Farm Stories - February 12, 2022

Farm Stories - February 12, 2022

This time if year always seems hopeful. Hopeful about the possibilities of the coming spring and summer. I haven't gotten as far as the autumn and winter. They seem more looming than hopeful at this point. Being in the middle of winter, the last thing I want to think about is the next one. 

Ducks in the snow on a "warmish" day. The next day we had a melt, and they were thrilled.

Mid-February is perhaps the most depressing time of the year. It seems like the cold is never going to end. Once that VERY first warmish day happens though, everything changes. Maybe it's hearing the drip, drip, drip, of the snow melting. Maybe it's the ever-so-slight warmth, or not cold, on the breeze. Maybe it's the ducks that are reveling in the meltwater as though they haven't seen water on the ground in years. I don't know, but it only takes that one day to be reminded that this cold, frozen landscape will open up into a vibrant green and lush vision full of life. It sure as heck doesn't look like there's much life out there at the moment. even the rabbit tracks are hard to find due being covered by seemingly constant blowing snow.

What this deep mid-winter does provide is a chance to shift focus. With lambing is in full swing, it's time to consider the next few weeks. One of the first considerations is how many pens the ewes need. For the past few years we've gotten by with 4 -6. Lambs come at regular intervals that we need no more - of course that can change at any time. There's also getting milkhouse prepared for milking again. Although milking won't begin for another 6 weeks or so, beginning to do the "big shift" from winter space to working milkhouse takes a a lot of work, that is easier done in stages. The first stage happened this past week. The cage that was the landing pad for Asha and Maris (new ghost cat) in now in the barn as both cats are out and about in the barn.


Landuse planning has been a big preoccupation over the past month. What to do, where to do it, and how to pay for it. The Ecological Farmer's of Ontario had a Silvopasture course with Steve Gabriel, author of the book Silvopasture. Creating some silvopasture is a huge goal for us. This course is an opportunity to learn more. It's very exciting as planting trees and hedgerows has been a goal since living on Jones Baseline in Guelph. 

Our first living fence being planted here this year.
WATCH THIS SPACE: Exciting things happening this spring here...


It's taken us this long to get here for a number of reasons. At first, we didn't have the land. Once we had the land, we needed to wait and see what the land wanted and needed. Then what we wanted and needed. It's so easy to land on a piece of land, plan it out, and then go with that plan. Early in our farming career Tim and I learned the "wait and see" approach. It takes a few years to begin to know how both a location and you behave throughout the seasons on the land. Now in our 6th year here on this farm, there is a glimmer of confidence to begin massaging the landscape into a loose vision. This spring will see the planting of our very first LIVING FENCE! The fence itself will be 500' long. Hopefully it will be part of a research project about living fences. I won't know that until later in March if that will be the case. The image above is where the fence will be planted. Imagine how different it will look next year.

This living fence has a number of future goals I'd like to see it achieve. From being bird habitat, early pollinator food, possible income stream, resource material, windblock, wood source, creative outlet, and of course a fence. This planting is the first stage of the entire project. I have ideas about the rest of the project, but like all large endeavours, this first step must be taken before planning the next. 

In the next month or so, before all the cuttings come in, a planting plan, plant spacing, drip tape plan, and so much more has to be determined. Some 400 cutting will be planted in a short space of time. When it'll happen, I don't know yet, but keep watch for a planting party in the spring. What's really exciting is that this fence could be a huge touchstone for others to do, or not do. By planting this we are actually taking a big risk. It's altering a landscape possibly irreversibly. I believe it will work, but it might not. This whole project could be a huge failure. Of course, we are wired to focus on the negative aren't we.

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