RUSSET HOUSE FARM

Sustainable living | Creation care | Environmental education | Heirloom tomatoes

Located in Cameron, Ontario

animals and birds

Over the years, Russet House Farm has been home to cows, horses, pigs, ducks, chickens, innumerable cats and two dogs. Even though we consider large mammals to be an important part of a permaculture ecosystem, at the moment we are taking a break from horses and cows, while we formulate our plans for silvopasture. We still have a fluctuating number of ducks, chickens and cats, all kept in order by our two border collies.

Birds Sighted at Russet House Farm

Herons

Blue Heron

 

Ducks/Geese

Mallard

Blue-winged Teal

Wood Duck

Canada Goose

 

Terns

Black Tern

 

Bitterns

American Bittern

 

Vultures

Turkey Vulture

 

Hawks/Eagles

Northern Harrier

Red Tailed Hawk

Bald Eagle

 

Falcons

American Kestral

Merlin

 

Grouse/Turkeys

Ruffed Grouse

Wild Turkey

 

Sandpipers

Uplands Sandpiper

 

Cranes

Sandhill Crane

 

Doves

Mourning Dove

Rock Dove

 

Owls

Barn Owl

Kingfishers

Belted Kingfisher

 

Woodpeckers

Pilleated

Downy

Hairy

Northern Flicker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

 

Flycatchers

Great Crested

Eastern Wood Peewee

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Kingbird

 

Vireos

Red-eyed

 

Jays/Crows

Blue Jay

American Crow

 

Larks

Horned Lark

 

Swallows

Barn Swallow

 

Chickadees

Black-capped

 

Creepers

Brown Creeper

 

Nuthatches

White Breasted

Red Breasted

 

Wrens

House Wren

Wrens

House Wren

 

Gnatcacthers

Blue-Gray

 

Thrushes

Eastern Bluebird

American Robin

 

Thrashers

Brown Thrasher

Gray Catbird

 

Starlings

European Starling

 

Waxwings

Cedar Waxwing

 

Warblers

Black and White

Nashville

Yellow

Common Yellow Throated

Black-throated Green Warbler

Magnolia

Yellow-rumped

 

Kinglets

Golden-crowned Kinglet

 

Tanagers

Scarlett

 

Towhees

Rufous-sided Towhee

Sparrows

Savanaugh

White Crowned

Chipping

American Tree

Song

Fox

White Throated

 

Juncos

Dark-eyed

 

Cardinals

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Northern Cardinal

 

Buntings

Indigo Bunting

 

Blackbirds

Eastern Meadowlard

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Bobolink

 

Orioles

Baltimore

 

Finches

Purple Finch

American Goldfinch

 

Hummingbirds

Rufous-throated

ORIOLE NEST

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy ducks live on the farm year round; their straw bale duck house extends out of the east side of the barn. In most years the three hens and one drake produce around 40 ducklings, usually born in June.

 

The ducks are an important part of the farm ecosystem, consuming the flies that normally plague barnyards. One duck can eat as many as 300 flies a day. On occasion the ducks will eat the flies directly off the cows.

 

The ducklings produced each summer are raised for meat and eggs are collected throughout the summer for consumption. Muscovies are originally from South America and are technically neither duck nor goose, but their own bird.

Poultry

Poultry on the farm varies from a regular flock of laying hens to pastured poultry during the summer months. The pastured poultry graze in moveable pens on the pasture, thus assisting in maintaining pasture fertility.

 

The chickens free-range in the spring and the fall when the garden is able to benefit from their attention. In the summer they tend to damage the vegetables and are confined to the chicken coop where they are frequently given weeds to pick through. They live for the entire year in the straw-bale henhouse, where their body heat provides enough warmth to keep them comfortable even in the coldest weather.

Rare Breed Cattle

Until the summer of 2015 the farm was home to a number of Kerry Cattle, a rare breed from Ireland. Kerry cows are known for their easily digested milk, and their good quality meat. They are also quite hardy and able to graze rougher pasture.

 

Although we have loved having our cows, our pastures needed a rest as we planned out our next steps toward silvopasture. We sold our cows to friends who were looking to begin a Kerry herd.

Holistic Grazing

Since 2014 we have welcomed cattle from one of our organic farming neighbours to graze our pastures. In keeping with the holistic management methods of Alan Savoury and mimicking the way that cattle would graze in the wild, we move the cattle daily onto new pasture. This means that fertility is spread evenly over the fields, as well as ensuring that the pasture has adequate rest between grazing periods. The cows also enjoy having fresh grass daily, and will wait eagerly for the fence to be moved over. The cows are also fed burdock leaves and windfall apples by hand when available.