Rolling Hill Farm
|Posted on 12 November, 2015 at 10:50||comments (2847)|
Where to begin? Every few days there are new and exciting things happening at Rolling Hill Farm! Our up and coming teamster Bryony began ploughing an acre for our new vegetable patch with the help of our horses and our friend Richard from Atlantic Draft Horse Supply. Together they spent the day in the field learning the proper ploughing techniques for horses, and despite the horses doing the labour, it’s still hard work!
While the ploughing was underway, the volunteers managed to move the massive poly tunnel to a more appropriate area for the spring seedlings to begin their journey next year. Now it’s placed in direct sun and close to water to keep them happy and healthy until they are ready to be planted in the soil (the seedlings, that is, not the volunteers!)
On that same – extremely busy – day, John(the carpenter) repaired the area of the barn in which the horses will be taking shelter over the brisk Canadian winter that is approaching, and Ronnie (who owns a bushwacker) mowed down our old hay field in preparation for a better crop next year.
Amidst the chaos, the apples are still being picked and processed with the help of our DIY cider press! It is absolutely delicious having freshly pressed juice with breakfast, from our own apples! Unfortunately we are still overwhelmed with the number of apples we have, and are actively searching for more processing ideas. This is merely a fraction of our collection.
Chloe got creative with the left over green tomatoes that didn’t fully ripen this year and prepared a green tomato relish chutney concoction; needless to say it was delicious. We also tried a Southern fried green tomato recipe which was a real hit amongst everyone. But the best part of all, our female chickens are soon to be laying eggs, while the male chickens are ready to be slaughtered.
The rest of the animals are making life increasingly challenging. Merry underwent dental work and a cyst removal surgery earlier this week that was successful, with the exception of her incessant scratching at the stitches. Here is Merry looking extremely ridiculous in a t-shirt to prevent her scratching at the wound - but don't laugh, she's easily offended.
As we continue to monitor Merry’s recovery, we realized that both her and Monkey are in season. All the dogs are gated off from each other in prevention of an unexpected litter, making Zane miserable and muddled as to why he can’t mate with all the females who want to mate with him. Our little Misty, on the other hand, is full of energy and is chewing on his tail every chance she can, just to annoy him a little bit more. She has been getting lots of daily training with us and has graduated to walks without the limitations of a lead, as she is now responding to the various nicknames we have given her.
The upcoming weeks are going to be spent finishing the remainder of the Autumn Farm list, such as junking and splitting more wood, pruning trees, and ploughing the rest of the vegetable patch. Also, the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network conference is approaching and we have decided to take a short family trip to PEI so we can attend! While there, we will be celebrating Chloe’s 21st birthday and will likely be forcibly serenaded by self taught blue grass banjo tunes, as Chloe learns how to play the banjo without a teacher, but tons of dedication, and many reference books.
|Posted on 20 October, 2015 at 16:50||comments (0)|
Jack Frost is here, and he seems to be staying. Our vegetables are not keen - particularly the spinach - with the sudden cold weather but everything else is adapting. The animals are shedding to make space for their winter coats and we are digging in the closet, pulling out our best flannel to keep cozy. On the bright side, the frost covers everything in a silver blanket of sparkly dew, which makes the morning chores a little more plesant.
The other day we all gathered around the furnace to learn from one of our volunteers how to light and maintain the fire without hurting ourselves, the animals or the farm. So far we have been quite successul! We've also been quite successful with the processing and canning situation Chloe has mastered in the kitchen. Every day buckets of apples are being turned into sauce, jelly, apple butter, pie filling and hopefully cider when we build our homemade cider press. The tomatoes are also being made into delicous sauce for pastas and juices for soup to warm us on cold winter afternoons.
We are extremely thankful to have two volunteers travelling from Germany here with us to help with the rest of our wood splitting, as well as pickling and pruning the apples. There ia so much work to be done, it's great to have so many helping hands. Originally there was three of us who set off in the spring from Ontario to Nova Scotia, but throughout the summer there have been 4-7 of us consistently putting in work to shape up the farm. It hasn't even been a full year and we have accomplished incredible amounts of work (with minimal injury, haha). To celebrate our great successes, Chloe cooked a full. 100% homemade, Thanksgiving dinner for everyone, with crops we planted and harvested ourselves. We are in agreement that the hard work has paid off, even ever so slightly.
In addition to the family of volunteers we've had this season, we also want to introduce a new member to the Logan menagerie. Here we present our cuddly, spirited and intelligent new pup, Misty, and a proud James.
The other 6 fluffly bundles of joy have been homed to some lovely folks, and we genuinely couldn't be happier with their new owners. Last Saturday was a hectic day as people were flying in and out to sign the extensive papers and pick up their pooch! The litter was exceptionally rambunctious and animated, as were their new owners. It was all around a great experience and we look forward to the future litters to come.
It has been busy, to say the absolute least, with our fair share of long, hard, and bad days, but collectively we agree it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears (and money) that we've put in so far. Our volunteers have even threatened us with a legitimate day off in Lunnenburg later this week!
In a final note before farewell, we have another family member to introduce! Here is Lola, Chloe's better half, the scarecrow we made to scare nothing but the dogs.
|Posted on 30 September, 2015 at 11:20||comments (2)|
An extremely unfortunate turn of events happened in the past few days. Our beloved Murphy randomly had a seizure this weekend and we were told to keep a close eye on her, only to find her on Monday morning having another seizure while we were doing our morning chores. Murph was almost two years old and affected by developmental delays, but despite the inconvenience she could be she was a very important part of our family. The inconclusive issue with the seizures would involve many tests, medications and lots of trial and error which would have taken a more serious toll on her. We collectively decided that it was time for Murphy to be laid to rest on the farm.
(Murphy in a little sweater when she was a wee puppy)
In lighter news, we have arrived back to the farm from our two-week trip to England for Grandpa’s 100th birthday! We had a great time and Grandpa was very pleased that everyone made an effort to celebrate this life milestone with him. Our dearest Chloe is also back from visiting her family in Toronto, and we are welcoming our new volunteer Nils, from Germany. who will be with us for October!
(The family gathered around Grandpa at his birthday dinner)
The puppies have grown much bigger and are no longer wiggling around, as they have opened their eyes and learned how to walk. They are making a mess everywhere and nibbling on everyone’s feet! We have decided on what pup we are keeping, but the name has yet to be decided. Of the seven puppies, one very energetic female is left who is need of a good home, for anyone interested please contact us through the site or facebook!
(We're living in a mad house!)
In other fluffy news, Morgana has made a full recovery from surgery and is ready to roam outside and bother our chickens again. Our feathered friends have gotten extremely plump and loud as they start to crow, and the females are expected to start laying in the next month or so! The horses have been particularly fussy as they’re eager to resume working, ploughing and hauling. Bryony, Chloe and Boss have decided to expand their knowledge on goats this weekend and will be spending the day with a goat farmer, learning about milking, general care and making delicious cheese!
In addition to all that madness, we’ll be kept extremely busy with splitting and storing our wood, building a greenhouse and renovating the barn to store our hopeful pigs and goats in the spring. And lest we forget, harvesting the vegetables, cooking and canning them!
(These are all the grown McGeralds who have been picked and are beginning to redden in the sun)
|Posted on 1 September, 2015 at 0:40||comments (0)|
|Posted on 14 August, 2015 at 0:15||comments (0)|
The horses have arrived, and they won’t stop eating! Annie & Blackie have had a busy few weeks traveling from Moncton, New Brunswick to Caledonia, Nova Scotia, but they’re now happily settled in their paddock. They have managed to escape a handful of times as we shuffled them around the fields to give them the perfect space - once in the middle of a rain storm while Liz was the only one home so she safely secured them in the dog enclosure which they found less than amusing. We’re obviously very professional at Rolling Hill Farm!
Aside from our hard work to contain them, they’ve taken us for delightful morning wagon rides and have proven to be a huge help while we prepare for winter by using them to deliver hay from one end of our pasture to the barn with the help of Bryony, our great teamster in training.
In addition to all the great horse related news, the other animals are also doing well! The male chickens are getting very plump, and are enjoying a newly improved MASSIVE chicken tractor that accommodates all nine of them at the same time! Now they can peck grass in unison, just as they’ve always dreamed.
Our dear Merry is also encroaching on her due date, and is showing more signs every day. We’re patiently waiting the day she is ready to whelp so we can welcome a litter of new fluffy puppies to our home.
All animals aside, Bryony attempted to pull up our clan chief potato plant but it was not yet ready to be harvested. The rest of the veg patch is flourishing and we hope to plough some field in the fall and build a greenhouse with recycled materials around the farm!
|Posted on 21 July, 2015 at 14:40||comments (0)|
The vegetables – and the dogs – are out of control! The tomatoes are climbing the trellises and the potatoes are getting gigantic while they flower, and should be ready for eating very soon. The tomatoes also survived a near death experience in which Murph, one of Merry’s dogs from her first litter, trampled over the plants this morning on her walk. In addition to the chaos of dog walks, Zane and Monkey were sprayed by a skunk in the morning a few days ago so Bryony and our Workaway volunteer Chloe gave them an extensive bath in tomato juice, which was not enjoyed by anyone.
PHOTO - Very depressed dogs.
Chloe has also been busy weeding and uprooting the flower bed to plant an herb garden. The parsley, coriander, dill, basil, thyme and mint are beginning to sprout and will be ready to be picked and dried for use over the winter. The rest of the flower beds in the front yard will be a beautiful mixture of bee friendly flowers to encourage our favorite pollinators.
PHOTO - Clan Chief of the Potatoes
In other news, we are still in the process of obtaining the horses. We’ve been stopped suddenly in our tracks as we are stuck waiting for a veterinarian to look the horses over so we can finally take them home to Rolling Hill! In the mean time we’ll be building an electric fence to enclose them in safely.
The chickens are also thriving and growing quite rapidly. The male chicks are enjoying the chicken tractor that has been built to allow them a little more freedom to roam outside and peck at everything in sight. However the female chickens just got a new chicken shelter to keep them cool in the heat of the summer while they’re out roaming during the day.
We are also expecting some more volunteers this month so we can make some progress on our up and coming projects.
PHOTO - Chicken tractor
|Posted on 30 June, 2015 at 20:00||comments (0)|
Well, "ponies" is not entirely accurate - oh, the things we do for alliteration. In fact, the equines in question are 16.2 and 17.2hh Belgian Drafts, owned by Richard MacKenzie of Altantic Draft Horse Supply. Bryony was lucky enough to attend a teamster training day taught by Richard, where she learnt the basics of various harness and driving equipment, how to harness and drive one horse and then two in a team, as well as the history of the MacKenzie's five-generation horse-run farm. A throughly enjoyable day with a lot of new information to take in.
On the puppy front, Zane fortunately figured out the intricacies of manhood that have confounded so many for generations, and managed to tie with Merewyn. We look forward to a litter in the middle of August, keeping everything crossed for happy, healthy hounds. A small dog run for the little ones is going up bit by bit, given a roaring head start thanks to the hard work of Uncle James, who came to visit us for two weeks and was put straight to work.
In addition to the fencing Uncle James fell on the chicken coop with a vengence, so that it is now painted a beautiful white with green trim, has two working doors, a clean roof and a protective fence, amongst numerous other additions. The chickens have been going outside during the day for about a week now, and have begun gleefully gobbling all the weeds they can get their tiny little beaks on. We've separated the girls (now known as Egg-Makers) and the boys (now known as Shake-and-Bake), keeping one lucky lad back to supervise the ladies. A grand total of twelve girls are left to make our flock, with ten boys headed for our freezer.
Lastly, the potatoes have thrived in the recent downpouring of rain. The plants are growing at a quite alarming rate fueled by each new flood. The McGeralds are less impressed and became quite droopy, but have since recovered and produced small flowers. We may have to re-think our tomato strategy given the blessings of rain; I hear greenhouses are wonderful things. The onions continue largely indifferent to rain, sunshine and large dogs charging through their beds.
|Posted on 31 May, 2015 at 9:20||comments (0)|
We have had a very busy, but productive, first two weeks on our farm. There are a zillion things to do, but fortunately we have years in which to accomplish them.
We have started digging over the first of many vegetable plots to come. The soil seems good, though it is hard going when the field has been laid to grass for so many years. We currently have an area nearly completed for the potatoes, and another for the McGerald's, who are eager to escape the confines of their pots. The plan for the next week or two (weather dependent) includes carrots, runner beans and onions. We have also planted some dill and thyme, and discovered some existing mint and basil growing in one of the flower beds. Further surprising discoveries on the farm include a rhubarb patch and raspberry canes, both much in need of reclaiming from the surrounding brush. The apple trees have begun to bloom and we eagerly await to see if they produce any fruit. Some extensive pruning may be in order this autumn.
PICTURE: THE MCGERALDS
We have reclaimed much of the apparent "junk" from the barn and workshop, and have started putting it to good use constructing compost bins and a chick run. On Monday this last week we purchased our first chicks, 24 Rhode Island Reds. Some of them were a week old and some just a few days old. A very large old drawer discovered in the barn worked brilliantly as a brooding pen, and with the addition of some chicken wire (found in the workshop) we have created a warm, safe and secure environment for the babies. The main chicken coop itself required much cleaning, but is now ready for a few repairs and a lick of paint. This is one of our next projects, and will be ready in time for when the chicks are large enough to occupy it.
The chicks are great fun to have. We have approached them each time with a cheery "hey, chickies" so as not to startle them by our large presence. They have quickly become accustomed to this, and now will happily perch on your hand and arm to peck at some food. They make short work of any small insects that venture into their brood box, and are capable of some startling bouts of athleticism to leap up and catch tiny flies from the air. They are starting to lose their down in favour of proper feathers.
PICTURE: THE CHICKIES
We recently had two park wardens stop in their car on the gravel road by the farm. They were very friendly, pleasant people, who endeared themselves to us by admiring Monkey and Zane. We have been invited to go and visit them at their office at the national park next door, and to talk to them about the possibility of riding our future horses in their park. A pleasant chore to add to our list!
|Posted on 18 May, 2015 at 15:05||comments (5)|
JOURNEY TO ROLLING HILL FARM
(or 900 miles with 7 tomato plants, 6 types of animal food, 5 travel bags, 4 German Shepherds, 3 Britishers, 2 squabbling cats and a python in a glass tank - sing to 12 Days of Christmas if you want!)
Cast of Characters:
McGeralds - the tomato plants
Merewyn - six-year-old female German Shepherd (currently arguing with Monkey)
Mr. Zane - 20-month-old male German Shepherd
Monkey - 19-month-old female German Shepherd (currently arguing with Merewyn)
Murphy - 15-month-old female German Shepherd (partially blind and with cognitive issues)
Merlin - 9-year-old black male domestic shorthair cat with grumpy attitude
Morgana - 6-month-old black and white female domestic shorthair cat - loves to tease Merlin
Monty - 3-year-old Ball Python
Mona - the GPS navigation system
Aunty Kath - a large Peace Lily
The Humans - Liz, Bryony and James Logan
PICTURE - FEATURES LIZ ON LEFT, BRYONY ON RIGHT, JAMES IN THE CAR, WITH MEREWYN'S LARGE HEAD ON RIGHT AND MURPHY'S SMALLER HEAD ON LEFT - MONKEY AND MR. ZANE ARE OUT OF SIGHT BEHIND THE BLANKET - IN OTTAWA, JUST ABOUT TO SET OFF
Day One: Tuesday May 12, 2015
Three o’clock: Having gone through the usual process of movers and packing, plus the hassle of dividing the car into three secure sections (involving quantities of chicken wire, bars and a blanket) to separate arguing dogs and cats and keep the McGeralds safe, we thought we were ready to go. Alas, Monty had escaped his tank! A detailed search of inside car, surrounding drains and bushes, under the car, in the exhaust pipe and in the engine, were all in vain. We contemplated putting up posters in the area or asking the neighbours to watch out for a five-foot snake, but decided we would start a panic in the neighbourhood, rather than being met with the usual “Aww, I’m so sorry” that might have been the response were it a kitten or puppy that was lost. With a deadline to meet, off we set eventually at 3:30, with the front passenger being rather squished in with grumpy, but large, Merlin, a cat box and a litter tray and the McGeralds.
We arrived in Drummondville, just east of Montreal, at about 8:00 p.m. that evening. Whilst Bryony and Liz took the four dogs on two separate walks, James searched the car for the Missing Monty. Fortunately, he was found tucked in under one of the folded car seats.
The first night's hotel was amazing, though Bryony (being used to camp beds and sleeping on floors etc) complained that the pillows were too large and comfy. Bryony and Liz had a room with a sliding door opening directly on to the pool and hot tub.
Of course, unloading and re-loading were both slightly chaotic. First, walking the dogs (in two separate groups) for half an hour in any bit of green we could find. Then transporting dogs, travel bags, feed bags, cats, tomato plants and lastly Monty to and from various hotel rooms took several trips, not including sending a lone messenger to check in and out. We were very jealous of the normal folk who simply got up, rolled out their little wheelie cases and then went on their way.
Day Two: Wednesday May 13, 2015
Having taken about two hours to walk the dogs and load up the car, we set off at about 9:00 a.m. Today we met some unusually dog-averse people in a small Subway off the highway. They did not want to allow the service dog, Merewyn, into the establishment at all. When it was pointed out that she was a service dog, they grudgingly allowed her to stay, but insisted we wait outside once we had ordered. This was in direct contrast to the very friendly people outside the Subway, who asked us lots of questions and were very complimentary about her.
The day was going well and we were making good time when disaster struck only an hour short of our final destination of the day, Fredericton! Underestimating the fuel usage of our poor overworked car dragging the U-Haul trailer up and down the New Brunswick hills, the low-fuel warning light came on far from any convenient gas stations; just our luck. Not wanting to break down on the highway we spent a frantic ten minutes trying to figure out how to tell Mona to find the nearest gas station (thank God for GPS) and managed to crawl there and refill directly. Phew.
Now, at this point Mona had clearly had enough of our shenanigans (she got most upset every time we came off the highway for a rest stop), lost contact with reality in general and the outside world in particular, and landed us on the scenic route (read: barely maintained lakeside road). Consequentially we arrived at the hotel very late and then took even longer to unload, because the next hotel had placed us on opposite sides of the building, with the sole lift in the place being in yet another completely different direction. To add insult to injury, the hotel kitchens had closed an hour earlier and we had to order in a vastly expensive pizza for our late dinner.
We also decided to add to the general commotion of unpacking and repacking by taking Aunty Kath into the hotel, as she was getting extremely squashed in the trailer and looking distinctly unhappy.
PICTURE: FEATURES MERLIN THE GRUMPY CAT, WITH A GENUINE REASON TO BE GRUMPY FOR A CHANGE - READ ON TO FIND OUT WHY!
Day Three: Thursday May 14, 2015
The next morning, just to add to the usual excitement, Morgana escaped from James’ room and made a bid for freedom out into the hotel environs. Fortunately no-one was present to see the sight of Liz, clad in bright blue dressing gown, pursing her down the hallway. Two hours later we once again managed to get everyone in the car, in high spirits for the last day of driving.
There is a lovely rest spot just west of Moncton that we stopped at for morning coffee. Just before we left, Liz tripped, holding an Ice Cap that ended up all over the head of Merlin. Bryony cleaned him off while he complained loudly, and then he shot off to sulk under the front passenger seat. However, his trials were not over. Shortly after the Ice Cap incident a sharp turn sent the cat litter flying all over Bryony’s lap and, once again, Merlin's head. In protest he made a beeline for Liz’s lap in the driver’s seat. Due to the preoccupation required for wrestling with the litter Bryony was not fast enough to stop him. The cat dug his claws in, refused to move, and then the phone rang. What fun.
After an emergency stop to extract cat, clean up litter, and return the call, we considered ourselves roadworthy again. Somehow we made it to the last motel with no further riots (although Merlin voiced his grumpiness loudly) and settled in at the last motel to prepare for Friday and closing on our farm!
PICTURE: FEATURES LIZ AND JAMES OUTSIDE THE CAR ON THE DRIVEWAY OF THE FARM - WE HAVE ARRIVED!
PICTURE: FEATURES BRYONY SITTING ON THE TAILGATE WITH MR. ZANE ON THE RIGHT AND MONKEY ON THE LEFT. JAMES IS OUTSIDE THE CAR CUDDLING MORGANA.
We've been here three days now. All of our furniture arrived yesterday, which is yet another saga that we may write about some other time. For now, we must get back to the highly sanitary business of cleaning out a chicken coop containing at least five years of dried dung and straw. Suffice to say that we are having a thoroughly wonderful time, the animals all love it here and we look forward to seeing you all when and if you manage to visit!
|Posted on 29 March, 2015 at 9:50||comments (1)|
In celebration of their first birthday some of Merry's puppies from her first litter met for a Puppy Party. Storm, Titan, Murph, Lupo, and Smurf all met at a park near Lupo's house and afterwards for a continued play in Lupo's garden. Everyone got on famously. It was fantastic to see them all again and the sight of a pack of German Shepherds all playing together was amazing. An epic bromance broke out between Lupo and Titan (seen above) who rough-housed all over the field with great joy.