Welcome to our Holden's Hide a way farm

Holden's Hide-A-Way Farm is a diversified farm that produces a wide variety of meat product, in much of the same manner as a farmer would have 100 years ago. Our ideas on how to raise livestock come directly from mother nature. We raise grass fed beef and lamb because that is what mother nature intended. Our pigs are free to root and roam through out the warm seasons. Winters are spent in a barn with ample space and lots of hay to eat and root around in. Poultry is raised on pasture where they get lots of fresh air and can do the things poultry likes to do.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

This week in review

Winter is approaching fast. We have been in a rush trying to get stuff ready. Sometimes it feels like we are not making any progress, but at the end of the week allot has been done. The last of the carrots were harvested and ready for storage. The vegetable field was plowed down, composted manure is being added as an organic fertilizer. Nest season we plan to offer a variety of naturally produced vegetables. We do not use chemical insecticides, fertilizers or genetically modified seed. We have not decided if we will be selling at the farmers market, privately, farm gate, or a vegetable stand. Lynn has been looking for a location to make our products available in town, but so far a suitable location has not been found.
We replaced some windows in the old house and found some repairs that needed done in the process. Not farm related other then it took time out of the farm work time.
A new winter paddock is almost complete for the cattle. The paddock is loosely designed around Joel Salatins model. The idea is to capture as much of the manure and urine from the cattle as possible utilizing a high carbon bedding. The bedding is completely composted with the help of our pigs. They love turning compost. We use them every spring to turn bedding packs from the cattle and sheep. Usually we leave the sheep on pasture all winter. They are happy with their thick wool coats. Sheep manure is pelleted so it does not run off in the spring thaw. However cattle manure is more likely to run off. Soaking it up in the high carbon bedding allows us to spread it and use the very nutritious compost for fertilizer in the gardens and the fields. Combining pasture rotation and compost has allowed us to double our pasture production. We still have along way to go before the fertility is where we want it.
The rams are ready to be taken out. I think they are done their job for the year. But we put them back in January just to make sure they didn't miss any of the girls.
There is still so much that needs done. The bulk of our hay still needs brought home. It is a slow process. We still have to bring home the combine. We bought some oats off of a neighbour. The oats are a high fiber energy source that we use for our sheep when the lamb. Sheep have a smaller digestive system then a cow. So they just cannot consume enough hay to meet their needs when they are feeding a couple of lambs. Spring lambing does not require any grain. Our philosophy is to mimic nature as much as possible, but in nature most baby animals do not reach maturity. So we supplement with natural grain feeds for the sheep when necessary. The pigs also eat grain. They could not survive our winters without it. Mixing oats and hay with the sows feed keeps them full, healthy and prevents them from growing too big to be efficient mothers. Next year we are hoping to get a good crop of barley, oats, and field peas. If we do then we will be able to make most of the food the pigs will need. Which brings me to the next job. We have about 12 acres that needs plowed down. The grain mix will be planted and under seeded with good clover and grass seed. Many of the hay fields that we cut are in desperate need for plow down. They are full of weeds and rough ground that needs leveling. The pastures will be maintained with manure application and grazing livestock after being reseeded.
The last group of chickens are almost ready for processing. Two more weeks to go.
In the little spare time we have, Lynn and I read. I am reading Joel Salatin new book "Folk this ain't normal". A farmers look at farming , food production, and general problems our culture is facing. I recommend it for anyone interested. It is a very common sense type book. I admittedly share many of the views and opinions Joel expresses. Lynn is reading a book called "The Omnivore's dilemma". I am not entirely what it about. All I know is it brings to light some of the problems with our food production system, how big business influences it, and how too many people put faith into the government as the protectors of our food and health. The government does not make its decisions unbiasedly. Not sure if is any good but Lynn is usually angry or disgusted when she puts in down.

New Cattle coming

If everything works out right the new herd additions will be here this weekend. The new additions are Highland cattle. An old world breed from Scotland. Recognised by its long horns and shaggy hair. The hair on a Highland is supposed to be similar to Buffalo fur. They are a medium sized hardy breed that can excel on hay alone in the winter, and will do very well outside in our cold winters. We have owned some Highlands before. They are intimidating looking but are usually very gentle animals. They produce a very delectable beef product. In fact in taste tests the Highlands usually rank first place. Above angus and other popular breeds. They are slower growing and because of their fur and horns they do not fit well with more intensive feedlot style systems. However they will do well in our pasture management system. When bred back to our angus or similar breeds of bull they will produce a nice beef animal. We are looking forward to the arrival of the cows.
This is a picture of our last Highland cow(the one with horns) The others in the picture are her offspring. For those that didn't know, cows and bulls can have horns.