Monthly Archives: April 2014

What did the hen say when it layed a square egg?

My grandmother likes to throw little tidbits at me every now and again, often in the form of jokes or old sayings from the Miramichi where she grew up.  I’m not sure why she does it, but her wit brings a great deal of emotive response from me.  Perhaps, this is one of the many ways she exudes her kindness and caring attitude.  I am amazed by her resiliency and her strength of mind.  Her mental faculties, especially memory, are phenomenal.  I’ve told her that I hope I have the same wits about me when I am her age.

Some people tell jokes to bring the limelight onto themselves while others use humor selflessly to brighten a person’s day.  My grandmother knows the power of laughter, in any moment, to generate happiness in those fractions of our day when fatigue, apathy, or stress weigh us down.  Recently, as I prepared my eggs for the cartons, she called out to me from her rocking chair, “Justin! What did the chicken say when it layed a square egg?”  I paused, caught off-guard by the joke, and tried to solve the humorous riddle.  I came up empty.  “Ouch!”, she laughed.   She did this all in stride while she sat, pulling on her winter boots in preparation for a walk to feed the cats in the barn.  She doesn’t skip a beat.  That joke completely turned my day around and although our communication was fairly brief, it gave me a brief hiatus from the mental stresses of getting things done in a short period of time.  I have a window of opportunity, from 4 pm to 8 pm everyday after school, to build infrastructure, give our animals proper care, and manage ongoing projects at the farm.  To facilitate growth and progress, I break ongoing projects up into steps each day so that it always feels as though I am moving in the right direction.  If I try to do too much too quick, it can quickly feel insurmountable.  I have wants and needs, but my focus must remain with my needs so that I can achieve my wants, one step at a time.

Laughter is a good indication, in my opinion, of lower levels of stress.  If I’m not laughing, I’m too serious, and if I’m too serious, I’m not enjoying what I’m doing.  If this happens, and it does, I try to slow everything down.  Time doesn’t slow, so we must make the most of every minute we have to live on this earth.  I slow my rate of work, pause my plans, slow the heart rate and relax.  Humor, in times like these, can counteract life’s stressors and help me to recoup.  It’s not always self-centered.  I find just as much joy making someone else laugh or watching them laugh.  It’s contagious and a staple of family life, I believe, in our region.

This past weekend, my father and daughter, spent time copying each other’s laughs.  We’ve dubbed dad’s laugh as, “the dying horse” laugh as it is a long, windy, drawn out laugh with a bit of wheezing.  It was deeply amusing to watch my daughter squint her eyes, throw her head back, and imitate the laugh.  The power of positivity.  Imagine if each of our actions were governed by the desire to have them emulated by others to bring about laughter, smiles, happiness, and love.  I aspire to do this with the people around me and I am constantly reminded of this when I look at my beautiful and intelligent children.

Recently, I read a poem/speech delivered by Paul Harvey in 1978 in a speech to the Future Farmers of America Convention.  One stanza reads:

“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.'” So God made a farmer.

This poem, with its strong Christian imagery, embodies the importance of laughter in the family unit.  For members of a small family farm, working day and night to bring something positive to the Restigouche region, the mental image of the hay bale as the metaphorical family resonates with our souls.  Farming is all about bonds.  We see them in stewardship of the land, in loving and laughing embraces, in farmer and implement, with the proximity to livestock, and between generations.  Whenever I hold my son or daughter’s hands while we walk around the farm, I am reminded of the blessing they are to me and I am motivated to create a better future for them with opportunities on the family farm.

Finally, for all you coffee/tea drinkers here’s a little cow joke for you.  What do you call a cow that has just had a calf? You can answer in the comment box below.


Categories: farming, future generations, MacCurdy Farm, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Multi-purpose MacCurdy Farm Brooder

Incubation, hatching, and brooding season is upon us.  Every Spring poultry enthusiasts, hobbyists, and farmers start to set eggs to grow their flocks.  Provincial regulations, say what you will about the quota system, currently allow farmers without quota to have 199 laying hen and 199 meat birds on farm without a quota.  I’ll blog about the quota system a couple of months down the road but for now I’d like to focus on the infrastructural changes currently happening at the farm.  As we seek to grow our farm flock, we must continually build buildings (small-scale) that are multi-purpose to enable us to properly house birds at the different stages of development. for different purposes such as breeding, and to house them if they become ill, injured, or require confinement.  Brooders, such as the one below, allow us to do all of the above.

New multi-purpose home for MacCurdy Farm chickens.

New multi-purpose home for MacCurdy Farm chickens.

MacCurdy Farm Brooder:

You will need 6 sheets of 1/2″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood.

I ripped rough sawn 2 x 6 lumber into 2 x 3 lumber for all studs, bottom plates, top plates, rafters, angle braces, etc.

2 1/2″ screws, 3″ spiral nails.

Staples, and either chicken wire or hardware cloth for the end walls.

Front and Back Wall

Bottom plate: 8′ x 2″ x 3″ (2)

Top plate: 8′ x 2″ x 3″ (2)

Studs: 15″ x 2″ x 3″ (8).  I placed them at 32″ on centre.

Plywood sheet: 19″ x 8′ (2)

Side Wall

Bottom plate: 7’5″ x 2 x 3″ (2)

Top plate: 7’5″ x 2 x 3″ (2)

Studs: 15″ x 2″ x 3″ (8).

Plywood sheet: 19″ x 8′ (2)


Rafters: 8′ x 2″ x 3″ (3)

Plywood sheet: 8′ x 23″

End Wall pieces:

27″ x 2″ x 3″ (4)

25″ x 2″ x 3″ (2)

21″ x 2″ x 3″ (2)

17″ x 2″ x 3″ (2)

Hinged Roof

47″ x 2″ x 3″ pieces (2).  I used a framing square to cut the proper angle on both ends.

4′ x 8′ x 1/2″ (2)

3″ hinges (4)


8′ x 2″ x 3″ (1)

End wall side view

End wall side view

The brooder will need to be equipped with different feeders, waterers, and bedding depending on what you plan on housing in them.  At the moment, I am housing my breeding Roosters so I have straw and cedar sawdust as bedding.  I’ll continue to fork it around and add sawdust, wood ashes, straw, and water as necessary as I build up the compost inside of it.  I’m building an identical brooder to house my meatking chicks and turkey poults.  We’ll be purchasing them at the age of 3 weeks when their feather development is nearing completion.  The turkeys will be mixed in with them at the age of 5 weeks.  Chicks will require a different bedding (pine shavings) and chick sized feeders and waterers.

We’re making good time in our preparations for our second year of pastured poultry production.  The chicks and poults have a planned arrival for May 10 and May 31, 2014 on the farm.  It’ll be our first year trying turkeys, but we believe the demand from our farm supporters necessitates growing turkeys and we hope to have our turkeys on your dinner table for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We have some renovations to do on our pastured poultry pens and one more to complete to accommodate our chicks and poults this Spring.  After our meat birds make it to pasture, we’ll begin to break land for our foray into small fruit (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and my favorite, raspberries) production in the community of Point La Nim through a partnership with Natures Estate Farm.  We have an exciting summer ahead.  Look for future installments on our small fruit production and pumpkin patch plans to meet one of our farm goals of making it more family friendly.

MacCurdy Farm – Responsibly Stewarded, Naturally Balanced



Categories: brooder, farming, future generations, hatching chicks, MacCurdy Farm, multi-purpose housing | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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