Post Bear Flock

I am officially finished incubating and hatching birds until I am able to upgrade and bear proof my outdoor brooding capabilities.  We have reinforced the entire aviary with plywood and 2x4s and put three bolts on the outside door to the coop.  Suffices to say that although the bear keeps coming around and tore the moulding off my car trying to get to a bag of chicken feed I had in the trunk, we have managed to fortify the bird habitat enough to keep the bears out.

As of yesterday afternoon, I have NO birds in my house, save for the occasional humming bird that comes in an open window and I am relieved to say the least.  Poultry are stinky, messy, high maintenance creatures and I would prefer to wait a little while before resuming my flock expansion.  Not all is lost however as you will see in the photos below three hens have diligently taken over the responsibility.

For those who supported the Nicole's Farm Indigogo campaign and would like to name a chicken,  here are the fruits of my labour.  The smallest of the chicks are six weeks old and examples of the silkie dominant breed that I am aiming to develop.  I do not know whether they are males or females yet, but when they mature the hens will lay blue eggs.

Hens in the coop.  The golden one with blue colouring has been sitting  on over a dozen eggs for some weeks now.  She is too small to cover the entire clutch.  The red faced hen tries to take her place every morning when she gets up for her few minutes to eat and drink.  Now they seem to be sharing the space which could turn out well as the second hen will take over any protruding eggs.
These three chicks are the first of my hatch.  They are mixed breeds and I believe the black one and the black and dark orange one are roosters.
My silkie chicks.  There are seven in total. Three white, two darker and two grey/tan.  I'm very happy about the tan coloured ones as we lost their mom to the bear a couple months ago.  Glad to see her line carried on.
The Alpha rooster in my flock. We've name him Bon Jovi. His breed is Polish Crested.  He stay pretty clear from people but has never displayed aggression towards us and keeps the flock in good order despite the abundance of lower tier roosters.
This is Bon Jovi's son and the first chick I hatched from our eggs.
This is the best mommy out of my hens. This is the second chick she has raised since arriving at Nicole's Farm. 
This is one of the other roosters.  He is HUGE and has a very deep crow.  I look forward to finding some  attractive black hens in the future and creating a line from his genes.
White Silkie Chicks
Grey and Tan Silkie Chick with great colouring on its face
Broody silkie momma.  She has hidden herself in the dark in the very back recesses of the coop. I tried to move her and her clutch of eggs into a more reasonable location with easier access to food and water but she wanted nothing of it and I find her back here the next morning.
The three pheasant chicks that made it to outdoor viability.  It looks like three females but I am not  going to know for sure until they fully reach maturity.
Proof you can off leash train a jack russell terrier.  Bongo killed a number of my birds when we first brought them home and hadn't fully reinforced the habitats.  I wouldn't trust him unsupervised but he has been trained to abstain.
The other chick that was successfully hatched by one of my hens. 
My favourite hen.  She rarely lays an egg, is tiny and brave beyond her size.  She escaped from the coop one afternoon late last year and Bongo got her and chomped her a couple times. I nursed her back to health in the house and she mothered Bon Jovi's son in returned when he was the only chick that made it through my first small hatch.  She is the first to jump out the door when I allow the chickens to free range and the last to go inside.
Silkie chicks
Tan Silkie Chick
The four quail chicks that made it to outdoor viability.  They will replace their parents who were all lost to the bears.
Brown silkie chick


I've been collecting all the eggs I can in hopes of growing our flock. My current project is to develop a silkie dominant breed with an araucana strain in the genetics so that they lay light blue eggs. I absolutely adore Silkie chickens as they are small, quiet and the roosters are protective of their ladies but docile with humans.

The Parents - Rooster in White
White silkie chick.  Pheasant chick at bottom right.
Eggs in the 'bator. Phesant in dark brown, silkie in blue, other chick in light/white.
Four silkie chicks.

Community Engagement and building brand

Since our family does not have to relocate to the eastern part of BC for work this spring, I have had the luxury of joining some local community organizations.  In 1998/99, I particpated in a Rotary Youth Exchange to Sweden and now 14 years later I have had the profound joy of joining the same club that sent me on that character building trip.  The folks in the Sechelt Rotary Club have proved welcoming and eager to make a change in our community.  The club has chosen to focus on youth and literacy, both topics rank very high on my personal priority list.

I have begun joining in on meetings with Voice on the Coast, Sunshine Coast Breakfast for Kids, Sunshine Coast Community Foundation - Vital Signs team and of course the Agriculture Advisory Committee at the good old Sunshine Coast Regional District.

Also of interest, I've been upping my participation in small business and social enterprise platforms and competitions.  At the end of May, I submitted my application for "The Challenge Contest" sponsored by The Globe and Mail and Telus.  They're offering a $100,000 grant and an invaluable round of great nation wide press!  Both would be tremendous game changers and launch platforms for Nicole's Farm, so keep your fingers crossed for it.

In addition, I have been working with the BC Ideas Team from Ashoka Changemakers.  You'll see me featured as a Thought Leader for the campaign.  I also helped host a #socentchat last week,  a guest post go live on their site in the next couple days, next week I'll be moderating a BC Ideas discussion piece and I have a little spot in their campaign video.

All in all, I've been working hard to hustle brand while hunting for seed funding for the proof of concept.  Dynamic is the life of the entrepreneur but I wouldn't change it for a thing.

Proof of Concept Farm - The land

My partner has been clearing the land for the one acre proof of concept farm in Halfmoon Bay, BC.  The spot has great sun exposure and excellent visibility from highway 101.  Once the fence is up and the beds are lined up and planted all those passing by will be able to watch as the project grows!

View from back of spot with highway in front.
View from on-site looking towards highway and Sechelt.
View of spot with highway at my back.
two eldest daughters walking down to farm site
Berm pile at far back will be screened for topsoil

Rookie Lessons in Poultry Raising

Valuable lessons learned today.

There is nae a happier bird than a chukar patridge in a dust bath after a long wet winter.  Ditto goes for ringneck pheasants especially the females. Pleasure induced chirps and coos and song could be heard from afar.

On the same topic, not even a handful of scratch tossed in will entice a flock of chickens to climb into a blue kiddie pool for same dust bath opportunity.

The crops I've planned this year

Check out this pinterest board of crops I have planned this year at Nicole's Farm.

Time to Launch

The feedback I have received since the Vancouver Sun article has been phenomenal.  I have viewed an additional 8 potential acres to date and welcome any folks who are interested in having their underutilized land repurposed in Nicole's Farm acres to drop me an email.  Please follow the link to the Vancouver Sun article if you are just visiting us for the first time. Randy Shore, the journalist who wrote the article did what I feel is a fantastic job explaining the project.

Things have gotten extra busy around here with all the added press but I welcome the interest that it has brought to the project and now I am keenly focused on getting our first seeds in the ground and the fresh, sustainable, locally grown produce into the hands of the welcoming folks on the Sunshine Coast.

I am also beginning my search for folks who may not necessarily be professional gardeners but feel a draw to the land and would like to be involved as farmers.  Please go to the "Contact" tab on this page and drop me an email.  Resumes are not the key to successfully getting my attention...aim to write me a couple paragraphs which Break down how you could see yourself contributing on the project and what you would be looking for in return then we can proceed from there.  Also, as the business grows we will be looking for management and administrative help so, if you have a passion for sustainable agriculture please do not hesitate to contact me.

Progressive Brilliance

I came across this TEDx talk this morning while reading through my usual social media channels and it resonated so strongly with me I wanted to share it.  Along the lines of the Nicole's Farm project, I believe that those who have the interest and potential to interpret and take action on progressive ideas can do so in ways that can improve the quality of life of global community. Bjarke Ingels, the architect speaking in this talk expresses a vision for sustainability that I have profoundly felt for quite some time but have not heard articulated so effectively until watching this video.  

Progress in the realm of global environmental issues can be accelerated when we begin acting on sustainability as a "design challenge" and not a "moral sacrifice".

Nicole's Farm has been getting some press

We've been getting some press over here at Nicole's Farm. Yesterday, Randy Shore at The Green Man Blog at the Vancouver Sun came by and did an on-site interview. He took some video of the work we have been doing to prep the land for the fence and bed installation.

Business in Vancouver magazine did an interview a week or two ago and I believe they will be publishing their article shortly. Also keep your eyes open at Country Life in BC for an article about our project.

We would really appreciate a little extra support on the crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo to help cover the direct costs of the wildlife fence.  Plans have changed around here in the last few weeks and the equipment is staying available locally all year.  Anyone wishing to contact me to discuss having a Nicole's Farm acre set up on their underutilized land or to inquire about employment as farm help, please contact me

Here's the article that came out today in the local newspaper, The Coast Reporter:

Rookie Adventures in Poultry Raising

This is going to be a photo heavy post and a prequel to a post I am developing that has tips for newbie or rookie poultry folks like myself.

The Mommy

 sitting on her brood

 The Daddy aka Bon Jovi the Polish Crested Rooster

 First there were three.  You will notice that there is one blueish egg in the mix. This will be an Araucana mix that was somehow laid in the group.
 Now there are nine!

Hurray for broody chickens! I get the new chickens without having to raise them in my house!

Growing Sustainable Agriculture Community

I've been thinking, nearly obsessively, about some of the responses and conversation that have ensued since I pitched my Nicole's Farm Project to the folks in my community who organize themselves in a group called One One Straw Society and I've decided to proceed as such  I will be making my best effort to make it to their AGM on the 29th January (childcare is always an issue at this point) and I submitted my expression of interest to participate on the Agri Advisory Board at the Sunshine Coast Regional District.  With those decisions I have also been tossing around the following thoughts:

1.  Conventional media and marketing methods are not going to access a wide enough customer base...Coast Reporter, Coast Cable, etc. It just doesn't resonate with folks anymore. Furthermore, it doesn't matter how many times folks see an ad, if they're taking their kids to soccer games on saturday morning and they are too tired after work on Wednesday evenings, they just aren't going to go to the markets...until it becomes the sexy thing to do.
2.  We can not begin to build an economically prosperous local food region without a vision.   A clear, progressive, action oriented vision with targets and milestones and it has to resonate with folks who don't want dirt under their nails except for trimming some non edible landscaping hedges and calling it a day in the garden.  To see what my vision is:

         Portland farmersmarket

I'm sure these conversational have already taken place locally in the past. But they need to be brought up to date and expanded on.  I'll leave you all with some thoughts on sales and marketing that registered with me from some online content I was reading by Seth Godin last night.  
Idea Virus

Points of reference:

Only way to get sales is to get talked about
We need to work on communicating emotion
Long term players are the ones that will deliver real value

Learning Scarcity from Seth Godin

I've come into a difficult place with my project development. A lull as it were. My crowdfunding campaign has not taken off as quickly as I had naively hoped and I'm severely sleep deprived as my youngest daughter is waking up every two hours and i can't bring myself to change the cycle. So, i am in a rut. Stuck being my own worst enemy. After a weekend of utter melancolie, nursing a bruised ego, and trying to purge the emotional albatross so that I could begin to see clearly and resume targeted goal setting, I seem to have emerged on the other side of the abyss.
I completed things today that were utterly necessary for our construction company. I ordered some swag over the weekend so that i can start getting the visual identification of my brand into the hands of local folks who will be purchasing my products and i have really addressed where the weak points in my campaign are. I need to continue to hustle relentlessly and not fear the backlash or haters that are starting to come out of the woodwork.This weekend I was greeted by a bunch of emails from the old guard of local growers and purchasers in my community telling me how my model won't work and how non of them can get the sales they are looking for. Realizing I'm going to have to build the system from the ground up while trying to bring people's skill sets together rather than continue this counter culture of mildly accessed local food.

So rather than spiral down. I will move forward and on that note, to anyone reading this I am sending much love and fortune your way. just because.

And i will end with a couple points taken from Seth Godin's blog post on Scarcity

Principle 1: Use the internet to form a queue. If you have a scarce product, you almost certainly know it's scarce in advance. Instead of taxing customers by wasting their time, reward the early shoppers by taking orders online. A month before sale date, for example, tell them it's coming. If you sell out before ship date, that's great, because next time people will be even quicker to order when they hear about what you've got. (And you can do this in the real world, too--postcards with numbers or even playing cards work just fine.)

A hot band that regularly sells out on the road, for example, could put a VIP serial number inside every CD or t-shirt they sell. Use that to pre-order your tix.

Principle 2: Give the early adopters a reward. In the case of Apple, I would have made the first 100,000 phones a different color. Then, instead of the buyer being a hero for ten seconds, he gets to be a hero for a year.

Principle 3: Treat different customers differently. Apple, for example, knows how to contact every single existing customer. Why not offer VIP status to big spenders? Or to those that make a lot of calls? Let them cut the line. It's not fair? What's fair mean? I can't think of anything more fair than treating the people who treat you well, better.

Principle 4: When things happen in real time, you're way more likely to screw up. One of the giant advantages of the Net is that you can fix things before the whole world notices. Try to do your rollout in small sections, so you can fix mistakes before you hurt the very people you're trying to embrace.

Principle 5: Give your early adopters a forum to celebrate. A place to brag or demonstrate or show off or share insights and ideas. Amplify the heroes, which is far better than amplifying the pain of standing in line.

Some links on method

I received an email today from an experienced local gardener who, though supportive of my project had some doubts as to the revenue projections i have used as assumptions on which to base my business model.  So, I have decided to post some background information on the SPIN farming movement.  For those interested in knowing what type of farm practices I will be implementing on each Nicole's Farm acre in order to meet my goal of two living wage jobs per farm please peruse the following links!
SPIN farming
List of Other Farms in North America using SPIN farm practices
Article in Tree Hugger regarding SPIN Farming
Article from Rodale Institute regarding SPIN Farming
Wally - One of the founding SPIN Farmers
Somerton Tanks Farm - Proving the revenue projections
SPIN Farming Feasibility Study - Proving the revenue projections
Here are some farms I picked out of the list above because:
a) they are BC based or,
b) I follow them on twitter or facebook.
Carrot Creek Urban Farm 
Healthy Harvest: "Did you know…in one year, you could harvest up to 2800Kg of food from a garden space of 400m2! One person eats about 200kg of fruit and veg annually so that’s enough food for 14 people!"
Leaf and Lyre