Building a Farm, Literally

When we decided to move Ontario to start a farm, we did so for the unique opportunity to ‘grow’ a farm on family land. You see, in BC we leased land and thus were hesitant to invest significant capital in buildings and other infrastructure due to a lack of certainty around our future on the land. I should also add that we were unable to keep livestock, which is something Amy and I were interesting in trying. At our new farm in Ontario, we can plan and grow our farm with some certainty that we will be farming on the land long term.

So, we have hit the ground running and have been building up a storm. With no more than the land to begin with (which in itself is a huge asset), we are building the farm from the ground up. So, here’s what we’ve been busy building.

First up was the growing set up in our heated garage at home. We wanted to get seeds going at the beginning of March and with nothing set up at the farm by way of a heated greenhouse, we opted for shelves with grow lights in the comforts of our little garage.

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“We’re gonna need a bigger boat” – George Jung (Blow)

With the number of seedlings growing quickly and no interest in spending more money on grow lights, we designed and built a hoophouse in our backyard with a handy hoop bender from Johnny’s Seeds. We opted for a 12 ft wide structure, which was relatively simple to construct.

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Truck bed, 2 x 4s and a sheet of plywood made for a handy bending platform.
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Bam!

We started to run low on materials but needed a vent, hence the patchwork window to save some pennies. Amy think it adds character, I try not to look at it.

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Happy plants!

Next up was the chicken brooder.  Having ordered 132 day-old baby chicks with little clue as to how to care for them, we had to hit the books (we really like the Storey’s guides to raising livestock) and the interwebs. We ultimately came up with a simple brooder design that will house the chicks for the first three weeks at which point they’ll be moved into their permanent home, the mobile chicken coop (currently in the concept phase). The chicks seem to be happy in their little brooder with ample space to test their roadrunner legs. However, they grow like weeds so the plan is to construct the mobile chicken coop next week.

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Farmer Amy with brooder

The most recent project was the mobile pig house, also known as the pig bunker. With three gilts (female pigs meant for breeding) on the way, we again referred to some farm books and the internet for how the keep the pigs on pasture. With decided on the design seen below which can be dragged or rolled (with the addition of wheels) from location to location. Amy wanted to paint it red, but we went with the desert storm camo colour as it was 75% off at the hardware store. The pig bunker will be situated within a fenced area where the pigs can roam freely. We’ll post some pics of the whole set-up when everything is in place.

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Pig bunker on runners. In theory this should work, we’ll keep you posted.

In and amongst all of the building we have purchased ourselves a nice walk-behind tractor which should come in the next two weeks. We are also deciding on a water sources and exploring options for power at the site (which is off-grid). Finally, we have purchased a 20 ft by 96 ft greenhouse which lies disassembled at the farm…it’s on the list.

So all in all, life is busy on the farm with much to do to get it off the ground. Yet I will say that days have seldom gone by so fast.

Happy Spring,

Patrick