We first started farming over a decade ago in Washington state. At the time we were also running a property caretaking business, volunteering as EMTs with the local fire department, and managing our own off-grid homestead as well as raising meat and vegetables for our community. After we left, our friends and neighbours Joe and Kate told us they had a nickname for us: ‘the daubers’. Apparently our constant frenzied busyness reminded them of never-resting mud dauber wasps constantly working to build their nests.
Well some things never change, and 10 years later we still haven’t paused to take a breath. We moved to Spray Creek Ranch over six years ago, and are still working on developing the perfect systems and workflows for our unique location and situation. And now that our ‘situation’ involves two small humans under the age of three, we are finding that we aren’t quite as efficient as we once were (they’ll be helpful soon though, right???).
So what’s keeping us so busy these days that we can’t pause to update our lovely customers with a newsletter more regularly?
One of the biggest changes came in May, when we unexpectedly had the opportunity to begin leasing a neighbouring farm — that would be Gord’s farm, if you are familiar with our cast of characters. This means bringing more land under regenerative organic management, and will allow us to expand our production. However, it wasn’t in our planning for 2020! This development is great news for the long-term growth of our farm and family, but has caught us a bit understaffed. Our all-star team of Rancher Emeritus Gord, Ranchhand Cedar, Irrigator Roman and Chief Labourer Tristan are picking up the slack out in the pastures, keeping more acres irrigated, implementing new grazing plans, and spending lots of hours putting up hay. More on this exciting opportunity and what it means for our business in an upcoming blog.
And then there’s the busyness we did plan for. We have raised 2,000 chickens from hatch to harvest (last chicken slaughter day on the farm is this Monday!), and 300 turkeys are warm and cozy in the brooder getting feathered up enough to go out on pasture. We just got our first batch of this year’s finished beef back from the abattoir (check out the online shop for delicious steaks & roasts!), and the rest of the cattle herd is enjoying the lush pasture this wet, cooler weather has brought us. We are moving the cow herd with electric fencing daily or more to keep up with this vigorous growth! We just brought home a new batch of organic piglets, who are currently in the barnyard learning up on electric fence before being moved out onto pasture themselves. Our two-year-old laying hens are out on pasture in their mobile coop, and this year’s new layers are egging up a storm in the barnyard, foraging for bugs and eating hay while they patiently wait for their farmers to build them their own mobile coop so that they too can enjoy this summer’s fabulous forage. We have also added a new livestock guardian dog, ‘Tuck’ to our predator defence team. He joins forces with our other guardian dog, Samsquanch, in helping keep our local predators out of trouble.
What else? Oh, just a little political advocacy. Covid-19 has put a spotlight on the fragility of our food system, the importance of small-scale, local agriculture and challenges to improving food security. The BC provincial government is more interested now in issues that Tristan, in his roles with the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association and the Certified Organic Associations of BC, has been working on for some time. He has been advising the Ministry of Agriculture on regulatory improvements that will support small-scale meat producers and improve food security in BC through the recovery from the impacts of the pandemic. The changes thus far are small, but we are gaining momentum, and we hope to see increased opportunity for farms like ours soon.
So please forgive us if we stray from our newsletter schedule – I haven’t forgotten about you! You are the most important element of our business! I’ve just been a little busy lately…