Flashback: Organic Farming

This post was written a couple of years ago, at the tail end of apple picking season. It's another great option for picking your own apples this year. Have you been to Ferme Dagenais? by Misty

We made a recent trip to Ferme Dagenais in Embrun, Ontario, and exprienced a little taste of organic farming. Originally slated as an apple picking adventure, we quickly realized upon arrival that all the apples had been picked. We were given a long pole with metal prongs and a bag attached, and told "you might get some if you work really hard!"


When visiting a local farm, it's best to call ahead, even if you have taken the time to browse their website (many small farms don't even have websites). Pick-your-own produce tends to go fast, and it's disappointing to make a long trip only to come home empty handed.

Fortunately this trip was not a disappointing one, as we discovered many parts of the farm where our little girl could run and explore.


Upon arrival, we were greeted by the sweet dog-in-residence. She followed us around the whole lot, occasionally flopping over for a belly rub.


Next was the chicken coup, where we were greeted by the two lone geese and countless chickens.


The donkey had his say, serenading us with extraordinarily loud "hee-haws." The little one found this hilarious.


In addition to this, there were pasture and barns for goats, cows, and turkeys, and a coop for laying hens. I also noticed a beautiful experimental garden, bee hives and a little cage of rabbits.

Ferme Dagenais is a biodynamic farm - which attempts to balance the interrelationship between soil, plants and animals, while avoiding any external inputs (e.g. artificial fertilizers and pesticides). Although not every product may be certified organic, all things grown and sold from this farm are deemed "natural." When it comes to produce such as apples - one of the "dirty dozen" for their pesticide residues - it's sometimes worth the trip further outside of town.

As a bonus, we spent some time browsing the on-site natural food store "Le Tournesol," run by Osteopath Sylvain Dagenais.

To find out more about Ferme Dagenais, visit their website.

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The other really fun farm

by Alicia

Mention the word farm and E is totally game.  Last weekend he was a bit confused as to what farm he was going to - Grandma and Grandpa's or the Agricultural Museum? It was neither - I switched it up and we made a trip to the Valleyview Little Animal Farm.

We arrived when the line was forming for the Valleyview Express train ride and stayed long enough to catch a puppet show. E loved both activities, but loved exploring the playground the best.

He looked through every window and nook he could find,

he went down all the slides all by himself and drove the Tonka trucks around the sand,

he loved running and jumping through the tunnel,

and feeding the goats.

We hadn't been since last July and I think E had much more fun the second time around. Being that much older and able to roam and climb on his own, he had a blast.

Just like last year though, he drove every play truck and tractor there was and played in each play house and barn.  It was so fun seeing how this place will never get tiring!

This visit was kind of last minute and I didn't have it on my Summer of Awesome list, but it is definitely a place we will visit each year.

Alicia is Mom to E (2) and blogs atI Found My Feet


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International Museum Day: May 18

by Sasha

Did you know that tomorrow is International Museum Day? We are lucky to so have many world-class museums right here in Ottawa, not to mention a wide range of community museums scattered throughout the region. Why not visit one? Admission to the museums of Nature and Science and Technology will be free, and there will be special activities at the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum.

Or if the 18th doesn't work for you, here are some other free ways into Ottawa area museums:

The Ottawa Public Library lends passes for the Museums of Civilization, Science and Technology, Nature, and the National Gallery. The passes cover a family of 4-5 (the OPL catalogue has the specifics for each pass). They tend to be hot commodities, but at any given time there tend to be a half dozen or so checked-in at various branches throughout the city. So why not play museum roulette: pick a pass that’s available at a branch near you, and off you go! Just search for ‘Museum Pass’ in the online catalogue.

Admission to the Museum of Civilization (including the Children’s Museum) and the Canadian War Museum, is free every Thursday from 4 until 8pm. It is also free on Canada Day (July 1) and Remembrance Day (November 11).

The Museum of Nature is also free on Thursday afternoons (from 5 to 8 pm), as well as on Earth Day (April 22), and Canada Day (July 1).

The Museum of Science and Technology doesn’t have a weekly freebie, but they are free on Canada Day (July 1).

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Agriculture Museum are free from 4 to 5pm. Every day. How cool is that? And the Agriculture Museum is also free on Canada Day.

The National Gallery (including the Museum of Contemporary Photography) is free on Thursdays after 5, and for children under 12 all the time.

What is your favourite Ottawa-area museum?

Sasha is mom to 2-year-old Miss Bea, and 4 month old Baby Em.  Her ramblings can also be found on her blog, The Rambling Stroller.

Revisited: Sheep Shearing Festival

Now that Kids in the Capital is one we are looking forward to sharing old posts from our archives about some of our favorite events. Don't miss out on the Sheep Shearing Festival at the Canadian Agriculture Museum this May 21-23 and read about Amy's experience there last year!

by Amy

If you're in Ottawa and looking for a great activity to do with your kids this long weekend, head to the Canadian Agriculture Museum. This weekend, they are hosting their annual Sheep Shearing Festival.
And it's SUUUPER fun.
I happened to read about this event several weeks ago, so call ahead and reserved a place for our homeschool group. All in, there were fifty of us! I'm always anxious when I plan something like this that everyone have a good time. I feel responsible.
Luckily, there's no way you could NOT have fun at this event. And since a picture tells a thousand words -and since I might have taken a few hundred pictures yesterday - I'll let them do (most of the) talking.
Did you ever think those huge Clydesdale horses could be cute?? How about now?!!
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you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours
There are several events that are scheduled throughout the day. A sheep herding demonstration, a dog agility competition and the actual sheep shearing. We started with the sheep herding.
sheep dog mosaic I
These dogs really are something else! The shepherd training them does a great job explaining the process and puts several dogs through their paces, both older experienced dogs and younger pups "who like to floss their teeth with wool". And he explains everything in a delightful german (I think) accent that seems to somehow lend credibility to what he's saying. Or so I thought.
sheep dog mosaic II
All the kids we were with -from 14 years old down to 16 months- LOVED it. They had a bit of trouble hearing some of what the shepherd was saying, but were spellbound watching the dogs at work.
sheep dog mosaic III
From there, we walked a short distance to where the agility competition was being held. Just before it started, one of the trainers brought her dog around for the kids to pet. They were smitten. As you can imagine, this event was hugely fun for the kids to watch, and the dogs put on a great show.
dog agility mosaic
Although there are plenty of tables and tents set up inside the museum grounds, our group was too large, so we headed back out to the parking lot and found some nearby shade to sit in while we ate. There is a small (read: VERY small) concession stand there inside the museum, but it looked pretty limited to snack-type food... other than the lemonade (think fair ground lemonade... yum).
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yes, they're all wearing Star Wars shirts
The actual sheep shearing is held every 30 minutes. I was at the tail end of our group, so got there too late to pull out my camera and get pictures of the actual shearing, but here's the end result. I think she said that each sheep produces about 4 lbs of wool (at least that's what I'm going to go with since she's holding up four fingers *grin*) and that all that wool -ALL THAT WOOL- sells for only $1.20.
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You read that right. One dollar and twenty cents. Remind me not to go into sheep farming.
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Don't they look a bit ashamed? Although I'm sure they put up with the humiliation in order to be free of all that hot, scraggly, stinking fleece.
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they are kind of cute
From there, they kids went outside, grabbed a ball of (freshly washed and carded) wool that they were then able to dye their choice of colours. They younger kids just played in the soapy water!
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Scattered throughout the farm, in various buildings, are crafts and hands-on activities for the kids. Just passed the (new and very cool) bee exhibit, the kids got to try their hands at carding wool. Not as easy as it looks for those with still-developping hand-eye coordination, but everyone still enjoyed it. My three-year old (pictured below in the navy) wanted to take his brushes home. While he had to leave them there "for other little kids to use", he did get to take his little ball of soft, clean, freshly carded wool home with him.
wool carding mosaic
Although I only got one picture of this next activity, it was my favourite of the day. The kids each got to pick a colour of wool roving to use to turn into a felt bracelet. Simon chose orange (without only a bit of encouragement from his orange-loving mama), and Liam chose a dark blue/teal colour. Liam is not one to accessorize, so he insists that his is a snake. Simon wore his bracelet for a few hours... then gave it to me. Woohoo!
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The Museum of Agriculture is open from 9am til 5pm, but the sheep shearing activities only run from 10am until 2:30pm. After getting our fill of sheepy, wooly goodness, we stopped by to play on the tractors...
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...and visited the milking barns...
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...where we stopped to ooh and ahh over this little slice of adorable...

sheep shearing-58 the Jersey... my favourite of all the cows

...and a final play at the park before taking our gang of fun-filled, sun-kissed (note, wear sunscreen since it's almost all outside), slightly tired and cranky kids home.
And I saved the best for last... pictures of some of the new baby lambs that were out walking around the farm. SO. STINKING. CUTE.
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So cute and so soft. Baby hands are just drawn to them. Adult hands too. Getting up close and personal with these sweet, snowy, fleece babes is alone worth the price of admission!
The Sheep Shearing Festival runs all weekend, including the holiday Monday. If you go, come back and leave a comment and tell us what you thought.
Amy is the homeschooling, photographing mom of 7 year old Liam, 3 1/2 year old Simon, and 16 month old Andrew. She blogs at Muddy Boots and her photography can be found at Muddy Boots Photo.

A Very Good Day at the Agriculture Museum

by Natasha The Canada Agriculture Museum is a fantastic place to take your kids on a holiday weekend, like I did at Easter. The Museum has many activities planned for busy family-oriented weekends. There may be a line-up to get inside, but it’s really worth the wait.

My family and I stood in line for half an hour before getting inside for the 11 o’clock set of activities, but once in we were very happy to have ignored the size of the lineup and persevered anyway. The Easter bunny that walked up and down along the lineup was a really good distraction for some of the fussy kids, and the staff were very accommodating and quick at getting everyone in with the least amount of hassle.

Those with memberships for the Museum don’t have to wait in line at all, so it may be worth looking into if you’re a regular at the Museum.

The tour started with us meeting the new baby rabbits. There are specific times during the day where staff members bring out the bunnies for the children to see. We met a tiny and fluffy six-week lion head bunny, and Baby H was absolutely mesmerized.

After the bunny meet, we headed towards the dairy barn to see the cows. Last year, when Baby H first saw large cows, he got really scared. This year, he was very interested in the creatures and spent some time watching them eat and drink. He walked around the barn, saying “Moo” to every passerby and eventually ended up seeing the new calves that were just born.

Our next stop was the tractor exhibit. We saw different and old models, and sat in the John Deere simulator tractor. I think there’s a future for Baby H in farming, as he was very happy with his Grandpa in the simulator swaying back and forth and pretending to drive it around. Baby H had a giant smile the entire time he was fake-driving and was very happy for the duration of the visit.

Baby H made some more tiny furry friends when he spend some time watching little chicks that were waddling back and forth in their cages. There was an entire process in the Museum showing children the egg hatching process, with some of the older kids designing their own eggs and some colouring pictures of chicks.

The Easter bunny that kept us company at the lineup was walking around the farm handing out chocolates to attendees. Baby H participated in the Easter Egg Hunt, and traded in some colourful eggs for special chocolate treats.

And finally, a quick visit to the demonstration kitchen showed us how the delicious hot cross buns are made. We couldn't pass this up, as the buns are one of my family’s favourite treats.

If you’re looking for a fun outing with your family on a holiday or long weekend, head over to the Canada Agriculture Museum and brave the lineups for some of their special events and activities, and put Easter at the Farm on your to do list for next year! Your children will definitely enjoy their time there.

Natasha is a new mommy to her first born, Baby H. She runs ShopHaven, a blog that reviews products and profiles local businesses and individuals from the Ottawa area. Natasha is also the creative force behind ShopHaven Baskets; a highly customized gift baskets service.