One Year On

One Year On

One year ago, we started this blog and launched our Welsh Hill Farm website.  We have learned a multitude of new skills, fallen flat on our faces many times, cried with frustration and with joy and had our idealistic ideas turn into real messy, dirty life.  I was trying to think of a list of the things we have learned so other new farmers/homesteaders/idealistic people can learn from us.

  1. No matter how many youtube videos you watch, you are not an expert until you have done something, and done it over again, many times.
  2. Having freedom, lots of fresh air and a healthy diet is amazing for children.  Especially for the ones who didn’t have it before.
  3. Fifteen pounds of organic seed garlic translates to a lot of garlic.  In fact, it ends of taking up half of my garden space.  On the upside, maybe we can sell some organic garlic next year!
  4. We cannot sell chicken at Costco prices and not lose lots of money.
  5. Free-range laying hens look awesome (in a sustainable, eco-hippy sort of way) and all the permaculture people will tell you that you can feed them for free, but that only works if you have 5 chickens not 50.  Feeding chickens dog food and canning tomatoes is not economical.  Also, no chicken feed equaled pretty much no eggs in our case.
  6. Apparently our township has a bylaw that you cannot have a wood boiler to heat your house within 100 metres of a property line.  In our case that means we can’t install one although we have almost 200 acres.  Of course we should have called the township first before ordering a boiler and arranging a loan to pay for it…
  7. Smoking bacon on your back porch, not only infuses your pork with smoke, but your entire house and family.  Every time you leave the house, every dog in the neighbourhood trails behind your van looking for a treat. (That is not exactly true, but I couldn’t help but think the the people staring at us in the grocery store were smelling bacon.)
  8. Homemade bacon is really, really good and worth the work.
  9. Holding onto the electric fence while your 5 year old has access to the extension cord that plugs it in, is not good for parent/child relations.  Especially if the said parent has a 30 pound 2 year old on their back.
  10. Every time you pay off your line of credit, something breaks.  Every time you plan to go out, something breaks.  Actually, pretty much every time you try to do anything, something breaks.  Usually it is the tractor.
  11. Every time your 2 year old sees meat, he says “pig, oink, oink.” Not everyone will be as excited to know the actual source of their meat.
  12. At speech therapy assessment, your child can point out every farm animal and heavy machine but does not know ice cream, school bus, zoo animals or babysitter.  He does know the f-word though.  He means truck.
  13. White slipcovers in a farmhouse with 4 children are the epitome of Pinterest-style not so practical decor. For some reason, I still like them though!
  14. It can all be summed up with Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” 

The fall of last year quickly became almost overwhelmingly busy with animal butchering, garden harvesting, a family wedding and the beginning of our homeschooling year with 2 of our children in Grade 1.  Something needed to be removed from my plate, so I took a hiatus from updating this blog.  I apologize to those who have loyally visited this site looking for updates.

Okay, so that was 2015.  For 2016, we of course have many new plans.  Our first big project is to build a barn. My father is moving a reclaimed barn to our property and we are really excited to be finally at this stage on our farm.  It will enable us to have a place for winter/early spring calving and lambing.  There will finally be a proper place for feed storage and a winter watering system.  We will also be able to get a family milk cow at some point.  Here is our initial plan, which is a work in progress (drawn by Jeff McDougall.) Barn ortho_2

Another thing that is different this year is that we will not be selling our pastured organic chicken.  We unfortunately lost quite a bit of money because of a several reasons and we would not be able to sell them again this year without a substantial price increase.  Moving chickens every day and giving them natural greens and insects makes a delicious and healthy meat, but unfortunately in our case it meant the chickens grow more slowly.  Also we had a problem with our feed and had to switch suppliers, at a much higher price. We will continue to grow chickens for ourself and experiment with some ways to keep costs a bit lower. We will keep you updated on our progress.

The hens are starting to pick up their laying now that the days are longer.  Eggs continue to be really popular and we pretty much sell out every week.  It is best to call ahead of time if you want to make sure we have some. Our feed price has gone up considerably and we may change the price but right now the price is the same as in 2015, $6 per dozen.Eggs in basket

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As usual the children are having a blast playing outside in the snow and skating on the pond.  Please stop by for a hot drink and a skate sometime!

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-Vanessa

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Written by Vanessa White


Website: http://welshhill.com

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