September 2008

Dear Magda Farm Customer,

We hope you have had a wonderful, though rainy, summer. We thought we would send you a short newsletter to update you on happenings here on our little farm. The rain presented some challenges for getting work done this summer but we managed to move forward on a number of projects.

We are in the midst of making improvements to some of our pasture and hay land. A visit from Ann Clark mid-summer was very helpful. Ann is a professor specializing in pasture and grazing management and organic farming at the University of Guelph. We went over the fields and discussed problem areas and have subsequently carried out the necessary field work to hopefully, eventually get those problem areas into ship shape, recognizing that these things take time.

We also read a book by Joel Salatin called Salad Bar Beef. For those actually involved in beef production and wanting to go the grass fed and/or organic route, the book is a treasure - practical, straight forward and focused on working with natural systems rather than against them. Very inspiring. Although we had already been using rotational grazing, we are now looking to implement even more controlled grazing to the benefit of the land and the cows and calves.

On the pig side, we found the time to expand the hog headquarters by increasing the area of the pig shed available to our friends. We also expanded the number of pigs that we raise from eight to ten. The ten resident pigs seem to enjoy the increased space (we call it their luxury accommodation although it's still pretty primitive). The pigs are our favorite animals and many people ask how we can bear to send them for butchering at the end of the season. Perhaps being raised on a farm contributes to the ability to do this, but it's also the fact that we KNOW that these pigs have had a good life. A life where they can root around in actual soil, run joyously back and forth in their run and get treats from the kitchen and garden on a regular basis, versus the life in a pen on slats, with no access to the outdoors, that they would have had in a conventional hog "operation". The pigs that we got this year initially fought with each other but as they discovered their environment here they moved on to rooting out every last plant in their run and just enjoying running around. They have become one of the most active, outdoor-loving groups of pigs we've had. Our intention in future is to give the pigs even more space and rotate their runs so they can do their piggy thing on a more extended area. We've included a picture of the pigs enjoying a bail of straw that we gave them after romping around on a muddy day.

As always, we also have our free range laying hens and chemical-free roasters. As per our brochure, the roasters are not free range, but they have access to outside penning and are fed with a custom ration created for us to ensure their chemical-free status. On the egg producer front, several of our free range laying hens truly went free range this summer, separating themselves from the flock and producing chicks that are now making their way quite well in life, checking out every corner of our yard for bugs and other good things. The laying hens seem to always go through a low production period in July and August but they appear to picking up again now.

And finally, we include a picture from our home gardens, showcasing some of the heritage tomatoes and eggplants coming from the plants produced by Vera's enterprise – Trout Lily Certified Organic Seedlings. The seedlings are available from May to July and include a wide range of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

That's it for now. We would like to make this newsletter an ongoing part of what we do - on a once yearly basis at the very least. Any feedback you have is appreciated.

Thank you for your support of our efforts here at Magda Farm.