Who: Deb, Julie and Abigail. Pseudo in-laws working as the most compatible dynamic duo, bringing back the farm-to-plate way of life. Deb has some far reaching farming roots (her parents grew up on a farm) and dabbled quite successfully with pigs, turkeys and chickens. My farming background consists of picking blackberries on the side of the road. I’ve always had a vague idea of what I would like to do “when I grow up” and it always included a chunk of property with happy animals everywhere. Abigail, my wonderful, bright wild child, is in there with us like a dirty shirt. She prefers the smaller livestock over the pigs but, really, who wouldn’t prefer a snugly lamb or a fuzzy chick over a giant hog?
What: The more accurate question is “What don’t we have?” We have a little bit of everything. Pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys & ducks. All heritage breeds this year while we figured out what we liked:
Swine: Berkshire. Berkshire pigs are world renowned for the marbling in their meat.
Chickens: Egg layers: Brown Leghorn (white egg), Caramel Queen (light brown egg), Ameracauna (blue egg), Black Copper Muran/Ameracauna (olive egg), lots of Easter Eggers (many different coloured eggs), Polish (white egg), Blue Lace Wyandotte (light brown egg). Meat: Mistral Gris. We tried the Jumbo Cornish X but they just are not for us. Those are the birds that would be in a commercial setting and I wanted to get them just so I could see for myself. They get too big too fast and can’t move more than a few feet at a time and because they spend so much time laying down they don’t grow feathers on their belly. I felt so bad for them. So now we know and we have found a much more suitable, 12 week bird.
Turkeys: Bronze Breasted.
No squeamishness here. We get in (literally) up to our elbows, kids included, and get dirty.
When: Deb in 1989 moved to a two acre blueberry farm. What was surprising to the family was it came with the resident chickens and all that entailed. Well they mostly let the wild birds eat the blueberries but dove right in to learn about how to raise laying chickens. Soon with that under her belt she moved onto turkeys. The largest turkey raised was 25lb and aptly named “Christmas Dinner”. After figuring out both turkeys and laying chickens it was time to look at raising pigs. This meant learning about power tools, the pigs needed a pen to grow up in. Later that year the freezers were full, including some of the most amazing lard, (can you say heart stopping french fries!). No pigs were needed the next year so this time it was meat chickens in the pen. At this time processing was done by a couple of young men on their farm so when the chicken were ready they had to be packed up and carted over to them. This is where a lot was learned about timing of this whole process.
Deb moved on to another property where farm animals where not an option. The animal farming stayed with her but it would be 10 years before arriving at our farm where another chicken pen was built. Laying hens to start until I became involved and more could be accomplished.
Our first hugely successful year was 2014 with 74lbs of lamb, 1000lbs of pork, 90lbs of turkey, 9lbs of duck, 246lb of chicken and many dozens of eggs.
It onward from here.
We are located in South Langley on a 10 acre parcel of serene back country. We have a creek, rolling hills with the peak in the back field and our small but perfectly organized multipurpose barn out front. Our acres of pastures are all grass with a few magnificent trees to provide shade.
Our goal for our farming venture is to do our best to go above and beyond giving these animals a great life, with just one bad day. We believe that just because an animal is destined for the table doesn’t mean it can’t play with dog, snuggle with the kids, roll in the mud and jump around in the spray of the hose.