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All Year: Seasonal
Area (ha): 25 ha
Persons: 1-2
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 11889
Region: Nova Scotia

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Last Updated: June 6, 2018

If you're interested the ecology of gardening, livestock, 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 homestead in the foothills of the Cape Breton Highlands. Now in our 10th year of homesteading, 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 small herd of Highland Cattle, Suffolk/North Counrtry Cheviot-cross sheep, laying hen 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, milk a cow, learn about livestock guardian dogs, or experience the meditative quality of barn chores.

This year we are moving the vegetable garden to a series of raised beds. 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 over-mature white spruce which is infected by a destructive beetle. The logs will be hauled back to our little saw mill to be utilized to repair our 110 year old barn and older woodshed. We'll also be hauling some hardwood for our winter fuel. The cleared area will later be pasture cattle, sheep and pigs. The sheep and cattle will strip all the underbrush. The pigs root it all up (including many of the stumps) and make it ready for seeding 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 helpers with building and carpentry skills. We have a heritage barn that needs new sills, pens, and loft floors, and we also need to repair the 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 in past 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).

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.
>Hauling wood.
>Portable solar powered animal shelter.
>Orchard improvement
>Transplanting wild fruit trees.
>Stone solar heated hot tub (dream).
>Continued work on small scale hydro system (on hold).
>Irrigation systems
>Installation of weather/climate station
>Building a few chickentractors.
>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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