The Weblog

This page contains news, event information, and other items added by myself, the intrepid farmer-in-process at Old 99. I send out a message every week, but most are set with a delete date about two weeks later. I archive some of the posts if they have content other than weekly availability of produce and meat.

You can send me questions too, which if they are of a general nature, I can post to this Old99 blog.

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CBC Documentary on Milk, and Bees petiton

I just learned there is a CBC special on tonite on the controveries of milk, health claims pro and con. you might like to tune in at 8pm ET.

From the promo page for the film:

“Milk: The Documentary is an entertaining, award-winning documentary that dares to question the conventional wisdom of the much publicized health benefits of milk and dairy products. An inquisitive man sets out to find the facts about milk and discovers more about the growing controversy surrounding it.

Also an Avaaz petition on bee poisons being banned in Europe this week; they want to mount 2 million names petition in support. Of course bees are fairly important to the food supply, and neonicotinoids are the leading culprit for the die off of bees, wild and honey bees alike.

Bees around the world are dying off and Europe’s food watchdog just said certain pesticides are part of the problem. We’ve got 48 hours before key meetings — let’s get a 2-million-person swarm to save the bees.

Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But in 48 hours the European Union could move to ban the most poisonous pesticides, and pave the way to a global ban that would save bees from extinction.

Four EU countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. Days ago the official European food safety watchdog stated for the first time that certain pesticides are fatally harming bees. Now legal experts and European politicians are calling for an immediate ban. But Bayer and other giant pesticide producers are lobbying hard to keep them on the market. If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few.

Old 99 Farm Week of Jan 27 2013

First, this week is the annual mecca event for organic farming: the Guelph Organic Conference. I have booked myself to the day seminar on Community Orcharding on Thursday. So, Market day has to be moved to Friday. If that messes you up considerably, we’ll make arrangements to suit you.

Please keep those egg cartons coming in; my layers are keeping right up with the egg production, and we need sumthin to put them in.

Does anyone want 10lb of bacon from Gourmet Meats? I’m going to pick up my stash next week, ie before Feb6th. If you want to stock up, it’s great bacon, wood smoked and frozen. John charges $50 so I’ll pick up for you if you let me know by Tues Feb 5th.

Fresh greens are getting scarce in my greenhouse, as you’ll see but I have LOTS of mizuna. Last week several of you tried it. How was it? Well, this week it’s a two for one deal, but only if you promise to eat it all .

If you are curious about the Guelph Conference, go surf their website and see what’s offered. You can attend for free and cruise the very large trade show. or do the workshops for $40 a day. Well worth it, imo.

Mary Pipher notes that she thought that being lovable would be the most necessary attribute, but was incorrect – ultimately the ability to love others, to turn to selfless care of others is the single most important thing any of us can have as a kind of resilience. She sees this as also the best response to trauma – the raise (sic) in self-confidence and comfort when you can help another.
(The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community).
quoted on

Old 99 Farm, Week of Jan 20th 2013

Coldest weather of the year this week; today -20 at dawn. I checked the passive solar greenhouse min/max thermometer: went down to -10, but under the row cover the crops looked ok.

Speaking of crops, I have lots of mizuna, it’s very cold hardy and is even regrowing where already harvested. So MIZUNA is on special this week. 200 gram bunches (a large handful at the stem end) is 10% off last week’s $2/bunch price. Try it in smoothies, steamed, stirfried, in soups and stews.

Don’t forget I have honey from this summer’s hive production.

See you Thursday,

Old 99 Farm, Week of Jan13 2013

You would think spring had arrived this week, a frost out of the ground, big rainstorm and no snow. Very bad for the natural world, tho we like to chuckle about how easy it is to get around.

See for your orders this week. is a recent article on the milk scene.

Here’s an interesting recipe.

Farmer’s Cabbage and Mushroom Pie

This is a farmer’s pie: rustic, a little rude, and down-right delicious. Traditionally, the pie was set in the middle of the table and everyone, fork in hand, had at it. But you can serve it in slices to avoid fights over the last bits. Try crumbling a few slices of crispy bacon into the pie for even more flavor.

Source: Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt On Vegetables (Entered by Eric Wagoner)
Serves: 6 to 8

2 unbaked 9-inch pie crusts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms View Available Products
1 teaspoon fresh thyme View Available Products
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups chopped cabbage View Available Products
4 ounces farmers cheese or cream cheese View Available Products
Salt, pepper
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced View Available Products

Step by Step Instructions

Place one of the pie crusts into the bottom of a pie pan, making sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of dough hanging over the edge. Refrigerate both top and bottom crust until you are ready to use. Preheat oven to 375 F. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, thyme, and lemon juice. Add the cabbage, cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste. Layer half the cabbage mixture in the piecrust. Add a layer of sliced eggs. Top with remaining cabbage mixture. Moisten the overhanging edge of pie crust with water. Cover the pie with the top crust, sealing the edges with fingers. Bake until crust is browned on top, 30 to 40 minutes.

Thoughts for the week on climate

…why not start with the part of the problem about which you can actually do
something—your own consumption of fossil fuels and your own production of
carbon dioxide—and then go from there?

Political activism, community building, and a great many other proposed
responses to the crisis of our time are entirely valid and workable approaches
if those who pursue them start by making the changes in their own lives they
expect other people to make in turn. Lacking that foundation, they go nowhere.
It’s not even worth arguing any more about what happens when people try to get
other people to do the things they won’t do themselves; we’ve had decades of
that, it hasn’t helped, and it’s high time that the obvious lessons get drawn
from that fact. Once again, if you always do what you’ve always done…

That being said, here are some suggested New Year’s resolutions for those of my
readers who are interested in being part of the solution: and go to this URL

Old 99 Farm Week of Jan 6 2013

Order online at

Special on pastured ground beef this week; I’m offering 15% off the listed price. Good for sauces, patties, soups and casseroles.

Vegetable selection is finally shrinking, but still have greens and potatoes. Carrots have been slow to come to market size, so I’m holding off.

I still need lots of egg cartons, so please ask your neighbours to save for you and bring along to the farm.

Have you been following the Aerotropolis controversy? OMB hearings have started, to convert 4500 acres of farmland to industrial lands, on the premise that Hamilton doesn’t have enough vacant factory space and the airport/highway network will bring employment. Have you noticed what impact of energy/climate/world economy is having on investment decisions? High uncertainty leads to ‘wait and see’ investors. Maybe we need the farmland more than empty factory space.
Residents can get an update on the OMB dispute on Wednesday Jan 9th at 6 pm at a city hall meeting organized by the Hamilton Civic League. The OMB hearings are open to the public and are taking place in the Albion Room of the Convention Centre starting Monday, January 14 at 10 am.


Favourite climate science sources online

Healthy food news

Old 99 Farm, Week of Dec 23 2012

(Posted Wed 12/26)
I will be open tomorrow Thursday for anyone wishing some fresh vegetables, eggs and pastured meats. See Tomatoes are done for the year, likely the last week for peppers.

See for a source for your New Year’s Resolutions to live ‘as though we intended to stay’, on planet Earth.

best regards for you and your family,

Old 99 Farm, Week of Dec 16 2012

Order on line at

Christmas week I will have a market on the Thursday as usual.

Greens are holding well in the greenhouse because of the mild weather, lots of lettuce, mizuna , parsley and kale.

I’ll continue the ‘buy two get one free’ special on eggs this week, since lots of people are into Xmas baking.

Do you think we’ll have a green holiday season? Climate Disruption is no longer a matter of conjecture, the international scientific community is consensed on that fact. See
“The best strategy is to shelter in place and fight the front line battle for minds and hearts. Whether it is already too late is not the main concern; life is short and best lived taking action, rather than sitting and waiting for the worst.” (Dan Allen, Extirpation Nation essay on

Old 99 Farm Week of Dec 9 2012

Order at

The Peter Bane workshop was well attended, had to turn people away. If you are moving towards thinking you need to provide more of your household sustenance: food, energy, water, consider buying The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country directly from

Special on eggs this week, buy two get one dozen free. My flock is keeping right up with its production; the girls don’t realize you people have stopped buying!

The city of Burlington is planning on expanding the marina at Lasalle Park and displacing the hundreds of Trumpeter Swans that overwinter there. Write or call to city mayor Rick Goldring that this is a bad idea, ecologically and economically.


Pros and Cons re chickens in urban settings

The Hamilton public health staff report Keeping of Chickens in Urban Areas [PDF] is a good resource.

It lists the potential benefits:

  • educational opportunities (i.e. teaching children about where food, such as eggs comes from, and providing animal care experience);
  • greater control over egg source in order to know where the egg originated;
  • increased food security, although limited, when financially feasible to keep chickens;
  • the belief that global environmental sustainability begins with local initiatives such as backyard chickens;
  • a lessening to some extent of carbon emissions typically associated with transporting food such as eggs;
  • companionship for family members as chickens may be treated as a pet;
  • the belief that eggs will be fresher, taste better and will be pesticide free;
  • expected better conditions for hens in comparison to industrial farms; and,
  • possible reduction of municipal solid waste through consumption of table scraps and other organic waste by hens.

It also lists the risks/challenges, which it notes “could be mitigated by following good practices … through a regulatory tool such as an urban chick by-law or through amendments to the City’s Responsible Animal Ownership By-Law 12-031.”

  • problems with the number, age, and sex of chickens (how many to keep, abandonment of old chickens, and whether to include chicks or roosters);
  • food safety issues (egg safety, unlawful sale or distribution, potential for disease transmission);
  • chicken slaughter (illegal slaughter or lack of local chicken slaughterhouse locations);
  • chicken (hen) care and treatment (potential for disease transmission from sick hens);
  • chicken coop and design versus free range (risk of pests and predators and disease transmission); and,
  • chicken waste (i.e. methods of disposal, odours and how to not affect groundwater).

To mitigate these risks, public health recommends the following:

  • no sale or distribution of eggs to others outside of the household in order to comply with relevant Provincial/Federal legislation and to reduce the potential for food borne illnesses and other disease transmission;
  • limit the number of chickens to three to four per single family dwelling;
  • prohibit the keeping of roosters or any other poultry except chickens (hens);
  • prohibit chicks under four months of age;
  • the chicken coop shall be located to reduce noise and odour complaints and the risk of disease transmission. Distances are recommended to be at least 3 metres from any side lot line and at least 6 metres from any rear lot line or dwelling;
  • hen coops shall be maintained in a clean condition and coop shall be kept free from obnoxious odours, substances and vermin;
  • chicken coops and runs shall be located only in the rear and side yards and must fully enclose the chickens to prevent them from escaping;
  • prohibit owners from allowing chickens to be at large (outside the coop, chicken run, or off the property);
  • chickens’ food supply must be protected against vermin;
  • manure disposal should occur through municipal waste disposal unless a suitable method of composting is available;
  • no home slaughter of hens; only at licensed slaughterhouses;
  • any naturally deceased hen shall be disposed of at a livestock disposal facility or through the services of a veterinarian within 24 hrs of death; and,
  • a permit/registry be required for all coops for the purpose of quick tracking should the need arise to contact owners.

After researching other municipalities that allow hens – Guelph, Kingston, Niagara Falls, Quinte-West, Kamloops, Richmond and Surrey – public health summarized the rules those other municipalities follow: “all have by-laws which include requirements as to number of chickens allowed, location and size of coop, lot sizes and distance restrictions, etc.”

They also learned that those municipalities “receive few complaints; less than five per year each,” because most people don’t keep chickens, and those who do “abide by the regulations in order to be good neighbours and avoid complaints.”

Bane workshop full, Backyard Chickens voted down

We have a very interesting group of attendees for Peter Bane’s workshop presentation on Sunday. Peter will speak on “Designing Resilient Communities: How our Towns and Suburbs can Incubate the new Eco-Agriculture and Launch a Food Security Revolution”, building on his handbook. This is for people/families with a quarter-acre lot or a small farm, in the city, suburbs, or plans for same.

Already suggested is to have him back in the summer and organize a tour of all Transition Town projects in the province, consulting and teaching as he goes. You can get his book, 500 pgs of well crafted advice on starting up a ‘garden farm’ on your city lot (like he did in Bloomington IN) The Permaculture Handbook, Garden farming for town and country. see for more on contents.

Closer to home, our illustrious councillors voted against a pilot project in Wards 1 and 2 for backyard chickens. This was last monday. It will come to council for ratification (same people with different scope of duty and procedure) on Dec 12. You can raise a cry of disagreement, after all many cities allow backyard chickens without ill effects. A pilot project is just that: a test case to find out the facts.

Write to the city clerk at to have your letter appended to the agenda for the Dec 12 meeting. Write your councillor too.

Here is the letter I send, based on Ryan McGreal’s in

Do it soon.

Dear Mayor and Members of Council,

On December 4, 2012, the planning committee voted against a pilot project in wards 1 and 2 that would allow residents to keep a small number of backyard hens, even though the evidence does not support the objections that were raised.

Other municipalities that have legalized backyard hens have not experienced significant numbers of complaints.
  • Allowing backyard hens is not a ‘slippery slope’ to allowing cows, goats or other large farm animals.
  • Hens are no more harmful than cats or dogs from a public health perspective.
  • Hens are quieter than dogs, especially large dogs.

Quite simply, a bylaw that allows the responsible ownership of a small number of backyard hens poses no significant risk of harm. There is no good reason not to support this proposal – especially given that it is only a pilot for wards 1 and 2, and the councillors for those wards support it.

I ask council to reverse the decision of the planning committee and approve this pilot project. Then, if the negative outcomes that some councillors fear materialize, council will have a chance to evaluate the results of the pilot and decide accordingly.