Thursday, December 5, 2013

We are still alive and kicking...

I always know when I have not been blogging enough when friends start letting slip that I have not updated in a while!

So here we go summer, fall and winter all in one post!

The first thing you will notice is that our blog has changed and we have taken down lots of our pages about our farm, this does not mean we have stopped offering these products! The blog was started back in 2009 to share our story and since then we have written over 100 posts (for some bloggers this is a pretty poor)! As our farm has grown so have we and we are finding it harder to keep up to date with our blog.  So over the last few weeks we have been on a steep learning curve and have built our own website! It was a process! Trust me! It still needs some fine tuning, we need to add in our recipe page but we are hoping it will be easier for everyone to use.  We will of course still be blogging but it means we do not have to do it as often as we used to!  So when you have the time please check out our new site! and let us know what you think? 

What have we been up to over the last few months? we hear you asking.

July was dry and August gave us lots of very cold nights which meant some of our heat loving crops were not happy at all! Cold evenings led into cold mornings which meant a lot of toque wearing in the AM to do chores! Seriously I had a toque on pretty much for the month of August! I still wore shorts but I had a toque on! How many times can I say toque in one paragraph?
But in comparison to the 2012 draught our 2013 season went fairly well, it was not without it's challenges and we still have things to improve on but we are proud to say that between the two of us, (we had no family visit this year so no additional help) we fed 41 amazing families, raised 300 chickens, our goats kidded, our three sows farrowed, Michael attended to our bees while his wife continued to get stung by them!  We built fencing, learnt about seeding pastures thanks to our neighbour, did a lot of unloading, stacking and re loading hay wagons, and as of the 23rd of December we will have raised 50 turkeys so all in all we have been pretty busy this year.  

This year we applied for two grants.  One from Trent Conservation to help us fence some of our land into paddocks that border our stream which ultimately runs into the Trent river.  We got a tiny grant from them which allowed us to purchase all the cedar bracing posts.  We then invested into all the other parts of the fencing job which meant hiring Curtis Construction to help dig the posts in, and then over the summer and fall we pounded posts and strung alot of fencing. Finally the job is done and it looks pretty good.  Fencing is an on going challenge and investment for us as we need to fence our stream from all livestock. We also need to build a crossing over the stream to make it easier for us to do chores. Balancing over a twelve inch wide bridge with buckets of water when everything is covered with ice and snow is not fun! We are also hoping to do additional buffer planting to provide more wildlife habitat and also to create some windbreaks.  

The second grant we applied for and received was from the Big Carrot.  They truly are an amazing company.  They run the Big Carrot Supermarket in Toronto and all their profits are used to help farmers who are trying to make a change to the food system. So after lots of writing and then lots of waiting we were gifted a grant from them! We can not thank the Carrot Cache enough and feel rather humble to be on of the recipients this year.  There grant is allowing us to establish a 100ft Hanley hoop house for season extension.  This will go up and come down every year as it does not withstand snow loads but will allow us to start our season earlier and to run it for longer.  We are so excited to see our CSA grow from 18 to 20 weeks and we are hoping with each year to make our Summer CSA a little longer.  New for 2014-2015 will be a Winter CSA, the new hoop tunnel will allows us to grow greens for this.  The grant is also allowing us to purchase some much needed tools to make our lives slightly easier.  One of those tools is a flame weeder (Michael is rather excited about this! Me slightly nervous so I am ordering more carrot seed for next year......just incase).  We are hoping this will keep the weeds down in crops such as carrots and beets and allow us to prep our beds and to kill back the weeds to allow our plants to get established with less competition.  More posts will follow as the equipment arrives and we will blog on how the equipment and tunnel help our 2014 season.

December is here the snow has fallen and melted and we are all ready prepping for the 2014 season! 

Off farm news is that for two days in October Michael entered the acting business! He was cast as an extra for a TV Documentary about Camp X! The production crew did get rather excited when a rather dapper Englishman walked onto set as they had been trying to cast a Canadian for  a  role but were struggling due to the accent! As you all know Michael has spent many a year perfecting his!  Camp X will be aired next Spring on the History channel with or without Michael in a starring role! 

So as we hunker down for winter, get the wood stacked (which we are always chasing our tails to do) and lay out our 2014 garden and farm plans.  We thank all of you for your continued support and we look forward to growing and raising your food again next year.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Food for thought............

This is not being written to make you say "right this is it, I am not eating meat again!" or "I am going to become a vegetarian or vegan!"or even "how could you put this up, it's disgusting!" 

It is about starting a conversation about our food, how it is raised and why have we ended up in a world that is purchasing meat in such a large scale that we are having to turn to factory farms to meet this demand. 
What is being put forward in this entry are purely our views and opinions and to explain a little about the journey we have taken.  

Making change to our food system is a long road and it is all about different view points, some people will not watch this video, others will, some may not like us for sharing this, others may change the way they eat. For some it might not make a difference at all because the bottom line is about how much they have to spend on weekly groceries so they will be looking at price tags over the ethics of raising an animal and for some they would rather own the latest i phone than eat more nutritiously dense meat.

We started on our journey over fifteen years ago.  We fell in love with the idealistic life of River Cottage. We wanted our own piece of land to raise a pig or two, walk into the coop to collect a few fresh eggs, for many who know me well I have a real issues with feathers and flapping wings but I still had the picture of me with my egg basket or strolling around our little vegetable garden picking fresh vegetables for dinner.  
At this stage we were busy with our careers in London, England and initially the nearest we got to that dream was making sure we purchased organic if we could.  We slowly ventured out of the grocery store and into our local farmers market to buy direct from producers.  Even at this stage family and friends would roll their eyes at us about us heading out on a Sunday morning to see what yummies we could get at the market. Still at this stage factory farming was something that you heard about with chickens but not much else, or was it because we still had our blinkers on and only wanted to see part of the story. Some of our meat came from the market some still came from the grocery store and on occasion I would visit a local butcher, but did I ask about where the meat came from or how it was raised? No I did not! I liked that fact that I was buying from my local butcher and that was enough.
An opportunity to move to Canada allowed us to follow that dream to raise those chickens, and pick those vegetables but something else fueled us to make this into a full time job.  
Joel Salatine, Omnivore's Dilemma, Food Ink and CAFO - A site and book on 'the tragedy of industrial animal factories' in the USA These people, books and movies which yes can be one sided in their views (not always showing the other side of the story) did make us think more differently about our food, what our animals ate and how they were raised.  We had the opportunity to start something different on our farm, not everyone has that ability.  Debt passed on by previous generations may not make it feasible for that farmer to charge, some may not want to change, perceived conceptions that we need more corn syrup in our lives, consumer pressure for cheaper food all play their part in stopping change even the notion that to feed the world we need to be eating and producing more meat,  but then according to the UN we need to eat more insects. (which on a side note can be rather tasty and provide loads of proteins but sometimes the legs get stuck between your teeth!).  We have always been of the  mind, eat less meat and more vegetables, eat meat that has been raised better, more ethically, but be prepared for something raised this way to cost you more. If you are eating less quantity then it can be of better quality. 
We are part of a huge movement of people who are trying to make these changes, whether it be first generation farmers, conventional farmers who are slowly making those charges or for multiple generation farmers who have been farming ethically all their lives.  There are people out their who will talk to you about how they grow those vegetables or raise their animals.  
Start the conversation, speak to the farmer, for many of us who farm we are so happy to tell you why we do it, how we do things and we want to share our journeys on how we got here. 
For some starting that conversation may not interest them, they are not worried about their food, or it is too much trouble or don't have the time to search for it.  Take the hour you might spend on Facebook or sitting in front of the TV watching American Idol or shooting something on playstation and use that hour to see where your local farmers market is or to start the search for local producers in your area.  It's only an hour and Hey! We all know that Simon Cowell will be wearing the same pair of high waisted pants! 

To all our present customer's who have started that journey "Thank You" for choosing to support our small farm and for starting the discussion. If it were not for you we would not still be here!

Why don't we pay more attention to who are farmers are? We would never be as careless choosing an auto mechanic or babysitter as we are about who grows our food."
Michael Pollan

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"So much more than salad!" by Wendy.....

This year we have asked several of our CSA members to share what they do with their vegetable boxes.
Last week Wendy and Mark took on the challenge to share what they did with a weeks worth of vegetables we have included photos and some of Wendy's recipes that we will also add to the recipe page.  
They have a weekly share and it is just the two of them so from here I am going to pass this blog over to Wendy.

So I've sat down and planned out my weekly menus after taking stock of my "haul" from Thursday pickup.
I've always planned my menus so this isn't new to me.  What is new, is not knowing each week what I'm getting. I love it! I love the mystery and fun in thinking of new ways to use the veggies.  If we need additional vegetables as if we don't get enough already! Then I raid the freezer or check our own stores.Now, if people have extra veggies, like kale and spinach, these freeze well.  Just pop them into the freezer to use in pasta sauces or smoothies.   I also tend to use first, the veggies that won't keep well, such as the Asian greens.   Things like turnips and kohlrabi will keep til the beginning of next week.  This week was actually different for us as we went to a pot luck dinner as well.

Wendy's Weekly menus

Thursday dinner:  Ribollito (uses turnips, kale and last of cabbage from week before)

Friday Lunch:   Leftover Ribollito
           Dinner    Chickpea Burgers (garlic scapes)
                          Stir Fry Greens (Asian Greens, green onions)
                          Tossed Salad   (lettuce, radicchio, radishes, spinach)
            Snack:    Green Smoothie ( with kale, spinach)

Sat:   we’re away at a pot luck so we’ll take  Kale Salad 

Sun:  Lunch:    Green Soup  (scapes, Asian greens, Kale)
                         Living Wraps   (leftover burger mix with veggies in radicchio leaves)
          Dinner:   Zucchini Pancakes
                          Peas      Tomato Slices

Monday:     Lunch   Veggie Wraps   (lettuce, spinach, zucchini, added to peppers, carrots)
                   Dinner    Raw Pad Thai   (zucchini, peas, green onions, turnips)
                   Snack:   Zucchini Muffins   (zucchini)
                   Green Monster Smoothie  (kale, spinach)

Tuesday :   Lunch     we’re away
                   Dinner   Pasta & Greens     (kale, zucchini)

Wednesday:  Lunch      Taco Salad   (Lettuce, radicchio)
                    Dinner    Stir Fry Veggies   (kohlrabi, and whatever is left !)
                            Rice Tossed Salad

Green Soup

4 Cups vegetable broth or water
1 small onion, chopped
½ cup garlic scapes, chopped  OR
  6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups stemmed and chopped greens such as Kale, Rapini, spinach, Swiss chard or wild greens
4 Tbsp Tahini
Place water and onion in a soup pot and bring to a boil over high heat. 
Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 8 – 10 minutes.
Add the greens. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, between 5 and 20 minutes depending on the greens.
Remove from heat.  Blend with hand blender or in a standing blender or food processor until desired smoothness is reached.  It’s nice to leave some greens still whole.
To serve, if desired, place 1 Tbsp tahini is soup bowl, then add soup.
This soup will keep for 3 days in fridge.
Serves 4.

Kale Salad

½ cup orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk til well blended.
Add:    5 cups stemmed and thinly sliced kale, lightly packed
1 can mandarin oranges
1 carrot, grated
½ cup finely shredded cabbage
¼ cup thinly sliced onion

Let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Just before serving, add:
¼ cup raw almonds, pecans or walnuts
¼ cup raisins, or dried cranberries
Serves 4
Keeps well for 3 days

Raw Pad Thai

To Make the Salad: 

  1 medium zucchini, julienned
   1 large carrot, julienned
   1 red pepper, thinly sliced
   1 cup thinly sliced cabbage,
   1 cup raw peas
   3 green onions, thinly sliced
   1 Tbsp hemp seeds

Mix in a large bowl.  
Add the dressing just before serving:

  1 garlic clove, minced
   ¼ cup peanut butter
   2 Tbsp lime juice
   2 Tbsp tamari
   2 Tbsp water
   2 ½ tsp maple syrup
   ½ tsp sesame oil
    1 tsp ginger

Shake all ingredients in a jar.

Zucchini Pancakes

2 Potatoes, grated
1 Zucchini grated (or equal amounts of potato and zucchini)

Add:   1/3 cup whole wheat flour
 Add:  1 beaten egg, or egg substitute
           Salt, pepper and garlic (either scapes, minced or salt)

Drop by spoonfuls into small amount of hot oil in a frying pan.  Cook about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper toweling before serving with applesauce.

Makes 6 – 8 pancakes

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summers here......

Hail at the end of May! 
Holy smokes did the first day of Summer roll in with a bang! We have had cold, wet, windy, hail and late frosts this spring but yesterday as the first day of Summer arrived the heat kicked in and it was a hot, hot, hot! With the humidity we hit 30! Which meant sprinklers on the meat chickens who are out on pasture, wallows needing to be made for the pigs and even time out for us as we are not used to such heat!
Within 24 hours we had gone from toques to sun hats, welly boots to flip flops! To be honest we are all grateful for the warmer weather as some of our heat loving vegetables have been slow to grow and have very much sat dormant in the field
We have actually enjoyed the colder and wetter spring this year, it allowed us to get ahead on several different chores and allowed us time to implement some changes to the farm. 
We have had our moments of worry about crops not germinating due to the cold nights, not being warm enough to transplant and would the high winds ever stop and also if we would see our garlic as it took an age to grow! 
As ever this spring like last year has created another learning curve which will mean we will look at doing some things slightly differently next year. 

While doing all our field work for the CSA, we have seen Eva and Elly's kids leave and go to their new homes, we have been milking twice a day and getting about 3 litres of milk, thanks to the Henry milker, this has meant lots of milk being drunk on the farm.  Michael originally said he would not drink it as it would taste to goatee but he has been converted! It is now in his morning coffee and afternoon tea and you can also catch him with a glass before bed.  I think someone may be enjoying the fresh milk!!
We have also been making cheese, ice cream and also freezing some for winter for our soap making. Milking has lead to me now having to get up at around 5.15am to milk which I am not sure how it is going to work when the mornings get darker again in the fall, might be out in the goat house with my head torch on!

A happy Nigella!
Nigella one of our Berkshire sows gave birth in April and has been an excellent mum, very patent and attentive.  We have recently weaned her piglets and she has moved up to the summer paddock for a well deserved rest after raising nine very healthy and chubby porkers!  
We are due to farrow again in August and September so watch this space as we have more piglets running around the farm and more piglets to sell.

Our CSA vegetable baskets have just started and the pace at the farm changes from not just seeding, transplanting, weeding and mulching but also to picking, washing vegetables and doing deliveries.  All the hard work of spring starts to pay off when you see happy members come out to the farm or meet us at our pick up point in Belleville with happy faces and excited about fresh vegetables again.  Lots of chatter starts about different ways to cook the vegetables and how to enjoy this weeks bounty from the farm. Lets keep our fingers and toes crossed for a bountiful year with warm weather, and enough rain to keep the veggies and farmers happy. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Nigella & Bertie are parents......

Not long born! 
I sometimes forget that not everyone follows us on Facebook so after having supper with friends last night this post is for them and anyone else who is not on Facebook. 
Five days old and rather happy!
Two weeks today our lovely gilt Nigella gave birth.  She showed no signs the day before that she was going into labour. She had looked huge for ages and we had an approximate due date for a week later, but well laid plans never really pan out!  
While doing the morning milking Michael appeared at the door with camera on shoulder so I knew it was either immanent or had happened.  Once milking was done we headed down to the barn and Nigella was laying down with lots of little piglets attached and feeding.  It was a little disappointing not to have been there with her, especially after having been there for our goats, but from what we had read pigs can either give birth really fast or it could be an hour between each piglet. 
Nigella had a total of 10 piglets but we did lose one, we think she must have trodden on it or either laid on it while birthing. But for her first litter she did a great job.
Nigella has been a great mum so far and her piglets are getting bigger by the day.  I think the only thing we where taken aback about was how small they are especially in comparison to mum.  They have learnt to move quickly and get out of Nigella's way when she gets up and moves around or when she is getting ready to nurse.  She likes to dig all the straw up and get into a comfy position then does a lot of grunting and all the piglets come running and latch onto the "milk bar".

They are fun to watch especially in comparison to the baby goats as the piglets like to nest and they burrow deep into a mound of straw. We have to be really careful when heading into their pen to feed Nigella as you don't always see them.

We did have our first break away yesterday morning.  Our barn is in a gully and while we where bringing the horses up from their paddock we noticed a little bit of movement at the entrance.  We initially thought it was our other pigs heading out to their paddock for a mid morning root up but there where too many heads!  Nigella was a little frantic by the time we had got down but it did not take too long to herd them back in with her.  We have created a separate area for them as our barn is an open barn so all the pigs are able to sleep and nest together in the evenings when they come back in from rooting everything up!  In a couple of weeks Nigella and her piglets will be in their own paddock and the piglets will be learning to respect the electric fence which will be entertaining. I can imagine we will be hearing lots of little squeals! 
This won't be our last litter this year as Ina is due in August and Delia all being well will be due in September.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

It's nearly May......

Straw bales beds in the greenhouse
I think I have come to the conclusion that April is that blur blar month that you are willing it to warm up, dry out and green up so you really feel like Spring is actually here.  This April has been  colder than last year but when I compare it to two years ago it is pretty much on a par, well apart from the ice storm we had!  

We were thankful for the rain this month as our cistern had run dry in the house and we had to start using the well again for water.  We have spent all winter bucketing water from the stream to keep as much pressure off the well as possible.  Michael is installing our solar pump this weekend onto the capped spring we have so this will help with the watering of the animals and greenhouse and will reduce the pressure on our dug well.

Napa cabbage and beets
Seeding started in March in the greenhouse, thanks to straw bales and horse manure everything has germinated and is growing really well.  With the colder weather we have used vapour barrier over the beds with floating row covers to keep the heat in overnight. Some of the crops are so ready to go into the ground but overnight temperatures and a water logged field (who thought I would be saying that after last years lack of rain!) This has meant that we have not been able to get out and cultivate yet or start transplanting some of our crops. With  tomatoes, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers being potted up the greenhouse is starting to get a little crowded! 

Our new egg layers
Even though April is that dreary month it always seems to fly by. We have been busy with the arrival of new chicks, meat and eggs layers, milking our goats Eva and Elly.  I should say I have been milking Eva rather successfully and after a week of milking her in the mornings we are starting to get a quart of milk from her which is rather exciting.  Once we are up to twice a day let the cheese making commence.  We are also freezing her milk for our soap making that we will start again in the fall.  Elly Belly is a whole different story!  Trying to milk a goat who is five and never been milked is a rather steep learning curve! So no milk for us from her but we are now at the stage she will get into the stanchion on her own, will eat her grain here, and we are able to wash her udders. As of this morning I think I managed to get ten squirts of milk out of her before she started kicking and trust me for such a small goat she can really kick! Each day that passes she is getting better.

We are also going to be farrowing shortly.  Nigella one of our gilts is pregnant, we were planning on covering both our gilts this year but it seems that Bertie had been ahead of the game and Nigella is getting larger by the day.  Both Michael and I are feeling rather sorry for her, she is huge! She waddles around the paddock has a root up or a drink and then lays down for a rather long nap! Ina has just come back into heat so we are hoping that Bertie covers her this time and then it will be another 3 months 3 weeks 3 days before the next litter arrives.

The farm is also taking part in the Healthy Soils Project that is ran through OMAFRA.  As we grow into our farm we are slowly taking back more land. With this new project that is running it has allowed us to have a technician come out and take soil samples from our growing area and also from another field we are looking at putting into vegetable production.  This project will allow us to see what cover crops we can use at the end or the beginning of the season to increase soil fertility and health. We will  participate in this next year as some of our fields leave grain production and go into pasture.

We have now sold all our CSA Vegetable shares for this season.  We feel rather humbled by the support we have been given and are excited to see all our returning members and meet our new members over the coming months.  We always plant more than we need and if mother nature works with us this year we will be looking at adding a Saturday pick up from the farm.  Our aim is to develop the CSA and to get a big enough membership so we do not have to attend a farmers market.  I will miss the hustle and bustle of a market, chatting with customers and other vendors but with all we have to do on the farm just between Michael and I something has to give.  We have found, out of everything we do the market is one of the most time consuming things to get ready for.  We are able to attend markets as an occasional vendor,  so we might do this for long weekends or special events but our aim is to have the CSA large enough that we can still manage everything between the two of us.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Just a reminder about the Belleville Rally

April 9th is the day to bring your voices and your banners to the office of Daryl Kramp MP, 1 Millennium Parkway, Belleville from 12-1pm.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

STOP GM ALFALFA - Take Action on April 9th 2013

We ask that you take the time to read all this information.  Grab a cup of tea, coffee or even a glass of wine.  As this will effect all our futures.   

I will be honest, fifteen years ago I would not have put the two together but what animals eat directly effects us and our environment. People may laugh about this but I see the look I had 15 years ago in so many peoples faces when our food production is spoken about and the effects that chemicals and GMO's  are having on our food. This then effects the farmer and the consumer.
So many of us are used to walking into a grocery store, looking at a piece of meat in a foam tray covered in plastic. You then check the best before date and price, you then might be tempted to put that tray back and pick another one up that is nearer the back as it might be larger, fresher or slightly cheaper. Most consumers however would not at any point have thought of the life that animal had lived before it ended up on a shelf, let alone what those animals had been fed during their life time.
Having been born and raised in a city environment like so many I had a huge separation from where my food came from and how it was raised. I would never even have started to contemplate what it had consumed.  Over the last fifteen years the journey I have gone through, from shopping at local farmers markets, to learning about my food I eat and then finally becoming a farmer myself I now have a great appreciation for all aspects of the food chain and production.  People do laugh at our passion but what is life if we do not have passion for it and what we believe.  
We care for the families we feed and also have a huge responsibility to them.  

Recently I watched an interview with Prince Charles on BBC World News as he spoke about preserving our environment and farm land. He said something that I think we should all think about. He did not want his grand children asking him "Why he did nothing?" I think this statement  should make us all think.  Michael and I are not parents but we are Aunts and Uncles.  I love being an Aunt but I want to be able to answer my niece and nephew honestly when they question me. I want to say that I stood up and fought for what I believed in and tried to make sure they still have a future that gives them the freedom of choice.  We are never too old or too young to join the fight.  Many will say it won't make any difference and that we are younger so it is our fight now, but it will not change if we maintain the attitude that nothing will change. 

I think what amazes me in the society we live in is when you read the news and see countries poorer than our own say NO to GMO. They have the guts to stand up to the multinational corporations who are making the money from it, but sadly so many other countries are too scared to say NO or maybe not scared but have something else stopping them from saying no?  The farmers aren't making a profit from it! They spend more on seed, more on sprays to kill weeds, so think, who are the people who are making the money?  We are now at the stage we have super weeds as they are becoming resistant to those sprays.  Farmers who choose not to buy GMO seeds then become scared that companies like Monsanto are going to sue them if the DNA from their GMO seeds are found on their land.  (Those sprays not only kill weeds, but poison our waterways, kill our pollinators and drain our soil of any nutrients).

The biggest commodity which is going to be effected straight away from GM Alfalfa is Organic Milk.   Organic Dairy cows have to be out on pasture so many days a year and have to be fed GMO Free food this includes GM FREE ALFALFA.  If GM Alfalfa is planted in neighbouring fields these Organic farmers have no way to stop the pollinators from cross pollinating their alfalfa fields.  We can not line these pollinators up first thing in the morning and tell them which fields they can go to and which ones to stay clear of! They don't know the difference between the two. This will effect the farmers ability to save seed. It could also make them Liable to Monsanto and the like for GMO seed they never even planted. Many farmers in similar situations have been bankrupted by Monsanto for not paying royalties for their patented seed!

We are slowly destroying our environment because of a demand for cheap food.  But it is time for all of us to stand together and show we want a better future.  I want to leave this farm knowing I have made a difference to the land, and the animals that have lived here.

For the consumer who wants to eat pasture raised beef and pork or have Organic dairy products it will be to the stage that, yes, you are eating pasture raised but that animal has consumed GM Alfalfa and as   for Organic Dairies they will not exist!

It really is time to take action, if you believe in good food, family farms, farms that have been farmed ethically and also farmers being able to make a living from the land rather than having to get second jobs to feed their families, but most importantly having a freedom of choice and not feeding the  multinational corporations.  Now is the time to stand up and be counted.  

What I have written above is my opinion and my views..

Below is the information for STOP GM Alfalfa form Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.  Which will explain why we need your help and why this is every one's fight not just the farmers.
Please read and watch the videos to see how this will effect the food chain and farmers and you.

For those of you who are in Hastings County we will be rallying in Belleville on April 9th. Please take the time to come to the offices of Daryl Kramp on Millennium Drive from 12-1pm.  Many people are giving up their lunch hours to show their support.  Please join us, it is your fight just as much as it is ours.


Day of Action, April 9 2013

This call for action was issued by the National Farmers Union-Ontario.
Tony McQuail and grandson Oct 2012
Bring your banners. Bring your voices. Together we can stop the release of GM alfalfa in Canada. Photo: Tony McQuail and grandson. Oct 24 2012 protest against GM alfalfa, Kitchener-Waterloo ON.
Industry Pushing to Release Alfalfa Via Ontario
Monsanto’s GM alfalfa could be registered for use in Eastern Canada this April. GM Roundup Ready alfalfa varieties have just been cleared for the last step before they hit the market – all they need now is a final registration rubber-stamp by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Canadian Seed Trade Association and its corporate members including Monsanto, Pioneer and Forage Genetics International are also actively trying to get support for the release of GM alfalfa.
Because alfalfa is a perennial plant that is pollinated by bees, genetically modified alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa, threatening the livelihoods of family farmers across Canada. Prairie farmers have already rejected GM alfalfa for these reasons so now the industry is trying to introduce GM alfalfa in Eastern Canada.
On Oct 24, 2012 the Canadian Seed Trade Association held a meeting in Kitchener-Waterloo to decide on a "coexistence" plan for GM alfalfa, to pave the way for introducing GM alfalfa into Canada via Ontario. 120 farmers and supporting consumers protested outside the meeting. Phillip Woodhouse, president of NFU Grey County Local 344 says the term ‘co-existence’ is merely industry spin meant to allay farmers' concerns about contamination. “Make no mistake - GM alfalfa will cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa and will threaten the very livelihoods of Ontario’s family farmers," he warned.
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Share the video with your friends and family, screen the video at community events and film fests! You can request the file from us for screening. Click here to find out more information about the people behind the video.

Take Instant Action

More Actions

  1. Share the video with your friends and family on facebook, embed the video on your website, "Like" the video!
  2. Screen the video at your local events, include it in your local film fests.
  3. Get signatures on the petition.
  4. Print and download the flyer about GM alfalfa.
  5. Ask your local health food store to put up this attractive poster about GM alfalfa! The store could also collect signatures on the petition, screen the video or display alfalfa-related foods!
  6. Order buttons for your community group or event. Contact us.
  7. Join the GM Alfalfa Campaign Action Listserve.
  8. Donate today to support the campaign. Thank you for your support!
  9. Send us your action ideas and share photos from your community. Contact us.
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Even More Actions!

  1. If your Member of Parliament is a Conservative: Click here for important action suggestions that could make a huge difference!
  2. Farmers: you can send us your testimonials about how alfalfa will impact your farm business. Email Lucy at
  3. Farmers: We need videos of you talking about how important alfalfa is to your farm - What is alfalfa? Why is GM alfalfa such a big threat?
  4. Groups and Businesses: Your group can sign the No to GE Alfalfa campaign statement. Please encourage organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to sign!
  5. Retailers: Download and print this poster for your store!
  6. Retailers: Coming soon: "GM Alfalfa Campaign Action Kit for Retailers". Let us know if you are interested in receiving one.


Summary: Alfalfa growers do not need or want GM alfalfa and have been trying to stop it for at least five years. Organic food and farming in the U.S. and Canada is under immediate threat from GM alfalfa. Conventional farmers will also lose their markets. The introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) alfalfa would have serious negative impacts on many different types of farmers and farming systems, both conventional and organic. Because alfalfa is a perennial crop pollinated by bees, GM contamination is inevitable. GM alfalfa was actually approved in Canada in 2005 but still needs to go through one more step before it can be legally sold as seed in Canada.
leafcutter bee on alfalfa flowers
Why is Alfalfa Important? Alfalfa (harvested as hay) is used as high-protein feed for animals like dairy cows, beef cattle, lambs, poultry and pigs and is also used to build up nutrients in the soil, making it particularly important for organic farming. If introduced, GM alfalfa would ruin export markets for alfalfa products and threaten the future organic food and farming in the North America.

What are Farmers Saying about GM Alfalfa?

Conventional and organic farmers agree that GM alfalfa is not wanted or needed: What conventional alfalfa producers told the House of Commons Agriculture Committee, June 7, 2010
Harmony Milk and Stop GM Alfalfa
Harmony Organic Dairy Co-op says Stop GM Alfalfa


Before the U.S. decided to allow GM alfalfa plantings in early 2011, groups in Canada sent their comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on alfalfa. Read the about on the predicted impacts of GM alfalfa and the experience of GM contamination in Canada:

The Campaign So Far

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Before the Federal election in Canada, May 2011: Conservative Members of Parliament purposefully delayed a vote (twice) on a motion for a moratorium on GM alfalfa at Agriculture Committee meetings. The Liberals, NDP and Bloc Members all supported the moratorium so if the Conservatives had allowed the vote, the motion would have been approved and the motion would have passed to the House of Commons for a vote. The motion was proposed by the Liberal members of the House of Commons Agriculture Committee after huge public pressure to support Bill C-474 which would have required an assessment of export market harm before any new GM seed was permitted.
In 2007 a judge ruled that the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) approval of GM alfalfa was illegal and ordered the Department to conduct an environmental risk assessment to look into farmer concerns about contamination. In December 2009, the USDA released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for comment (this is the first time it has conducted this type of analysis for any GM crop). Canadian groups sent in their comments (see above) but in January 2011, the U.S. approved plantings of GM alfalfa. Resistance continues in the U.S.

Join the Campaign

Invitation from the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate:
The commercialization of genetically modified alfalfa -- GM Alfalfa -- planned by Monsanto and Forage Genetics International, would have a severe, negative impact on Canadian agriculture, markets, and our environment. A united effort by agriculture producer groups, consumer and environmental organizations, as well as concerned individuals, will prevent this from happening. A similar campaign stopped GM wheat in 2004.
This is your invitation to join together to put the brakes on GM Alfalfa.
We invite all organizations, producer associations, companies and community groups to endorse the "No to GM Alfalfa" campaign by signing on to the following statement (Your group’s name will be used in a list of groups that state opposition to GM Alfalfa):
  • We oppose the sale, trade and production of GMO Alfalfa in Canada.
  • We ask the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to reassess its approval for environmental release of GMO Alfalfa.
  • We want the public to understand the hazards, costs and market losses that would result if GMO Alfalfa were released into our environment.
Sign the statement here! or email for more info.
The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) is a Member of CBAN. SOD is the umbrella group for the organic sector in Saskatchewan. In 2001 the Organic Agriculture Protection Fund Committeewas established by SOD in order to protect organic farms and food from contamination by GMOs. The OAPF Committee provided support to the legal action against Monsanto and Bayer to bring about an injunction to stop the commercialization of GMO wheat, and to make the biotech companies liable for losses to organic farmers due to contamination of certified organic crops and fields by GMO canola. In 2004 Monsanto withdrew its application to have GMO wheat approved in Canada.
For more information contact:
OAPF Chairperson, Arnold Taylor at (306) 252-2075, or Lucy Sharratt at the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) (613) 241-2267 ext.25, or

Friday, February 22, 2013

Just seriously we are just kidding...

All I can say is it has been a very busy 24 hours at the farm and it all started on the evening of the 20th February.  Late night checks have been a regular thing over the last few nights as we get closer to Elly and Eva's due dates.  At 11pm I checked on the goats and all seemed well! Elly was laying down but stood up when I entered the goat house and moved around fine with no sign of mucus or babies but I did come back into the house and say to Michael I think she is going to kid in the next day, just had a gut feeling! Well I should have listened to my gut a little more closely!
6.30am on the 21st February I headed out to check on the goats to hear Soren making a lot of noise! When I got in the goat house Elly had already given birth to one kid, so I turned on my heels headed back to the house shouted to Michael who was still curled up in bed (he had been on a late shift last night) and then headed back out to the goat house with birthing kit to find baby number two had been born in 5 minutes.
Elly with kid one! 
Elly was doing an amazing job of cleaning the kids it was cold this morning including the wind chill we where at about -23.  This is our first kidding experience and the second kid to be born was not doing great! We called our friends who said what we thought we were going to have to do anyway which was to get the kid in the house and warm it up.  So in the house it came, I have to say at this point I had not even checked the sex we just wanted to get the kid warm and give it a fighting chance.  The kid was a lot smaller than the first one born.  We laid the kid on top of a blankets with a hot water bottle underneath and then we kept heating tea towels up on the wood stove to put round her body to get her temperature back up.  We took it in turns rubbing the kids body to help with circulation.  I will be really honest emotions were running high but it was amazing to see this little kid start to warm up and gain it's strength and then get too hot and start to kick off all the blankets it was wrapped in.
Kid two after being warmed up.
While warming the kid up we also spent lots of time going back and forth from the house to the goat barn checking on Elly and Kid number one and then back to the house to check on kid number two! While all this was going on Elly passed her placenta and we where then able to move her and kid number one into the summer kitchen under heat lamps.  It is really amazing one how the adrenalin kicks in and how quickly time also goes by, by now it was 10am in the morning we still had not done our chores and our bodies where in need of a large mug of coffee.  
Kid number two was doing great though. We all sacrificed clothing to make little jumpsuits for them to keep warm. We also introduced the kid back to mum who took it straight into the kidding pen and had it nursing within a few minutes.

So now it is time to officially introduce Elly's kids! So that I can stop calling them it and one and two! We decided to choose a theme to help us in naming the kids and a huge thank you to my sister who introduced us to Downton Abbey last year.  We are all great fans of the show so of course we thought it right to name all the kids after Downton characters!  Elly's kids will be called Knotty Ash Branson  and Knotty Ash Violet.  Knotty Ash is our herd name. 

Carson and Sybil with mum Eva
During the day yesterday  Eva started to make alot more noise than normal and for all who know Eva she is a rather chatty goat.  I checked on her at lunch and she had a big goop of mucus hanging! So we were getting ready for her to kid too! We did not want to move her too soon as she did not seem too stressed. The temperature had also warmed up so we let her enjoy the day in the goat house.  After dinner Eva became a  little restless making more noise looking at her side and trying to nest so we set the timer and started to check on her every hour.  At about midnight I came back in and said to Michael that I felt she was getting close so on went all the extra layers for us, Michael started the coffee pot and I headed out to just hang with her for a while.  By 1am Eva had given birth to a little doeling.  Much larger then Elly's kids and also a lot more active.  We assisted Eva in cleaning the doeling and my sister had suggested Sybil for a name so that was made easy for us.  Michael noticed that Eva had another blood sac coming out and then piped up with "I can see hooves!" This is Eva's first pregnancy so we where a little surprised to see another set of hooves coming out.  Not long after out popped a little Buckling who we have named Carson.  Both kids where doing great and once they had been cleaned up by us and mum we wrapped them in blankets and Michael carried Eva and we headed over to the kidding pen where we had heat lamps all ready.  We then spent another two hours just hanging with them making sure everyone was nice and warm and bonding well.  So at 3.30am all was looking good so Michael and I climbed into our bed to get a little bit of sleep! I set the alarm for 5.30am and it does amaze me how men do such a great job of sleeping through an alarm!! I put back on all my layers and headed out to check on everyone.  
I have to say I need not have worried, both mums were and are doing a great job.  Elly is a little quicker at standing and pushing the kids under her to have a drink at the "milk bar" Eva we have to remind her a little to stand up but once she gets the idea she seems to do a pretty good job with her two.  

All is looking pretty good at the moment, it is still early days so we will be keeping a watch full eye on them for a little while yet, Elly's two are complete nutters today jumping all over the place and on top of one another.  Fingers and toes crossed that the kids continue to bloom and do well.  

Next challenge will be milking Elly and Eva so I am able to have some fresh milk in my coffee in the morning! All I can say is watch this space.