I think my favorite part of social media is connecting with so many people I wouldn’t get to otherwise. I love getting messages (usually-not from the Russian dating sites) asking questions about our life and our farm. Disclaimer: while I do get a lot of messages, I am not trying to pretend we are popular-HA! However, I believe when you put your life online, you need to be prepared to have questions and be firm about what aspects of your life you are prepared to talk about and what you to be kept private. I will say, with the exception of the very forward Russians, I have never been asked anything inappropriate or rude. (That’s because I have the best followers.)
So here we go, in no particular order
My most frequently asked questions :
Does it save money to grow your own food?
Sometimes yes , sometimes no. A pack of carrot seeds which can yield over 50 lbs plus is the same cost of a 5 lbs bag of carrots. So in that case, sure. But that isn’t the end of the answer. Carrots grown at home were tended by you, which benefits your mental health and they contain microbes for good gut health from the soil you’ve help create. That’s priceless.
A dozen farm fresh eggs may cost me more to raise than your 1.79 Walmart special, but I’ve watched countless hours of chicken TV-them pecking the ground, eating bugs and living their best chicken lives, and I’ve learned valuable self sufficiency skills to boot. You just can’t put a price on that for me.
Cheap food may cost me less up front but has a real cost to your health later on.
Do your kids help around the farm?
Yes, they do. Not so much the older ones, Courtney and Logan, who don’t live at home now but when they were younger they always helped with the chickens and the garden. Courtney is still a chicken whisperer. Charlize, who is 18 now, could easily look after all the animals by herself. She is very involved, and it’s been literally life saving. Luke, who’s 14, likes working the garden more than the animals. He gathers eggs daily though. With a gentle reminder. And sometimes a bellow. But he definitely helps.
Do you want a bigger farm ?
No. People are surprised to hear this but I’m quite content with the level of production we have now. We raise enough for ourselves and a few others and I’m wise enough now to know more growth will mean less time for the people and things I enjoy. I’m not willing to trade those off. Are there things I would love to do differently if I had to start over, sure. But c’est la vie.
Does your husband like the farm?
It’s no secret Trevor is a reluctant farmer. He wasn’t raised on a farm or even really with animals. He gets really attached to animals and loves the good food we raise. Even though it bothers all of us, It really, really bothers him if an animal is sick or has to be put down. He once kept a goldfish alive for 2 weeks hand feeding it frozen peas!
Trevor says: I thing I don’t like the most is early morning chores. Jennifer says : I LOVE early morning chores.
So compatible, eh? After twenty years we’ve learned to compromise !a
Where do you come up with your menu ideas?
I start with the protein -pork, chicken, turkey, beef, fish, lamb, eggs, etc.-then decide how we would want it cooked. Then I think of the side dish that would pair well and make sure we have enough variety of salads, pasta, potatoes and rice etc
Do you allow visitors ?
Yes. However, we are a working homestead/farm and do prefer a message or arrangement before hand. I have toyed around with hosting open farm days and as long as Covid behaves and may get those organized this year.
We do host many on farm courses as well : kids jam making, salsa making etc. They are wonderful!
Does your daughter give riding lessons ?
No, However Charlize uses one of our miniature horses, Amber, to help small children learn about horses and beginning riding knowledge. Our larger horses are not suitable for lessons as one is too young/inexperienced and one is a racing horse. She only takes on a few children a year.
Does it take you a lot of time to look after all of this ?
Sometimes in the summer it takes more time as we have more meat animals -pigs, beef, turkeys, and meat hens. So that means more waters, more feed, more cleaning and checking on animals. Roughly 4 hours a day .
In the winter it’s just the horses, sheep, ducks, hens and rabbits – that takes me about 1 hour in the morning/ to feed, spend time with them and clean. Which still sounds like a lot but I really enjoy the animals, fresh air and the excercise.
The garden is busier April-October and I roughly spend 2 hours a day at peak times on daily maintenance, harvesting, preserving etc. There are times it gets overwhelming but I have lots of tricks I’ve learned over the years to manage. And I ask for help. The payoff of eating well all year is worth it.
How do you know how to grow vegetables ?
I grew up with people who knew how to garden however they weren’t always great teachers. I grew up during a time when children were expected to be well behaved and help with chores and not ask a lot of questions, but I observed a lot as I helped. As an adult I surround myself with people who grow their own food.
I also am a voracious reader. I always have a garden book in my hands or am listening to a gardening podcast.
Do you butcher your own animals ?
No. Even though I grew up learning how to butcher my own food, we do not do it at this time for two reasons : 1) we sell some of our meat, therefore it need to be inspected at a Department of Agriculture approved facility; and 2) my husband finds it traumatizing. Everyone is different in their journey and rather than force him to help with something that really bothers him, I have found a better balance is to raise our food and outsource the butchering. And I have a great relationship with my butchers, and am thankful for their teachings.
Do you sell your eggs and meat ?
We sell our eggs and some of our meat locally at farm gate, which means it’s not available in stores off the farm. In Nova Scotia there are many rules governing the sale of fresh meat right from the farm. Every animal needs to be processed at a Department of agriculture approved abattoir, and some you need a special license to sell, like chicken and turkey. Pork we sell by the half or whole hog, usually have repeat customers year after year and sell out before the pigs even hit the ground!
Again, I love getting your messages and questions, so keep them coming and I’ll do a part two!