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.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

New additions

Some new additions arrived on the farm this week. On Monday Lynn and I made a trip to a livestock auction to purchase some more stocker calves to finish for this winter. Demand for our beef far exceeds the number of calves that our cattle produce. We usually purchase weaned calves and raise them on our farm until they are old enough to process. However calf prices are extremely high, approximately 2 times what we paid last year. At that price we can not finish the beef and market it at a reasonable price. Our beef sales may have to change to reflect the lower than usual number of calves we will be raising. 
 On a "positive" note. There were other creature that were reasonably prices. I can tell you now there is a good chance I will be winning father of the year after bringing home these two "pets". The girls were and still are very excited about the new additions. The Appaloosa is a 16 month old gelding and the bay coloured is an 8 month old filly. Very affectionate little fellows. The girls will be responsible for basic obedience training over the next year. The horses cannot be ridden until they are 2.5-3 years old. But training starts now.
We are not really horse people. Horse people can be pretty extreme. However we do enjoy horses. Unlike other livestock they can have a genuine affection for their caretakers. Sheep, cattle, pigs, chicken, etc. only really care that you bring food. The gelding was afraid of the trailer while. So after several attempts and praise and petting, I could tell he was not sure about the trailer. While stroking his neck and telling him it would be OK, he leaned into me placing his head against my chest. If horses could hug that was one. He eventually loaded and was fine on the trip home.  

Lynn's Polish hen decided it was time to be a mother hen. A Polish hen is a funny looking thing. They are the only white egg layers we have. It takes 21 days of dedication from the hen to sit on eggs in order to hatch them out. Several  chickens share a nest box, so we don't know who actually laid the eggs that this girl hatched. We collect our eggs on a daily basis, but ever once and a while the hens find a new hiding spot. These guys were hatched out in the wall of the barn.

We keep a few goats, I am not sure why because they can be a real handful. This little girl was born this week and looks to be in good health. when we have more time, such as through the winter we like to milk the goats. They provide excellent milk that is far more nutritious than the watered down, broken down stuff you buy in the store. Goat milk is much easier to digest then cow milk because of the different sugars (lactose) and the fat globules are smaller making them easier to digest. Goats are one of the other animals on the farm that has a personality. But that is not always a good thing.

Guard duty

Jack and Jill standing guard.Luckily for everyone we have not seen or heard any coyotes or wolves since winter. The odd fox comes around at night, but they know better then to cross the fence. The sheep are enjoying the pasture and the lambs look great so far. Our flock (as well as approximately 90% of all Ontario flocks) have been plagued by foot rot. Foot rot is an infection caused by the combination of two bacteria. It can cause discomfort for the sheep and effects the performance of the lambs. If left untreated it can lead to more serious problems. One of the bacteria is found in almost all soils, the other is usually imported when   an infected sheep is purchased. The infection is a major issue across Canada and around the world. It can be very difficult to cure, especially here where 
the climate is humid. However through much research and and planning we think we have effectively cured our flock. All without the use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are only moderately effective as treatment because the bacteria live on the hooves of the sheep for months, hiding in any cracks or crevices. The bacteria can also survive in the environment for weeks. We are anxiously watching the flock for signs of infection, but have been infection free now for two months. If all goes well we will start marketing our ideas to other sheep farmers. Spring is usually the worst time for foot rot.


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Real grass fed cattle

The girls are finally out on pasture. Its is a little later then usual, but we had to fix fences before they went out. Last season we had a rouge cow that wandered the bush for about 3 months. We don't want a repeat of that. we use electric fencing here. Electric fences are what is called a psychological barrier. A 1000lb cow could easily walk through the wire. However once they learn and feel the shock of an electric fence, they never want to touch one again. It works on humans too. I know everyone in our house is terrified of touching the wire. Even if you know the fence is unplugged, you will think twice about touching the wires. An electric fencing causes a sensation that is not really painful, but extremely uncomfortable. Our fence puts out a minimum of 5000 volts, and up too 10000 volts. The variance is dependant on fence length, and how much grass growth is touching the fence. Before anyone begins thinking that this fence is going to kill the cattle I should mention that volts do not kill. The amperage kills. Electric fences produce very low amperage. That is why even Allison and Christina touch the fence at least 3-4 times a year. So far everyone has touched it once this year.
The sheep are out on pasture as well. Lambs have been out for a while, they can sneak through the fences. Several are getting too big now and are having a difficult time getting through.
A few calves enjoying the fresh green grass. The marbled one on the left is our new young bull. He is still a little shy. The girls give him a rough time. But he should bulk up and star assuming the bull role over the summer. The small brown calf in the background is the bull calf that had pneumonia in the early spring. He is a little stunted because of the experience.
This picture is of one of our latest calves. He is out of my favourite highland cow. He is very well built and growing extremely well for a highland. If he keeps doing this well we may decide to sell him as a breeding bull in the fall.
Her is a picture of his mom (my favourite highland cow). She is one of the boss cows. She can be very pushy with the other cows, but gentle with us. Plus I really like her colour. Colour doesn't really affect meat quality, but it helps to have cattle you like to look at.
The cattle hiding in the spruce trees. They love to hide in the bush, and scratch on the branches. The new bull is looking into the sun.
Our youngest calf getting a good drink. Her mother is not the best looking cow, she is small even for a highland. However the calf is healthy and growth very well.
Finally here is a year old heifer calf. I think she wonders what I am doing with the camera.
I will get some pictures of the sheep soon.