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All Year: Seasonal
Area (ha): 25 ha
Persons: 1-4
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 11889
Region: Nova Scotia

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Last Updated: July 12, 2011

If you're interested the ecology of gardening, livestock, family and small scale forestry, we have something for you. We are a lively family living, loving, and learning on a 60 acre, transitioning to Permaculture farm in the foothills of the Cape Breton Highlands. Now in our seventh year of farming, our vision involves working towards sustainable community, honing our craft, sharing our skills, and learning from and with those who come to help us.

Our farm-mates include a herd of Highland Cattle, Saanen milk goats, Soay and Suffolk/North Counrtry Cheviot-cross sheep, free range Birkshire/Duroc pigs, laying hens, geese, and ducks ; and working Maremma/Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs to keep the coyotes, bears and eagles from getting to know the others too well. Every animal here is named, respected, and cared for, and all are beginning to play integral roles in the Permaculture approach. If you're interested in working with animals, there are opportunities (depending on the season) to assist in lambing/kidding, milk goats or cows, work with a young ox, learn about livestock dogs, or experience the meditative quality of barn chores.

We also grow between 1-2 acres of mixed crops, primarily for our own consumption, but increasingly for others interested in fresh, local, organic food. Every year's garden is a new adventure - a blend of "tried and true" vegetables, experimental crops, and "just for fun" plantings. Gardening tasks can include anything from preparing the soil and planting seeds to weeding, watering, picking, preserving... and eating!

Along with regular farm projects, we are expanding into the woodlot to make pockets of forest pasture again this year. This involves harvesting most of the mature white spruce which is infected by a destructive beetle. The wood will be hauled by oxen (or whatever works) close to the barn for use there, or to the road for sale as lumber. Well also be hauling some hardwood for our winter fuel. The cleared area will then be occupied by goats, sheep and pigs. The sheep and especially the goats will strip all the underbrush. The pigs root it all up (including many of the stumps) and make it ready for seeding by hand with pasture mix. When done with one area, the animals along with their shelter will be moved to the next pasture pocket to begin their happy work. In a few years there will be a healthier more diverse woodlot with intermingling pastures and forest gardens.

Although we welcome people of all skill levels and interests, this year we are particularly hoping to attract WWOOFers with building and carpentry skills. We have a heritage barn that needs new sills, pens, and loft floors, and we would also love to build a separate hen house. Pushing ahead on these projects would be a major boost for our farm, and we welcome - with immense gratitude - help in these areas!

While this farm is bustling with projects and ideas, it's also a place for contemplation and relaxation. We've been privileged to share time with almost 200 WWOOFers and HelpXers over the past five years, and we love to introduce them to the beauties of this incredible island. The satisfaction of hard-sweating work and a job well done is balanced by trips to pristine river swimming holes, days at the ocean, hikes to a nearby waterfall, or trips to the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We also enjoy get-togethers with other nearby farm hosts and their helpers (It isn't Cape Breton without a kitchen party).

Whether you enjoy working alone or with a group, on one project or many, there's always something to learn and do at Old Man Farm. We invite you to jump right in and share good work, good food, rambling conversations, and new people!

Here are a few things well be working toward this year if time and weather allow.
In no particular order:
>Poultry house.
>Barn sills and floors.
>Exterior hay racks for cattle
>Pasture fencing.
>More pasture fencing.
>Still more
>Trail and bridge making.
>Pond and fish culture expansion.
>Stone well and spring rocking.
>Stone wall construction.
>Make ox yoke and continue training Peter
>Hauling wood with ox (Peter).
>Portable solar powered animal shelter.
>Orchard improvement
>Transplanting wild fruit and nut trees.
>Stone solar heated hot tub.
>Continued work on small scale hydro system.
>Gravity irrigation systems
>Installation of weather/climate station
>Building a few chicken/goat tractors.
>Rebuilding barn doors and gates.
>Hand planting and harvesting various grains.
>Stocking and planting new pond with native species.
>Wooden yard fencing.
>Construction of cold room in cellar.
>Shelves and workshop.
>Renovate woodshed loft for year round accommodation.
>Construction of hay and wood shelters.
>Establishing windrows of oyster mushrooms.
>New steps and porch for house.
>Scraping and painting house and woodshed.
>Roof repairs. (Done!!!)
>Hatch cover or springhouse for water supply.
>Sloped chinampa gardens /barn run-off treatment
>Organizing of stored seeds and seed storage system
>Grafting work in orchard (early spring)
>Build grape trellises .
>Transplant fruit trees (spring and maybe late fall)
>Thinning and pruning trees in woodlot
>Any great ideas YOU might have.

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