous posts, Chloe has officially made the permanent move to the farm! They drove down from Ontario with a car load of stuff, including their partner Nic, father Earl, and a wee kitten named Macaroni (who has made best friends with Zane). While here, Nic and Earl fixed every door knob, step, pipe and wagon, as well as connected with the animals, helped with planting and learned loads from Riley about our horse powered operation. With them came an antique kitchen cabinet, a Hoosier, equipped with flour and sugar bins, a spice rack and a bread bin, we now have a place for all our cooking and baking needs!
(Nic on their first horse ride with the assistance of Riley and a silly looking Marty.)
It was so handy to have extra help with small things that get pushed aside in the heat of the season, that we often just adapt with as we don’t always have the time to fix them. We promise we didn’t force a 'To Do' list upon them, they just wandered around the farm and made lists for themselves to do! Aside from working, the trio took a day trip down to Yarmouth, visiting all the Frenchy's and Tim Hortons on the way, and they spent a day butchering Thanksgiving turkeys with a farm friend of ours.
(Nic and service Mugsy on a walk in Halifax.)
While all of that fun was being had, Riley was hard at work ploughing and spreading manure over the fields for the fall garlic beds and to prepare for spring with help from our resident Fjords, Punk and Anders. Those two are truly fantastic with Riley as their teamster. They are now focusing their abilities on logging. Chloe and our neighbor have been chopping down trees that the horses drag up to the house to be junked, split and stored for winter! In addition to our two workers, we still have our special horse Gus, but had to return Bailey to his owner because he was becoming a bully, and an escape artist.
(Gus and Punk grazing in the field.)
On the note of animals leaving the farm, we have decided to get rid of all our dogs due to their incessant desires to escape the yard. Just kidding, unfortunately. But we have been documenting how many days its been since they last escaped, at one point we were going by the hour so we've improved a tiny bit. However, in the matter of weeks we will be slaughtering last years lot of egg laying chickens and our male chickens from this year, as well as our delightfully plump PigPig. Contrary to Liz's idea of getting rid of the goats, they will soon be ready to breed, birthing little bundles of joy in the Spring! PigPig is quite the impressive size!
October marked the end of our first Farmers' Market season, and it was a delightful experience for us. We took the opportunity to network with others build a customer base and soak up all the knowledge and information we could to do more and do better in the 2017 season. We had bountiful harvests and generally sold out of our produce at the market and we plan to add variety and volume in the upcoming year. With squash, onions and sprouts happily growing now, we have finally ripped out our tomato plants and are planting spinach, cabbage and broccoli. Alongside the fresh veggies, Riley dedicated a whole field to growing beans, Chloe has canned everything into chutneys and chow and we have a field worth of potatoes to keep us going all winter long!
Unfortunately weaved into all the fun, we had to say many goodbyes this month. Aliette has returned to France while Nic and Earl drove back to Ontario, but luckily they will all be blessing us with their presences in the Holiday season.
We're currently working on harvesting, preserving, ploughing, manuring the fields, building a stock fence, expanding our winter wood piles for the upcoming months, and next year and the constant task of completing the trail to the lake! Almost every month is busy in some way or another, but after a slightly chaotic October of constantly running around the province, we welcome the blank page of our November calendar. Surely it will fill up as we go, but it will be nice to slow down and settle into the upcoming winter months. We are most excited to spend the next few months just the three of us (Liz, Riley and Chloe) until Aliette and Nic come back on a more permanent basis in the New year. Until next time!
Our newest addition, Macaroni.
Never a Dull Moment
|Posted on 30 August, 2016 at 20:00||comments (1350)|
We promise we didn’t forget about you again, we’re just so busy it’s hard to find the time to update you all on the extravagant news happening here at Rolling Hill Farm!
The animals are revolting and are seizing every opportunity they can to escape. Just this week our resident pig has escaped twice, once happily trotting back to her enclosure alongside us, and once forced in by Liz and Aliette, only after being chased across Nova Scotia. If it’s not Pig Pig then it’s the Quarter horses and the puppies, Mugsy and Marty, who joined us in the early spring.
Speaking of dogs, Misty (from Merewyn and Zane’s second litter), will be having a litter in late 2017 for those who are interested in our purebred German Shepherd puppies. The other fluffy friends are doing well and enjoying our occasional trips to Kejimkujik to swim until we perfect our own little lake.
On our list of things to do, ‘Trail to the Lake’ is neatly placed at the bottom as we chip away at it when we aren’t tied down up with the more imminent tasks at hand. Half of the trail still needs to be cleared of the overgrown bush and trees, but for a while we were unable to see the lake because the surrounding area was so swampy. However, the extremely dry weather gave us the opportunity to access the lake, in all its swampy glory! There’s a good chance that this task won’t be completed until we all have grey hair, but our first swim once it’s cleared and dredged out will be worth all the time put into it. Below is a photo of our "lake", thanks to some ambitious vounteers who hiked to it with the help of a few dogs.
When we do have a second to stop and smell the manure – er, roses – we look around at all that has been accomplished and are eternally grateful for all the help we have had to make our dreams come true. An African Proverb once said, "If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to far, go together." We had a delightful batch of volunteers this season from France, Germany, America, and Canada, who helped us build mobile chicken tractors, turn over the seed beds, plant, weed and harvest, not to mention herding all of our animals when they escape. It really is incredible how much progress has been made thus far, and we use that positivity to fuel our inspiration for the future.
Somehow amongst the chaos we thought getting two more horses was a good idea. Surprisingly they don’t fit in at all with the other animals! The two Fjord horses we have are well trained, well mannered, polite, quiet and they don’t escape… ever! They’re perfectly content and cuddly, all the time. They will be most impressed when we finalise the touches on the horse stalls our carpenter has started redoing, so we finally have a proper winter shelter for our four horses. Here is our fantastic teamster with Punk and Anders.
The horses are doing a fantastic job of mowing the hay fields and turning over seed beds that will be ready for fall planting. This week Chloe and Aliette began planting sprouts, squash and onions that will be transplanted from their trays to the polytunnel ground in the upcoming weeks. So far we have seen a few seedlings popping up through the soil, yay! The bountiful summer harvest is also still in effect. A few of the potato plants were struggling with the Colorado Beetle but we harvested a huge crop that were out of harm's way. The dogs, horses and pig happily trampled over the bed of turnips but they’re pulling through as best they can. The tomatoes are in abundance this year and we couldn’t be more grateful! There are huge baskets full of cherry tomatoes that are deliciously sweet in salads or a slow roasted bruchetta, and the beefsteak are just starting ripen. Here is a photo of the Squash from last week; now they're even bigger!
There never really is a dull moment on the farm, but we wouldn’t change a thing if we could – except for the escaping pigs, we would change that in a heartbeat. Until next time!
The Grass is Greener on the Farm!
|Posted on 21 April, 2016 at 9:20||comments (298)|
What was once winter harmony is now spring chaos. Well, not much more than usual. We've all woken up from winter hibernation and have resumed scrambling to find the time to complete our winter project list. While some were completed, some were merely works in progress. The polytunnel is alive and well as we speak (knock on wood) but it has been quite the uphill battle as earlier this week four bodies were running through the fields chasing fragments of the cover. The seedlings now have a home and are waiting to be planted and the sun is in full swing these past few weeks.
ILars and Gretta have been helping us for the past month who are both visiting from Germany. They have been a tremendous help with clearing the trail to the lake, putting the polytunnel up and assembaing potting tables. The pair have also baked rolls that are litterally TO DIE FOR, as well as brownies and cookies that've fattened us up over the cold months. They are leaving at the end of this month to continue their travels and we will be hosting three more volunteers through the course of May. Many goodbye's this month as James and Michael are also leaving the farm with sights set to Halifax and are taking Twiddles with them. We wish everyone the best of luck in their future endeavours.
Now to the bit of the Newsletter you all actually want to read, the massive part about our animals. In dog related news, Misty is doing well in her training and has an uncanny resembelance to our late dog Murphy which really warms our hearts. Despite her cuteness, Mistique has reached the dreadful teenager stage in her dog life that transforms her into a bit of a handful, not to mention the constant attempts to sneak out of the dog pen when we're not looking. The fence has been Misty proofed (for now) and will contain all our fluffy friends while we work. The two smalls, Marty and Muggsy who recently came home with us are also growing at an exponential rate. The size of Marty's paws are a big indication of the size he will grow into. Merry's bum is still bald from the shave she recieved to help her infection though it doesn't seem interested in growing back, thus Chloe has volunteered to knit her a bum patch to keep her tushy warm,
Aside from our pups, the two new horses are a joy to ride and get on well with Blackie. We have some upsetting news about Annie, shes always been a bit of a bully to the other horses and to Riley and Chloe as they would tack her up for work but recently she has completely gone off the idea of cooporating with her bridle and is becoming a serious nusance to everyone, including Boss. We've decided that Anne isn't the right fit for us and she is currently for sale. Rileyand Blackie are now working together and despite being a little rusty after winter, they are a better fit for each other and there is a lot of potential for great things.
In our feathered area of the farm, there seems to be more feathers on the ground than on the chickens. Due to winter boredom, they've gone on a pecking spree with each other as the targets. After many considerations and conversations about what we should do, we've seen some chickens heal, some cut down on the pecking, and one hen is potentially brooding. These chickens will remain for now and continue monitoring them until we're able to get some new chicks in.
We will soon be welcoming two little piggies to Rolling Hill and we would like your help in naming them! Leave a comment on our Facebook page with your suggestions.
Living in harmony
|Posted on 26 February, 2016 at 6:55||comments (412)|
The Zoo Expands.
|Posted on 5 February, 2016 at 7:30||comments (255)|
In which we ignore the existence of snow.
|Posted on 25 January, 2016 at 15:15||comments (977)|
End of Year
|Posted on 21 December, 2015 at 13:50||comments (307)|
There is a saying: "There is always something to do on a farm." Never was a truer word said than a farm that was last maintained and actually farmed, according to local lore, for the last 30 or more years. It would be an understatement to say we have been busy, but we can sit back, momentarily, and celebrate what has been accomplished so far.
Soon after we arrived in May we had a very welcome visit from Uncle Jas. We would have kept him if we could, but sadly Auntie Sharon insisted he return. Uncle Jas got us started off in a big way, fixing the chicken coop for the newly-arrived chicks, travellling around the province in search of the right fencing materials, and getting the holes dug for the fence.
The chicken coop, before and after.
The front of the house, before and after the fence was built.
We have a cellar stocked with jams and chutneys, amongst many other things too numerous to mention. As a small visual aid, here is part of the barn that we cleaned and organised, turning it from a junk area into a tack room with built-in feed box.
We had a flurry of other people come and go, and our grateful thanks go to Nicole and Chris, Manu, and of course to Petra, all of whom helped in the ongoing clearing, tidying, and apple picking.
In the Olympic standards of volunteers, however, it would be hard to beat Nils Jakubzig, a young man who came from Germany, a long way from home for the first time, and settled right into the chaos that is Rolling Hill Farm. Nils worked extraordinarily hard on anything and everything, from baking to building a bread bin, from chopping wood to clearing trees, as well as helping with the chores and generally being always cheerful and always helpful. It really would be impossible to picture all that Nils accomplished, including a very large pile of chopped wood to keep us warm this winter, which would be very boring. The best we can do is show the huge polytunnel that, with some help, was moved to its final spot in a south-facing position
Next to arrive was Cousin Mike, who has, fortunately for us, decided to stay and help out. Mike, along with some of the volunteers, helped to clear out the weed-infested and mouldy-grape overrun area around the barn, and also built a very fine hitching post for the horses.
We had planned to have the whole barn fixed this year, but unfortunately our local carpenter, John, became embroiled in fixing a lot of rooves after last winter's heavy snowfalls, and he was therefore only able to fix the one section where the horses are now happily sheltering. There is a lot more work to do on the barn, but we are content with doing it bit by bit, like everything else!
And finally, with the help of Annie and Blackie, the two Percheron horses we purchased in the summer, Bryony ploughed up about half an acre of the field, into which she is planning to plant 4,000 carrots, beans, turnips and parsnips, 7,000 onions and 800 potatoes as a first crop. If anyone is interested in having a regular home delivery of a CSA basket of fruit and vegetables next year, please contact us! Alternatively, we will also be regularly attending the Caledonia Farmer's Market.
We finish off the 2015 year with a sense of great achievement and thankfulness. We are living our dream, and we are grateful to all the people that have helped to further our endeaviours here at Rolling Hill Farm. Please stay in touch, come back to visit, and watch the website to follow what happens next year. We have a lot more plans!
Blood, Sweat and (Happy) Tears
|Posted on 24 November, 2015 at 7:25||comments (392)|
“Where does the time go?” is the question we all keep asking ourselves! We set out in May and already the season is nearly over, and the work we managed to accomplish is astonishing. We’ve gotten absolutely covered in dirt, sweat and poop. We’ve spent countless hours exhausted from running around like chickens without heads, or frustrated with our menagerie of animals – and each other. We’ve been soaked in rain, swarmed by bugs, burnt by the sun, and lost in the fog. We’ve enjoyed endless sunrises, sunsets and every star in the galaxy from our doorstep. But to beat all that, we have also seen our hard work go from seeds, to the hearty, organic and homegrown meal on the table while connecting with an amazing group of volunteers, local growers, and other folks in Nova Scotia over our mutual love of farming.
Pictured above is Nils in our neighbour Gordy's tractor preparing to cut some high branches. We promise its safe Mrs.Jakubzig!
Lucky for us, we were able to attend day one of the 2015 Atlantic Canada Organic Regional Network conference in Charlottetown yesterday. The amount of information being thrown at us from established Atlantic Canadian Farmers was overwhelming, but so insightful. It is easy to be thrown off by the amount of work that still needs to get done, but we are amazed at how far we have come in such a short period of time.
We definitely need to say a special thank you to everyone who spent their time and efforts putting work into the farm, we could never had gotten this far without the help of volunteers, and the support from our friends, family and peers that we update through social media. And Chloe, our sparkly angel sent from above, we couldn’t have functioned without their help. AND THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE
So thank you everyone for an amazing first year, we are eternally grateful, and are confident that 2016 will exceed our expectations.
To celebrate Chloe's early birthday we chopped down a christmas tree and decorated it together, pictured above ( and yes, our tree is drunk).