July 24, 2014 Farm News


The horse herd.

The horse herd.

Very quick blog this week.  Must thank our volunteers and working shares for doing tremendous work helping with the Thursday harvest, transplanting and weeding.  This work is very, very important to us, enabling us to get far more done than otherwise.  We got a lot done and had an enjoyable time doing it.  Anca, Jacob, Ken, Suzanne.  Thanks very much.

Leucan, 23-7-14

Leucan, 23-7-14

Leucan and mother Nell

Leucan and mother Nell

The potatoes with the blues in flower.

The potatoes with the blues in flower.

Beans and chard.

Beans and chard.

Kale-Kale-Blank-Onions

Kale-Kale-Blank-Onions

The pullets, one is an escapee.

The pullets, one is an escapee.

Used door on the chicken house.

Used door on the chicken house.

Red Silkie.

Red Silkie.

two Blue silkie, a Barnevelder and a Welsummer

two Blue silkie, a Barnevelder and a Welsummer

Young Barnevelder or Welsummer rooster.

Young Barnevelder or Welsummer rooster.

Buff Runner duck.

Buff Runner duck.

Cayuga duck preening.

Cayuga duck preening.

Khaki Campbell duck

Khaki Campbell duck

We get nowhere though, in our efforts to build a shelter, a building for the pickup of vegetables.  We did get some more work done on the chicken house but quite a bit more work remains undone.  We may not be able  to do the  laneway changes that would ease the Thursday traffic congestion.  That will have to wait for another week at least.  We do spend a lot of time working the garden and that of course is always the priority

His Magnificence, Johnny D. Duck. A white breasted and crested, Cayuga.His Magnificence, Johnny D. Duck. A white breasted and crested, Cayuga.

 

His Magnificence, Johnny D. Duck. A white breasted and crested, Cayuga.

His Magnificence, Johnny D. Duck. A white breasted and crested, Cayuga.

We have gotten small amounts of rain during the week but not a lot.  Just enough to keep things from drying out too much but it would be good to get a real good soaking.  In spite of not having gotten a lot of rain, things are growing quite well, just look at our weeds.

The animals are all well and the colt Leucan grows bigger and no tamer.  We’ll get to him before long as we need to at least start getting him to come up to us and allow us to handle him.  We’ll then slowly train him to some basic commands such as come, fetch, roll over, sit, heel, shake a paw … oh wait, that’s the dog’s training, horsies are somewhat different.  We could teach him some of that, just to be different.

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July 17, 2014 Farm News


July 15, a large, impressive cloud, lots of growing greenery.

July 15, a large, impressive cloud, lots of growing greenery.

We had new potatoes as part of the share last Thursday.  This is the variety Kennebec, a white skinned, white fleshed potato.  They were nice sized on average with a lot of the smaller ones too.  This is a mid to late season potato but was the one I planted first.  The yields from the ones to be harvested later in the season should be quite good.  The potato beetle is still there but we have gone over the rows twice now removing all the beetles and larva and the population of the predatory soldier beetle is high enough now that any we missed and new hatchings of Colorado potato beetles should be eaten by our friends the soldier beetles.

Potato rows, freshly cultivated and looking a lot less weedy.

Potato rows, freshly cultivated and looking a lot less weedy.

We managed to get the chicken run fenced by Thursday morning so that the new hens could roam outside and they seem very happy for that knowing instinctively what to do.  These are ready to lay hens, 18 to 20 weeks old when we picked them up two Mondays ago so they are just beginning to lay eggs, pullet eggs, small, even some pee wee sized.  But they will soon increase in size.  We are only getting about 30 eggs per day but soon, we hope, they will be laying about an egg per hen per day, or for the 60 hen flock we’ll likely get about 55 eggs per day average.  When the chickens are out foraging on grass all day every day, as all our chickens are  doing they will get a significant portion of their nutrition from weed seeds and other vegetation and from insects and other tiny animalia.

Some of the new hens, a pullet, looking reall pretty.

Some of the new hens, a pullet, looking reall pretty.

The old flock at breakfast.

The old flock at breakfast.

 

The ducks splashing away in their newly installed swimming pool.

The ducks splashing away in their newly installed swimming pool.

The ducks take to water just like ducks.

The ducks take to water just like ducks.

Thursday evening we managed, after the CSA pickup to weed the cutting leaf lettuce 3 row bed and thank you to Mihaela for staying so long and doing such a fine job helping me to weed.  Also I must say, “Thank You” to Ken Peach for the long hours and hard work put in most of the day on Thursday, making the job of picking vegetables for the CSA pickup considerably easier, so much so that I wonder if we could have done it without Ken’s help.  This is the third Thursday now that Ken has come for most of the day to give us very welcome help with the CSA picking. In addition Ken has been out at other times putting in long hours helping in the garden.  Again , Thanks Ken.  Also to Suzanne, thanks for your CSA picking help Thursday and again while we were busy stuffing hay in the barn.  Two Saturdays ago, Allen came to help me with picking potato beetles and their larval grubs and when we determined that the last few rows had so few left that it was better to turn to wed pulling in the spuds.  Thanks Allen, a lot accomplished.

Friday we had to look after one of our yearling bull calves that has an open wound in the middle of the right flank.  It has a circular area where the skin is raw, maybe 3 inches in diameter and in the centre of that is a hole going right through into the calves first stomach.  We know that because a stream of green liquid squirts out when the calve moves certain muscles  such as when he swats with his tail.  We cannot figure out what happened.  The nature of the injury makes it unlikely that another cow pushed  him against something sharp and besides we searched the area and could find no candidate objects . But we really don’t know. Other than this ugly looking wound, he looks fine but after delaying for a few days while we tried to treat it ourselves he really does not seem right so we are having the vet come out.

Saturday Aerron harnessed the horses and did some cultivating, the weeds are getting thick and large in many spots.  Needs constant attention now.  We have been doing a lot of hand weeding and hoeing too. I had to make and install a new knife, a new blade on the wheel hoe as the old one was worn so thin that it was getting quite bent and not doing a very good job.  Also put a flat free wheel and tire assembly on our wheelbarrow to cure the recurring persistent problem of flat tires.

Sunday was more wheelhoeing and hand weeding by us and Aerron  had the horses on the cultivators again moving weeds around.  We also spent a bit of time moving things out of the barn to get room for bringing in hay and on Monday our neighbour, Laverne Green arrived with his loader tractor and wagon decked out with 8 hay bales (the large round variety) from our other neighbours, the Blanks.  Between about 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Verne delivered 42 bales, unloading them into the big doors at the top of the barn and Aerron and Meself rolled them into position on the mow floor, just one layer as we have no means of getting bales up to a second level.  This was the quickest that we have gotten this job done.

 

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July 10, 2014 Farm News


A work in progress, our new chicken house. it has it's charm don't you think?

A work in progress, our new chicken house. it has it’s charm don’t you think?

Real late posting this week, my apologies, extra busy.   Some brief notes on what happened .  On Wednesday evening a week ago, Aerron did more work with the single row cultivator drawn by the horses.

These crates are how chickens are transported, ten to a crate, six crates in the back of Heather and Kevin's van.

These crates are how chickens are transported, ten to a crate, six crates in the back of Heather and Kevin’s van.

Thursday morning some of the grass in the middle of the laneway was clipped back. and grass along the sides in a couple of spots and I scythed more grass on our parking area and along the drive and put down some dirt and wood chips to make the bumps less bumpy.  Last pickup  day went well though quite busy for us.  We routinely under- pick before the start at 5 then get extra as the pile dwindles and then often end up with a bit left over.   Any left over makes our share.

These birds have probably not once in their 21 weeks set foot on grassy ground.

These birds have probably not once in their 21 weeks set foot on grassy ground.

The weather has been great for growing, lots of rain, plenty of warmth.  The downside is that the weeds are growing even better than the vegetables and pasture, and the hay is still not brought in yet.  Minor problems, much better than drying up.

They chose this well lit corner for conversing and doing dust baths.

They chose this well lit corner for conversing and doing dust baths.

On Monday we went to Elmira to get 60 pullets, 20+ weeks old, just starting to lay chickens.  These are the popular egg laying breed, ISA Browns, excellent layers of brown eggs.  As of first thing Wednesday morning they had given us 29 eggs.  Small sized, just above being Pee Wee sized.  They will gradually, over the next couple or three weeks, get up to Large and Extra Large size.   Nice looking light weight birds, very calm.  Aerron has been quite busy off and on the past week getting a house built for these hens.  They are housed there now though more work is being done to it and the fencing for their outside run may be ready by Friday.  The house is now quite open as you can see by the photos but the hens were well protected during the heavy rainfall yesterday.

Nice looking hen.  I asked her name but she clucked too softly so I dunno.

Nice looking hen. I asked her name but she clucked too softly so I dunno.

Gabriel, the chickens and the first few pullet eggs.

Gabriel, the chickens and the first few pullet eggs.

This week we will likely have the following;

  • Broad Beans
  • Snap peas (fat edible pods)
  • Snow peas (thin edible pods)
  • Green Onions
  • Purslane
  • Borage leaves
  • Turnips, small these are thinnings so what is left will get larger.
  • Red Kale leaves
  • Camomile, dry it for a tea, could also be added to cooking other veggies.
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard, unlike Spinach should usually be cooked though stems also good raw.
  • Cut leaf Lettuce
  • Head Lettuce, still has root so if stuck in water, in a glass say, will keep longer.

If you have any questions at any time on any of our veggies, e-mail I’ll give you some sort of answer.

 

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July 3, 2014 Farm News


Mother Nell and Foal Leucan.

Mother Nell and Foal Leucan.

Second week for the CSA season, second week for sharers to come to the farm to get their weeks share of vegetables.  Worked well though we were very busy for a while.

Have to do this post very quick this week as I have been even busier than usual.  So just some brief notes on the past week.

Saturday we made a voyage to Tiny, Ontario, near to Midland, where we picked up 16 little chicks.  Long way to go for just those few birds but these are special and the breeder is trustworthy and very good.  The chicks are the breed known as Black Copper Marans, a French breed renowned for their exceptionally dark eggs.  Look at http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-black-copper-marans  for a nice description and photos.  Took nearly 30 litres of fuel but this was a nice little trip for us.

Lots of work in the garden.  On going weeding, hoeing, cultivating then do more.  Still have not gotten our hay up from the neighbours.  Aerron is out tonight, for the third time this week, with the horses on the single row cultivator.  We did get about 4 mm of rain late in the afternoon but not enough to cause great difficulty with the cultivator.

Note the picture of the vegetables displayed. This is the amount for a small share this week and what you picking up a share tomorrow will be able to take home: Loose leaves of Lettuce, single head of Lettuce, small bunch of Purslane, small red Kale leaves, Camomile, Spinach, Coriander leaves, green Onion, Sugar Ann Peas (edible pods, don’t shell) Broad Beans, Kennebec Potatoes (as last week these are last fall’s potatoes)

Onions, weeds, broad beans.

Onions, weeds, broad beans.

Potatoes and Swiss chard. Both looking good.

Potatoes and Swiss chard. Both looking good.

Leucan and his Mom's tail, early in the morning.

Leucan and his Mom’s tail, early in the morning.

The share for this week, Those with a share pick up tomorrow, Thursday.

The share for this week, Those with a share pick up tomorrow, Thursday.

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June 26, 2014 Farm News


 

 

 

 

Nearly sunset on the 21st

Nearly sunset on the 21st

Rain and Sun;  were in abundance this past seven days.  It was getting very dry for a while and our neighbour cut his hay, the hay that we will be getting, on Thursday last.  We had been watering in the garden quite a lot, pump would run nearly all day, the grass was drying and the ground getting quite hard.  Gary came to bale that hay on Monday and got 30 bales rolled up when it started to rain.  There are an estimated 4 or 5 bales lying in windrows, now quite wet and in need of a fluffing up and at least two dry days.  The already completed bales will be alright as they pretty much shed all the water and the top will dry off in a couple of days. As of Wednesday morning we have had about 40 mm or near 1 and a half inches of rain.

CSA pickups;  will begin this week so if you have not got my message yet and you have paid for or committed to a share, then come to the farm on Thursday early evening between 5 and 7 and we will have a small amount of vegetables ready for this week. The quantities and variety will gradually increase over the coming weeks.

Herds and Flocks;  are all doing really well and all of the young animals, lambs, calves, colt, ducklings and chicks are healthy and growing quickly.

 

Leucan looking lovely.

Leucan looking lovely.

Vegetables; are now, with the rain, growing really well and the temperatures are good too.  Not too much trouble with pests so far except for a greater than usual amount of damage from cut worms.  White grubs are right now very rarely seen and Potato beetles while there, have been somewhat kept in check by hand picking and squishing and by all the predator insects.  Weeds are a constant source of work but we are keeping up with them quite well and seeding and transplanting continues.  Those of you with the working shares have done a lot this week with potato beetles and weeding; many thanks.

Looking across the garden and it is looking better.

Looking across the garden and it is looking better.

 

Looking across in the other direction, Onions, Spinach and Lettuce dominate the picture.

Looking across in the other direction, Onions, Spinach and Lettuce dominate the picture.

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June 19, 2014 Farm News


A look across the garden with peas and broadbeans in flower in the foreground.

A look across the garden with peas and broadbeans in flower in the foreground.

Rain, Not and Wind:   We had a couple of timely showers this week, just enough to keep things growing nicely, and just when we figured we were going to have to do a lot of real serious watering.  It was dry between and before the rains and we did turn on the sprinkler and use watering cans for specific areas that needed a little extra moisture, such as the lettuce and spinach, and some of the new transplants.  The wind on Tuesday was pretty fierce for most of the afternoon and up until around 7 but the plants seem not to have suffered damage, at least little noticeable damage.  Can’t do plants any good though when they are thrashed around like they were for several hours. Total amount of rain was about 8 mm.

 

Leucan at 9:30 Wednesday morning

Leucan at 9:30 Wednesday morning

Chicks, Ducklings and the Foal:  The wee birds continue to grow well, they sure eat a lot of food, the ducklings are four times the size of the chicks, or so it seems by looking at them. The various breeds are looking more and more distinct from one another.  The duck breeds by their colour and also the Runner ducks seem to be taking on their very distinctive upright stance. The little chicks are getting their various colourful feather patterns and the Silkies are becoming just that … silky, sort of.  Quite different they are.  Our wee beautiful horsey, as he has been aptly described by our good friend, but I’ll borrow the description, is doing fine and of course changing rapidly by the day. We have been quite lucky with Leucan ( his name comes from the scientific name for the Ox-eye daisy, among which he was born; Leucanthemum vulgare ), he has so far had no problems and is growing normally as far as we can tell.

 

Four different breeds of little ducklings.

Four different breeds of little ducklings.

 

The chicks at the water. The little blue-grey guy is a Silkie as is the third to his left.

The chicks at the water. The little blue-grey guy is a Silkie as is the third to his left.

 

The ducklings really like to snuffle around in the deep grass and then to just curl up their and snooze.

The ducklings really like to snuffle around in the deep grass and then to just curl up their and snooze.

Tomatoes and other Veggies:  We have been asked which varieties of tomatoes we are growing this year, so here is a list with a bit of information on each, a bit of a description. Those with numbers following the name are from William Dam Seeds.  We have at least eight heritage (heirloom) varieties.

  1. Mountain Spring 372 early, medium size, red, bush.
  2. Green Zebra O372 small size, light green, heritage.
  3. Mountain Fresh C372 mid-season, red, bush.
  4. Plum Regal A365 plum paste type, red.
  5. Cherokee Purple O374  large, purplish-pink heritage.
  6. Big Beef A378 extra large, red, beefsteak.
  7. Brandywine Red B377 large, excellent flavour, red heritage.
  8. Pomodoro Constoluto Genovese large beefsteak type.
  9. Super Fantastic large red.
  10. Ball’s Beefsteak large red.
  11. Champion II  medium size red.
  12. Better Boy large Red.
  13. Sunny Boy medium size yellow.
  14. Black Krim O373 large, dark red purple, green interior, heritage.
  15. Jubilee large yellow.
  16. White Tomesol medium-large white heritage.
  17. Pink Peach small light red, fuzzy skin.
  18. La Roma II mediun size red paste type.
  19. Hungrian Italian dark red paste, heritage.
  20. Sun Sugar A368 yellow orange cherry type, excellent.
  21. Super Sweet 100 B368 red cherry.
  22. Sweet Million red cherry type.
  23. Lady Bug sweet red cherry type.
  24. Black Cherry dark purple black heritage.
  25. Indigo Rose dark purple red heritage.
  26. Martinos Roma small to medium size red paste.
Mountain Spring tomato plant .

Mountain Spring tomato plant .

Brandywine red tomato plant.

Brandywine red tomato plant.

Super Sweet 100 tomato plant.  these three different tomato varieties all look pretty much the same at  this stage in their growththough the cherry type here has smaller leaves and a more open habit.

Super Sweet 100 tomato plant. these three different tomato varieties all look pretty much the same at this stage in their growth though the cherry type here has smaller leaves and a more open habit.

The rest of the vegetable varieties are growing nicely. Ideally, what we need for most of the plants to grow well, are good hot, 25+C  days, with nights no lower than 20C,  and  3 to 8 mm of rain for the weeks total; I should be able to order that up no problem.

Thanks to our volunteer help and to our working sharers, Anca, Ken and Suzanne for your efforts.  Stay tuned, more next week.

 

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June 12, 2014 Farm News


On the right is two rows of favas nicely flowered with lettuce and garlic to the right.

On the right is two rows of favas nicely flowered with lettuce and garlic to the right.

Three rows of tiny carrot plants doing well.

Three rows of tiny carrot plants doing well.

Nicely growing rows of potatoes but they are nicely full of weeds.  Aerron will be running the horse drawn single row cultivator down the rows and they will then look perfect.

Nicely growing rows of potatoes but they are nicely full of weeds. Aerron will be running the horse drawn single row cultivator down the rows and they will then look perfect.

The herd, milkers, dry cows, mothers and their calves and sheep in the background.

The herd, milkers, dry cows, mothers and their calves and sheep in the background.

Lumps of wool with legs.  They have heads too, down deep in the grass munching away.

Lumps of wool with legs. They have heads too, down deep in the grass munching away.

Nell, sniffing the daisies and looking real good too.

Nell, sniffing the daisies and looking real good too.

The horses feasting on the new pasture.

The horses feasting on the new pasture.

Four rows of fava beans in flower and a later fava row not yet flowering and peas starting to the right of the barrel.

Four rows of fava beans in flower and a later fava row not yet flowering and peas starting to the right of the barrel.

 

 

Late spring and what could be better ?

Late spring and what could be better ?

OUR WEATHER:  has been pretty good this week.  We have had a nice amount of rainfall and the daytime temperatures have been nice too.  Overnight could be a little warmer though.  Cooler temperatures, both during the day and at night but probably especially at night, have persisted throughout the spring with only a few really hot days.  Overall this has been good but with things such as peppers, eggplant, tomato, and beans (not the favas) a lot of sun and hot weather would now be really beneficial.

THE GARDEN:  is now looking pretty good.  We have had to keep up with the hoeing as weeds seem to grow no matter what the weather.  Hand held hoeing, wheel hoeing and cultivating with the horses using the single row riding cultivator is being used.  Seeding and transplanting continues.  What is up and growing looks very nice though everything is quite delayed – we are about three weeks behind were we might have expected to be because of the weather earlier in the spring.   We are also slowed up a bit as we do everything without any fossil fuels; all the work done in the garden is with human powered or horse powered tools and we are still depending on the older slower team.

The bed in the centre is empty now but to the left is the three row bed of newly planted bulbing onions A272 Candy, a Spanish type followed by 276 Red Wing a large red onion.  On the rightthe bed of Arugula and radish both of which have flowered and will need to be reseeded.

The bed in the centre is empty now but to the left is the three row bed of newly planted bulbing onions A272 Candy, a Spanish type followed by 276 Red Wing a large red onion. On the rightthe bed of Arugula and radish both of which have flowered and will need to be reseeded.

 To the right of the Arugula/Radish a three row bed of onion sets growing really nicely. Next on the left three rows of Spinach half way down switching to beets.

To the right of the Arugula/Radish a three row bed of onion sets growing really nicely. Next on the left three rows of Spinach half way down switching to beets.

 

VOLUNTEERS AND WORK SHARERS:  We have had a lot of help this spring with planting and seeding.  Thanks very much, and a little belated too, for all the help from Mihaela, who spent long hours here over several days volunteering doing seeding and transplanting and for generously sharing her lovely little lettuce plants with us.  Thanks also to Anca for first seeding those peas, then on the next occasion quickly adapting to using the Jang seeder very nicely.  We really got a lot done on those days.  Thanks very much also to our of our hard working  sharers, Allan, Joe, Ken and Suzanne who spent time this week getting things planted.  The last of the potatoes went in and the last of our slicing, bulb onion transplants went in and the last of the first planting of lettuces went into the ground.  A lot was accomplished and there is always pleasant conversation where we learn so much.  It is always much nicer to have the company and not be working alone

Seeding peas by hand.

Seeding peas by hand.

LIVESTOCK  AND POULTRY:  The cows are out on pasture and are regularly being rotated through pastures, one or two, maybe three days on a pasture then on to the next.  The sheep along with the single goat are on pasture, they have free run of two large areas, and are locked in for the night as the Maremma guardian dog is still in training and we want to reduce the risks from coyotes.  The four horses are together on the pasture beside the garden and are very happy there.  We still need to do more training with the new team so that they can be worked efficiently however we have been far to busy with other things and that and have not been able to get that done.  The chickens, the laying flock, are fine though we suspect they are sometimes hiding a few eggs from us and the chicks and ducklings continue to eat and eat and eat and grow.

Aerron getting the last of the cows to move along the trail to the pasture. One of our real nice little spring calves there too.  Sheep in the background.

Aerron getting the last of the cows to move along the trail to the pasture. One of our real nice little spring calves there too. Sheep in the background.

One of our laying hens came running up to see me, a Columbia cross.

One of our laying hens came running up to see me, a Columbia cross.

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