Chicken, Turkeys, and…. Flowers?

What an odd combination! Doesn’t seem to go together… Or does it?

In 2019 our farming season was torpedoed by the combination of two factors.

First, the flood in the basement, 3 days before the arrival of the chicks. The choice had to be made… Fix the basement, or raise chicks. So the very last minute, I had to find buyers for the chicks. Shout out to Kodie and Vicky at Horizon Hog Farm for taking some of them!

Second, I was being deployed to Amsterdam for work from July 5th to October 1st. I could play the victim here, but work deployments (this was my second) are actually quite pleasant and a great family-growth opportunity. Well, those dates limited my ability to produce and sell. I had one chance to do a batch… and there it was, slipping through my fingers.

So what to do when you’re in the Netherlands for 3 months, 1 of which is by yourself? You discover what makes it the most productive country in terms of land mass for vegetables and flowers in the world. Like, seriously. Drive, bike, walk the countryside, and there are countless hints of highly-technological, highly-efficient farms producing global-reaching products. I asked around, and farmers in NL are able to produce, ship, with phytosanitary certificate, plant roots that would cost $35/unit to buy in Canada, at $2/unit. Now mind you, it’s 500 units minimum, but that’s still a fact that blows my mind still to this day.

A picture I took at the RoyalFloraHolland warehouse right about the time when I decided I needed to do this
Those carts might look empty… But look how huge the whole place is!
Vantage point on the other side of the previous picture

So… I’m getting myself into flower production. Basic reasons are that 1. I like them, 2. my wife likes them, and 3. there seems to be a real need to local, sustainable, “slow” flowers in the area. That’s it. No fluff, no big story. Well, ok. My wife like the idea of me growing commercial quantities of flowers better than commercial quantities of chickens, I suppose haha. And flowers do end up being quite the symbiotic addition to the farm. I need some place to spread the litter from the brooder after it gets composted, and being rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, 2 major elements that most flowers need in high quantity, it only seemed to work! Then, you add the bees, the beauty, the smells, the part of the pasture that was more suitable to crop production, and, you get a complex integrated system.

In 2020, we are starting rather small. I’m only targeting to produce approximately 5000 flower stems, but, like spaghetti, we’re throwing it at the proverbial to see what sticks. If you, the customer, like what we produce, please tell us, and quick! The best time to purchase large quantities of bulbs and large-root perennials such as peonies is in July!

Trying out these varieties in various amounts, from a single packet for some, to a whole 10 grams of seeds of others.

Is the need there? The local demand there? I think so. Though perhaps I should’ve chosen a better starting year than 2020, with the virus and all. Oh well. #letsdothis

The Dutch have it right. High Quality living. Surrounding themselves with beauty instead of negativity. I’m going to try bringing that to Black Duck Farm in 2020. My Grand-Père, the green thumb of the family, would be proud.

2020 Season is upon us!

After a – let’s be honest here – disastrous start in 2019, Black Duck Farm is back with a BANG!

The only way I can describe the feeling is that I really really missed working with animals, planting and eating from our garden, and overall spending a summer improving our farm.

If you are on facebook, you may have noticed the heightened number of posts since April 1st. Nearly-daily updates there for your perusal. So far, some gardening, some techniques and tips for your garden/homestead, and some talking chicken. Come join us and swell our ranks!

This is the link: http://Facebook.com/BlackDuckFarmCanada

I also started a youtube channel for the farm. 1 very shaky video is all that populates the channel so far, but I have received a few days ago an adapter to place my phone on a tripod for better viewing pleasure. I will be making my best attempts at making all videos with versions in French and English. 2nd video is already in the pipeline!

This is the link: https://bit.ly/3cyhRIb

This year, we are doing 3 batches of organic-fed, pasture-raised chickens, and 1 batch of organic-fed, pasture-raised turkeys. I considered organic certification, but it is an expense I cannot have right now since, with the coronavirus, I am on layoff from work (What a difference from past summers!). YOU, my customers, will be my certification, and I still maintain my open-door policy for all visits – just call first to make sure I can meet you!

These are the following processing dates:

Batch 1: Medium whole chickens on June 18th, parted and halal chickens on June 29, and Large whole and parted chickens on July 6th

Batch 2: Target processing dates for medium chickens on August 16 and large whole and parted chickens on September 1st.

Batch 3: Target processing dates of October 1st and 15th (will probably do some halal as well here.)

Turkeys: Target processing date of October 8th (Thursday before Thanksgiving) By the way, I’ll have the Large Whites and the Orlopp Bronze, which are a heritage, smaller bird!

I will also be dabbling in flower production in 2020 – look to our facebook page and our instagram, @glennormanpermaculture, for nice pictures and updates on availability!

And LAST BUT NOT LEAST, we have partnered with the Glengarry Market in Alexandria to sell our products. You can find us in the freezer room in the first freezer on the right. Fair warning, other than the product I dropped off last week, Im almost sold out of everything until June 18th! Only chicken legs remain in reasonable quantities to market.

Working on an online web store to attach to this website, that’s on my list of things to look at this week. I believe the best way Black Duck Farm can benefit our community in these trying times is to shorten the supply lines to good food, because with good food, people think better and are more active participants. If you ever have any questions about my products, or how to purchase any other local products, just call, text, or email us, and I’ll hook you up!

Happy Eating!

Adrien

2019 season shaping up… slowly

Ok, we got something to work with, now…

I am deploying to Europe from Early July to late September. That means there will be one batch of chickens, starting April 17th, and ready in late June. I will probably do the same as I’ve done in the past, split the batch in two or three processing, and thus be able to offer mid-range and larger birds. Exact dates to be set in a few weeks.

A few more ideas running around my head these days too… no big reveal until I have something set, but suffice to say I expect multiple opportunities for community building in 2019, even with that big gap in the middle.

To learn more, and get news as they roll out, please consider signing up to our emailing list. I promise to respect your privacy and not spam your inbox with marketing!

2019 in a [premature] nutshell

Hey everyone,

So I’m patiently awaiting the publishing at work of what the deployments will look like this summer. They should be coming out later today.

Ok, explanation: Farming is not my main career, yet. I am an airline pilot by trade, and the company I work for sends half of our fleet to help our sister companies in Europe during summer. Last year we sent 10 planes and over 150 pilots to Europe. This year the number is 11 planes and 160+. Usually there are enough volunteers that cover all the spots, that those who decide not to deploy can avoid it. What’s this got to do with Black Duck Farm?

Last year I ordered my 2nd batch of chicks on July 18th, and on July 21st my company announced that some pilots were going to be involuntarily. Naturally, this caused some concern, as the highest seniority pilot being sent was 3 spots below me. And this year, we are sending an extra plane.

This means, Black Duck Farm is going on the defense. I placed a request to go voluntarily for half of the summer, as those who go voluntarily cannot be forced to go at another date involuntarily. This would allow me to spend time with my family, do at least 1 batch of chickens, and plant a large number of trees this spring. The confirmation dates, is what we are awaiting.

If my requested dates and locations come through in my favour, I will be doing ONE batch of organic chickens, ready in late June-very early July. If they don’t, we might be looking at one batch of chickens ready in October, or maybe even no time to do any chickens. That would be very unfortunate.

All this aside, here are the guarantees for the 2019 growing season:

1) Demand for organic chickens being so high, the batch of chickens I will be raising will be fed 100% organic feed. As soon as I know my dates, pre-sales will start.

2) There will be no turkeys raised this year. I absolutely loved raising them, and they were profitable for us, but I cannot guarantee being home all summer. As such, their place among our products will take a pause. Same with ducks, which I had hoped to add this year – they will have to wait.

3)Website optimization will come through in the next few weeks. There was some confusion for a few people when, by entering blackduckfarm.ca, they were redirected to bdfarm.co. That should be fixed very soon. And I am working on getting an online order form set up soon, to make pre-orders easier.

4) 2019 will be the year of infrastructure investment into the farm. I just attended Eco Farm Day this past weekend, and the keynote speaker was Ben Hartman, a champion of lean, efficient, and profitable farms. Armed with his book and more ideas than I can put my head around, I will be finding ways to improve my product value for you, and to spend even more time at home.

In addition, since the orchard was started in 2018, I won’t be adding fruit trees this year, but rather expand our plantings of small fruits and nuts (200+ trees ordered from the RRCA!), and preparing ground for further expansion of the orchard in 2020. The vision here, is to have about 100 trees in total and 250+ small fruits producing for a u-pick farm in the near future. I will be continuing to dabble in flower plantings for diversity both of ecosystem, and of potential products. Let me know what you think!

So that’s it. Hopefully good news come our way this afternoon. At least, with the conference this past weekend, I feel as motivated as ever to make this farm work. We achieved profitability in 2019. Now I am working on sustainability.

A.

To learn more, and get news as they roll out, please consider signing up to our emailing list. I promise to respect your privacy and not spam your inbox with marketing!

Chicken Breast Spice Rub Recipe

Here’s another recipe, this time with chicken breasts!

Marie-Rose’s homemade spice rub for chicken breasts

1 part salt
1 part pepper
2 parts garlic powder
2 parts rosemary
2 parts thyme

Mix and rub onto your chicken breasts. Oven-roast or bbq until an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Serve with your favourite starch, veggies, and white wine.

How to order Black Duck Farm chicken breasts:

1. Call or text (613)662-2188, or
2. Email adrien.quenneville@gmail.com

Happy New Year!

Ingredients

Chicken Breast after applying the rub

The Final Product

Chicken Stock Recipe

Winter is here, and there is nothing more nourishing, warming, and delicious than a nice chicken soup after working or playing outside. The main ingredient that people often say “makes or breaks” soup is the stock.

While you can buy stock at the store, it is often over-processed, over-salted, or over-priced! And yet, it is very easy to make your own, all the while keeping the wholesomeness and making the house smell delicious in the process!

Here is a recipe we have used to make stock – and it’s super easy!

Ingredients:
Celery sticks and tops
Chopped Onions
Chopped Carrots
Chopped Parsley
Pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon)
Salt (to taste)
1 or 2 Black Duck Farm chicken back or carcass

For the ingredients above, use your creativity to decide how much of each to put in the stock! We love the bitterness of the celery tops combined with the sweetness of the carrots, so we are quite liberal in how much we add those. A Red onion will add even more sweetness, while a yellow or white onion will add a bit of “zing!”. And while you can add more salt than pepper, we add equal amounts, because a health chicken carcass has very nutrient-dense profile that transfers its salt naturally to the stock.

1. Place your chicken back/carcass in a large stock pot along with your veggies.

2. Cover with water, and add pepper and salt to taste. Remember, more water = more stock, but you can always simmer for longer for a more concentrated taste.

3. Bring to a rolling boil and then immediately reduce the heat so that the boiling is reduced to a simmer. Simmer partially covered for at least 4 hours, depending on your flavour desires, occasionally stirring and removing any foam that forms.

4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies and bones, and then pass the stock through a sieve or cheesecloth to remove smaller particles.

And Voila!

You can keep your stock in the fridge for a few days, or pressure-can it for long-term storage!

Inbound chickens for sale!

Hello dear fans and customers,

As promised by my previous post, I have 1 batch of chickens that is almost ready for this season. Starting October 11th, I will have chickens available for purchase in the size range of 2.5-4.5lbs each, and then each subsequent week in October will have larger chickens (3.5-5.5 lbs in the week of Oct 18th, and 4.5-6.5lbs in the week of Oct 25th).

So far I am very happy with how these chickens are growing, they might even come up a bit heavier than I expected.

In the coming days, a pricing page will be placed on the website, as well as a contact information for orders. I can now deliver within Stormont and Glengarry for a small fee!

Adrien

2017 season shaping up!

Hiya!

Our 2017 farming season is shaping up! We have received the CFO Artisanal Chicken permit to allow us to increase our numbers of chickens raised this year, and so we are targeting 600-800 this year. Small hiccup though…

Being a small startup farm, we depend on an outside income to live and bankroll the farm. I work in a seniority-heavy environment, and have just received a promotion which, once training is complete, will bring me to the “bottom of the list”. So I’ve volunteered – and received – a deployment to Europe for 3 months this spring. This means I will not be able to start raising chickens until mid July, and they will not be ready til mid-September.

No matter, this gives us a bit of time to work on 2 changes compared to 2016:

  1. We’re planning to start doing business with another processing facility that offers vacuum-sealing of finished product.
  2. We’re also looking to start offering individual chicken cuts (breasts, thighs, legs, wings, etc)

While the farm takes a small hiatus, this is actually a great thing, because it will allow me to spend quality time with my family in Europe this spring (“happy wife is a happy life”, am I right?), and the promotion will also have a very nice pay increase which will help me improve the speed at which we add to the infrastructure of our farm in preparation for future transitions to full-time farming.

Look for more updates in the near future!

Adrien