Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category



Farm Girl excitement this week!  The Farmer and the Farm Girly headed into town to M&R Feeds to pick up our new chicks.  I had to stay home because Daddy decided to leave in the middle of the bread baking.  I wish I had gone.  Ella jumped right into the pen with the layers and started grabbing them for Daddy to put into the boxes!  This from the girl who didn’t want anything to do with chickens until a couple of weeks ago.

2 different kinds of meat birds, 1-2 days old.  And…

5 turkeys!  We’ve never raised turkeys before so this will be fun.  All the chicks are so soft, you almost can’t feel them.

Also picked up 40 new ready to lay hens (excuse the mess, pick-up day sort of snuck up on Colin and he had to just stick them in where there was room).   They are just ‘regular’ chickens.  My Harco Blacks don’t come in the ready to lay size.  Hopefully, now that we have some new hens and that spring is finally coming, my egg production will improve.

Want to know how to annoy the Grandpa Farmer?  Say ‘there is a chicken and rooster’!  It drove Grandpa crazy when Ella was little and most of her books said ‘chicken and rooster’.  You know why, of course??  Because roosters are chickens!  All roosters are chickens but not all chickens are rooster.  The books should say ‘hen and rooster’.  Sure can tell how far removed everyone is from their food production.

Remember the beautiful portraits of Ella from last fall?  Well Courtney saw the chicks on my FB page and wanted to use them for her Easter advertising.  She came up yesterday (got to be quick before they feather out and don’t look cute).

I brought up (from the cellar) 3 of the chicks.  They were so calm and well-behaved (no one pooped on anything/one).  Ella loved posing with them, but it took quite a while to convince her to bring the chick to her face.  She was afraid she’d be pecked.

And as you can see, mud season has started.  It’s not too bad yet because we’re still quite cold.  But it’s coming!

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Farm Girl Friday

After yesterday’s post you are probably wondering what I’ll post for Farm Girl Friday this week.  Well I thought I’d show you around the barns.  It’s very strange out there.

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Wow, it is so weird to be in the ‘sow barn’ and have it completely empty.  Also it is SO quiet!  Usually when I go in this barn it stirs up the sows because they were accustomed to just Dad and Colin.  Now all you hear is the clucking of the chickens in the old pens or the cats trying to convince you to feed them (more).

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Tearing apart the wiener pens.  Colin has big plans for the farrowing barn.  It’s the newest barn and still in pretty good shape.  Pigs are so hard on everything (the farmer included).

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Once the wiener pens were out the new (cat proof) chicken pens went in.  These will be great.  All the layers will now be on the main level of the barn so I can gather eggs now.  Also, I like that there are proper doors that actually open and close!

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Colin took out the side wall and put in some new doors.  They slide so easily Ella can move them.  For the first time in his entire life Colin won’t have to scrape off the trucks this winter.  Yep, he’s turning the rest of the farrowing barn into machine storage and truck garage.  Hurray!  The trucks are too tall for me to shovel off easily.

The finishing barn is still full of piggies.  We will probably have pork through October.  After that Colin plans on turning that barn into grain storage.  That way we can store our combined crops and sell them when the market is up, not just because they are ready for harvest.

It is amazing how little time Colin spends in the barns these days.  Colin finds it strange to actually have time on his hands to do what he ‘wants’ instead of chores that ‘must’ be done.  Colin has been in the pig business for 20 years -something people don’t realize.  Add to that the 15 or so years of ‘free’ labour before that and he’s really looking forward to taking it ‘easy’.  Not that he’s sitting around twiddling his thumbs.  He’s busy these days cleaning wheat and other early grain crops.

What’s a Farm Girl going to do now that her Farmer actually has time for himself?  Well maybe we’ll actually be able to get away for a short holiday to celebrate our wedding anniversary (a couple of months later).

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Well it’s official, after 100+ years, the Fletcher family will no longer be in the pork business.  This has been a long, hard decision.  Actually one that’s been about 4 years in the making.  Why are we getting out?  Short answer is we are tired of bleeding money and having to borrow 10’s of thousands of dollars every year to make up the income shortfall.  There was a time when the pork market followed a cycle.  You knew that after a couple of years of no profit things would turn around for a few years and everything evens out.   Colin and I have been married 10 years, not once during that decade have we had a profitable year -oh we’ve had break-even years but you can’t pay bills with just breaking even.  Also, Colin’s barns are really old and in need of a lot of repair.  It would be more economical to tear down the barns and build new, but that’s an easy $1 million.  Hard to make mortgage payments on a million dollars when you are only breaking even -on the good years.

We have been selling our pork locally for 7 years.  We have loved getting to know all our customers and have even made some new friends.  Although we DO make a profit  on our local sales, it’s only about 20% of Colin’s pork production.  Local market just isn’t big enough nor can it support higher prices.

Also, since Colin’s Mom died last December his Dad has really been slowing down and not doing so much around the farm.  This leaves Colin with so much more work.  We have 400 acres of cash crops too.  People don’t realize that pork farming is a full-time job.   On top of all that Colin’s mobile seed cleaner business has been growing by leaps and bounds.  If he doesn’t have to be tied down with the pigs, he will be able to go further afield with the cleaner.

So basically, things came to a head and something had to give.  It was pretty much a ‘no brainer’ for what had to go -the sector of our farm that requires the most work (hard, dirty, dangerous work) and loses the most money.

What are we going to do now??  Well, I will still have my laying hens (new ones are starting to lay).  Our 400 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans will now be sold on the open market instead of being fed to the pigs.  And like I mentioned Colin hopes to expand his cleaner business into the counties south of Ottawa.

And you know what? Colin now has time to spend with us, his family!  Now that he isn’t overworked and frustrated he has more patience with Ella too.  Colin even had time to take Ella to Star Wars Identities when Belinda and Stefan were up last.  I look forward to this new chapter in our life.


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Last Saturday saw the final day for this season at the Deep River Farmers’s Market.

As you can see it was rather damp  🙂  It was actually pouring when we arrived and we huddled under the tent for a while before setting up.  We had a great turn out.  Seems a little rain doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Deep River folks.

We had such a great season up in Deep River.  It far exceeded our expectations and hopes.  The people couldn’t have been nicer -customers and the volunteers and vendors.  We made some good friends that I look forward to seeing again next spring.

Thank you to everyone who made it such a fabulous Market season.  Don’t forget our pork is available at the Farm and the Highway locations all year.

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Colin the TV Star

A reporter from CTV Ottawa has just left.  They were up interviewing Colin about the drought and the disaster that is about to happen to Ontario pork production.  It’ll air on the 6pm show tonight.  I’ll post the link later.


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The heat wave continues:

My poor flower garden continues to try to grow and bloom.  This is why I grow the old roses.  They haven’t survived this long just to give it to a bit of heat and drought  🙂

Sophia’s new kittens are living under the side door steps.  I don’t blame them, a pig barn in this heat is the last place I’d want to live too.  All the barn cats are flagged out across the lawn, any where they can find some shade and greenish grass.

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Wow, we had such a fabulous day yesterday at the First Deep River Farmers’ Market.  It was so crazy that I didn’t even get a chance to take any pictures!  Luckily there were some great photographers on hand.

It was really nice because they have lots of volunteers, so some weeks if I have to go by myself I know there will be help.  This was just before opening at 10.

This was about 5 minutes later.  We brought nearly twice as much meat as we usually do to Renfrew and were basically sold out in an hour!  How amazing is that?!  I actually phoned Grandma in Beachburg and she and Ella went by the house to grab the bit of pork left there and brought it up to us.  It was like tracking Santa’s sleigh, customers kept coming by and checking her progress  🙂 We then sold just about everything Grandma brought up too.  I even sold my smocked sundress -in fact I could have sold it twice.

It was such an amazing day (well 3 1/2 hrs).  We had a better day than even the Taste of the Valley in Cobden, which I didn’t think we could top.

In light of the day we had yesterday, we are updating our farmers’ market schedule as follows:


June: 2 -Renfrew Market -new location at the Fair Grounds

9 -Deep River Market

16 -Renfrew Market

23 -Deep River Market


July:  7 -Deep River Market

14 -Renfrew Market

21 -Deep River Market

28 -Renfrew Market


August:  4 -Deep River Market

11 -Renfrew Market

18 -Taste of the Valley -Renfrew Armouries

25 -Renfrew Market


September:  1 -Deep River Market

8 -Renfrew Market

15 -Deep River Market

22 -Renfrew Market

29 -Deep River Market


October:    6 -Renfrew Market

13 -Taste of the Valley -Cobden

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This part of the post is mostly pictures of all the babies on the farm.

Scrappy is really starting to hang out at the house with the big cats and is finally starting to calm down.  Still have to do the ‘sneak and pounce’ if I want a snuggle, but at least ‘he’ doesn’t fight the snuggle.

Princess has finally brought her kittens down out of the barn loft.  She has 2 little ones like this.

This picture was taken upside down, kneeling on some straw and peering under a pile of junk.  She seems to be the shyest of the bunch and wouldn’t come out.  Soon she’ll get brave.

Remember these babies, one short week ago?  Well here they are today.  It’s amazing how fast they grow.

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My Week

Wow, what a week we had last week.  Seems we were running/busy the entire week.

Monday we had a very fun homeschool trip to a local farm in Eganville.  Helen and Tom of Tickle Island Farm were kind enough to let the kids come out and have a great day with the animals.

This little one greeted us at the gate.  It’s only a day or two old.

We toured the new pasture field, with Biscuit the dog as our guide.  Ella and the others had so much fun running.  Ella was in her element, playing ‘mother hen’ with all the little people.

Of course, this little guy was a hit.

Ella loved getting a chance to feed the lamb.  Helen managed to find enough little ones that everyone (who wanted to) got a chance with a bottle.

It’s funny, I got asked a couple of times if Ella would enjoy herself/find the trip interesting.  She had a ball.  It’s a completely different way of farming than ours.  First of all, it’s mostly sheep which we don’t have and she’s never seen up close.  Even the pigs she found a little more interesting than Daddy’s.   Out in the big field they are less stinky and less overwhelming.  We crop about 4oo acres as well so we don’t have all the open space for running.  Ella has so much fun when we can get together with the homeschool group from the Wilno area.

Though if you asked Ella, I’m sure she’d tell you that this was the best part of the trip.  My friend Maureen brought her older daughter Ruby and a friend and they made sure all the little people got a good swing.  That’s one of the biggest things I love about homeschooling.  The children all get along so well and the older ones are usually happy to play/help the younger ones.  You don’t have the cliquey-ness that public school children seem to have when in a group.

Tuesday was groceries and dance.  I can’t believe how busy the stores in Renfrew were in the morning.  You would think it was a holiday.

I’m not sure what happened Wednesday, it went by in such a blurr  🙂  I also did a bunch of prep for Thursday’s freezer cooking attempt.

Thursday was my first ‘real’ freezer cooking day.  It probably should have only taken a morning, but it was also a day that it seemed Ella couldn’t do anything herself.  It’s funny how they know when you want to be busy.  Oh well, she’s cute  :p

I made: 3 lasagnas (ate one that night)

2 beef goulash

2 baked penne

3 meals of meatballs

spaghetti sauce

Friday I headed to Ottawa with my MIL Isobel.  She’s having her thumb joint replaced and needed to have her pre-op.  Luckily it’s at the hospital right on the edge of the city.  Unfortunately it turned into an 8 HOUR day.   I did have a lovely knit night with the girls at Meagan’s new house.

Saturday found us at the Renfrew Farmers’ market.  We had a good day and it was great to see some of the regulars out this week.

Colin has a hen and rooster that wander around the barn.  They are a couple of my remaining Chantecler chickens.

21 days later, Colin showed me these:

We have 9 little chickies that are a range of colours.

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Chick Update

Checking out our new chickies I discovered that their wing feathers are starting to come in.  They grow up so fast!

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