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Middle River, Cape Breton
All Year: No
Area (ha): 30
Persons: 1-3
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 2780
Region: Nova Scotia

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Last Updated: February 22, 2017

If you're interested the ecology of gardening, livestock, family and small scale farming, 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 tenth 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, a Jersey/Highland milk cow, Suffolk/North Counrtry Cheviot-cross sheep, laying hens, and ducks and occasionally pigs; and working Maremma/Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs to keep the coyotes, bears and eagles from getting to know the others too well. The animals here are 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, milk the cow, learn about livestock dogs, or experience the meditative quality of barn chores.

We also have a garden, 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 cleared area will then be occupied by goats, sheep and pigs. The sheep and 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 or HelpXers with building and carpentry skills. We have two heritage barns that need new sills, pens, and loft floors, and we also need to finish the hen house. Also a garden shed and screened shelter for hammocks, a fireplace and relaxing (beer or wine optional). 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 250 WWOOFers and HelpXers over the past ten 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.

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

Here are a few things we’ll 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
>Pens.
>Making hay and putting it in the barn.
>Pasture fencing.
>More pasture fencing.
>Still more
>Trail and bridge making.
>Pond and fish culture expansion.
>Stone well and spring rocking.
>Stone wall construction.
>Bucking and splitting firewood.
>Portable solar powered animal shelter.
>Orchard improvement
>Transplanting wild fruit and nut trees.
>Garden work.
>Continued work on small scale hydro system.
>Gravity irrigation systems
>Installation of weather/climate station
>Building a few chicken tractors.
>Rebuilding barn doors and gates.
>Hand planting and harvesting various grains.
>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.
>House roof repairs. (Done!!!)
>Barn roof repairs (again)
>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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