November 20, 2014 Farm News


Snowy garden and a car parked to make it easier to get out if the snow got too deep.

Snowy garden and a car parked to make it easier to get out if the snow got too deep.

Young Cowboy

Young Cowboy

Going back for a straggler.

Going back for a straggler.

Catching up

Catching up

Just like everyone else this week we are experiencing a good bit of winter weather.  Not too bad really, a little snow, but no problems yet for us.  The wind on Monday certainly made it very uncomfortably cold but there was no drifting snow accumulations to cause problems let alone forcing us to break out the shovels.  The cold of course freezes up all the animal’s drinking water buckets so we have to keep watch on them, put out fewer buckets, fill them more often and dump them out overnight.  The ducks will not be able to go swimming when it is below freezing.  They would spray water all over the place cause the containers to freeze in place and make it icy for about 6 feet all round.

The special chickens at their house.

The special chickens at their house.

078

On Monday, because of the wind, the ducks and the laying flock chickens, who are all bunked together, were not let out.  The chicken house would have gotten far too cold and everyone would have huddled at the end furthest from the open door.  The special chickens and the old flock were let out as they are in a more sheltered location.  They came out, some stayed out for a while, but most preferred to stay inside.  Tuesday dawning sunny and staying nice and calm until noon or so, we let all the birds out and they did like that.  They were in more than out but do like to be able to  go out when they please.

Red cabbage leaves for the horses as a treat.

Red cabbage leaves for the horses as a treat.

Five horses, two kids in a barrow, one Dad, one goat .

Five horses, two kids in a barrow, one Dad, one goat .

We were able to get the chicken house mostly finished in time for the real cold temperatures.  We are quite pleased how it all turned out. It has a plastic over wire covering at the front facing the sun so that the house can be warmed somewhat on sunny days. The other walls will eventually be covered in plastic as well so that the air leakage will be reduced to just enough to give a good air exchange.  Looks good!

The almost finished chicken house.  The sunny side.

The almost finished chicken house. The sunny side.

Viewed from the west.  a few chickens outside though all of the ducks are curled up inside.

Viewed from the west. a few chickens outside though all of the ducks are curled up inside.

Nell, Leucan and Marta.

Nell, Leucan and Marta.

Breakfast delivery.

Breakfast delivery.

The new colt has adapted to his new reality … snow.  The first day with snow on the ground, calm winds and a strong sun, Leucan lay sprawled on his side soaking up the sun and sleeping for more than two hours.  He has a nice thick winter coat.  The older teams are, like all of us who get a bit older, feeling the cold much more and we are continuing to feed them extra grain (crimped oats), and a senior horse ration to help them cope.

Two long rows of snow covered kale.   Two long rows of snow covered kale. Still perfectly edible. still perfectly edible.

Two long rows of snow covered kale.
Two long rows of snow covered kale. Still perfectly edible.
still perfectly edible.

Cows of course are fine.  They have a good thick coat now too and the ones we milk are giving us a good supply of milk still.  We will need lots of milk  soon as eggnog and baking season is near.

We are taking chickens to the processors today, Thursday.  We have to be at E.N.S. Poultry on 8th Line near Elora for 7:30 a.m. and will not be able to pick them up again until at least 5 in the afternoon or maybe even later,  and then we have to drive back home again which will take about an hour and a half, minimum.  The weather should be o.k. unless the winds get up and it starts snowing.  E.N.S. has a very good reputation for doing a good job.  The chickens will be killed, plucked, cleaned, bagged, cooled and bagged.  Not sure if they are frozen, think not though.  It looks like they are all spoken for too.

Some of the scenes in the photos this week are quite a change from seven days ago and these were all taken on Wednesday near noon time.  Some of the photos were taken earlier in the week and those will be obvious.  Just three weeks back it was so nice too. Never mind;  Spring is on it’s way. By April we will be wondering what the fuss was all about.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

November 13, 2014 Farm News


The garden on a bleak looking Wednesday November 12 mid afternoon.  Compare to photos of the same spot in recent past posts.

The garden on a bleak looking Wednesday November 12 mid afternoon. Compare to photos of the same spot in recent past posts.

Another week gone by.  A lot done but  a whole lot more needs doing still.   The chicken house is progressing very slowly, taking a whole lot longer than we had anticipated, but then most of our projects take longer than we think they will.  The problem here has been that many extra pieces had to be added to the structure for reinforcing and we are using reclaimed lumber scrounged from where ever I can scrounge it.  The only thing that we have had to buy has been the nails and  a few screws,  A lot of time is spent out and about getting the lumber and more time is spent sorting through the lumber pile trying to find pieces with the right dimensions and the minimum amount of damage etc.  Often too we have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to adapt the structure to the wood that we have available.  That causes a lot of head scratching and frequent return trips to once again sort through the wood pile. There have a been a couple of days when the temperature has been very cold, down around 5 or lower, and that makes things difficult too.  My hands don’t work so well in the cold anymore.  And then it has been wet. But all that is alright , we will get it all done soon enough and wonder what we were concerned about.

Three horses and sheep on a hill.

Three horses and sheep on a hill.

Our cute little colt Leucan with his mother and he is not so little any more.

Our cute little colt Leucan with his mother and he is not so little any more.

The weather though has, on average, been very good.  The sheep, cows and horses have been out on pasture again with only a small amount of supplemental hay.  There will be more than enough moisture going in to the soil to keep our underground aquifers full to the brim, wherever that is.  Much better than a dry fall for sure.

The Swiss Chard is looking surprisingly good after several moderate frosts.  But after each frost more leaves get quite droopy.

The Swiss Chard is looking surprisingly good after several moderate frosts. But after each frost more leaves get quite droopy.

We still have a few things growing in the garden; Kale, even some Swiss Chard, Turnips, some greens, Rapini and a few other things. Quantities though, except for Kale, are rather low.

A fuzzy little blue Silkie hen.  The seven Silkie hens are giving us about one egg every day

A fuzzy little blue Silkie hen. The seven Silkie hens are giving us about one egg every day

The blue Silkie hen with a Barnevelder hen showing just how much smaller Silkies are and the Barnevelder is itself only a medium sized hen.  Silkies are not considered bantams.

The blue Silkie hen with a Barnevelder hen showing just how much smaller Silkies are and the Barnevelder is itself only a medium sized hen. Silkies are not considered bantams.

Three roosters. The feller at the left, front, is a Welsumer. The guy on the right is a Black Copper Marans and the guy in behind I'm not sure of but think that probably he too is a Marans. Grouchy looking characters aren't they.

Three roosters. The feller at the left, front, is a Welsumer. The guy on the right is a Black Copper Marans and the guy in behind I’m not sure of but think that probably he too is a Marans. Grouchy looking characters aren’t they.

The lane way surprisingly has been holding up well.  One spot has gotten a little muddy a few times but since we have not had any lasting freeze up yet, the frequent rain has been able to soak into the ground and not stay at the surface.  All of the photos were taken on Wednesday, November 12.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

November 6, 2014 Farm News


Our standard garden view and the change in the garden and threes behind is quite noticeable compared to the photo of this same spot posted on last weeks blog at the top.

Our standard garden view and the change in the garden and threes behind is quite noticeable compared to the photo of this same spot posted on last weeks blog at the top.

Five horses and a flock of sheep and somewhere in there a single goat.

Five horses and a flock of sheep and somewhere in there a single goat.

We were very fortunate on Thursday, the last CSA pickup day, in that the weather, though cool was bearable;  not too windy, not so wet that hands were freezing.  The weather the rest of the week has been a mix of wet and cold with sunny, and warmish days when we were able to get more done.

A nice hen from our prime laying flock of 59 ISA Browns, still laying well.

A nice hen from our prime laying flock of 59 ISA Browns, still laying well.

The ducks at there daily noon time snooze.

The ducks at there daily noon time snooze.

This will be a very short blog as I have been far too busy to find the time to get at this blog and as I write this the sun is shining, it is a little windy and it is cool, but bearable, and tomorrow and beyond does not bode well.

Two rows of Kale with lettuce between them.  The Kale on the left has been recently harvested.

Two rows of Kale with lettuce between them. The Kale on the left has been recently harvested.

Looking down on a single Kale plant that has had it's leaves grown back after earlier harvesting.

Looking down on a single Kale plant that has had it’s leaves grown back after earlier harvesting.

So just a few pictures with more words next week to update all happenings here as we prepare for winter and tidy up from summer and get a good start on that long list of things that need to be done, most along time ago.

The sheep flock and our single goat.

The sheep flock and our single goat.

All these photos, except for the single photo of the horses and sheep, are from Wednesday midday.

827

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 30, 2014 Farm News


A portion of the garden as it was in mid June

A portion of the garden as it was in mid June

About the same spot in the garden yesterday. Swiis Chard still has some good leaves though a lot has been damaged by frost and just plain cold weather.

About the same spot in the garden yesterday. Swiis Chard still has some good leaves though a lot has been damaged by frost and just plain cold weather.

This is the last CSA vegetable pickup for the 2014 season, this Thursday, October 30.   We had 18 weeks this season which was two weeks shorter than we would have liked but we did have good quantities, good quality and a pretty good variety each week.  Some weeks we had over twenty different vegetables on the tables for pickup.

033

The CSA shares on the tables earlier this fall.

The CSA shares on the tables earlier this fall.

This past season was a very good one, the weather provided lots of rain except for two short dry periods, so growth was quite steady.  Overall though it was a little cool, especially at nights, so some of the hot weather vegetables such as Peppers, Eggplants and Tomatoes did not do quite so well as we would have hoped for but we did get quite a lot from them even at that. The early blight of Potatoes and Tomatoes was not so much of an issue as it has been in past years although the conditions, cool and damp, were seemingly good for the blights.

The pepper plants were not quite as large as they might have been but still they produced a lot of fruits.

The pepper plants were not quite as large as they might have been but still they produced a lot of fruits.

The bigger problem for us happened early on in the spring when we were delayed and delayed again by the prolonged cool spring and this was compounded by our too late acquisition of our replacement team of horses and then a new foal.  We also had a near complete failure of our Garlic crop (and as yet we still don’t know why this happened) and we were unable to plant our Corn and the only winter Squash and Pumpkins were from some plants that came up on their own from some of the squashes left in the garden last season and from some that came up in the pasture from the kitchen compost pail that went out to the chickens and the horses.

Incredibly there were 33 of these pumpkins on the one plant.  At the stem of each of the pumpkins there was a very strong thick root coming from the long stems.

Incredibly there were 33 of these pumpkins on the one plant. At the stem of each of the pumpkins there was a very strong thick root coming from the long stems.

So the big problem sort of disappeared and everything seems to have worked out  reasonably well.

Aerron with the new team of horses.

Aerron with the new team of horses.

One of our new team of mares, Nell, with her foal back in June.

One of our new team of mares, Nell, with her foal back in June.

The wee foal Leucan is wee no longer and he looks good in his long, rough, winter coat.

The wee foal Leucan is wee no longer and he looks good in his long, rough, winter coat.

The mare Marta loogs great and we expect her to foal in February or March.  hope the weather is nice as we don't want her inside to foal.

The mare Marta loogs great and we expect her to foal in February or March. hope the weather is nice as we don’t want her inside to foal.

Marta, Leucan and mother mare Nell on the right.  Photo taken on Wednesday.

Marta, Leucan and mother mare Nell on the right. Photo taken on Wednesday.

We are already planning for next season.  We have decided, finally, that we should try to get some interns for next season, and we all but confirmed that we will have someone working for us next season to help Aerron in the animal department as well as lending his help to the vegetable garden.  We do need probably two more interns for the vegetable patch mainly.  In the organic farm vegetable gardens in Ontario, and in other CSA farms, the use of interns and apprentices has been very common for quite some time now.  An intern is someone who will work the season, often from May 1 to September or October for a stipend of typically $80 to $100 each week and veggies and eats, sometimes room and board.  The intention is to learn how do organic farming by doing and by learning from those who have been doing it.  If any one is interested or knows someone who may be, please contact us. this past season we were very fortunate to have help from our working sharers who did far more work than was required.

I didn't have any good photos of garden helpers this season but this lot was helping Maggie and Aerron  in the summer of 2013.

I didn’t have any good photos of garden helpers this season but this lot was helping Maggie and Aerron in the summer of 2013.

We will soon be getting new 2015 seed catalogues and I will soon be searching the internet for the seed lists from the various wonderful seeds companies, all of which sell in addition to the usual vegetables many varieties which are unusual and different and many of which are organically grown too.  We always compile a wish list for some pretty exotic things, though reality dictates that we must stick mostly with the usual.

Preparing to plant the potatoes in early June with other things just starting to grow.

Preparing to plant the potatoes in early June with other things just starting to grow.

So once the last CSA pickup is done we will concentrate on preparing for winter, and we have a lot of preparing to do.  Lots of firewood to be gathered, work to do be finished on the chicken house, though we have done most of it now, work to be done on winter pasture for horses and cows, and we still need to get all our hay up from neighbours’ fields though we finally did get all the loose hay picked up from the 10 acre field on Kirby Crescent.  We also need to put bags of compost away and bring some compost up from the garden for the spring time.  We do have a lot to do.

When we were able, if we had the time, we would load the truck with more than twice this amount of hay.  The truck would carry almost a half wagon load.

When we were able, if we had the time, we would load the truck with more than twice this amount of hay. The truck would carry almost a half wagon load.

Both sides of the chicken house sub-roof are now complete and we now have to put the cover on and finish the sides. Much more to do here.

Both sides of the chicken house sub-roof are now complete and we now have to put the cover on and finish the sides. Much more to do here.

We will also expand the CSA size next season going from the 45 0f you this past season now finishing to some where between 60 and 80 members for next season.  This will of course mean that we will have to be sure to have everything well organized and have our workforce ready.  We figure that we are up to the challenge.  Bring on 2015.  A warm spring 2015 would be nice !

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 23, 2014 Farm News


The garden scene Wednesday morning. Sunshine once more.

The garden scene Wednesday morning. Sunshine once more.

Another week filled with lots of happenings.  We gathered and covered all the harvested veggies such as Potatoes and Onions Saturday evening as temperatures of – 2C were forecast.  We piled it all in the truck for overnight,  It did get down to + 1.8C but this was not as bad as predicted.   We also had a much appreciated help Saturday from Rob and from Jennie.  Rob brought his expertise and worked hard to help us get more work done on the chicken house at the pick up area.  A lot of important repairs and strengthening was done and the entire south half of the roof got covered with wood boards.  There is still much more work to be done on this building before it is ready for winter.  Jennie is a graduate student at Laurier and is looking at working with us as part of the thesis that she is developing, …  I think I got that more or less correct.  Jennie helped us with the building as well as harvesting spuds and onions.  Anca also once more spent time helping with the harvest this week.  We must once more acknowledge with much gratitude the efforts of Ken Peach who once again spent pretty much the whole of Thursday, as he has done for nearly every Thursday the entire season, volunteering his help with the veggie harvesting for the CSA pickup.  Ken’s help  been crucial each Thursday to our getting the job done.  So Mary, make sure Ken reads this.  Thanks so much, once more , Ken.

067We have, after this week, one more CSA veggie pick up here at the farm.  We will, though, likely have kale available for some time; well into the winter probably, and we will have to make an attempt to keep the rabbits from being able to get at the Kale.  They will eat it right down, one plant at a time.  There will very likely still be a real good selection of a lot of different veggies for this last CSA pickup.

The old team, Wimpy and Marie at their morning grain.

The old team, Wimpy and Marie at their morning grain.

We are still drawing up hay from the neighbours field.  It keeps getting rained on and we have been working as often as we can to get it picked up.  We have been feeding this hay directly to the cows, sheep and horses as they are not out on fresh pasture right now.  The pastures will be allowed to grow out again for a few more days and then we will have them out on a grazing rotation once more.  Everyone is still outside just not moving on to fresh pastures.

A nice fall scene.

A nice fall scene.

The cows and horses and sheep are doing fine.  Leucan the foal is still growing of course and looking better than ever.   Marta, Leucan’s “aunt”,  is likely in foal and due anytime from January on through March.  She was said to have been with the stallion in early spring.  Gestation is about 11 months.  So very unsure of the date or even if she is pregnant.  Might think soon of having a pregnancy test done to confirm.

Barnevelder and Welsumer hens in the trees.

Barnevelder and Welsumer hens in the trees.

Blue Silkie hen. cute little fuzzy things they are.

Blue Silkie hen. cute little fuzzy things they are.

Barnevelder hen and the double laced pattern in the feathers is quite evident.

Barnevelder hen and the double laced pattern in the feathers is quite evident.

Black Copper Marans hen

Black Copper Marans hen

The temperature on average gets colder each week with occasional lovely warm days to make the fall enjoyable.  Very hard for us to get work done in the rain and cold though and there is so much to be done.

Mother mare Nell.

Mother mare Nell.

Mother mare Nell's colt Leucan.

Mother mare Nell’s colt Leucan.

Mother mare Nell's sister Marta.

Mother mare Nell’s sister Marta.

 

Speedy Leucan.  Excited over the morning hay.

Speedy Leucan. Excited over the morning hay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment