It’s November 1st!
Here’s what’s happening on the farm and in the barn today.
**Please stay in your vehicle except to get out at the Pumpkin Patch**
#1 Entry and Barn Front:
On the right, In the first pen we have 3 year old Thor and Thaddeus. They have a solid house not made of straw or wood, we sure hope they stay safe from the Big Bad Wolf (coyotes around here)! They are our pot bellied pet pigs and are our household composters!
Say hello to Gourd our mini horse who is full of energy. He has really enjoyed seeing so many people in their cars during SaFarmi days. Gourd is a 2 1/2 year old male gelding and he loves to eat pumpkins!
On your right you might see some of the chickens out scratching for bugs. These specialty layer chickens were hatched on June 30th and should be laying eggs at our farm around December 1st. They are a mix of 4 different types of specialty chickens. They just moved into this new house for display during SaFarmi Pumpkin Patch time. Hooray – One of these young hens is giving us a small green egg each day the last few days!!
Our sheep Rosie (7 years old) and Rosebud (5 years old) got their annual haircuts (shearing) on the Easter Weekend, they are chillin’ on one of our hayride wagons. When these two are hungry in the morning, they are super loud and let the whole barn know! Rosie and Rosebud have a new friend Ken, who wanted to stay in the barn today. Ken is a ram, and has gotten to know the ladies…maybe we will have little lambs in the future. Rosebud is pregnant and due in November!
In front of the barn take a picture of this classic restored 1948 John Deere Model G. This tractor was purchased new by Phil Hope of Fort Langley and restored by his son Sandy Hope on their Century old family farm.
On the left, the Goat Park is filled with a variety of pet goats. If you don’t see them they might be hiding in the tunnels or white hutches to keep warm today.
In front of the red barn you will see some of our rabbits! 8 year old Daryl who at times is cuddled by cats in his cage, then comes 5 year old Pepper.
The little broiler chicks beside the rabbits are cuddling under the heat lamp today and were hatched on October 4th. They grow really quick. They out grew their old pen and moved to this larger pen just recently.
Look inside the barn on the haystack. We have a lot of barn cats and they like to sleep or play on the haystack. Our most recent litter of kittens were born on August 16th. Some other larger kittens you might see were born in June.
At some point now you may spot our 2 Border Collie dogs. Sophie and Squishy are the dogs names and they keep all of our animals safe from any coyotes that show up on the farm.
#2 Barn Side:
You will drive around the old silver silo. These silos were used on farms to store the food for all of the cows during the winter time. Ours has stairs inside so we can get up to the hayloft. Be cautious around the side of the barn. The cats jump out the windows and cross the road to get to the grass and ditch for daily mouse hunting. Stop at the sign and wait for vehicles exiting the barn! When it is safe drive straight ahead and look through the doors and windows to see 3 of our egg laying chickens and then Hazel the rabbit who started to make her nest last weekend. Still no babies…
Look through door openings 2 and 3 at the calves inside the barn. Our dairy calves get milk for 3 months by which time they have tripled their size! The calves in the first pen (opening #2) are 1 & 2 months old. The calves in the second pen (opening #3) are 3 & 4 months old. These are all the female calves and they will be our future moms someday when they are around 2 years old.
Moooving along you will pass the manure pit that runs underneath the barn. This is where we store the waste from our cows. We fertilize the fields with all of the manure from the cows and other animals. It is food for the plants! Nutrient recycling! We have spread manure on our fields 5 times this year. March, May, July, September, and today it’s happening!!
#3 The Pantry:
The big green, yellow, and pink ‘marshmallows’ are round bales filled with grass for the cows from our farm fields. They look soft and light but they weigh about 1200 pounds each! Every morning we feed 2-3 of these round bales to the cows for breakfast. It is called grass silage.
On the trailer to your right is Bessie – a 3 year old Belted Galloway (Panda Cow) and her little heifer calf Berry. Berry was born on August 10th. They are a type of beef cattle that originated in Scotland. The green barn behind houses our young stock, cows that are between 4 and 24 months old. A pair of barn owls also make their home in this barn, you won’t see them in the daytime, they will be in their nest box taking care of their young! They fly out every night at dusk to hunt for mice.
As you head up the hill on your right say ‘Hi’ to billy goat Mao with his great horns. He is a 4 1/2 year old Alpine goat buck and our prized breeding fella! A female goat has a gestation of 5 months so if Mao has done his ‘job’ in April we will have baby kid goats when we open our Pumpkin Patch. And again this year he was successful … you will see his babies after you get your pumpkins.
#4 Bushside Drive:
This native forest is filled with wildlife. We see coyotes, deer, squirrels, many species of birds, and have even seen a few bears over the years. A red tailed hawk nested here again this year and her young hatchlings have learned to fly and hunt over the summer. Look up and you may see some of them or hear them right next to the driveway! We have an additional 8 acres of this sloped bush that is backed by almost another 100 acres of forest owned by a few other neighbours.
The grass fields on the farm is where we get the food (silage and hay) to feed our cows. These fields were harvested on May 7th, July 15th, August 25th, and October 26th for the final time this year. The 2nd crop this year was late because of the cool wet weather we had. 3rd cut was a great crop. It takes about 2-3 days to make silage. First we cut the grass and then a round baling machine picks the grass up from rows and makes a bale just before it wraps and preserves it tightly in plastic. We have 40 acres on this farm and then an additional 160 acres next to Fort Langley. It really has been a busy spring, summer, and fall. In addition to the spring/summer SaFarmi Tours plus our Covid Safe Pumpkin SaFarmi, we have harvested over 410 acres of round bale silage, planted 35 acres of new grass, 8 acres of pumpkins, plus prepped, planted, and harvested 25 acres of corn for the cows food next year.
Very soon you will see the Pumpkin field on your right. The pumpkin seeds were planted on May 29th. We cultivate in between the rows by machine and then hand weed between the plants to give the pumpkins a chance to overtake the weeds. With the good weather, pollination, and weed control it has become a great patch for you to visit! In 2018 & 19 we planted a sunflower patch to attract the bees to our Pumpkin Patch and so our visitors could see the Summer Splendor of Sunflowers at Sunset. We also planted a mini corn maze for people to enjoy during October when the Pumpkin Patch was open. Due to Covid, this year we did not offer sunflower tours or plant a mini corn maze. The male flower is up high and the female flower is down low. Bees need to pollinate the plants and only the females will set a pumpkin if pollination takes place. As the vines start to die back due to the cooler weather you will see a lot of Pumpkins!
There are more than 20 varieties of pumpkins grown here. Blues, whites, pinks, oranges and plenty of funky little gourds too! The best ones for eating are the Cinderella and Sugarpie pumpkins. Cinderella is flat and reddish while the Sugarpies are small and orange. Happy hunting!
Look north to see the beautiful Golden Ears Mountains. They are beautifully displayed today as we welcome our final visitors for the year. What a gorgeous view it is!
Through the trees towards the neighbour’s horse barns to the left, you might catch a glimpse of a few spring foals with their moms in the field outside. Also in the pasture down to your left is a herd of Texas Longhorn Cattle. Just before you turn right there is a big pile of branches and brush. Every year on the farm trees fall down and branches break off. We pick them up so we can still farm the land without damaging the tractors or the machines. We started our big bon fire yesterday and had a wiener roast once we closed for the day. Not much is left of the pile today!!
A highlight in early August was the arrival of the Fraser Valley Antique Tractor Pullers Association. The members used classic antique tractors and pulled a sled down the 200 foot track. We created the track next to the pumpkin field on the grass area. Large cement blocks were added to the sled to increase the weight. This competition isn’t about speed, it’s about distance! They traditionally compete at the local agricultural fairs during the summer but this year those were all cancelled. On August 8th Eagle Acres hosted the event and 22 antique tractors plus their owners showed up to give our Saturday SaFarmi guests something unique to see.
#6 The Watering Hole:
The irrigation pond was not here originally, we dug it 10 years ago to help water our fields in the summer. It is also used for fun, of course! (Winter and Summer) Several years ago we put in 50 tiny goldfish, there are now several hundred. Keep your eyes peeled, they are usually at the surface in the middle of the day. We ‘share’ our fish with Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Osprey, various diving ducks and muskrats…!
#7 Grown Fresh:
With all of our spring/summer fieldtrips and birthday parties cancelled due to Covid-19, the landscaping around the house and pond are the extra projects we tried to get done this year. We grow some of our own fruits and veggies inside and outside the greenhouse. Our orange tree loved the late summer weather and we are just now enjoying hot peppers and the last of the tomatoes from the greenhouse.
On the hayride trailer to your right you will see three little pigs. The big bad wolf sometimes visits our farm at night so ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ puts these guys away each night. These pigs were born on July 21. They love being outside on the wagon during the daytime!
#8 The Tribute:
Look left past the newly planted little orchard and you will see the round door of our house. Always a conversation piece, this door has a story… 5 1/2 years ago our eldest son passed away suddenly at 16. At that time we lived and farmed at our old site. We came here often to harvest feed for the cows and for respite from life. Our son had always wanted to build a hobbit house in the knoll that now holds our house. 3 years ago we built on that spot, and as a nod to him, we gave it a true hobbit door, made with Douglas Fir wood from this farm.
#9 Runnin’ Free
To your left is Mable and her 2 little kid goats that were born August 31st during a Safarmi opening! These are Mao`s little daughters just like we planned. When they get bigger they can go play in the goat park too. At just 1 week of age both of these 2 could balance on the same stump!
On your left there may be some cows on pasture, April-Sept/Oct, depending on weather. Our dairy herd has the choice of being inside or outside. Often, during rain or the heat of the day, they will be inside. The barn is like a 5 Star resort hotel. It has a 24 hour buffet, cooling fans, spa brushes, and their beds get made 3 times per day. Yes, they like to stay inside most of the time! Some choose to sleep outside at night. They receive most of their feed in the barn. Our cows eat 75% forage (grasses, legumes), and 25% cereal grains.
#10 The Kitchen:
On the right, concrete blocks and tires? No, we do not run a tire shop but we do reuse old tires! These are bunker silos to store feed (corn silage) that we grow for the cows to eat. We harvested our 25 acre corn field on September 15th and then covered it with the plastic and tires the same evening. The tires are used as weight to hold down the covers on the feed. Look to your right and you will see the corn silage pile open face. We feed 10 cm from the front of the pile every evening to the cows for supper.
#11 The Finale:
On the left is the milking herd of Holsteins (black & white), Jerseys (small, fawn coloured), Brown Swiss (grey/brown) and Ayrshire (red & white). They get milked when they feel like it in a robotic milking machine (blue & silver) at the far end of this barn. They average 3 milkings per day, by choice. In the centre of this pen you may see 2 gates that go up and down as cows go into the grain ATM to get their daily cereal grain portions. These gates protect them from others who may try to steal their food!
On the right are the ‘Ladies in waiting’ or ‘dry cows’. They are resting and not giving milk (dry) before they give birth. Everyone in this pen is due in the next 60 days. The cow in this pen (Whisper #370) has a green nose ring with spikes on it. She nurses from other cows still and this device will now prevent other cows from letting her do that!
The calf pens are next on the right. These calves drink powdered milk that is mixed by a blender automatically when they are hungry and in the feed station. You might be lucky enough to see it mixing and feeding! They eat hay, grain and water by the time they graduate out of this pen at 4 months old. They are full grown at 2 years!
Our milk is trucked and distributed by the BC Milk Marketing Board and you can buy it at any of the major retail outlets in our province under many different brand names. We ship 3500 L every 2nd day. This is what a typical dairy farm in Canada looks like inside and around their farms. We are a small farm and we milk 55 cows here. You can visit us for a guided, hands on tour of the Dairy Farm another day when it is safe for us to offer that tour.
Next on the right is the hospital pen where cows go if they are sick, injured or in need of a maternity pen. Bilbo our third oldest cow nurses the 3 calves in the first pen every morning and night, Hedwig, Ferrari, and Larry. They range in age from September 4th to October 13th. These calves will drink up to 12 litres per day each, and the cows will peak in production at about 60 litres per day. Bliss the Brown Swiss just gave birth yesterday at 6 AM. Our newest calf is a heifer and her name will start with the letter ‘B’. In the back pen we have Gargoyle who is due November 4th We have put her in the hospital for you to see today.
On your left before you exit the barn you will see some more rabbit apartments. Fluffy the rabbit who had bunnies on August 2nd gets the Penthouse Suite with her babies. On the right side we have B Fluffy and downstairs we have Brownie and Cruella.
#12 Goat Park & Good-Byes:
Say goodbye to the goats in the goat park and all of the other animals as you drive around the loop!
Our regular ‘on foot tours’ and programs always leave time for questions, unfortunately with this type of physical distancing tour, answering questions becomes difficult. If you have any questions you are welcome to e-mail us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank-you for your visit! Be safe. Be kind. Be well.