Les Henry’s Soil Moisture Map

Once again much of western Saskatchewan and Alberta will have to rely on timely rains during the big water use period of about June 10 to July 20.

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9, 2009

I Had Never Considered A Farm, Where Live Animals Are The End Product, To Be A Food Premise.

On a recent grocery shopping excursion I was very happy to see several made in Manitoba products on the shelves. The more large food recalls that happen, the more popular the idea of buying local and knowing your farmer appears to be getting.

Governments have been promoting this trend through low cost seminars and technical help. Farmers interested in selling a value-added food product from their farm should be aware of any regulatory changes that could affect their business.

For example, the Manitoba government, in an attempt to address the recent rash of food-borne pathogens resulting in recalls, has introduced amendments to the Food Safety Act. Changes include a new definition for “food premises.” This is anywhere, in the ordinary course of business, food is grown, raised, cultivated, kept, harvested, produced, manufactured, slaughtered, processed, prepared, packaged, distributed, transported or sold. A food premises can also be anywhere food is stored or handled for any of those purposes.

Until reading this, I had never considered a farm, where live animals are the end product, to be a food premise. Because we considered making our cull ewes, cows and goats into some kind of ready-to-serve product, we feel these changes are important to know. The rest of the proposed amendments can be found at http://web2.gov.mb.ca/bills/39-3/b007e.php. As with most things, every province will have its own act.

In the theme of trying to keep our farm as food-safety friendly as possible, we have been trying to cut down on using chemicals that could result in accidental contamination. One of our latest discoveries was a natural rat poison. We found the recipe by searching for a way to control rodents that were getting into our chicken coop. We needed something that would get rid of the rats without hurting the chickens. Here’s the recipe:

NATURAL RAT REPELLANT

By Myles H. Bader, and found in “1,001 Secret Household Formulas & Money-Saving Tips”

1 teaspoon oil of peppermint

1 teaspoon of chili powder ounce of Tabasco sauce 1 pint of cold tap water Cotton balls

Mix together all ingredients (except the cotton balls) in a medium bowl. Place about 10 drops of the mixture on a cotton ball and place the cotton ball anywhere a rodent problem exists or drop it down a gopher or mole hole. Rodents are allergic to peppermint and spicy peppers.

We are happy to say that this recipe does work and you don’t have to worry about dangerous rat poisons lying around the farm. Changes like these are important for people making the transition to organic or embarking on farm tourism.

OUR VALUE-ADDED IDEAS

Becoming a food processor is not for everyone. There are other value added ventures that do not involve making your own signature food product. Other ideas that have piqued our family’s interest are seed stock sales and fibre.

Heifer prices for the past few years at the local auction mart have been very low, but we have never really thought about trying to market our cattle for breeding stock. The main reason is because they aren’t purebred — but they are unique. Over the past 15 years we have managed to develop our genetics to a point where we now have cows that flourish on forage. There is more and more interest in grass-finishing cattle from both an economic and human health point of view, so we are hoping this will help us find our niche. When looking for marketing ideas, I tripped across a new website www.cattlegrower.com/CheyenneOutlaw/blog/40/,which can be used to promote your seed stock. I am planning to use sites like this while I work on developing our own farm website.

With fibre, I have found that shipping our wool to the usual sources has resulted in very low pay. We are researching the feasibility of getting our wool made into batts so that I can use it to make quilts for our children. Another idea could be to sell these batts to other crafters. I like the idea of sleeping under a quilt made from our own wool. I also have had a few calls this year from people wanting local wool to weave into blankets. The seed stock website can also be used to promote these kinds of products.

The only thing stopping most producers from adding value to what their farm produces is imagination. I remember reading an article about a person renting out his guinea hens to neighbours for wood tick control and thought, “Wow, I would have never thought of that.” We are going to take a minute this winter to keep up with current affairs and try and learn how to think outside the box. That way, maybe we can all make more money next year.

Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Man.

Email her at [email protected]

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