I don't even know where to start this post off and it might ramble a bit but I figure I should let everyone in on our purchase and our venture and our goals!
Since I (Deanne) was a little girl I had always envisioned myself living on a farm out in the middle of nowhere with all the animals. A long time later marriage and kids came into the picture and this dream for me seemed just that a dream, My husband and I had hopes of buying some property and doing something small scale but we just basically wanted more room for our family of four. Then I became pregnant with twins and we quickly realized not only would we need more room but would need to be able to find a way for me to bring in an income and to offset some costs, mainly food for the now four mouths to feed. Our idea of what we wanted in a property and life changed. In the early spring of 2019 we found a property that was huge and untouched. We went to look at it but it was early in the thaw season and there wasn't a road that we could drive in and have a look around, it was a forest, and what we could see was from the road was that the whole front of the property was Black Spruce/Tamarack Swamp. We hummed and hawed and then jumped in very quickly with our hearts leading the way and put our offer in. When the deal went through my husband came home and said "Happy Anniversary I just bought you a farm." And now here we are. Last year we started pushing a road through and we lived there from June to October in a gutted camper, raised a few forest pigs for meat and they helped us push brush. We also put in a large ramshackle garden and just overall lived a very carefree life during a pandemic.
We raised 4 Berkshire pigs from July to October. A small growing season for pigs but with covid last year our May pigs went to the highest bidder sadly and we were scrambling to find replacements. For first time pig farmers I am thankful that we had such a wonderful season with our pigs and I am so grateful with the bounty of meat they provided us and friends. Berkshires are a lard pig and have a rich robust well marbled meat. We did the skin, kill and gut and sent the rest off to be processed. We both spent a lot of time pouring over recipes and working with all the pigs gave us. Eating nose to tail is very important to me in a nutritional context as well as a waste context. An animal gave of themselves and we should respect and honour and use/eat as much as we can. We also scraped all the hides and saved as much of the fat as possible, we then spent days at home rendering lard. I can't say how much lard was rendered, those days are such a blur now, but it has been well used and loved and as I write this I have two quarts left which will soon be soap. From the lard I have baked with it, cooked plenty of pies and other pastries and of course made copious amounts of soap. The lard is wonderful to work with and pigs have a similar ph to us so soap made from their fat is very gentle on our skin. If you would like to purchase some soap from us and support our farm you can find our soap here. All of our soap is made with as much local ingredients as possible. The oils I use I infuse plant or flower matter from our farm whether I have grown it or foraged for it. I have made scrubs and additives by grinding down matter again from our farm. These soaps are all limited batches. I only collect and infuse so much plant matter and only have so much lard. The beauty of this method is that I am not over producing products for them to only expire or collect dust. Using our plant matter and fat from our pigs is a very sustainable method that we use and hope to use more of. We are limiting our carbon footprint by using local as much as we can, by using the fat from our pigs we are turning something that can sometimes be considered a waste product that ends up in a land fill into a viable product. Besides some oils we can't get here I don't add anything else that I can't source on my farm or local and if we can't get it local then we make sure that the product we are purchasing operates in an ethical regenerative manner. I am currently researching using oils that are at least produced in Canada.
Besides pigs we raised a large garden that produced such a bounty. Considering a washed out road that was closed for a week, having to haul everything in by quad, hauling water from our creek which then took us 6 hours to water the garden with, we are so blessed by the food that grew. And don't worry when my husband had to water the garden and he realized how insane it was to spend 6 hours hauling water he very quickly dug us a well and installed a water pump. We grew a lot of food. We had over 80 tomato plants in our hoop house, hot wax peppers were a huge producer for us, a variety of cucumbers, beans, peas, beets, carrots, greens, cabbage, herbs, lots of flowers, copious amounts of zucchini, pumpkin, potatoes and we even tried corn but we didn't get enough of a growing season so it was ornamental of sorts. We currently have one pumpkin on the shelf and a pantry still full of canned goods and a freezer full of zucchini and other fruits that we picked at other local farms or foraged for. It was such a great experience to harvest all this food with our kids. They enjoyed running to the garden daily to see what was growing and to help themselves to any fresh snack.
Our goals for us and our farm is to finish our corduroy road so that we can fully drive into our property, so that we can start the build of our off grid home. For our farm and household to run in a regenerative self sufficient manner is at the core of our goals. And what that means is that everything on our farm doesn't just do one thing. An animal doesn't just provide us with meat or the garden with food. Everything on the farm needs to work in unison for the greater goal. Animals and us will work together on land, weed, and pest management. Using animals for land management they regenerate the land by turning it up and adding their manure which feeds the ground, which we then in turn can plant food gardens for ourselves and others. We can also plant pollinator gardens which feed our bees and other pollinators which then help the surrounding flora thrive and produce us with honey to eat, sell and make with. Pest management will be looked after by a variety of animals so that no chemicals need to be used. The good bugs are left behind while the ones that cause issues are eaten up by fowl of any sort which in turn provide meat, eggs or future birds. Weed management can be obtained through the use of pigs, goats, sheep and other animals who eat brush and turn up the ground which then make the land more workable and fertile. The animals are fed through this method or at least their feed is offset and in turn can provide meat, wool, milk, butter and more.
We are not to sure of the animals and such we will add to our farm but our goal for self sufficiency is the base and from there we will branch out, modify and learn, always learning!
You will find us here again this year from May to October, with a big garden, new pigs and more experiences. We will share as much as we are able during the growing season. If you have any questions on anything feel free to ask away. We will try to answer as best we can.