Welcome Spring 2021!
Here’s what’s happening on the farm and in the barn today.
**Please stay in your vehicle**
#1 Entry and Barn Front:
On the right are brothers Thor and Thaddeus, two pot bellied pigs. They have a solid house with a snuggly bed inside, we sure hope they stay safe from the Big Bad Wolf (coyotes around here)!
Our laying hens are next out scratching for bugs. These chickens were hatched on June 30th 2020. They are a mix of 4 different types of specialty egg laying chickens. There are 7 hens and 2 big white roosters!
The next wagon is home to Squishy’s 8 puppies born on April 5th. They’ve just started their public appearances this week. They always get time off for our cuddles!
On the left, the Goat Park is usually filled with a variety of pet goats. If you don’t see them they might be hiding in the tunnels or blending in with the rocks. In the park today are Corduroy and Domino!!
In front of the barn are some big broiler chicks cuddling under the heat lamp today, they were hatched on April 3rd. They grow fast!
In the red barn doorway you will see 2 little black kittens that were born in the haystack on February 5th. They are hanging out with our senior rabbit Daryl. Look inside the barn and you might see more cats. We have a lot of barn cats and they like to sleep or play on the hay.
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:
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 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 if any calves are looking back.
In opening #1 are some rabbits. Bluffy who had baby bunnies on February 2nd gets the Penthouse Suite with her babies. Fluffy is her neighbour and she is preparing her nest box for the arrival of her babies this week.
Behind doors 2 and 3 are the calves. They 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. If no one is in the first pen you will see them as a group later in the hospital where they go to nurse. The calves in the second pen (opening #3) are 3 & 4 months old. These calves will be our future cows 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 spread manure on our fields about 5 times per year. March, May, July, September and October.
#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 a Belted Galloway, her name is Betty. She is a beef cow! 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, he is a 7 year old Alpine goat!
Up the slope to the right are 3 Cheviot sheep that came to live with us during the winter. Their names are Camaro, Corvette and Bolt. Little did they know they would meet handsome Ken the ram while they are here…
#4 Bushside Drive:
This native forest is filled with wildlife. We see many coyotes, deer, squirrels, a variety of birds (eagles of course!), and have even seen a few bears over the years. A red tailed hawk nested here again last year and her young hatchlings 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 are where we get the food (silage and hay) to feed our animals. These fields are harvested 4-5 times per year. It takes about 2-3 days to make silage each time. 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.
Changes for 2021 will include moving our pumpkin field…crop rotation is important for the soil. Our pumpkin seeds will be planted in late May when the soil is warm. We will be seeding corn also to feed the cows in addition to planting some for a CORN MAZE! We also plan to plant more sunflowers this season. They will be gorgeous and will attract pollinators to our corn and Pumpkin Patch.
Very soon you will see last year’s empty Pumpkin field on your right. It is empty right now but has been worked up to get ready for spring planting. Visit again in the summer to see the stunning field of blooming orange pumpkin 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. As the vines start to die back due to the cooler weather you will see a lot of Pumpkins!
We grow more than 20 varieties of pumpkins. Blues, whites, pinks, oranges and plenty of funky little gourds too! The best ones for eating are the Cinderella and Sugarpie pumpkins.
Look north to see the beautiful Golden Ears Mountains. They are beautifully displayed today as we welcome our first visitors of the year. What a gorgeous view it is!
#5 Field Fun:
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 3 year old male gelding and he loves to eat pumpkins!
A highlight in early August 2020 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 the pandemic forced their cancellation. It certainly gave our Saturday Safarmi guests something unique to see.
#6 The Watering Hole:
The irrigation pond was not here originally, we dug it in 2010 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 many that are now huge! 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…! Today there were some common and hooded Mergansers visiting!
#7 Grown Fresh:
We grow some of our own fruits and veggies inside and outside the greenhouse. Our orange, lemon and banana trees love to overwinter in the greenhouse.
#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… 6 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. We know he’s smiling down on us!
#9 Runnin’ Free
On the orchard lawn is a laying hen with her newly hatched chicks. They hatched on Easter Sunday. We are hoping they are mostly females so we can increase our egg supply!
On the hayride trailer to your right you will see two Nigerian dwarf goats bouncing around. Peanut gave birth to her baby ‘Nugget’ on March 29th, and her little one is already doing laps around her!
On your left there may be some cows on pasture, Spring-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.
Our sheep Rosie (8 years old) and Rosebud (6 years old) are in a pen next to the cows. Along with the other sheep they were shorn on March 30th, this will make them much cooler for the summer months. We use their wool for bedding in the pig house! Rosebud gave birth to the black lamb Ringo in November.
#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: Barn Drive Thru
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. They receive a lower energy diet than the milk cows.
The calf pens are next on the right. They meet up with their nurse moms 3 times per day. Midday they are usually napping. They eat hay, grain and water by the time they graduate out of these pens at 4 months old, they are fully 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 & Glee come to this pen to nurse all of the calves 3x/day. These calves can drink up to 12 litres per day each, and the cows can peak in production at about 60 litres per day. In the pen today is Georgie with her 8 day old heifer calf Georgia!
On the left before you exit you will see some of our rabbits! Caramel has 2 little baby bunnies still tucked in the nest box and they are just starting to wander in the last few days. Cruella is next door making her nest.
#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! Stay safe!