0rganics

Calving season – A time for new beginnings

Spring has always been a season on MacCurdy Farm that is synonymous with life and new beginnings. It’s a time of the year when earthy smells emerge from beneath a blanket of ice and snow and, inside the barn, our cows enter the last phase of their gestation period. It takes roughly 9 months for a cow to go full term and in our case, with Hereford cross animals, approximately 285 days depending on the day that the bull serviced them. The ideal goal is for the animal to deliver the calf unassisted without going over the gestation period. The threat of dystocia, difficulty delivering calves, is magnified each day that an animal goes past its due date.  Spring time calls for vigilance and continual observation of the animals throughout the day.

We do not use artificial insemination. We use a breeding bull, from our line breeding program, which is changed every 4 to 5 years. At this age range (20 months to 5 years), bull fertility is still strong but bulls can become ornery around the higher age range and a little too big to handle. Farm safety is always our primary concern. The bull services our cows (approximately 15 – 20) each Spring, Summer, and Fall. We bring our animals into the barn to allow us to give proper care to our calves and calving mothers. For example, unlike the Belted Galloway and Scottish Highland breeds, our calves could never withstand our Arctic climate and long drawn out winters outside. Once inside the barn, dad and I can look for the tell-tale signs of parturition. I’ll begin by naming the few that I’ve learned through oral tradition from my father and some from scholarly research.

As a cow nears parturition, birth of the calf, we look for several tell-tale signs of impending calving.  It is not an exact science.  For anyone interested in the reproductive anatomy and physiology of cattle, you can browse the following link: http://www.selectsires.com/resources/fertilitydocs/reproductive_anatomy.pdf.

  1. Development of an udder that becomes more and more turgid.  However, development of the udder itself is not sufficient.  The teats must fill as well.
  2. Small-sized bowel movements due in large part to pressure on the rectum from the calf in the birth canal.
  3. Elevating the tale or keeping the tale to the side of the vulva and blood enlarged vulva lips.
  4. Restlessness.  A cow, especially a first time calver, will repeatedly get up and down and/or pace.
  5. Release of the cervical plug.  (The mucous plug blocks the calf from external infection.)  This can be an indication of impending calving although it may happen several days before birth.
  6. Relaxation of the pelvic ligaments.  If one feels the indents on either side of the tail above the hips, you will find two indents that get deeper as calving gets closer.  Labor will usually begin about 12 hours after complete relaxation of the pelvic ligaments.

Optimally, we want cattle to deliver unassisted and only under the watchful eye of the herdsman or farmer.  However, this is not always the case, especially with first time calvers.  Dystocia, or difficulty calving, can present a serious threat.  Some symptoms of dystocia are malpresentation and prolonged calving time (up to and over 8 hours).  The normal presentation of a calf in the birth canal has the feet followed by the head, shoulders, hips, and hind legs.  Anything contrary to this positioning is considered malpresented or breached.  We cull cows that run into frequent calving problems such as a repeated uterine prolapse or early abortion.

Having delivered more than a handful of calves by myself and assisted in delivering others with my father, we have become very familiar with sterile techniques for manually inspecting malpresentations and pulling calves out.  It is important to note that upon assisting a cow with a delivery, pulls should match the cow’s contractions.  Otherwise, uterine torsion or potential damage to the uterine lining may result.  Calves should be pulled at a downward angle and with enough force to help the cow pass the shoulders and then hips of the calf.  The sooner the calf exits the birth canal, the better in terms of health for the cow and calf.  Time is of the essence.  I have seen a large variety of malpresentations including retained legs, anterior presentations, and posterior presentations.  Each presentation requires diligence and care while trying to deliver the calf.  One must always exercise caution when straightening a leg or head, being careful not to tear the uterine lining.

A few different malpresentations in cattle calving.

A few different malpresentations in cattle calving.

Anterior presentations require removal of the membrane around the nostrils once the head has emerged and are generally done with ease unless it is an oversized calf, which can happen with an early calving heifer.  We pull straight until the shoulders have passed and then down to leverage the animal out of the birth canal.  Posterior presentations are always worrisome.  They require a great deal of strength, without chains, to get the hip past and must be removed as quickly as possible so that the calf does not inhale fluid.  There have been a few instances when the calves have defecated due to the pressure on the abdomen while we pulled the calf out.  But, there is no room for laughter.  Joy only comes when we have the calf with its mother.  After the calf has been delivered we sometimes tickle the nasal passage with straw to stimulate breathing and in dire circumstances, begin CPR.  My father has performed CPR on a calf on more than one occasion, sometimes keeping the other from the brink of death and other times losing them after a long hard-fought battle.  Dad’s calling was realized in the form of a herdsman delivering calves.  He dedicates his life to these animals, who in turn give their lives for us and our community.  He has performed CPR on a calf for up to an hour, held a prolapsed uterus in his arms to keep it clean for a couple of hours until the vet arrived, nursed ill animals back to health, and always to the glory of God.  At times, calves can be born stillborn but we never give up on a calf.  All life is precious and precarious.  Just recently dad and I delivered a posterior presentation (breach) and the calf came out not breathing.  Dad immediately started to gently blow in the nostrils while he felt for a heart beat.  I then took over giving small exhalations into the calves nostrils until finally the calves lungs filled, his eyes blinked, and his reflexes kicked in.  It was beautiful, as it always is when we welcome a new calf into the world.

First heifer calves of Spring: Ellie and Annabelle

First heifer calves of Spring: Ellie and Annabelle

One of my favorite stories about calving came from my father who was following the impending calving of one of our cows.  Everything seemed normal, nothing out of the ordinary,  until a voice came to my father’s head saying, “Help me, I’m dying.”  Dad immediately sprung into action and found that the calf’s hoof was retained keeping it from entering the birth canal.  Some of you, while you read this, may say to yourself, “This is preposterous, how can that be? Where’s the science behind this? You may muse to yourself, maybe it was just his inner voice responding to a multitude of environmental indicators that pointed to a troublesome delivery.”  At any rate, I accept my father’s story at face value, even with my own doubts, because of the intensely spiritual experience of birth.  I have been overcome with tears of joy and sadness after delivering a calf.  There is something to be said about having a hand in assisting a calf into the world.  The birth may be sterile, but the experience is not.  It brings a great deal of warmth to one’s heart to watch a newborn calve blink it’s eyes and suckle for the first time.

Destiny - all eyes, ears, and nose.

Destiny – all eyes, ears, and nose.

Developing nicely and always listening.

Developing nicely and always listening

Maternal instincts vary greatly among cattle in the herd.  We never give up on helping to form the bond between cow and calf.  Sprinkling oats on the calf, hydrating the cow with several pails of water, and watching the calf lay close to the cow all play an important role in facilitating a bond between cow and calf.  The cow will often tongue bathe the calf, helping it to dry off, and further cementing the bond between cow and calf.  Just imagine the neuronal synapses firing away while the calf learns the sensation of touch.  Within hours, sometimes days in the case of a hard labor, the calf can be found in his pen of straw, standing for the first time.  Falling for the first time.  Standing a second time.  Falling a second time like Bambi on ice.  I always imagine a web of neuronal firings taking place inside the calf’s brain while his/her legs feel the weight of gravity and body weight for the first time.  It is simply amazing how quickly a calf learns to bring their muscle  movements into control.  Clearly, a survival instinct that exists, in greater strength, in the wild today. The process repeats itself until finally the calf stands strong and is ready to suckle.  We usually kneel beside the calf for the first week of feeding until they are able to stand alone and drink on all four teats.  It’s laborious, but it’s a necessary scaffold for the newborn calf.

Cameron, the fairest of the bunch.

Cameron, the fairest of the bunch.

Calves are a welcome addition to our herd every year.  It signals the arrival of Spring and brings a great deal of love and laughter to the farm as we care for the animals while they develop into animals that we will befriend and then give their lives to us so that we may raise a healthy meat product for people of the Restigouche region.    It’s a part of the cycle on the farm.  If anyone is interested in visiting the farm to see the baby calves, we will begin to open up the farm to such visits towards the end of May, when our farm grounds have dried up extensively.

Finally, if you are left with questions after reading this article you can refer to the following article for assistance in calving and calf care: http://animalscience.tamu.edu/files/2012/04/beef-recognizing-handling.pdf

MacCurdy Farm – Responsibly stewarded, naturally balanced.

 

Categories: 0rganics, Bay of Chaleur, Beef calves, farming, grass fed beef, MacCurdy Farm, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Learning by Fire, The Cold Way

MacCurdy Farm logo

MacCurdy Farm logo

No amount of scholarly research can substitute for the power of experience.  Experiential knowledge teaches us a great deal about ourselves in the process of learning.  Although we need both, our experiences should guide our decisions for scholarly research and help us to filter out the necessary information.  This past year, as we embarked on our first foray into raising pastured meat chickens and egg layers, we learned by fire the many sides of animal husbandry.  We pride ourselves on the care of our animals, especially our beef, which we have raised with diligent care for many years. 

This year when it came to raising our meat king chickens, we lost about 15% of our flock due to a variety of factors.  We were broken hearted, confused, and unsure of the answers.  We regularly checked the temperature, rounded the corners of the brooders, blocked any drafts, fed them regularly but still we found suffocated chicks, chicks with malformed beaks and feet, and bloated chicks.  It was dumbfounding,  We had read about an “acceptable” loss of 15% but in our minds, 0% is acceptable and nothing more.  On the other hand, we lost 1 out of 60 of our heritage laying breed chicks.  Clearly, something has happened along the line of selective breeding that has affected the robustness of meatkings immune systems.  However, we are happy to report that we didn’t lose a single bird to heart failure, broken legs, or any other condition from the age of 4 weeks to the end of their life cycle.  With an increase in production around the corner for us this Spring, we’re hoping to greatly reduce the level of loss with our chicks.

Winter, that glorious season, has presented it’s own challenges.  Namely, the cold.  I learned very quickly that although our heritage breeds are cold hardy, frostbite can become a serious concern with the exposure of their combs and waddles to frigid air.  We’ve kept our laying hens confined to their winter housing until this cold snap passes.  Some of my roosters have a bit of frostbite, so we’ve applied some vaseline to the tissues to protect them from further damage.  Will it work?  Chicken forums tell us yes.  The verdict from experience still isn’t out yet.  On top of that, we’ve completely insulated the chicken barn with fiberglass insulation and vapor barrier.  Not my choice in terms of eco-friendly insulation but something had to be done to provide better care for the birds.  The final step will be to add some lighting to retrofit the building with electricity, since solar power seems to be out of the question, so that when our birds go to pasture in their eggmobile (portable chicken coop) this Spring, we can set up our brooders. 

Everything requires planning.  I’ve learned from four years of teaching mathematics that the best lessons are those that are well planned.  The same applies to farming.  The best ventures are those that have been mapped out for success.  Undoubtedly, we will run into challenges and issues along the way.  However, we are good at thinking on our feet so when troubles arise, we’ll problem solve and collaborate to find solutions.  The key is caring.  You need to want to go beyond suitable care and provide all the requirements for comfortable housing, proper diet, protection against predation, water, and flock management. 

I have always been a proponent of learning by fire.  When opportunities arise to allow us to learn by our experience, we enter into problem solving situations without pre-conceived notions and rigid ways of thinking.  This affords us a great deal of flexibility to problem solve.  I have never aspired to be a one way only type of thinker.  As a youngster, I often fell victim to criticism, from one person or another, and as a result I lost my way in a maze of self-criticism and perfectionism.  Eventually, I couldn’t get out of the starting gate in the pursuit of knowledge because I feared failure.  Our new approach to farming has allowed me to express my creative side, overcome my fear of disapproval or not measuring up, and find pride in my/our successes on the farm.  I’m proud of everything each of us have done over the course of this year.  Looking forward to more of the same in 2014.

Categories: 0rganics, Bay of Chaleur, MacCurdy Farm, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Get your fresh beef here!

Market day is tomorrow November 9th, 2013 at the Restigouche Farmer’s Market in Dalhousie.  Our newly processed beef has arrived so we are taking orders for 50 lb boxes, quarters, and sides.  Our market deep freeze is stocked with steak, hamburger, roasts, stewing beef, soup bones, etc.  We have the following steak cuts available:

T-Bone

Packaged t-bone with two steaks

Packaged t-bone with two steaks

Porterhouse

Packaged porterhouse with two steaks

Packaged porterhouse with two steaks

Sirloin

Packaged sirloin with two steaks

Packaged sirloin with two steaks

Prime Rib

Packaged prime rib with two steaks

Packaged prime rib with two steaks

MacCurdy Farm Beef

MacCurdy Farm Beef

MacCurdy Farm Beef

Our hens are currently laying steadily and this week we will have 10 dozen eggs with us at the Farmer’s market.  These eggs are guaranteed to show the difference between a farm fresh egg from chickens who have access to vegetable and grass feed and a factory farmed egg.  They are currently selling for $4/dozen.

MacCurdy Farm eggs

Farm fresh eggs

Farm fresh eggs

Nature’s Estate Preserves and Veggies

At our market table you can also purchase preserves and veggies (carrots, onions, cabbage, and potatoes) from Jonathan MacCurdy.  Prices are available at the market.

Nature's Estate preserves and veggies

Nature’s Estate preserves and veggies

Hope to see all the locavores from all over the Restigouche region tomorrow at the market.  Please share this blog post to help us get the word out about our grass-fed beef, pastured and free range eggs, and beyond organic veggies.  See you at the market booth tomorrow!

Categories: 0rganics, farming, grass fed beef, Locavore, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Cookie tin water heater

MacCurdy Farm logo

MacCurdy Farm logo

Hi everyone,

Still haven’t set up the coop for solar electric power but thought i’d provide this useful link for you to browse and put to use if you have a few chickens at home and are attempting to winterize your coop.  More to come about the solar panel in the next couple weeks.

Here it is:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/11/make-cookie-tin-waterer-heater-under-10.html

All you need is a tin cookie jar, a lampkit or a dismantled lamp, a light bulb, and a 3/8 ” drill bit.

I would also like to thank Mr. Murchie in Doyleville for providing MacCurdy Farm with a half dozen more chickens for our egg laying operation.  Much obliged.

Categories: 0rganics, chicken waterer, Locavore, MacCurdy Farm | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A part of history

MacCurdy Farm logo

MacCurdy Farm logo

History is continually unfolding around us.  It shapes our experiences.  It calls for our attention.  It is, without a doubt, a remarkably subjective experience.  What matters in terms of importance varies greatly amongst all of us.

On Sunday October 13, 2013, my  brother-in-law and I made an impromptu trek to “The Best Sports City in the Western Hemisphere” to watch our Boston Redsox in game 2 of the ALCS versus the Detroit Tigers.  Usually, when Spring baseball rolls around, we plan a trip to Boston to catch a ball game at the hallowed hall of baseball, Fenway Park.  However, this season we somehow lucked upon playoff tickets to the ALCS, which we jumped at the chance to use.  When you first walk through the concession grounds, into the shops, and along the brick walls you experience a sensory overload from the past images of Redsox baseball history that adorn the walls.  As a lifelong fan, player, and promoter of the game of baseball, Fenway park is the creme de la creme and it’s an experience I’d recommend to anyone (even Yankee fans, yes I said it).

After making arrangements with dad and mom to feed the chickens, my brother-in-law and I drove 8 hours to Boston to catch the game.  We didn’t know what madness was in store for our first MLB play-off experience.  In the bottom of the 8th inning, down 5-1 after a slow and uneventful first seven innings, one of the most clutch play-off performers in baseball history stepped up the plate with the bases loaded.  On a first pitch inside fastball, Ortiz belted a grandslam on a frozen rope over the right field wall into the Redsox bullpen.  If anyone has ever been to Fenway, you know first hand how boisterous the crowd can be after a nice hit, catch, or play.  Well, if Fenway had a dome roof, it would have lifted off it’s moorings from the chorus of yays and yeahs that filled the crisp Charles river air.  We were in shock and awe.  We jumped, we high-fived, we looked at each other in dismay, and we yelled yeahhh at the top of our lungs.  Boston tied the game and later, in walk-off fashion, the Redsox won the game 6-5 and eventually the series.  In hindsight, it’s still hard to believe that we were there for a ball game that will undoubtedly go down as one of the best playoff games in Redsox history.

The next morning, after saying goodbye to some friends who had graciously allowed us to overnight at their house in Charlestown, MA, we hit the road with our minds buzzing about the events from the night before.  After replaying the spectacular sequence of events at the ball field the night before, I pondered the significance of the piece of history we had embedded ourselves into from our presence at the game.  Questions, like the following, popped into my mind: (1) Why don’t we express the same feverish support of professional sports to movements of sustainable agriculture, anti-fracking, human rights, and healthy eating, for example? (2) If we can find extra money to enjoy a professional sports game, shouldn’t we also find extra money to give to charity, pay it forward, and support those in need? (3) Is it important to take time for yourself and do something, away from the norm, that brings you happiness and stress relief?

The answer to the above questions is yes.  There is a take away message from my experience at Fenway.  Always reflect and then actively look for ways to connect life experiences to the passions that you uphold.  Farming sustainably, organically, and ethically are of the utmost importance to me.  For this reason, I applaud for all to hear, the laudable actions of activist groups who seek protection of our global water supply, the acts of defiance and resistance that groups, communities, and nations have taken against Monsanto and their GMO crops, and the environmental activists who dare to stand against the oil behemoths and other industries who wreak havoc on our precious planet.  Sometimes, taking time away from the daily grind to support local artisans/athletes or taking a whirlwind boomerang trip to Fenway park helps recharge our batteries.  It allows us to come back to our passion feeling revitalized, reassured, and enthused about our roles on this spinning marble we all inhabit.  Not to mention it makes for great conversation starter at the dinner table after tending to the animals needs.

It is important for all of us to stay committed to our principles but still find time to do other things that we love like watching a baseball game.  A shift in the current paradigm is imminent and, in the absence of leisure activity, those of us who uphold sustainable organic farming practices are in the midst of an agricultural revolution that seeks to empower the small food producer and consumer.  I actively cheer people around the world who are aware of its health impacts for our bodies and our soils.  In every sense of the word, we are actively conducting the history writer’s strokes.  In using a crude analogy, you pick a team to cheer for in baseball, you pick a side to stand on in food production.  Farmers and consumers need to stand together in solidarity to continually pressure for change from our governments and in the status quo.

Come join us at the Restigouche Farmer’s market in Dalhousie every saturday from 8 am to 1 pm.

MacCurdy Farm – Responsibly stewarded, naturally balanced.

Categories: 0rganics, Boston Redsox, farming, Locavore, MacCurdy Farm | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The old and the new: Solar panels, Inverters, and electric wiring

Hi everyone,

This most recent blog post is an inquiry into another eco-friendly form of power, sun power.  The sun fuels the grasses and perennials that cover the landscape of the MacCurdy Farm.  Why shouldn’t it also fuel the poultry winter housing?  Recently, I finished the installation of the new three tab shingled roof on our 24′ x 11′ gambrel roof chicken barn, which we have erected on temporary concrete block footings so that it can be moved to the pasture, if need be.  No harm in more portable housing.  The barn is docked, so to write, near our other chicken coop for the approaching winter.  Little by little the building is taking shape.  Next comes the 1 x 8 barn board siding, the attached fenced in run for winter exercise, and a solar panel to provide adequate heat and lighting through the cold winter months.  It seems to be an increasing trend towards self-sustainability in society and in keeping with that philosophy of mind, I had a personal eureka that getting off the grid as much as possible wouldn’t be such an intolerable idea.  Perhaps, I am behind some of in terms of this school of thought but, in all due fairness, life’s journey has many twists and turns in our search for truth and love.

I am putting a call out for a licensed electrician to install outlets, switches, light bulb receptacles, an inverter and a solar panel on our winterhousing chicken barn.  Willing to barter or pay cash for some work on the barn.

MacCurdy Farms Logo

MacCurdy Farms Logo

I am hoping to purchase a solar panel from Canadian solar but am willing to consider other options should any of our readers have suggestions for a solar panel that would provide enough wattage for several light bulbs and outlets this winter.  Given that this barn houses our very hardy heritage breeds while the other production layers are in our insulated coop, there is no rush.  However, I’d like to get started on the next project at the farm so any advice, encouragement, or suggestions would be much appreciated.  Hoping someone out there can offer a guiding hand into this area.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on the attached rain barrel and spout for the barn so that we can collect rain water for the chickens and thereby limit the amount of water used from our well.  Finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint is always at the back of our minds.  Recently, my father remarked on the importance of limiting the amount of contact to a cattle feed (i.e., perennial grasses) in order to maintain a higher feed value.  Basically, the less the feed comes in contact with farm implements, more crude protein and other essential digestible nutrients remain in the feed.  I nodded in agreement and added, “Imagine if the tractor didn’t touch it at all.”  My father grew up in an age of industry post-WWII.  The use of farm machinery, in land stewardship, is something to which my father spends a great deal of time marvelling.  It is the reason for his uncanny ability to operate and maintain farm machinery, his devotion to Massey Ferguson, and his exhortations on farm machinery safety.  However, despite this, he still sees the importance of the natural way of managing livestock, like giving cattle continual access to grass with minimal use of diesel powered tractors.  However, it is breaking the forces of habit that takes time (much like my forces of habit in taking electricity for granted and not considering alternative sources of power) in realizing these ideals.  So what do we do?  Take the time to consider others ideas, endorse them, sew a seed for your interests and ideas, and converse about the endless opportunities that exist on the family farm.  Something will undoubtedly come to be.

Looking forward to hearing from you on these thoughts and ideas about a solar powered chicken barn.  Please contact us via our facebook page or my email address, justin.maccurdy@live.ca.  Thanks for reading!

Categories: 0rganics, farming, Locavore, MacCurdy Farm, Solar power, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Hitchhiking: A social Experiment

Recently, I found myself between a rock and a hard place without a drive to the market.  Long story short, my drive didn’t show and my vehicle was being repaired.  Being an opportunist, I thought i’d jump at the chance to take a walk (approx. 5 km) to the Restigouche Farmer’s market.  Dressed in my Redsox cap, jacket, and khakis I set out.  Eventually, I decided to try my thumb at hitchhiking.  Car after car after car passed me by.  As a math teacher, I started to consider the probability of hitching a ride.  It was all conjecture of course, but I figured 1 out of every 40 – 50 cars that passed should know me and feel inclined to offer a drive.  Wishful thinking?  You’d think with the oscillating number of Facebook friends people have these days that someone would pull over.  At any rate, 3 km into the walk with a few familiar faces passing by, I still hadn’t been picked up.  Perhaps, they mistook my thumb gesture as a “thumbs up” for their driving skills?  I couldn’t be sure.

Finally, a kind French Canadian gentleman from, I presume, a nearby community pulled over.  He couldn’t speak a lick of English and it appeared as though his verbal skills were impaired.  Communication was down so I sat in silence on our drive to the market.  Finally, I directed him with my hand to pull over as I was nearing my stop.  My mind turned to thinking about how to express my gratitude so I offered him a smile and a merci for his kindness.  Gratefully, I exited the car and stepped onto the shoulder of the road only to see him turn down the road towards my destination.  I stood and laughed.  What was one hundred more meters of walking?

During the down times at the market I found myself thinking pensively about the gentleman who pulled over.  His actions, in spite of his disability, demonstrated his altruism in placing my needs ahead of any matters that may have been on his daily agenda.  More people in the world need to take this approach to life and place others before themselves.  It brings you a great deal of happiness.  During my first year of raising pastured chicken, I found myself giving whole freezer chickens to family, friends, and neighbours to show my gratitude for their support.  It was not a monetary exchange but an act of goodwill.  I feel it is especially important to show kindness to neighbours so that they can support your espousals for organic and natural food, despite the sounds and smells that emanate from farms.

In the end, I made it to my destination through the kindness of another.  That is the point of today’s post.  We are not islands, we can not stand alone, and we can not live life devoid of social contact.  Pay it forward.   Give freely of your time, love one another, and support causes that promote goodness and wellness in today’s society.  God bless.

Categories: 0rganics, Bay of Chaleur, farming, MacCurdy Farm | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Market Booth Conversations

Every conversation with a customer is an opportunity to learn something new when it comes to food.  In fact, we should always approach our everyday conversations with an expectation of learning something new.  When we do this, we replace our subjectivity with objectivity and spend far less time listening to ourselves and more time learning from others.  As farmers, we need to be educated and open to education when it comes to agricultural topics.  When someone says, “You have to spray, there’s just no choice,” an organic farmer needs to be equipped with a response against the status quo.  Our response has to have more substance than, “It’s not good for you!”

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

We can build this knowledge requirement through a love of reading or open-ended conversation that provides opportunity for discussions on issues of health and food.  Organic farming, i.e., the way farming was done pre-industry, is a tried, tested, and true approach to managing livestock and produce.  It has been researched exhaustively, defeated criticism, and is now on its way to becoming more and more accepted by food consumers.  Conversations against pesticide sprays, chemical fertilizers, and anti-biotics need to focus on the natural defenses of properly managed soil biota and the inherent dangers of mono-cropping to our soils, for example. 

As a teacher, sometimes you encounter questions from students that don’t have an immediate answer.   Sometimes, it is better to listen than to say anything at all.  I congratulate my students on asking a question that stumps the teacher.  It is important for them to know that adults don’t have all the answers.  Our society expects immediacy in everything we do.  (Look at what the chicken industry has done to the meatking, for example.  Meatking chickens have been selectively bred to go from farm to table in only 8 weeks, 8 weeks!  This is done at the expense of numerous broken legs, heart attacks, dead birds, etc. in a conventionally managed poultry operation.)  We shouldn’t set expectations of instantaneous response, it sets our children up for failure.  We should allow time to formulate well researched and thought out responses.  Let the intellectual juices stew a while.

I am always encouraged and enthused by my saturday morning market booth conversations.  Conversations with local people about healthy eating, barefoot running, the minimalist movement, earthing, grounding, unpasteurized milk consumption, herbal teas, etc. lead me to the conclusion that collectively we possess a great deal of knowledge away from conventional thinking within our region.  At one point in my life, I shied away from these conversations but now I whole heartedly embrace them and their significance in my life.  They give me a voice that stands against the oppressive nature of factory farms and the blind faith in our current food system that so many of us have fallen victim to.  I am confident that more and more people will give organic food a chance and at least find a chance to include it in their daily conversation.

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Tapadh Leibh

Today’s post is entitled, “Tapadh Leibh”, which is Scots Gaelic for a formal thank you.  I’d like to extend sincerest appreciation to two friends from the Restigouche region, who donated roofing tin and asphalt shingles to our cause.  Generosities like this go a long way in helping new/young farmers stay out of debt in their agricultural pursuits.  Infrastructure, small or big, along with farm machinery are often the most expensive costs for a foray into livestock housing.  We are able to reduce costs by making our infrastructure portable, which lessens the amount of building materials needed to seasonally house livestock.  One can imagine how deflating and defeating it would be to take an industrial approach to farming and have to go in debt in order to build a new state of the art barn, for example.  Grass based farming circumvents that problem completely.  A more natural approach to animal husbandry allows one to slowly grow their farm.  One can grow with the enterprise and learn how to adjust and correct any unforeseen troubles as they are encountered instead of becoming overburdened and worked to exhaustion.

This year we decided to try our luck with pastured chicken and were successful as a farming family.  This winter we will reap the healthy ovalish egg fruit of our laying hens.  Next spring, we will plant our apple orchard and raspberry field.  As we continue to diversify our family farm, we would like to extend an invitation to those of you who are interested in learning about our passion for farming to contact us about farm visits.  Over the years, members of the community of Point La Nim and nearby towns and villages have often stopped in to assist us with haymaking or harvesting our gardens.  As a youngster, I can still picture family friends and community members pulling into the field with their work gloves and pick-up trucks.  Without their help, we would have had many more days making hay under the moon light.  Farming is, in essence, a community driven entity. We believe in paying it forward.  The help of community members and other like-minded organic food enthusiasts can be paid forward in so many ways when you operate a farm.  Food is usually the currency of choice.

In the words of our Scots Gaelic speaking ancestors, “Slainte Mhath!”  In other words, good health to all of you.

Categories: 0rganics, ancestry, Locavore, MacCurdy Farm, scots gaelic | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Our biggest seller: The MacCurdy Beef 50 lb order.

We are now taking orders for 50 lb orders.  Although barbecue season has become a distant memory, most of us are beginning to dust off the roasting pans and slow cookers for those savory stews of fall and winter.  Our 50 lb orders have quickly become our biggest seller over the last few years.  For $225 you get an assortment of steaks, roasts, hamburger, stewing meat, liver, and other desirable meat products from MacCurdy Farm.  Orders usually come with several packages of steak including sirloin, round, prime rib, and t-bone.  You will receive a variety of roasts that include sirloin tip, rump, and cross rib and blade, for example.  Most orders have 15 – 20 lbs of hamburger, which equals approximately 14 – 21 bags of hamburger meat.  Stewing meat (bone-in and boneless), liver, and ox tail are also included.  Should you desire the heart and/or tongue, these products can also be included in the poundage.  You can contact us at the farm 684-4252 (Sandy or Jim) or 684-2297 (Justin) to place an order.

Please be mindful that beef orders are first come, first serve so there is a chance that you will be placed on a waitlist.  We process orders based on demand.  Our beef is professionally butchered at Hornbrook’s Meat Wholesalers in Stone Haven, N.B.  They are a provincially regulated and inspected abattoir.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  We pride ourselves on transparency.

MacCurdy Farm logo

MacCurdy Farm logo

Categories: 0rganics, Locavore, MacCurdy Farm | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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