Monday, January 30, 2012

Smile...I can almost taste the basil!

Here is an update for the herbs that we have started for Seedy Saturday in Calgary, along with some others.

*You have to listen to this song while you read the rest of the blog...* (just open it in a new tab )
They're so beautiful! Imagine, its almost summer, well, spring maybe...but almost there!

This is Sweet Basil

Dark Opal Basil (even now you can see the beautiful purple colour)

Lemon Basil- has an amazing lemony scent and flavour (makes an unusual and tasty pesto)

Pretty much all the herbs are well on their way, including the lavender (which we literally had NO luck with last year!)
We are starting two kinds of Lavender: Dwarf Munstead and Lady Lavender (its a little stretched, but it will recover)

So, lots of herbs, especially different kinds of Basil, to look forward too! YUM! Herbs are an absolutely amazing way to spice up your life...and not just in the kitchen... ( many herbs have have medicinal properties as well- with all sorts of benefits from adding them to your food!)

For example, did you know basil is a
very rich source of many essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Basil leaves are an excellent source of iron, containing 3.17 mg/100 g of fresh leaves (about 26% of RDA) source:

To learn more about the health benefits of herbs I would recommend checking out any books by a woman named Rosemary Gladstar, who is an herbalist. ("herbalism" is simply a word for the the study or practice of the medicinal and therapeutic use of plants.) Many people consider her to have pioneered western herbalism as we know it. To learn more click here Also, we have a local herbalist in Red Deer who is a fantastic source! To learn more about herbalism right here in Red Deer, click here

And don't forget about Seedy Saturday in Calgary, or Seedy Sunday in Red Deer. They're great events to find seeds (from locals!), and some plants that have been started early for maximum production. Also, if you're new to gardening, its a super way to get introduced to various ideas and to talk to people who LOVE to talk about gardening! We will be there with our Country Thyme Booth and will have herb plants available for sale for you to get a head start in your herb garden.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Seeding time!!

We needed to get these seeds going weeks ago. Oh well! So, this is our high -tech greenhouse/ header house! We're getting all the plants started that we plan on selling at seedy Saturday in Calgary, on March 17. Its located at the Hillhurst Sunnyside community centre. Look for us there!! We will be selling potted herbs and advertising our grain and meat shares a little bit. Many other great vendors will also be there with seeds, plants etc.

We're also starting some annuals that take forever to grow, that we'll also be using for fresh herb sales in the summer. These slow growing annuals include rosemary and lavender.

What are your favorite herbs to grow or use? One of mine is basil. Basil tastes SO amazing and is so good in pretty much anything! Not to mention pesto sauce is one of my fav things to eat. You can expect to find lots of different kinds of basil at Seedy Saturday including Lettuce Leaf, Sweet, Dark Opal, Thai....mmmm!! We will have all the kitchen basics like thyme, oregano, sage, chives available. And, we'll have some special things too like Summer Savoury, Lovage, Soup Celery. So much to look forward too! Yep, believe it or not it's time to start dreaming what's going to go in your garden or on your windowsill :)

Till Seedy Saturday,look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turkeys: there's more to them than meets the eye!

Daniel and I realized that the "video" in one of the earlier blogs didn't actually work, it only came up as a photo. So, here it is! This is Mr.Douggy strutting around. So, I'll be honest. When Daniel first started talking about turkeys, I wasn't that excited. They're just kind of ugly...nothing like a duck you know. Ducks are adorable- they waddle around, wag their tails and quack a lot....cute!! Turkeys have their own charm...Now that we actually have our own turkey pair, and I've had a chance to get to know them, I have to say I've grown rather fond of them. Plus, Daniel has been learning all sorts of neat things about turkeys and telling me all about it.

Here are some interesting turkey facts:
- Did you know Turkeys can fly? Rather well too, despite their size! They actually prefer roosting on the highest possible perch at night- up in a tree or on the side of a barn for protection from predators

-Male turkeys are called gobblers, because they are the only ones that can make that adorable gobbling sound. Each male turkey has his own unique gobbling "technique". You can see Mr.Douglas strutting around and then letting out that gobble in the video. Its a mating dance for them to attract mates

-Turkeys blush! You can hear my mom commenting on it in the video. Male turkeys have that droopy "snood" hanging off their beak and the folds of skin below. These go from pale blueish/grey to bright red when he's excited, agitated or feeling horny!

-Daniel has noticed that Mr.Douglas is very personable, and friendly. Apparently domestic turkeys are known for being fairly tame. You can see he's quite calm when Daniel handles him

-Narragansets (the ones that we plan on breeding for our flock) traditionally were known for their calm disposition, good maternal abilities, early maturation, egg production, and excellent meat quality (the meat is listed in the Slow Food Arc of Taste!- please note, the Narragansett turkey is actually listed in Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, but I thought Slow Food Canada is more relevant to us)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tasty Buck wheat Pancakes

Buckwheat Pancakes:

3/4 c whole wheat flour (I used our Red Fife of course!)
3/4 c buckwheat flour
3 tbsp sugar (I omitted, just as good without, or use honey)
2 tsp baking powder (can add up to 3 1/2 if you are a fluffy pancake person)
3/4 tsp sea salt
Sift into a mixing bowl

1 egg (well beaten)
1 c milk
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp molasses (I omitted because I didn't have any on hand)
Combine separately and pour into flour mixture. Stir just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Do not beat. Fry in a hot, greased fry pan.

Enjoy!! Once again, this recipe is courtesy of my fave cook book "Simply in Season"..."recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less "

For those of you are interested in trying out new grains, we are now offering buckwheat flour for sale. It is a tasty, nutty flavoured flour and we also stone-grind it in small batches.

Buckwheat is technically not a cereal grain, but rather a fruit seed, related to rhubarb and sorrel, according to the Canadian grain commission. This makes it suitable for people who find they have a sensitivity to wheat. It seems that buckwheat is incredibly healthy for you! Buckwheat has lots vitamins, including magnesium.

Here are some more websites that talk about buckwheat:
Worlds Healthiest Foods

The Kitchn

Your turn: Whats your favourite buckwheat recipe?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wholewheat shortcake/ scone recipe

It's wintertime, and I love to bake and cook. It's the perfect time to do it because you don't really want or need to be outside as much as in the summer.

The following is a recipe for scones, using 100% whole wheat flour. I used our own Red Fife flour. For those of you just getting to know us, we grow natural, heritage grains and we stone-grind them in small batches. For more info on the grains and how to get them you can visit our website at

Back to the recipe! It's from a book called " Simply in Season" by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert. (available at have to highly recommend it, I just LOVE it. It's especially useful if you're just getting used to the idea of eating seasonally. So, here goes:

Shortcake or scone recipe:

2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar ( I only added a sprinkling of ground stevia- also from our garden)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
In a large bowl, mix together

2 tbsp butter (chilled)
Cut in with pastry blender( or fork!) until crumbly

1 c yogourt (I used homemade apple sauce, you could also use pumpkin purée, or...)
1 egg
Combine, then add to dry ingredients. Mix briefly. Pour into a greased 8x8 inch pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350F/180C for 30 mins; or drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, and bake at 400F/200C for 12-15 minutes. Serve warm.

For variations, you can add 1 c chopped dried fruit or chopped nuts.

We had it with a tunesian pumpkin soup I made. Yummy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sunny day at the farm, and a new farm!

We showed the current farm to my visiting parents today. Also, Daniel and I have big news! We have bought a farm in Bowden!! As you know we have been renting land/facilities from John. Now we finally have a home and land where we can start our forever farm :) photos to follow soon!

As for the visit to johns farm, we showed my parents the new additions to our "birdy" family. The ducks really like being outside and eating snow.

Also, Daniels new BFF, Dougy. You can see Dougy strutting around in the video- he's desperate for a mate! He's the Narraganset Tom that we will be using to develop our heritage turkey flock.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Heritage Breed shortage in Canada

This is our first turkey egg, from our naraganset hen. We're very excited about. Our happiness is mixed with sadness though... We've recently discovered that the 2 Canadian hatcheries can't supply the older "broad breasted bronzes" that was the closest ones to heritage available. Wow! Major wrench in our plans. We can still get broad breasted bronzes, but it will be a new, faster growing type. Not what we're going for. This means 2 things to us.

Firstly, we'll be working so much harder to get where Daniel and I want to be. It's always been our goal to have our own breeding stock and have our very own chicklings (a very technical word, for cute baby birds) of heritage breeds. Now it'll just need to happen so much sooner than we expected. Remember that first, beautiful egg from our hen? We're going to need a lot more of those.

Secondly, it is a sobering reminder of how today's food production system relies so heavily on commercialization. Many of these awesome birds are getting much more difficult to obtain. Rochester just doesn't have them because of a salmonella outbreak, but, the fact of the matter is that fewer and fewer hatcheries are carrying heritage varieties.

A lot of the heritage breeds are disappearing because they're not considered commercially viable. As in, they don't grow fast enough. That scares me.

Here are some reasons why we need to give a damn about heritage creatures from chickens, ducks and turkeys to pigs and goats:

1) have a good balance of flavor, and growth ( slower growth is much better for the animal)

2) they're self-sufficient, meaning they are willing and able to go out and about and forage (for ex, commercial meat birds are bred to grow so fast they actually out grow their skeletons)

3) they can naturally mate ( especially apparent in turkeys, commercial turkeys have such large chests they are physically unable to mount a hen, that sucks!)

4) have more genetic diversity

If you're interested in learning more about heritage breeds, check out the following links: