SaFarmi Read along

Welcome! Saturday – August 15th – Here’s what’s happening on the farm and in the barn today!!

** Do a scavenger quiz with your kids today. How many different coloured chickens can you count? How many puppies can you see? How many cows are eating at the ‘milking herd’ feed bunk? **. Answers – 4, 8, It varies

**Please stay in your vehicle at all times**

Take selfies and photos from inside your vehicle and tag us in them! @EagleAcresDairy

#1  Entry and Barn Front:

On the right, In the first pen we have 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! They are our pot bellied pet pigs and are our household composters!

Next you will see Gourd our mini horse who is full of energy…check out his last video later on facebook! Gourd is a 2 1/2 year old male gelding who might think he’s a dog because we take him and the dogs on our walks together!

Our sheep Rosie (7 years old) and Rosebud (5 years old) got their spring 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 on board with them now. Ken is a ram, and is getting to know the girls…maybe we will have little lambs in the future!

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.  Now, look to your right under the overhang of the main barn to see some little layer chickens that are growing really fast! They were hatched on June 30th and will be laying eggs at our farm around December 1st. They are a mix of 4 different types of specialty chickens.

In front of the red barn you will see some of our rabbits! The brown one is 3 year old Hazel, next is 8 year old Daryl who at times is cuddled by cats in his cage, then comes 5 year old Pepper.

In the pen behind the rabbits you might see some little broiler chicks that hatched on July 23. These ones will grow up faster than the layer chicks that you just passed!

We have a lot of barn cats playing inside on the haystack. Some of the cats might be in the cage visiting Daryl. They like sleeping in that cage. The kittens you might see were born in June.

At some point now you might 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 Fluffy the rabbit who had her babies August 2nd. She has them buried in her hair inside the nest box. They might start to appear this weekend! 

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 3 times this year. March, May, and July.

#3  The Pantry:

The big green and yellow marshmallows are round bales filled with grass for the cows from our farm fields.  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 Betty – a Belted Galloway (Panda Cow) and her little heifer calf Boop.  Betty is 10 years old and her calf is 5 1/2 months old. 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 should have baby kid goats just before we open our Pumpkin Patch in October!

#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 again this year and her young hatchlings have been learning to fly and hunt the last month. Look up and you may see 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 fields opposite the forest are grass for the animals and one of our Pumpkin Patches for you guys! The pumpkin and sunflower plants are getting big…some of the weeds managed to evade our crew during the early weeks of July. The pumpkin plants are in full bloom currently with their large orange flowers. 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. We have looked and there are lots of pumpkins growing in that field!!

The grass fields on the farm were cut and harvested May 7th and then again on July 15th. This is quite late for a 2nd crop this year because of the cool wet weather we have had. 3rd cut will come off very soon. 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. This is how we make grass silage on our farm. We have 40 acres on this farm and then an additional 160 acres next to Fort Langley. It really has been a busy spring and summer, in addition to the SaFarmi Tours we haveharvested 160 acres of round bale silage, planted 35 acres of new grass, 8 acres of pumpkins, plus prepped and planted 25 acres of corn for the cows food next year.

The pumpkin field was 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 some good weather, pollination, and weed control we will have a great patch for you to visit in October. In 2019 we planted a sunflower patch 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 is open. Look north to see the snow capped Golden Ears Mountain.

#5  Peek-a-Boo:

Look 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. Now that’ll be a big bon fire … someday!!

A highlight last weekend 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. 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 are trying to get done this year. We grow some of our own fruits and veggies inside and outside the greenhouse. Our orange tree is loving the weather and currently the cucumbers, tomatoes, and blueberries are being picked daily for our household.

#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 Who Let the Dogs Out .. Who Who?

Under the tent to your left are 3 little kid goats that we adopted and bottle fed. Pecan, Peanut, and Walnut were born February 28th. When they get bigger they can go play in the goat park too!

On the hayride trailer to your right you will see Squishy’s eight puppies. These ‘big sausages’ were born July 16th. They are quite mobile now and are starting to show their personalities. Squishy joins them a few times a day to feed them still.

On your left there may be some cows on pasture, April-Sept/Oct, depending on weather. Our dairy herd have 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 sleep outside at night in the summer.  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.  The tires are used as weight to hold down the covers on the feed. Just before you enter the barn look right and you will see the corn silage pile.  We feed 10 cm from the front of the pile every evening to the cows for supper.

#11  The Finale:

Main barn, remove sunglasses. Don’t worry about your exhaust we have the curtains open and the fans on! 

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 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 every morning and night that you see in the pen today. Bob the Jersey bull calf born July 23rd and the 2 older calves; Franklin born June 16th and Dominik born July 1st. These calves will drink up to 12 litres per day each, and the cows will peak in production at about 60 litres per day!

And on your left before you exit the barn you will see some small animal apartments. The rabbit on the top floor is due to have her babies next week. Remember to look for any cats sleeping on the hay!

#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 tours 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. dairy@eagleacres.ca

Please come back in October when our Covid Safe Pumpkin Patch will be open.

Thank-you for your visit! Be safe. Be kind. Be well.