On Food Security, Good Friends and Turkey Eggs

It’s been blazing hot here the past few days, with gale force winds.
So I’m a little slow.
We’re all a little slow.
The heat weighs you down, and then the wind strips all moisture out of your body almost instantly.
Lots and lots of liquids going in the past few days, I tell ya!

Working on getting seeds into the garden before the rains come.
Always chasing the waterers for the animals, making sure they have enough to drink.
And trying to stay on top of the “what’s for dinner?” moments.
I’m tired.
😂😂😂

But, it’s a good tired and I’m not complaining.
Much.

Last week I had chance to connect with a friend who’s working on her own family’s food security.
This is something that comes up a lot around here (in case no one’s noticed) because I’m pretty darn passionate about good foods, well raised foods, and not being beholden to any govt for getting access to that food.
So in this conversation, we talked about the space they have for growing food animals, compared to ours.
We’re not doing pigs this year.
Might be a year or 2 more before we consider it.
She and her partner have access to low cost culls, and have space to grow them out.
We have many, many, many birds.
😂😂😂
So. Many. Fucking. Birds.
And so we thought that bartering pork for birds was something to consider.
As always, I worry about making sure that all parties are happy.
I never, ever want to be in a barter situation where someone feels shorted…especially not with a friend.
But I think if we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement (and I do believe we will 🙂 )then I love the idea of bartering.
It builds community (and Lady Bless us all, we so need that in society right now!) and it gets more well raised foods into more homes. Done well it’s an excellent thing!

And then she says to me…I have 12 heritage sweetgrass turkey hatching eggs…are you interested?
Um…
YES!

Last night another friend dropped them off here…and her and I discussed how her daughter’s new home had so many rhubarb plants that could become wine to share amongst us all.
Yup, bartering for food/wine is a damn fine thing.
😉

Tonight the eggs will go into the incubator.
And whatever comes out in after 28 days will be split between two Farms.
I, uh, might be a little bit addicted to hatching turkeys.
😂😂😂

Oooooh, and just because it’s amazing, and finally happened:

That my friends, is our very first laid right here on Midnight Calico Farm Narragansett turkey egg!!
And yup, it’s going into the incubator with the sweetgrass turkey eggs.
🙂
My excitement was (still is) over the moon last night.

We were putting birds to bed, and when I got to the turkey yard, my Kid says “I have a present for you” and puts this egg in my hand…
Oh there is no mistaking turkey eggs.
None whatsoever.
They are unique (among my birds at least) and so very beautiful.
I may have cooed over it like Gollum cooed over the One Ring.
😉
It should be fertile…I’ve been watching the boys do their jobs for the past few weeks…hell, when we were working on the plastic around the garden, I was cheering Oscar on as he made the rounds with every hen in the yard.
😂😂😂
Horny teenager turkey.
If these birds start producing a lot of eggs, I’ll be looking at a 3rd incubator just for turkeys…and another brooder.
But y’know, we’ll eat really well.

And in duck news…
There are many, many duck eggs lying around.
Many of ’em.
And I’m willing to bet even more we cannot see.
Muscovies are notorious for hiding eggs and coming out just about a month later with a whole bunch of littles behind them.
Based on the chirruping and berating we’re getting from some hens, there’s quite a few of our 21 girls thinking about hatching eggs.
So we’ll cross our fingers to start seeing bebes in the next couple of months.
For the record, I’ve tried incubating duck eggs and have had no luck at all.
Followed all the directions and still had quitters.
So I’d rather let the hens to the job.
Means 1 less incubator I have to buy, because muscovies are a 35(ish) day hatch, where chickens are 21 and turkeys are 28. 35 days is a long time to tie up an incubator for no return. 😦

But if we have an abundance of hens hatching, that will give us some ducks to barter as well.
And steak birds is good eating.
😉


Monday

Busy weekend as usual.
We now have 3 brooders!
Hubby and The Kid have been on a building spree.
Thank goodness, because the meat chickens are going to need out of the coop in the Little Red Shed very, very soon!
Those nuggets grow fast. 😉

And then this happened too:

This time it was easier to link to the Instagram post…
That’s our 1st Hatchers, in their new little yard. 🙂

Just a couple of garden stakes pushed into the ground through some stucco wire and bam! Birbs can be outside.
Scary, scary, scary at first.
But we put their food out in the yard and that was enough to convince them to hop out and check out the great outdoors.
So their well on their way to becoming free rangin’ assholes.
Just the way we like our chickens…even if I do bitch about ’em.
😂😂😂

And now some outside world stuff…

Our province has gone batshit crazy.
Again.
Locked down again, and they just closed schools.
I guess they’re not done destroying the small businesses who’ve had to close, yet again.
And their not done destroying the mental health of kids yet.
And screw the folks who can’t afford to stop working to be home with their kids that are too young to be left alone, because we’re “not allowed” to have people in our homes or on our property.
Listen, I get that the virus is real, but saying that one life lost is too many while destroying thousands more is flat out ridiculous.
But, I have my suspicion that the school closure is an attempt to force the shot on those who might not want their kids to get it.
I really, truly hope that I am wrong on that…really, really, really hope so…however, the timing and the fact that the school closure was announced on Mother’s Day, 2 days *after* the businesses being shut down was announced…it’s too coincidental in my books.
Especially since the time frame where the kids should be heading back after this shut down just happens to coincide with the time frame where our province is opening up eligibility to everyone 12 and over.
So, I suspect the medical discrimination is just over that hill there…and I suspect like good little citizens, the bulk of my province will happily medically discriminate against anyone who doesn’t force it into their child, lack of studies be damned.
It’s funny as fuck to me that suddenly alllllll the people who’ve chanted the mantra “my body my choice” for years are now saying the shot should be mandatory.
Huh.
Pretty sure if I had no say in your medical decisions previous to the year the world lost it’s mind, you have no say in my medical decision now. Or ever.

And isn’t it interesting how that’s the big topic now, when you run into someone?
“Oh hey, get your shot yet”
The looks I get when I say “Nope.”
😂😂😂

And before anyone starts with the screeching about me being an “anti-vaxer”, just don’t…
2 things I live by:
1. my body my choice
2. informed consent
That’s how it’s supposed to be.
We own our medical decisions for our meat suits, plain and simple.
If that bothers anyone, well…🤷‍♀️

And…
Oh and this is a big one…
Do not even dare to try the whole “if you don’t get the shot, you shouldn’t have access to health care” bullshit.
Canadian health care is not supposed to discriminate against people for their life choices and who gets cared for.
So really, take that shit and fuck off. Way the fuck off.
Besides, Hubby and I have paid into that health care system for our entire working lives, and that health care has paid for other people’s choices that we may not have agreed with, and at no fucking time have we tried to have them stripped of access to care, just because we didn’t like their life choices.

So fucking remember that, when you say people who “don’t act right” should lose access to health care, ‘kay?
Everyone pays in here, everyone has access to care.
Whether you like “how they act” or not.
Simple as fuck.

And that’s enough of that.
Because I’m trying to keep that shit out of this blog, but sometimes, the frustrations ooze out…and damn if this ain’t my place, so I’ll write what I want.

But to finish it out, I’ll share a picture of Ruby from the weekend…

Being all pretty and crabby af because I woke her from her nap.
😂😂😂
I was *trying* to take pictures of her half buried in the straw pile, snoring her fool head off…but when she heard me open the gate she got up, hoping for treats.
Because that’s what a Fat Girl needs.
Treats.
😂😂😂
Have a great week folks, and don’t let the bastards grind ya down.

It Has Begun…

Seed starting space is still at a premium.
So I work with what I have…for now.
Peppers are started.

Only 6 varieties…

I wanted to plant so many more.
But these 6 will do for this year.
Spicys with the poblanos, Anaheims, big Jims, and jalapenos.
Sweets with the shepherds and red bells.
The shepherds are a first for me…last summer our local mega-mart (Superstore) had cases of them on sale.
They do every year.
Last year was the first year Hubby managed to get them before they sold out.
They’re a long, sweet red pepper that tastes like candy when roasted.
Oh. My. Dog.
I did jars and jars of pressure canned roasted red peppers.
So damn good!!
And then I thought “huh, wonder if these are open pollinated?”
Off I went to ask the google…because the peppers themselves come from a farm in Ontario (one province east of me) I figured they grow fairly decently in our climate.
I worried briefly about them being greenhouse grown, ’til the farm itself posted images of rows upon rows upon rows of pepper plants….so I took a chance and emailed them to find out where they sourced their seeds.
Stokes!!
And they’re o/p.
So guess who saved a whole lot of shepherd pepper seeds?
That’s right.
This woman did.
🙂

peppers!

So 2 trays of those, 2 poblanos, and one each of the rest. b
That’s my peppers started.
And my new grow light will arrive when Hubby gets home today.
Squeeeee!
Ima little happy about extra lights. 😉

And then, because I have so much time on my hands
🤦‍♀️🙄
😂😂😂
I decided to do one more thing with seeds this weekend…

With a recycled bag to act like a wee greenhouse, recycled peat pots, and a recycled mushroom tray, I figured I’d stick a few chokecherry seeds in to see if they sprout.
I saved them from the mash that made the chokecherry wine, and popped them into the freezer to mimic our crazy cold winter.
Now, we’ll see what happens.
I have nothing to lose if it doesn’t work, and everything to gain if it does.
In my opinion, that makes it worth trying.
🙂

First Week of March

And we’re marching right along.
Heh.
See what I did there?
😂😂😂
I promise, I’m funnier in person.
Or, maybe I’m not.
🤷‍♀️

So I’ve booked 2 dozen turkey hatching eggs for the end of the month.
Why?
Uh….why not?
So I have 2 toms and 5 hens.
The hens should start laying soon…and if their shrieking songs are any indication, it will. be. soon.
But the lady I got the eggs from last year moved far, far away and chances to get eggs from her again this year dwindled…until we found out that she’s still finishing up the relocation of her family (to an amazing property in the bush, surrounded by wildlife, huge areas to forage and so much space for growing her own food…I’m teensy bit jealous. 😉 ) so is back in the area once a week for a few more months.
So I jumped at the chance for a couple dozen eggs, since she had added new genetics last year, meaning I could hatch and run the new hatches with my current turkeys.
Hopefully, by the time we get eggs from her, my hens will have popped a few eggs out so I can add those to the incubator too.
I know the boys are dancing up a storm and there has been some turkey lovin’ goin’ on.
😂😂😂

We’re half way through the incubation for the first 80 chicken eggs.
So. Exciting!
I get excited about them hatching until the work of taking care of the chicks comes along.
😂😂😂
I’m a bit like a little kid like that.
But this is what we have to do to make sure there’s food in the freezer for next winter.
I mean holy crap, it’s not even spring and I’m already planning for winter!

And like every other year, thoughts move towards “what else can I grow”.
We have enjoyed having pigs for the summer…well, until these last ones.
Those effers were scary. 😳
And I’m not one to be scared by animals.
But watching them hunt chickens, stalk the cats and a time or two stalk Hubby, well…as much as I want pigs again, they have to be manageable for The Kid and I.
So we’re thinking potbellies.
Smaller, easier to handle, and if we get a boar and 2 sows, a renewable resource.
😉
We’ll try them out and see how they work for us.

LemonChicken enjoys the droppings off the hay bales.

The weather is warming up and the chickens are wandering around the yard again.
No matter how hard I try, those dang birds just won’t stay in their yard!
But they have fun picking through the bits of hay that fall all winter when we feed the Merry Mares.
And they find any voles that might be coming out into the sunshine.
Plus they steal cat food.
Because chickens is jerks.

the mares mooning me under the full moon…

The northern lights have been crazy active!
I keep trying to go out a photograph them, but I really don’t think my heart is in it.
When trying to take pictures, I don’t get to enjoy them as much.
I’ve just been enjoying my glass of whiskey and watching the lights.
In a world gone mad, it’s been a pleasure to enjoy the magic of their dancing with a fine sipping whiskey in hand and cats in my lap…
Because I can’t sit anywhere without cats in my lap. I ain’t complaining about that though…I do love a feline lap warmer. 😉
Last night it was Max, Trouble, Xena and Coal all vying for who got to sit in my lap.
4 cats don’t fit so well, no matter how hard they try.
😂😂😂

My big chubby monkey…
Daphne…because she’s hard to photograph, and y’all don’t get to see enough of her. 🙂

Finally!

We have emerged from the polar vortex!
And I am happy about that.
Boy am I happy about that!
Weather sure has been challenging humans across North America this month.
I feel for those caught up in patterns that they don’t normally deal with.
It’s easy for those of us with cold experience to sit back and say shitty things (please don’t do that, ‘kay?) but the fact is, even we get slammed with hard-to-deal-with weather.
So before you make some joke about Texas or any of the southern States dealing with cold and snow and no power and frozen pipes, remember, “there but for the grace of God go I…”
We just came out of -50*c weather…imagine if we’d lost power!
I can’t even.
So just try to remember to be kind.
That’s it.
Don’t be shitty and be kind.

Today, as I type this, we’re at -13*c.
After the past 2 weeks that positively t-shirt weather.
And I’m thankful for it.
So are the horses, the hens, the turkeys and the ducks…oh and the cats.
It was so bad there for awhile we were feeding jar after jar after jar of wet food to them, just so they had enough.
Normally a 1/2 pint is a good supplement to their kibble.
They went through a case of 12 in 2 days!
But, food keeps furnaces stoked, and wet food helps keep kitties hydrated.
So I feed ’em.
🙂
But it also means we’re running low on homemade cat food, so Hubby went and bought a few big cans to have on hand, just in case.
And come fall, I’ll just do a few extra jars, bigger jars, to make sure everyone has enough.

Meat birds are ordered.
I added an extra 25 meat chickens, so we’ll be getting 75 chickens and 10 turkey poults.
So. Many. Birds.
Though chicken math means it’s really not more than 12.
😂😂😂
And I’m thinking I might fire up the incubators this weekend.
If I start this weekend, I can get 2 full hatches in before the one hatch that needs to coincide with the arrival of the meat birds.
I ain’t downsizing the amount of birbs I hatch, let me tell ya!!
Hatching out as many as I possibly can.

Hubby brought home the first bag of potting soil yesterday.
And a pouch of fava bean seeds.
I’ve never grown fava beans before, so I had to read up on them.
Turns out the entire plant is edible, so yay for that!
And with today’s trip to the post office, I’ll have the seeds I need to get the garden going as soon as I can.
Whew!
It’s gonna be a lot of beans, tomatoes, carrots, peas and beets this year.
Stuff we eat a lot of, stuff I can a lot of for winter.
As excited as I am to get growing, I’m tired just thinking about the work too.
lol

Ooooh, I told y’all I was pondering extra apple and saskatoons?
Yup, those are ordered too.
The Food Forest is expanding!
And for the last few nights, I’ve having vivid Dreams about cutting hay.
Oh, I can’t *wait* to get scythe in hand and cut hay again!

But for now, I’m just thankful for the warmer weather, that we made it through the coldest snap we’ve had in a very long time, and that Spring is coming.

Our 3 chubby monkeys, who are doing so well this year…even with record breaking cold!

Sharing with Brian’s Home for Thankful Thursday.

Food Security

I have been writing this post, in some form or another, for months.
I keep shelving it, because…I don’t know…
In a previous blog, in my city life, I wrote about food security a lot.
This isn’t something new to me.
This isn’t a new sudden fad laden passion.
Food security has been an issue on my radar, on my plate, for quite literally years.
And I’m gonna say this point blank now…

Y’all got to get right with your food supplies.

Not now, but yesterday.
I ain’t even kidding when I say there’s some scary shit going on with the food supply and it’s going to get way worse before it gets better.
Abattoirs are shutting down due to covid.
Even a brief shut down creates a shortage until they get caught back up.
It also leaves farmers in limbo with animals that need to go into the food system.
If there’s no where to ship them to be processed to hit the store shelves, what do you do?
Especially when the next round of animals is coming up to go into the slot where your to-be-shipped animals are?
It’s a delicate dance, getting enough food out to the masses and disruptions cause massive issues.
Now, this is a huge problem with centralized abattoirs.
When you shut down smaller plants across the country to create bigger plants in only a few locations…well, shortages can happen easy effing peasy.

Now, I’m sure some are out there saying “well, eat less meat”.
Sure.
But you all realize that the bulk of on farm workers when it comes to vegetable/grain harvesting is migrant workers right?
Even in Canada?
Which is why we had such issues with veggies on store shelves over the summer, because covid made getting the migrant workers here an issue.
Yes, yes, yes, Canadians *could* do the jobs.
But, let’s be brutally honest here…
1. Many Canadians are not willing to do the back breaking work in the fields.
Like it or not, that’s just how it is.
2. The pay ain’t great. Again, like it or not, the pay just isn’t as good as it should be.
And we’re ***ALL*** responsible for that.
Why?
Because no one wants to pay enough for their fruits and veggies that would be the equivalent of a fair wage for workers and farmers both.
So, cheap food for consumers has a cost.
A human cost.
I’ve said it many times…cheap on the shelf ain’t cheap.
Someone, or something, is still paying the cost so you can have cheap.
🤷‍♀️

So I’ll say it again:

Get right with your food supply.

Get to know local farmers, plant a garden, grow everything you can, put up as much as you can, buy local, support local, investigate the 100 mile diet.
Honest to Dog, you can’t afford not to.

Chicken pic just because…

Wednesday Thoughts

Yesterday’s debacle at the Post Office left me thinking…and raging.

I have long been a very vocal supporter of growing your own food, knowing where your food comes from, knowing your farmer, and farm to table eating.
Long before we ever considered moving here, long before I started this blog, I wrote about, and practiced, growing as much food as possible in the space available to you. Hell, I’ve preached about growing your own and protecting your food supply for years.
I am a firm believer in owning as much of your food supply as you can, and supporting those who grow food with the same ethics as you.
Walk softly on this Earth, while growing as much as we can without damaging Her.

But I was caught short yesterday.
I was rather proud of myself to have placed my seed order last week.
Seeds = garden = food security, right?
Sure.
*IF* you can get them from the post office.
Which I couldn’t yesterday, due to it being shut down.
Oh, signs said “knock loud” and supposedly someone would answer, but we tried on 2 separate tries.
Nothing.
We know the seeds are there, because we got notice of a package and it’s the only thing I’ve ordered that would need to be carded.

But no one is around, no one is answering the phones, and it’s looking like if it doesn’t fit in your mail box, you’re shit out of luck.
Frankly, that’s bullshit.
We’re so goddamn afraid of each other, because we’re blitzed 24/7 about this damn virus, that basics are being lost.
Can’t use cash.
Can’t get packages…hey, what about all those small home businesses that are just barely staying afloat who *RELY* on the mail?
I know of at least 4 that use our post office.
I guess fuck them, right?
Fear wins again.
And livelihoods are destroyed.
I only hope those families have enough financial reserve to not lose their homes through this.
Because wouldn’t that be the shit?
Safe from the covid, but homeless because you can’t pay the bills…
*sigh*

But we’re not supposed to talk about that.
We’re supposed to be good and do what we’re told.
Stay home.
Don’t go out unless absolutely necessary.
And don’t forget to sanitize your groceries when you bring them home.
Do we not see how this fear is rapidly becoming absurd?
Sanitize.
Your.
Groceries.
I wish I had the face palm emoji…but I don’t because I harvest all the cool emojis from FB and I’m in FB Jail right now for asking a lot of these same questions.
See, not only are there snitch lines for people to phone the “authorities” when others aren’t behaving properly, there’s people snitching on social media and anyone who’s asking questions is getting social media jailed.

But I digress…

My point here is this…
Food security is hella important.
It was before, it is a million times more so now.
And the fact that I don’t know when, or even if, I’ll be able to get my seeds from the post office is infuriating.

But

Once I have them in hand…whether it’s the ones I ordered last week, or ones I purchase somewhere else (because I might have to *go* somewhere else to get them, as opposed to ordering online)…you can bet I’ll be working on seed saving from a lot of the things we plant this year.
I’m not going to fall into this trap again.
Thinking “oh, I can just order those. I don’t need to save seeds from that”…
Clearly, that’s just not true anymore.

So I’m learning how save seeds from biennials, like carrots (we go through so. many. carrots!), beets, parsnips…
And I’ll be upping the planting of beans, so that we have some at the end of bean season to save for next year.
Beans will actually be planted in 2 spots…1 will be for canning, fresh eating and dried beans for winter.
The other will be for fresh eating, canning and seed saving.
The dried beans for winter patch is a hybrid (most likely…they’re beans we were given to feed the chickens, but I test grew a few plants and they work very well for fresh eating) so seeds saving from them isn’t going to give me a true variety.
My seed saving patch is a lovely heirloom bean called “Painted Pony”.
Perfect for our Farm, since we do love our painted ponies here.
😉

And, over the next 2 years, I’m working on a plan to give us a massive garden expansion.
I’ve signed up for a few online courses/webinars to learn more about how to grow food on a larger scale, in the most Earth friendly ways possible.
I’m looking at permaculture designs that could give us several workable, growable acres of food forest/edible landscaping.
This I can do on the cheap.
While I continue to hatch and grow out chicks for egg/meat production.
I wanted sheep.
I will eventually have sheep.
But the fact is this…
Sheep means hay.
Right now, not knowing how long Hubby’s work is going to be shut down, I’m worrying about having the $$$ for Fall hay for the Merry Mares, let alone adding more animals that eat dried grasses.
And if I can’t feed ’em, I ain’t taking them on.
It’s just that simple.

For now though, it’s poultry and vegetables.
Focusing on securing those sustainable food sources for my family, and hopefully having enough to support friends too.
There’s not much else I can do.

Throwing in a picture of Astrid…because we all need to see her pretty face. ❤