Posts Tagged ‘homesteading’

Feeding time

My mornings are starting to settle into a new routine: drink tea (t! leaves a cup of tea for me on the bedside table every morning when he leaves for work), get up & get dressed,  take the dog out to do his business, feed the dog (t! feeds the cats before he leaves), feed & water the chicks, then have my own breakfast. I’m well aware that this winter, the morning routine is going to include putting on my snow boots and jacket to take a gallon of warm water out to the chicken coop!

Feeding the chicks involves going out to the lawn with a pair of scissors and harvesting a couple of generous handfuls of grass, clover, and dandelion greens, which I then snip small. This gets mixed in with the chick starter in the feed trough. I really can’t tell how much of the green stuff they are actually eating, but hopefully they are learning that the green stuff is also food. 

Here is today’s cute chick pic, ‘all lined up at the feed trough’:


The chicks are two weeks old today!

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Yesterday I drove to Carrying Place, Prince Edward County, Ontario to pick up my baby chicks. Carrying Place (named for a canoe portage) is just south of Trenton, and so the drive was about 3 hours each way. Since the hatchery was busy putting together shipments all day, Jason (the owner/manager/chicken breeder) asked me to come by at 7pm. So I got home at 11pm last night, with a box full of peeping baby chicks. 

Since I had prepared (mostly) their new home in advance, it didn’t take too long to settle them into their new (temporary) home, a large cardboard box:


They are all healthy and eating and drinking well – as far as I can tell. I peer into the box and see some chicks eating and drinking, but since they’re all pretty much identical, I have to hope that this means they’re all well. I will be checking them several times a day, and making sure that none of them are sitting in a corner looking miserable. Keeping the temperature up in the 30°C – 35°C range that it’s meant to be in for the chick’s first week is proving to be a challenge. When I tested my set-up last Friday the heat lamp was doing a great job, but it now occurs to me that I did the test on a warm afternoon. The heat lamp was struggling to keep the temperature up in the (insulated) garage when it went down to 6°C overnight last night, but the chicks all seem to be doing fine.

They were hatched on Friday, May 1st, so they were three days old when I picked them up, and when these pictures were taken. Yes, they are incredibly cute.


Here is an information page with some good pictures of what the chickens should look like when they’re all grown up. My chicks are the “partridge” coloration, which is a variant of the Chantecler that was developed in Alberta in the 1930s. I chose that variant because I’m hoping to let the chickens free range when they are big enough, and the partridge coloration seems like it would provide the best camouflage.

Jason at the hatchery thoroughly approved of these as a starter flock for a new homesteader. He said the demand for the old-fashioned, dual purpose (eggs and meat), homesteader-friendly heritage breeds was huge this year. He’s sold out of almost everything. 

I feel like we’re “real” homesteaders now. We have Livestock!

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I met another one of our neighbors today, a dairy farmer named Peter Jack who lives up on Cumming Road. He saw me out in the yard with Carter and pulled his pickup truck into the driveway to introduce himself. We had a nice long chat about farming, and family, and work, and land, and local gossip. I love the fact that people around here make the effort to get to know their neighbors. I found out that there is a (mild) milk shortage in Quebec & Ontario, and that the topsoil on our land is very thin (which I already suspected was the case). It’s why there are so many houses (as opposed to farms) on our road – the land isn’t good enough for commercial farming, because the bedrock is too close to the surface. This means that digging the holes for the apple trees is going to be hard work indeed, and that I need to start looking into green manures and cover crops. And maybe consider the straw bed method for planting potatoes.

On Saturday I started the first of my seeds. One flat (36 cells) each of leeks (because they need such a long season to reach a decent size) and parsley (because it takes 3 weeks to germinate), and one of St. John’s Wort. The leeks and parsley are on the big seed rack in the kitchen where they will get the most sun:


The seed rack looks bare, but it won’t for long. I’ll be planting my pepper and tomato and all the other “8 weeks before the last frost” seeds in two week’s time, and then the rack will fill up nicely.

The St. John’s Wort is in the basement. It has very particular germination requirements and ignoring them last year meant that none of the seeds germinated, so I’m being more diligent this year. St. John’s Wort needs light to germinate, so you have to carefully place the minuscule seeds on the surface of the seed starting mix, and they can’t be warmer than 15°C. Hence they are in the basement, sitting on the cool cement floor. Hopefully I’ll have more luck with them this year. St. John’s Wort is a perennial, so if I do manage to get it started this time, then at least I won’t have to go through this again next year!

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For my own reference…


  • Order seeds – DONE
  • Order fruit trees – DONE


  • Start early seeds (leeks, onions, parsley)
  • Order scythe
  • Sunday, Feb. 8th – Seed exchange at Montreal Jardin Botanique
  • Saturday, Feb. 28th – Eco Farm Day in Cornwall (conference organised by Canadian Organic Growers- Ottawa Chapter, with keynote speaker Eliot Coleman)


  • Order chicks
  • Plan layout for garden, orchard
  • Design chicken coop
  • Start more seeds


  • Plant trees (April 11-12 or April 18-19)
  • Build chicken coop
  • Start last indoor seeds

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I have been trying to do a little bit of work every day on my sewing/quilting projects.

I finally finished all 9 blocks of my “starter” project and assembled them. Now the quilt top is waiting for the next stages, which I need to learn to do. So to teach myself how to attach the borders, assemble the layers of the quilt (top, batting, and backing), quilt it, and bind it, I’m working instead on my “window quilts” or insulated curtains. I figure it makes more sense to learn these somewhat tricky steps on a plain piece of curtain fabric rather than on a pretty quilt top that I’ve worked hard on.

So this week I cut the fabric for the curtains and then cut border strips as if it was a “real” quilt, and today taught myself how to do borders with Mitered Corners:



The curtain measures 60 inches wide by 36 inches “tall” and is the first of a pair I’m making for the two windows in the den. The curtain fabric is some I bought in Reading many years ago, and the borders are fabric that silly_imp gave me from her fabric stash a while back.

So far so good, though it’s slow going since I only tend to spend an hour or so on it, 3 or 4 times a week. At this rate I figure I may have the two window quilts for the den finished by Christmas… and then I’ve got a whole list of other projects waiting their turn:

  • Quilted curtains for the guest bedroom – squares are cut for this one
  • A pieced (but not quilted) duvet cover for the guest bedroom, made mostly out of old sheets
  • And, of course, finishing the first project, which will probably end up as a simple (but pretty!) wall hanging
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    I have great friends

    Thank you very, very much Mousme, Owldaughter and Toughlovemuse for the fantastic birthday gift. I can’t wait to try it out and make some home-made pasta. My mouth waters just thinking about making tortellini with flour from Homestead Organics, eggs from the farmer’s market, Peter’s beef and cheese from our local dairy co-op. I hope I have time to start playing with it soon!

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    They didn’t have the interweb, either

    t! and I had the following conversation last night just before bed:

    him: “I’m going to use some of the pita bread to make a grilled cheese sandwich for my breakfast tomorrow, because we’re out of bread.”

    me: “Yeah, I have to bake tomorrow.”

    him: “This never happened on Little House on the Prairie

    me: “Ma Ingalls had three daughters to help her with the baking!”

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    This weekend’s harvest included 25lbs of paste tomatoes that I bought at the Vankleek Hill Farmer’s Market, and 20lbs of wild apples that Fearsclave and I gathered from a wide variety of trees in his back 40.

    I spent most of yesterday processing the tomatoes into 16 jars of crushed tomatoes/tomato sauce:





    [This wonderful machine is a European Tomato Press that I bought from Lee Valley Tools. It not only crushes the tomatoes to a very fine consistency, but spits the peels and seeds out the other end while doing so.]



    Health and work schedule permitting, I’ll be turning the wild apples into apple jelly on Thursday or Friday.

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