Saturday, 15 April 2017

Star nosed Mole

I had set out this syrup season with one goal in mind; I must double last years supply and become self sufficient in maple syrup!.
Little did I know what I would find along the way...

Wolf print
I'm not sure what type of canine it was, but it was a big one, thats for sure. 

Wolf print Ontario
I came across this single track of prints at the back, it could be from the lone black wolf I saw a few years back.

Wolf print Ontario

Trudging back to the house to get more syrup supplies, then off I go! back to the woods for more tapping, when all of a sudden I came across this little guy, a star nosed mole, barely moving and just laying on top of the snow. I took these shots with my phone at the time I found him, and good thing at that as when I came back from getting my good camera, the barn cat had called it lunch.

Star nosed Mole

It has an almost alien like mouth/nose and never in my life have I seen anything like it. The hands on it are also something to give pause. Im still not sure what happened to it, why it was just laying there with no trauma or wound to it. But I am very thankful for being able to see it and get a picture. 

Star Nosed Mole

 An old deer antler that I found was converted into a door handle

Deer antler door handle

The night time shots gave it a real scary movie like look
Antler door handle
Cow bone door handle
Cow bone door handle

Bone door handle

Bone door handle

Monday, 9 January 2017

Indian runners on our Canadian farm. 🦆🦆🦆🦆 They've all grown up!

We started last year with our first batch of Indian Runners and we couldn't be happier!. They came from a breeder with a flock of top notch genetics and from the looks of their adult shape they seem to have the right character features, at least to me that is.
Due to the time of the year we kept them inside till the weather warmed up and they got a little bigger. We have all sorts of birds of pray so better safe than sorry I thought, it was certainly something to listen to the chirping indoors for that few weeks tho.

Indian Runners

Here they are at the "teen" stage. While they were still young and small, we let them forage all day long by themselves, there was only a few times I had to scare off some turkey vultures/hawks/eagles.

Indian Runner Ducks
At this point they were trained to know that when the back door opens, its treat time!. So in this case, early bird gets the oatmeal.

Indian Runner duck pets

Runner Ducks

Indian Runner ducks Canada

Now they are all grown up and forage around our 100 acre farm. They are essential to farming in my mind, especially to a strawberry farmer. With all the bugs that can ruin a strawberry patch it only makes sense to have a patrol of ducks that love to eat those very pests!. At the end of the year we cut as much grass as possible and send them out over the next few weeks into the strawberry/raspberry  patch and let them go to town on the bug population. Our plan is to up the flock to about 200 as well as bring in the black Indian runners and start a little breeding program. Here goes!

Indian Runner ducks full grown

Monday, 4 July 2016

❦ We're back!! ❦

Simpson Eco Farms
After a long and arduous time away, we're back!! and this time for good. We are bigger, better and  more efficient than ever! It took a while but we have finally gotten our vertical hydroponic strawberry system up, and while there have been a few hiccups it is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Vertical hydroponic strawberry system with insect hotel
To the right you can see the start of our insect hotel. This will build up the native bees and other pollinators/predator insects, as, the European honey bees future in Ontario (and Canada as a whole) is grim if we do not get rid of these toxic substances farmers keep spraying or buying.

Vertical hydroponic strawberry system in Ontario, Canada

While it has been fun getting the strawberry system set up, I am longing for the days I can bring in a shipment of citrus trees again. There is nothing like waking up in the morning to the smell of citrus blossoms or picking your own fresh lime right off the tree.

I shall keep this blog rolling, the berries flowing and the citrus growing, so look out for more posts on all sorts of farming ideas/projects and Ontario, Canada goodness!.

All the best!

Simpson Eco Farms

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Chaga hunting + Hoof fungus + Maple syrup harvesting + marsh walk + photos

Birch trees
I decided to head on out into the bush and see if I could find the magic elixir known as 'chaga'.
At first all the birch I checked was void of this magic fungi and I was wondering if, for some reason, this area just didn't have the spores. I found that somewhat hard to believe, so I kept on my search  and eventually came across a tree that had fallen over and saw what I was looking for.

Hoof fungus

Since it was a rotting tree and upon inspection, the chaga did not look good enough to make anything I wanted to drink. Once I cracked it open I could see little larvae entranced in their winter sleep. I decided this was not the pickings I was going to take back and make into tea. At least this gave me the perseverance to keep on my hunt, knowing now, there must be more of it out there, as, fungi spread quite easily. After trudging deeper into the backwoods I eventually came across another tree with Chaga on it.

Hoof fungi 
The one thing I noticed which I found strange, all the Chaga I found was only on the north side of the property, all the trees on the south end were devoid of this mushroom. I searched high and low on the one side and nothing, but as soon as I went over to the other end of the property, there it was. Many of the pieces I could not reach, as, they were 15 ft up the tree; I saw one piece that must have been 5 or 10 pounds bulging out of the tree. I will come back for these with a ladder. For some dumb reason I realized when I got back to the house, that, all the pictures I took were of the hoof fungus, not one of the Chaga, WHAT WAS I THINKING!
I will go back and take pictures of the big mound of Chaga once all the snow clears.

Hoof fungus

The hoof fungus tends to look like these little hoofs on the side of the tree, they can also look more blackish.

Hoof fungus on birch tree

Chaga and hoof fungas harvest in Ontario

This was the days harvest, not all will go for tea, and I made sure to leave the trees with what I believed to be a sufficient amount of Chaga spores so as to be able to reproduce. The parts I do not use will go to the stove, as, from what I understand, Chaga shavings and hoof fungus is a great fire starter. 

Chaga preparation

The process is really quite simple, scrape off the hardened black exterior until you reach the soft orange-ish inner core. Then, take out your grater and grate away. You will want to leave it out to dry, preferably in the sun for a few days, so as not to let it mold. 

Preparing Chaga

Since were in full swing of spring, the sap is flowing. The temperature had dropped the previous few weeks/days and I had neglected checking the buckets for sap, but now that we've had this turnaround into good spring weather, things are flowing into prime syrup season. We have already made a batch of syrup a few weeks back, but this was of the sap (that I'm told) is more so the anti-freeze of the tree, while it does have sugar, it produces something that just doesn't compare to the next flow of mapley goodness.

 I could tell when I walked up that those buckets were full and I knew, time for some cooking!

Maple sap

Later on it was time to walk the dog, so I brought my camera along to see if I could get some decent shots of the stream and marsh by my place. I decided to take a little macro of everybody's favourite nuisance plant - burdock. I remember the games played with these, it was always fun to whip these threw the air and watch it stick to someones shirt; then, you could see it in their eyes, the game was on!.

Burdock -

The sumac was a plant I've known since a child, thankfully, we don't have the poison ones around here. I remember being very young in my girlfriends backyard sucking on these sour-ish buds. I dont know why we did it, no one told us it was safe, we just kinda ate them without concern. Ahh.. to be a child. lol.


I finally reached the marsh and I was glad I brought my camera.

Springbrook Marsh / river

I love all the old barns in my area, I must make a project of capturing as many as I can at some point. Our personal barn ( and house ) goes back to the 1850's, and from what I understand, some of them might go back even further.

Springbrook heritage barn

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

O'Hara maple syrup festival

O'Hara tapped trees in maple forest

We decided to take a trip to the O'Hara maple sugar festival and see what it was all about, and let me tell you, it can be described in one word, maplelicious... thats a word, right?
In good'ol Madoc is where you can find this feast of all things maple. Hankering for some pancakes laced in syrup, you got'em. Drizzed maple syrup candy-pops made over snow, got'em. Maple butter, candies, and syrup for sale, you betcha!. It all starts off on a horse drawn ride through the maple forest, then, a trip back in time through an old pioneer house to show you the instruments used to collect sap. They also have old knickknacks for sale, everything from quilts to cast iron hooks.

O'Hara pioneer house
O'Hara maple syrup festival
I just love these old pioneer houses, any log homes for that matter. These modern homes with steel beams and fake formaldehyde filled flooring just feels.... blah.
Ive always wanted a fireplace like this, just right there, no safety, keeps ya on your toes I suppose, lol.
The house was filled with treasures from yesteryear; wooden water buckets, snow shoes, old fashioned saws, candy presses, and all sorts of tools that were essential to life back then. To be honest, alot of the stuff they had there I would prefer to what we have today. Plastic this and plastic that, I see why they were healthier then my generation.

Old fashioned maple syrup supplies- O'Hara

I couldn't help but turn this photo in a vintage like feel. The wooden piece beside the wooden buckets was used to make candies, I think thats what the piece at the far left is too. There is a large screw beside the candy box that was used to drill the trees for sap and the wooden taps ( to the left of the screw ) were used to collect the sap from the trees, all of which dripped into wooden buckets. Wood, wood, wood,  does a body good.

Old fashioned snow shoes
For some reason whenever I see stuff like this I always want to try it out; it takes every ounce of my strength to not ask, I know they never would let me, and I know I shouldn't because I'd probably break them, but I want to, oh lord how I want to.

O'Hara Maple butter

 I always thought maple butter was maple syrup and butter mixed, and since I gave up butter, I never tried it. Turns out, its just maple syrup made in a specific, scientific like way. Its almost like soft maple candies, but smoother, more spreadable. In fact, right now I am eating this on a piece of bread with a mug full of how water and maple syrup -Canadian to the bone.

O'Hara water mill
They have this neat watermill and log building, I'm not sure if its functional but I will definitely be coming back to see this place in the summer as there are a bunch of festivals and things going on when the warmer weather arrives; fingers crossed the mill flows.

Pioneer cemetery
Along the drive there was this old pioneer cemetery intermixed among the trees. Ive never seen anything like this, some of the plots go back to the 1800's

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Bella rose, our newly adopeted Corgi Chihuahua

Meet Bella rose, our newly adopeted Corgi Chihuahua. We just so happened to be out at a cat store in Cambleford trying to find some toys for our abandoned kitten and sparked up a conversation with a fellow shopper. She mentioned how she was going for surgery and had to find a new home for her dog, so we offered to babysit while she was away, but she declined and said, "she just wants to find it a good home". WHAT PURE SERENDIPITOUS LUCK! Our previous dog had just passed away a week ago and we were pretty glum, as he had been apart of the family for a good 14-15 years.
The energy in this dog is unlike any other we've ever owned. She can jump like a show dog and is even pretty good around the kitten; which we were truly nervous about at first. I cant wait to start teaching her some tricks!
While she is friendly to us, she needs some work with strangers, as she can become very nervous around new people, especially around woman for some reason. She is fascinated with our ducks and rooster but hesitant of the goats. All in good time I suppose.

Abadndoed kitten, We shall call her..... Angel. 。^・ェ・^。

Well, how could anyone leave this poor little thing!?!

While outside cleaning up around the coop I heard a cry from the barn, when I went to investigate I found this little one screaming at the top of her lungs. "oh lord" I told my self, as this was the second kitten this year we've found abandoned; thankfully this time we knew what to do. I decided to give it till nightfall and see if momma comes back for her little one; no such luck. I decided "ok!, its time for you to come inside", as the raccoons would be out looking for dinner soon. Thankfully, this little puffball looked to be a few weeks older then the last cat we took in. This one was able to walk pretty well and  its eyes had matured slightly so it wasn't as blind'ish as the babies tend to be.
We had a can of formula leftover from the previous kitten and as soon as that was placed in front of her she dove in like it was swimming practice. She still puts both feet in her food every time we feed her, then runs off spreading little milked up paw prints all over the house.

Oh momma cat, how could you give this little munchkin up?

We figure we'll keep her inside till the spring and hopefully she'll be able to readjust to life with the other barn cats.

I'm not much of a cat person, but this little thing is starting to grow on me.