Author Archives: Christina Rozema

Chicks on the Farm

Chicks on the Farm

Well, it is that time of year again. Chick season. I have been steadily working on our Coucous de Malines stock trying to improve the flock towards better representation of the breed standard.

Of course, the breed standard is in Dutch and I have been working my way through it with the help of my Father-In-Law John Rozema. I am hoping to type it out in English and post on the Malines/Mechels Club of North America breed Facebook page. I have seen some interesting birds being sold as Malines but they do not conform to the breed standard. In this it is definitely buyer be ware!

Early on I had some interesting throwback chicks…and ones that look more like Bielefelders than Malines. While they are definitely purebred, I would never use them for breeding stock.

I will be bringing more stock int he form of hatching eggs from Bulbs of Fire in May to increase my genetics so that will be a great addition to our flock.

For now, I have day old chicks strengthening up in the shower of our guest bedroom and more in the incubators. Happy hatching!

 

2017 and looking forward

2016 challenged the farm in so many ways. Poor fertility in the chicken breeding stock I had chose,  signficant challenges with the bees, including a case of nosema that wiped out one of our early spring packages and weather issues that frustrated almost every attempt to plant our seed garlic meant that we continually planned and replanned our work.

2016 also showed us some amazing things. First, we achieved farm status for our lovely Rozehaven, something we had wanted since moving here. We are lucky our little plot is in the Agricultural Land Reserve so that aided us some. We credit our success with the variety of things we do on the farm to bring in revenue and support the revenue producing plans. Between garlic, Coucous de Malines chickens, and  all products of the hive (honey, bees, etc) we are fairly diverse in our work. We also over-seeded our property with extra forage crops (mostly Dutch white clover) to ensure bee forage during dearth periods.  Over all our plan has a variety meant to protect us against single crop/stock failure. 2016 proved that we also need to factor in total crop/stock failure potentials.

Garlic Fest in Merville in August 2016 was probably our single biggest AHA moment. The crowds were impressive and the collective growing potential of all the participating farmers was overwhelmed. We all realized that the market for fresh, local, and varied garlic is immense. At Rozehaven, we had planned to plant more seed to ensure we could meet some of the demand but early rains in August that seemlessly made way for snow in December meant that we could only plant in two of our prepared beds and likely will now keep all our garlic for seed in 2017. We shall see.

So 2017 is off with a bang, more snow, pretty heavy rains and lots and lots of planning on our parts. Maybe we are getting to be smarter farmers, but we now have multiple plans for the variety of things we have experienced. Only time will tell if they will be enough.

In the short term, we live in hope and have the support of the farmers and people of our communities to get us through. Here’s to 2017 — may it be a year of learning.

 

2017 and the chick season has begun

I was just re-reading my optimistic post from early 2016 when I was firing up the incubator. Little did I know that last year would stretch every farm muscle we had with tough seasons for chicks, for bees and for garlic.

2017 seems to be getting off to a better start. I already have 20 eggs in the hatcher and so far 7 out of their shells. 4-5 more working on extracting themselves from their eggs — a  process I know is a lot harder than it sounds. It remains to be seen what all of 2017 will bring. We have several off farm events so have had to schedule incubator starts around them. Good thing we are both planners and spend a considerable amount of time laying out our goals for the year ahead early in January.

Coucous de Malines are not a common breed of chicken. There is certainly a biological limit to the genetics we have in Canada but dedicated breeders across the country are working hard to ensure breed standards and health are paramount. Llast year I tried to entice a Belgian breeder to work toward the regulated oversight needed for us to import European eggs, but the task was too onerous at the time. I am going to continue to try so that we can at least bring in some fresh genetics to improve our stock over time.

My list of interested Malines owners is being refreshed (as it is every spring) so if you are interested in chicks, please contact me.

Malines are gentle giants and truly wonderful free rangers. They have a commanding presence in the yard without any fear of aggression. I have had other breeds of chickens and think, of course, that Malines are the perfect choice for the small holder, backyarder, or medium sized producer.

 

 

And so it begins

IMG_1351 IMG_1356Chick hatching season is almost upon us. I have some fencing repairs to be done and need to separate out the first breeding group. Looks like we will be ready by the end of January. Last year we hatched from January through August but I won’t be doing that again this year unless demand requires.

Orders for hatching eggs and day old chicks are now being taken. Hatching eggs will be $75 a dozen (plus extras) and day old chicks will be $12 each. Chicks are autosexing and I get approx. 90% accuracy.

We _only_ raise Coucous de Malines chickens and focus on health, conformity to standard and temperment. Quality over quantity.

Our birds are fed exclusively on non-GMO feed, garden scraps and free range over half of our property.

Please pm me if you would like to be put on our waiting list.

Garlic Harvest 2015

chinook

The 2015 Garlic harvest started July 1 — fitting activity for a boiling hot Canada Day. First I harvested the Turban type Chinook and the Creole type Rose de Lautrec from the raised beds on the patio.  Both had nice big bulbs but the Rose will take some drying and cleaning up to show off its pretty pink skins. The Chinook on the other hand (as you can see by the main picture) it out there proudly red.

These varietals won’t be for sale this year as we are using all of the bulbs for next years crop.

July 2 brought the harvest of the German Red. A row an a half of planting equalled on large wheelbarrow full of garlic bulbs. Many large and small, German Red is a Rocambole that is hotter tasting than others of its type and cooked has a strong garlic flavour. A little goes a long way with this variety.