October 16, 2014 Farm News


Fall garden

Fall garden

Lots of rain and lots of frost. Well actually the frost came only for a little while in the mornings.  The last time though it was quite heavy and all the remaining frost sensitive things; the tomatillos, eggplants (aubergines), sweet and hot pepper (chillies), tomatoes, potatoes, squashes and beans, were all mortally wounded and are now just frost blackened relics of their former plant glory standing forlornly in rows in the fall garden.  The Swiss chard and many other veggies are doing just fine though.

This is what happens to your summer squash after one good frost.

This is what happens to your summer squash after one good frost.

Rapini, Turnips and cauliflower all looking better than ever.  They tolerate frost well.

Rapini, Turnips and cauliflower all looking better than ever. They tolerate frost well.

The kale is looking better than ever.  the plants in the foreground were harvested of most leaves last week.

The kale is looking better than ever. the plants in the foreground were harvested of most leaves last week.

Lots of leaves on this Kale which has been harvested at least twice before during this season.

Lots of leaves on this Kale which has been harvested at least twice before during this season.

We really do not need all this rain.  It gets in the way of getting things done and the ground is saturated, ground water reserves are probably pretty near full.  We still have much to do; potatoes are still in the ground, manure from the barn needs to be put out into windrows to compost, ground needs to be prepared for the garlic and the garlic cloves need to be planted.  Structures need to be built, new chicken house, finish the newest one, clean up the old, set out a fence around a new run for the chickens and ducks and get their roosts and better egg laying nests built.  The house and yurt still need to be winterized and the yurt stove needs a repair before it can be used.  We have been using the wood stove in the house for more than two weeks now, though occasionally it has been far too warm to fire it up in the morning or to keep it fired all day.  We must get together more firewood too.  And there is a whole lot more that needs to be done, but, this is sort of normal, it happens every year.

Anca, Maggie and Gabriel toiling away last Thursday picking what would be the last of 2014's beans.

Anca, Maggie and Gabriel toiling away last Thursday picking what would be the last of 2014’s beans.

The selection of peppers last week.

The selection of peppers last week.

Part of what was out for the Oct. 9 pick up.  Turnips, cabbage, broccoli, bok choi, celery, and kale are visible here.

Part of what was out for the Oct. 9 pick up. Turnips, cabbage, broccoli, bok choi, celery, and kale are visible here.

Another look at the same lot of vegies as well as more at the corner, some hot pepper, eggplant and parsley in the little wheelbarrows.

Another look at the same lot of vegies as well as more at the corner, some hot pepper, eggplant and parsley in the little wheelbarrows.

We will likely be doing at least two more, may be three more weeks of the Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) program that we have been running.  Th next pickup is for Thursday, October 16, and we will do another for the 23 and likely one more, one last time on the 30th of October.  The weather will be the deciding factor and we will keep all CSA Share members informed each week, each Tuesday or early Wednesday, by e-mail.

The ducks and chickens have just been let out for the day and they head straight for either the water, all the ducks, some chickens, or the food trough, few  ducks.

The ducks and chickens have just been let out for the day and they head straight for either the water, all the ducks, some chickens, or the food trough, few ducks.

The ducks dive in the chickens are contented with the over spill.

The ducks dive in the chickens are contented with the over spill.

 

They can not all fit in at the same time.

They can not all fit in at the same time.

Lots of photos this week as we thought the ducks in the water was really good.  The ducks like to do all this first thing.  They have great fun then go off snuffling in the grass or over to the food trough then they all huddle down and have a snooze. the chickens are quite calm about the whole thing, concentrating on the food while some get a drink mostly ignoring the antics of the hyperactive quackers.

They can be a blur at times.  Chickens are serenity in a stormy sea.

They can be a blur at times. Chickens are serenity in a stormy sea.

Had to include this one too.  What more can be said?

Had to include this one too. What more can be said?

All heads down.

All heads down.

More blurred ducks.

More blurred ducks.

They are a happy bunch.

They are a happy bunch.

It can be quite a frenzy at times.  How can a chicken ignore all that?

It can be quite a frenzy at times. How can a chicken ignore all that?

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October 9, 2014 Farm News


Horses and fall colours

Horses and fall colours

Our nice warm dry spell has been replaced by a nice cool, sometimes warm, wet spell.  We have so far only gotten half of the hay field into the barn, the rest got rained on before we got it up.  We are still picking up hay and we are now over two thirds complete.  The horses, were much better behaved by the third day.  If they had been so well behaved from the start we may have gotten more in.

This was what a small CSA share looked like last week.

This was what a small CSA share looked like last week.

We are still harvesting a lot of vegetables from the garden and though we have gotten very cool overnight sometimes, it was down to 3C one morning, we have not yet had a frost. This Thursday is of course the pick up day before thanksgiving and we have a very good selection of vegetables for the CSA sharers: Onions, Red and Yellow;   Potatoes, Yellows, Reds, Whites, Blues;   Carrots, Yellows, Orange, Purple;  Broccoli heads;  Radishes, Yellows, Reds;  Green Onions; Colourful Swiss Chard; Celery; Parsley; and the list goes on, and if we can manage to find enough time we will get it all picked.   We should have enough veggies to keep CSA sharers coming out to the farm for another three weeks at least. If the weather gets too cold or awful then we will have to call an end but we will carry on as long as we can.

Ducks snoozing, chickens scratching

Ducks snoozing, chickens scratching

The 26 ducks hatched this spring have started to lay eggs. One a day now since the 5th.  These are egg laying breeds of ducks and we expect them to lay, each duck, between 300 and 330 eggs in a year. A few of these, maybe 5 or 6 are drakes the rest are hens, ducks, so we should soon be getting a lot of duck eggs.  The breeds that we have are Kahki Cambell. Buff Indian Runner, Cayuga and Buffs.  They are all very similar and likely the breeds have similar origins.

Rapini  and turnips

Rapini and turnips

The horses are doing well and when we teamed Marta, the young horse with Marie the older horse, they worked quite well though it took three days before they were doing so.  Even at that we kept close to the lines so that the team could be immediately stopped if they began to move off on their own.  Marta had settled down and stood much calmer, without the fidgeting and moving back and forth.  Next week we will begin to work the new team on the wagon with the colt either away or beside the mare and we will get serious about training the colt Leucan too.

Pepper, Red Cabbage and Broccolli

Pepper, Red Cabbage and Broccolli

Still much to do, lots of vegetables to be tended to, firewood to be cut and gathered, the rest of the rain soaked hay to be brought back, chicken housing to be winterized, chickens moved, fencing repaired and set up, and winterizing more our house and the yurt.

A happy Thanksgiving holiday to everyone.

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October 2, 2014 Farm News


The field of cut hay. look at last weeks blog for a photo of the uncut field taken from about the same spot.

The field of cut hay. look at last weeks blog for a photo of the uncut field taken from about the same spot.

We have been fully occupied the past week with hay.  Our neighbour cut their hayfield on Kirby Crescent for us, a few pictures of the cutting on last week’s blog.   This was Tuesday morning and on Friday we began to pick up the hay.  We were too busy and the hay was too wet to try picking up before Friday.

Getting ready to load the empty wagon for the last trip on Friday.

Getting ready to load the empty wagon for the last trip on Friday.

On Friday we dusted off things that we had not touched for years to make sure they worked, pumped up the flat tire on the wagon, quickly knocked together front and rear racks to keep the hay on and harnessed the one horse from the new team, not he mother and the mare from the older team.  The horses were a bit of a handful for the first time out but we soon figured out what we had to do to get them to work reasonably easily. For the first two days, Friday and Saturday, we had to keep one of us on the wagon at all times and the lines in the hands too.  On Monday when it was just Aerron and myself, Aerron did the driving and right away started to leave the wagon and fork up hay, keeping near the lines and having them wrapped once round the rack at the front so that they were always handy.  This worked well and as for those times when the horses decided to move ahead on their own., a call to whoa and a quick tug on the lines had them stopped easily.  With our old team we could both walk along loading hay and simply call whoa to stop them and give them the go ahead kissing sound to move them up.  The new mare Marta will learn quickly.

The hay loading gang on Friday. Aerron driving, Gabriel leveling the load, Sam in white getting a  forkful together,Jenniehoisting up a forkful and me looking for hay.  Marta was dancing around a bit and Marie was standing patiently.

The hay loading gang on Friday. Aerron driving, Gabriel leveling the load, Sam in white getting a forkful together,Jenniehoisting up a forkful and me looking for hay. Marta was dancing around a bit and Marie was standing patiently.

 

Same spot, different angle and I have found some hay.

Same spot, different angle and I have found some hay.

The wagon is 8 feet wide and the load pushes out a lot further.

The wagon is 8 feet wide and the load pushes out a lot further.

Sam putting up a forkful.  It gets harder as the load gets higher.  A full load is well over the top of the posts at either end of the wagon.

Sam putting up a forkful. It gets harder as the load gets higher. A full load is well over the top of the posts at either end of the wagon.

Here Marta was getting a little agitated about something and was dancing around a bit.

Here Marta was getting a little agitated about something and was dancing around a bit.

There was a lump of hay wrapped around her bit, I'm removing it here.

There was a lump of hay wrapped around her bit, I’m removing it here.

The horses handled the load on the hill no problem but it is only less than a half a full load.  First two loads were like this so as we could get the bugs sorted out and see how the horses were.

The horses handled the load on the hill no problem but it is only less than a half a full load. First two loads were like this so as we could get the bugs sorted out and see how the horses were.

Heading out of the field to the road and to the barn.  This would be the second and last load for Friday as by the time it was off loaded into the mow, it was getting too late, too dark to do more.

Heading out of the field to the road and to the barn. This would be the second and last load for Friday as by the time it was off loaded into the mow, it was getting too late, too dark to do more.

We managed to get only half the hay up before the rain Tuesday morning. Two part loads to start things off on Friday, one full load and a very small one on Saturday and two full loads on Monday.  We are hoping that it will dry out enough on Wednesday to get another load off and if it stays dry through Thursday and if we can get enough picked for the CSA , then Aerron would go out again on his own to pick up hay, while I stayed as CSA members arrived tor their shares.  We need only one full day’s work and we’ll have the hay off completely.  But it is likely that we will be unable to ask that much of the horses at this time, it would mean a very early start and drawing the last load home after dark, four really full loads would do it.  A very long days work for the horses but not unreasonable.

The large overhead fork in the barn worked alright but then on the full load on Saturday we had a very big lift and the fork did not lock into the car properly, the rope went really tight then the car shot along the track and the fork along with the load dropped to the mow without me pulling the trip rope.  I went up to the platform, got the fork locked into the car as it was supposed to be and liberally oiled and worked things.  After that it worked much better, nothing was broken.

The barn fork is going up and the yellow trip rope hangs to the left

The barn fork is going up and the yellow trip rope hangs to the left

The hay car with the fork locked in moving along the overhead rail across the hay mow.  The trip rope comes down from the fork, right side. The rope pulling the car is slack and goes from left of the car to the left end of the barn, through a pulley then crosses in the photo again to a pulley high up on the right side then down to a pulley on the floor near the door where it hooks to the double tree pulled by the horses.

The hay car with the fork locked in moving along the overhead rail across the hay mow. The trip rope comes down from the fork, right side. The rope pulling the car is slack and goes from left of the car to the left end of the barn, through a pulley then crosses in the photo again to a pulley high up on the right side then down to a pulley on the floor near the door where it hooks to the double tree pulled by the horses.

Another view of the car and the fork

Another view of the car and the fork

A blurred photo, but it shows Aerron forking off the last bit of hay on the wagon and Sam in the mow spreading the hay dropped from the barn fork.

A blurred photo, but it shows Aerron forking off the last bit of hay on the wagon and Sam in the mow spreading the hay dropped from the barn fork.

I’ll have to get some photos of the horses pulling up the loaded hay fork and the loaded fork itself going up to the car then rolling along to the mow.  Meanwhile these photos of the empty fork will give you some idea of how it works.

Looking towards the end of the barn across the hay mow.

Looking towards the end of the barn across the hay mow.

Most of the hay is now off the wagon

Most of the hay is now off the wagon

Thanks very much to those who volunteered their help for haying on Friday, Saturday and Monday.  Jennie, Ken and Sam, your help was and is immensely appreciated. We got much more done than we would have otherwise.  Thank you very much.

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September 25, Farm News


Early morning looking down the hills.

Early morning looking down the hills.

This has been very good, nearly perfect, fall weather.  The only improvement that we could ask for would be warmer nights.   The daytime temperatures are forecast to be quite good (20 to 25C range) all the way to Monday at least.  There are still lots of veggies growing in the garden that will appreciate the warm weather

A lot of field to be cut.  It is about 10 acres in size.

A lot of field to be cut. It is about 10 acres in size.

We are going to do a late cut of hay.  At this time of the year it can be difficult to get enough dry days for hay to get cured sufficiently to bale so we are going to bring in this hay loose.  This means going out in the field with the wagon and walking beside the wagon with pitchforks and fork the hay from the field windrows up on to the wagon.  It would be better to have a hay loader towed behind the wagon but we don’t, ours is broken and it would be better to have several wagons and more people but we don’t.  However even with the single wagon it would be very useful to have more people with forks to throw up the hay and have one person on the wagon, in addition to the teamster driving, to spread the load.  So we are looking for volunteers for Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.  It will take us at least that long to get the hay picked up and drawn to the barn and mowed away.  It is fairly hard work, a lot of walking, and pitching hay, often up quite high, onto the wagon and will go from late morning until the team is tired maybe 5 p.m.  I’ll use the truck too to get a little extra on.   But the work is all outside except for spreading the hay in the barn hayloft (the mow).  We’ll have to use the new team of horses on the wagon, so that will be an adventure in itself.  Give us a call or e-mail if you feel adventurous and would like to come help.

The tractor and hay mower getting ready to cut the hay field.

The tractor and hay mower getting ready to cut the hay field.

The mower disappearing over the rise.

The mower disappearing over the rise.

Still cutting.

Still cutting.

On the way, the smoke/dust arising from the machine is actually the water vapour as the grass is wet with dew and it is getting flung wildly through the machine and the crimpers.

On the way, the smoke/dust arising from the machine is actually the water vapour as the grass is wet with dew and it is getting flung wildly through the machine and the crimpers.

Still cutting.

Still cutting.

The hay field is at the neighbours, but near to us, maybe a quarter mile or so down Kirby Crescent.  It is the closest and most accessible field for us.  the neighbour will do the cut with his tractor and mower which does a cut 13 and a half feet wide.  The adjustments at the back of the machine will be set to put the cut hay in a narrowed and high windrow to make gathering easier but still speed the drying.  Since we are doing the hay loose we can tolerate a little more moisture than if were to make bales since then it is packed pretty tight in a large package whose centre does not dry easily and would rather go moldy.

Two rounds done, lots more to go.

Two rounds done, lots more to go.

The horses on early morning pasture hills.

The horses on early morning pasture hills.

Marta, Nell and Leucan.

Marta, Nell and Leucan.

Leucan. Bigger and bigger.

Leucan. Bigger and bigger.

The somewhat impatient cows waiting for their early morning hay.

The somewhat impatient cows waiting for their early morning hay.

Ducks getting their early morning drink and swim.

Ducks getting their early morning drink and swim.

This chicken is being trained as a duck herder.

This chicken is being trained as a duck herder.

Two of the Buff Indian Runner ducks.

Two of the Buff Indian Runner ducks.

The duck herd grazing the grass.

The duck herd grazing the grass.

 

 

 

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September 18, 2014 Farm News


 

The fall colours of the Goldenrod, a favoured bee flower, predominate along the treed fence line.

The fall colours of the Goldenrod, a favoured bee flower, predominate along the treed fence line.

Purple Asters with Goldenrod along a thickly treed edge.

Purple Asters with Goldenrod along a thickly treed edge.

The weather has turned quite a bit colder now, as if you hadn’t noticed, but everything is still doing ok.  The cold, especially the overnight temperatures below 10 C, have not been good for a number of vegetables; tomatoes especially will suffer and the flavours are not there like they were during the heat of the summertime. All the heat loving and sun flourishing things such as Tomato and also Pepper, Eggplant, and Beans will not be growing nearly so well or at all as days grow cooler and shorter.

Nell listening to Leucan behind her checking out the wheel barrow.

Nell listening to Leucan behind her checking out the wheel barrow.

Nell looking very nice in the early morning warmth on Tuesday.

Nell looking very nice in the early morning warmth on Tuesday.

Leucan looking nicer every day.

Leucan looking nicer every day.

The next few days will be real nice though not real warm, only 20+ daytime but much cooler with even a light frost hinted at for Thursday, in the evenings.  We will very likely get a lot more warm sunny weather before the winter finally settles in.  The pastures were used up during the dry spell a while back and have not yet recovered so we are supplementing the horses, cows and sheep with hay.  We will pull everyone off the pastures and keep them in the same outside spots for a few weeks to give the pastures a chance to regrow some.

The garden  17/09/14

The garden 17/09/14

The well grown Swiss Chard and a row of late planted potatoes which are just coming into flower.

The well grown Swiss Chard and a row of late planted potatoes which are just coming into flower.

We had seen but a very few Monarch butterflies throughout the summer and were quite surprised by this though there had been much publicity surrounding the decline of these butterflies throughout their range.  We have been surprised then over the past few days by the numbers of Monarchs that we have seen fluttering over flowers in the pastures and over the gardens.  These probably are gathering migrants gradually moving southward as the weather cools.  But still the numbers seen are far fewer than we would normally expect.  We also saw very few larva of this butterfly on the milkweeds and the milkweeds themselves were this year were somewhat fewer in number than in the past though this is likely only a co-incidental observation.   On Wednesday morning I tried to get some photos of the Monarch for this blog but they were not stopping.  In the hour and a half that I was out in the garden, camera within easy reach, six flew fluttering across the garden at heights from 10 to 30 feet and always from north-east to the south-west and they were travelling so quickly and in their characteristic erratic manner that I was unable to get even one photo.  At that rate of passage over one not so special small area the total numbers on the move must then still be quite impressive.  On reflection I realize that all the Monarchs observed over the past week or so have been moving in a general south-easterly direction.  About 210 degrees or thereabouts.

The Ducks in there new quarters wondering just what has happened.

The Ducks in there new quarters wondering just what has happened.

On the left front, the duck with the fleces in the feathers is a Khaki Campbell. the one next to her is a Buff.  All of the Black ducks are the Cayuga, splendid looking with their iridescent feathers with some whites and occasional feather puffs on their heads.  The buff and white ducks with the white necks are Buff Indian Runners which are different from the Buff.

On the left front, the duck with the fleces in the feathers is a Khaki Campbell. the one next to her is a Buff. All of the Black ducks are the Cayuga, splendid looking with their iridescent feathers with some whites and occasional feather puffs on their heads. The buff and white ducks with the white necks are Buff Indian Runners which are different from the Buff.

We moved the new ducks this Wednesday morning.  They had some time ago outgrown their spot with the young chickens.  We have put them in with the younger laying hens near to the CSA pickup area so this will be interesting.  They should settle down after a few days.  Hopefully the laying hens will accept their new roommates.  They will, but that is not all, as the younger chickens will also be moved to that same area and crowd the poor laying hens even more.  Upsetting times for all but they will all get along reasonably well after a bit of time and we will soon open up a new area for them to graze over so that will make everybody happy,  even me.

This is Leucan checking out the wheel barrow. He was not afraid of it, just curious.

This is Leucan checking out the wheel barrow. He was not afraid of it, just curious.

The new young chickens and the ducks, the ones which we are moving, will start to lay eggs in about three to four weeks so we will have some very interesting coloured eggs by mid-October.

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September 11, 2014


035 036 039 041 042 044 045 046 049 051 052 053 055 058Hello all !    as I write this on Wednesday morning we are anticipating a lot of rain this afternoon and overnight.   We have had a good bit of moisture and things are growing well so we probably don’t need the rain. But it will be welcome as rain almost always is.  We have had a busy week as usual and, as usual, I took no notes and can’t remember what happened all week and as I am far behind right now I am forced to make this very short, load up a bunch of photos which were taken just this morning and leave them uncaptioned for you to think about.

All has been going well and everyone, all cows, horses, sheep etc. etc. are doing well.

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September 4, 2014 Farm News


Two rows of summer squash

Two rows of summer squash

from left; Chard, potato, tiny Carrot, two rows of radish.

from left; Chard, potato, tiny Carrot, two rows of radish.

We had been getting very dry and had to do a lot of irrigating so the rain that fell Monday evening and Tuesday was welcome.  The total amount was about 14 to 15 mm or about 3/4 of an inch.  This was a very good amount and if we don’t get more before another week passes things still will be happy.  We cannot get water to the pastures so they are entirely dependent on rain and though we can water the garden, we do not have enough water nor the means to deliver it, to do more than water small sections each day.  We have mostly been watering newly sprouted seedlings, lettuce, radish, carrots, spinach, turnips, mustard greens, rapini, mesclun and a few more that I cannot remember and when we can we water the broccoli and the cauliflower.  The latter two are growing very nicely, the warm weather really helping the growth so they do need to keep drinking.

 

From the left; and way up in the corner; tomatillo,cabbage,tomato w/lettuce, kale w/lettuce and a different kale w/lettuce.

From the left; and way up in the corner; tomatillo,cabbage,tomato w/lettuce, kale w/lettuce and a different kale w/lettuce.

Various newly seeded greens.

Various newly seeded greens.

All Equine, Bovine,  Ovine, Canine, Puddy Tats and the various poultry are doing well.   We have not done any work with the horses for a while now and the colt Leucan does need to be given a lot more attention before long.  We are reaching a time now in the vegetable growing season where we will be able to spend more time away from the garden without falling way behind.  We have to work the horses, cut, split and stack firewood in the wood shed and build some more little houses for chickens and ducks.  House needs a new roof too.

Cool cows and a Maremma.  Can you spot the dog ?   Gteat big hint: he is white.

Cool cows and a Maremma. Can you spot the dog ? Gteat big hint: he is white.

Marta, Nell and loafing Leucan

Marta, Nell and loafing Leucan

The younger chickens, Welsummers, Barnevelders and Marans

The younger chickens, Welsummers, Barnevelders and Marans

Quacker boxes

Quacker boxes

Hmm.  Which came first ??

Hmm. Which came first ??

We have a lot of vegetables growing that will carry the CSA through the fall well into October if the weather does not get too cold.  We don’t need an early winter for many reasons.  No snow before mid-December please.  May the sun shine and the south winds blow.

Dec. 22 Ice storm + girls 019Looking ahead to next season.  We will likely be advertising this fall for interns to learn and work on the farm during the 2015 season.  We will take on at least two interns, perhaps more and the positions will be available from April through to October depending on individual circumstance. There will be a stipend and likely room and board on the farm.  We have not worked out all the details as yet so those are just the general terms.  So if anyone is interested or knows anyone who may be interested, do contact us, and if anyone can put word about this out somewhere then we would be most happy and we thank you very much.

If all the little guys were only bigger guys ....

If all the little guys were only bigger guys ….

We will grow the CSA again next season.  The increase in the number of sharers is necessary.  Greater numbers of sharers than what we have now ( 15 large shares and 30 small shares), will require more help for us.  Hence the need for interns.  This season we have been most fortunate in having Ken, Joe, Suzanne and Jacob volunteering a lot of time working each week in the vegetables and special recognition must go to Ken who has spent many long days including most of each of his Thursdays, here at the farm, working hard helping us to get everything ready for the CSA pickup and doing the endless weeding.  Mihaela and Anca spent only a little less time working for us to keep the garden in shape over the summer with seeding and weeding.  During our hours working together we would also have varied and interesting conversations.  These were our wonderful volunteers and I’m pretty sure that I have missed no one.  Thank You Everyone.     …    Robin.

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