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.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

It feels like summer

The weather is balmy here on the farm, but that's not why it feels like summer. Its the black flies. I think I fed the whole population on Friday while planting potatoes. I even had to don a bug had and put on bug spray. I am not an advocate of bug spray. I remember when the push was on to stop using DEET products. That was pre-westnile. I rarely put it on any of the promoted products such as bug sprays or sun screens. The ingredients in each of these products have proven to cause skin cancer. I find it ironic that the health agencies promote cancer causing products, to save us from other deadly illnesses. I prefer to limit sun exposure and use the products sparingly. Covering up usually works for mosquitoes and blackflies. Not this week though. The pigs have found a way to keep cool and stop the flys. Pigs don't sweat, so they require a wallow to roll and soak in. These guys look very comfortable. 
The meat chickens out. As you can see in the picture they are enjoying the grass. Meat chickens are not the smartest creature. They require the "chicken tractor" to keep them safe from predators and provide shelter, while letting them get their fill of grass, legumes, bugs and fresh air. Meat chicken grow to heavy weights are are very lazy. Most "free range" chickens are put in a barn with an open door allowing access to the outdoors. Unfortunately the birds have no desire to walk out the door when the feed is inside. It is false advertising. 

The laying hens are a different breed all together. They are slimmer birds made for walking around. Her it is difficult to see but there are a bunch of chickens beside the old manure pile. In the foreground there is a chicken scratching through the grass. The holes in the dirt beside her were created from the chicken dust bathing. Dust bathing grooms the feathers and helps control parasites. Our plans are to build a portable hen house to get the chickens out on the pasture with the cattle. Chickens are great for cleaning up bugs and spreading the patties out. The chickens also add large amounts of nitrogen to the soil, which in turn promotes grass growth. At this point the chickens only roam the pastures close to the barn.
Our latest litter of piglets are 4 weeks old. That is the age we put them out of the barn. The sow was one that we purchased, as a piglet, from the auction. She has turned out to be a great mother raising 9 piglets. All are large and very muscular. I think it is our best litter we have ever had. Lynn and the girls love the colours. We have had red spotted pigs before, but they were always males. This litter has 4 spotted females. The two best just might stay for breeders.

The green house is up and running. Thank goodness I have my kitchen back . It was getting pretty crowded in there with all the seedlings.
We have hundreds of plants now well started in the greenhouse, and many more already planted in the garden. So far the smaller gardens are planted with carrots, beets, garlic, green onions, spinach and Spanish onions. The larger garden has potatoes, two types of beans, peas, lettuce, cooking onions, kohlrabi, bok choi, beets and the corn will be in before the weekend is over.
Things are getting busy. On top of all this I still have hay to bring home, 15 acres of grain to plant, fence expansion for cattle, manure to spread, sheep to shear, and probably a dozen things I am forgetting.

 Hopefully the blackflies get their fill on campers this week end and go back to sleep

Sunday, 6 May 2012

It' not all work

The girls have been working very hard on a new project. We have actually had "Maisey" for almost two years.  However she spends much of her time out on pasture. We adopted Maisey from a local couple that were afraid of horses. Maisey was their foster children's pony, but the foster children had long moved on. She was neglected and in rough shape. She still suffers from a disease called heaves, similar to COPD in humans. The primary cause is years of feeding on dusty hay. Some days are worse for her then others. She will never be a good riding horse, but she is fun to play with when she is feeling up to it.
The girls have been friendlying her up since we brought her home. It has taken until now to get her calm enough to saddle up. When we originally brought her home we were told she was ridden often. However when we saddled her up she turned into a bucking bronco that could have given any bronco rider a run for their money at the Calgary Stampede. After much work the girls found the way to Maisie's heart is through her stomach. She would eat a whole bag of carrots if you let her. Maisey was in an exceptionally good mood when this picture was taken. She had her first taste of grass for the year. As you can imagine after a winter of dried up old grass (hay), fresh green grass is a treat. We had to limit her intake because Maisey would eat enough to make herself ill.
Allison and Christina have been bugging for a while now to take her out of the corral for a little ride. After a quick brushing they saddled her up with an old pony saddle and to my surprise she was very calm. I was even able to get her up to a trot with Allison on her back. I was able to get her galloping for an instant but had to slow her down. I am not sure if she was uncomfortable or if it was the sound of Allison screaming, NO SLOW DOWN, but her bucking bronco days returned. However after going back to a trot she calmed down quickly, so did Allison.
A short ride and a brush, then Maisey ate her carrots and returned to the easy life in the corral. Allison and Christina have done a very good job of friendlying up Maisey. We have had many dogs and other pets, but horses are a special animal. Training is very different compared to training dogs. Horses are a prey animal. They need to trust their trainer, they are always getting "spooked". I have had horses stop dead and not move because of a shadow on a trail. Maybe someday the girls will take the experiences with Maisey and train a good trail riding horse