August 28, 2014 Farm News


Wednesday morning. Squash plants growing in the pasture foreground, three horses grazing with still lush late summer forest beyond.

Wednesday morning. Squash plants growing in the pasture foreground, three horses grazing with still lush late summer forest beyond.

It has been a bit dry the last while.  Too dry.  We have been doing some spot watering keeping the newly planted stuff wet especially.  The dry weather allows us to catch up on the hoeing, as the weeds do not grow as fast.  Hoeing is harder to do though since the ground is harder. But hoeing in hard ground is easier than pulling weeds by hand and we don’t really have a lot of that to do now.  The only spots requiring hand pulling of weeds is were hoes cannot easily reach, such as under sprawling tomato plants or were there is too thick a layer of mulch or where the weeds are growing too close to plants to safely cut them down with hoes.

Chinese cabbage, four rows of Beans, some herbs, Swiss Chard and Potatoes.

Chinese cabbage, four rows of Beans, some herbs, Swiss Chard and Potatoes.

The newly sprouted seedlings are doing well and the Lettuce will be ready in maybe two weeks time.  We have to keep it really well watered.  Broccoli and summer squash should also be ready about then too.  And other stuff too as well as much of what we are now harvesting.  It would be really nice to have warm and wet weather right through September into October.

Some of the unexpectedly prolific sweet peppers

Some of the unexpectedly prolific sweet peppers

The recent sprouted lettuce is now just discernible. These are the Kale plants, centre and another row of Kale to the right.

The recent sprouted lettuce is now just discernible. These are the Kale plants, centre and another row of Kale to the right.

Here are a couple of photos of the favourite colt Leucan.  He is now eleven weeks old by my reckoning and he sure is big.  Turned quite dark but apparently other foals from that stallion were dark like this but lightened up again later. Colour does not matter too much.  More important that he becomes well behaved and pulls well when in harness which will be when he is at  least two years and then only light loads for a year or so.  He’ll need a year or so in harness to get him reasonably well trained.  Couldn’t trust him to tow a cultivator down between rows of lettuce for example, or corn rows or any other rows for that matter.  That sort of work will require a good bit of effort on our part and mostly it will require a lot repetitive practice to get Leucan  up to the task.

Leucan looking just superb in his dark coat.

Leucan looking just superb in his dark coat.

Eleven week old Leucan and six year old Lauran.

Eleven week old Leucan and six year old Lauran.

Bit of a breeze but mostly it's swatting flies.

Bit of a breeze but mostly it’s swatting flies.

Leucan looking very sleek and shiny, nice long socks and that still cute tail.

Leucan looking very sleek and shiny, nice long socks and that still cute tail.

The eggs are getting so much bigger now that we have decided to increase the price of $3.00 for the medium to large  sized eggs to $4.00 and that of the large to jumbo sized to $5.00.   Sorry.   In order to justify this we have to say that these are pastured hens so they get to run around outside during the daytime and get shut up overnight so raccoons, skunks, coyotes, foxes, owls and stray dogs don’t pilfer them.  We still run the risk of losing some to hawks but they seldom bother.  Weasels are a bigger fear than anything else as they could possibly devastate the entire flock in a single night.  Not too many weasels around though … I hope.   Cheer up, we have not lost any yet.

Our real nice Swiss chard with the very pretty little Goldfinch.  there are two of them and notice the ragged leaves.

Our real nice Swiss chard with the very pretty little Goldfinch. there are two of them and notice the ragged leaves.

A little closer shot of the finches.

A little closer shot of the finches.

Garden pests this year have not been too bad.  The potato beetle and their larva were easily controlled.  The white grubs have not been plentiful at all, little damage from them.  There were far fewer cabbage butterflies this year and as a result we have had, so far, little damage from the cabbage worm.  One unexpected pest, never before having been one, has been the pretty little Goldfinch.  They have been quite specific.  These pretty little birds tear ragged holes in the Swiss Chard leaves, and not just any leaves either.  They seem to be careful to choose only the very best and biggest leaves.  Good for them; bad for us.  They have damaged quite a bit of a vegetable that is usually quite free of any damage.  See the pictures.

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August 21, 2014 Farm News


Fall seeding continues. This was seeded on Monday and with the warmth and hopefully a little rain, it will be sprouting new plants by Friday.

Fall seeding continues. This was seeded on Monday and with the warmth and hopefully a little rain, it will be sprouting new plants by Friday.

The dry weather was good as it allowed us to get a lot of weeding done.  We pulled weeds by hand, sliced them off with hand hoes and with wheel hoes.  Most of this was done on Monday and Tuesday and the sun dried up the pulled weeds very nicely.  It was obvious, especially on Tuesday, that the ground was getting quite dry, so the forecast rain will be welcome.  We did some spot watering of newly seeded veggies but everything else is still ok, growing well.  Not to say that rain will not help things along though.  Very little rain, next to nil, on Tuesday evening, so that was no where near the forecast.  Hopefully there will be something there in the next few days.

It looks a little weedy here, not overrun but needing attention for sure,  By Tuesday pm this was much cleaner.

It looks a little weedy here, not overrun but needing attention for sure, By Tuesday pm this was much cleaner.

The previous photo now would look more like this. New seeded lettuce rows, plants too small to be noticed yet unless you get really close.

The previous photo now would look more like this. New seeded lettuce rows, plants too small to be noticed yet unless you get really close.

The various animals are fine,  no problems to report.  The wee colt still growing and only a little tamer as we still have not done any concentrated work with him.

The beans still looking good but last week was a bit too cool for their liking so we expect a lower yield this week, sorry.

The beans still looking good but last week was a bit too cool for their liking so we expect a lower yield this week, sorry.

The potato patch is looking a little weedy and some plants a little weary.

The potato patch is looking a little weedy and some plants a little weary.

No pictures this week of any four legged or feathered critters, only veggies.  the garden photos are from left to right along the garden at distant intervals.  Mor animal photos next week.  Look on our Facebook page for any updates over the next three days

The summer squash is way, way behind but growing well and is weed free.  Warmer weather over the next few days will be to it's liking and rain would be welcome.

The summer squash is way, way behind but growing well and is weed free. Warmer weather over the next few days will be to it’s liking and rain would be welcome.

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August 14, 2014 Farm news


094Another vegetable growing week has passed and much was done; seeding, lots of weeding, and hoeing.  The weather was good though nights continue  a bit on the cool side.  We do have plenty of daytime warmth though and it even gets quite hot some days.  Though it was getting a bit dry before the Monday evening’s rain (by Tuesday afternoon we had accumulated a total of 20 mm) there has been enough soil moisture to keep things growing well. We are getting significantly shorter days however and in about a month or so this will affect how some things grow.

Kale rows way to the left of the photo with rows of just seeded lettuce mixes with a bed of three onion rows and in the centre a nice lot of arugula growing again.

Kale rows way to the left of the photo with rows of just seeded lettuce mixes with a bed of three onion rows and in the centre a nice lot of arugula growing again.

Two rows of kale, one younger than the other, with newly seeded lettuce mix either side.

Two rows of kale, one younger than the other, with newly seeded lettuce mix either side.

We are planting for fall harvests too, so we are hoping that we will have a warmish fall and a really late start to winter.  If all goes well we can still be harvesting right to the end of October on most veggies and there will be some things in the open field that we will still be picking beyond that.

The horses, Nell and Marta with Marie just to the right all mowing the lawn.

The horses, Nell and Marta with Marie just to the right all mowing the lawn.

The farm’s resident Horses, Cows, Goat, Sheep, Donkey, Goose, Ducks, Chickens, Dogs and Cats are all in excellent health.  The new foal, Leucan, continues to grow like one of our garden weeds but he is getting quite tame though he is a feisty character.  Our next challenge with him will be to get the halter on and to start leading him around.  The chickens are laying well still and the egg size is significantly larger over last week.  Extra Large eggs account for 7.9% of the total, up from 1.9% last week but the important numbers are the Large size at 30.7% of the total, up from 3.7%, the Mediums at 44.1% instead of the previous 31.5% and the number of smalls falling to 17.3% from the previous 51.8% of the total.  We will probably bring the price up to $4.00 once we get a few more percentage points at Large and medium size.

Some of the younger laying hens, the pullets, in the pretty blue Cornflower.

Some of the younger laying hens, the pullets, in the pretty blue Cornflower.

 

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August 7, 2014 Farm News


Some of the pullet hen laying flock.

Some of the pullet hen laying flock.

 

Hello all !  Another great week of weather for us.  Several dry days to make weeding easier and effective with enough moisture in the soil to make it easily worked.  Enough rain to keep everything well watered but not so much that things were getting washed away.  And most days the temperature was quite pleasant, though a couple of days started to get uncomfortably hot and humid.

The garden from the pick-up table.

The garden from the pick-up table.

The new hens are laying at a real good rate.  Saturday for instance, the 59 pullets laid 54 eggs of which one had a deformity and was set aside and another was soft shelled.  So 52 saleable eggs.  The average daily egg production has been 50 for the past two weeks. So here was the how these 52 eggs weighed.

  • Pee Wee                     5 eggs             9.2 %
  • Small                        28 eggs            51.8 %
  • Medium                   15  eggs            31.5 %
  • Large                         2  eggs              3.7 %
  • Extra Large              1  egg                1.9 %
  • Jumbo                       1  egg                1.9 %
  • Saturdays total      52  eggs             100 %

Several were on the borderline of Small/Medium and were usually cast as medium.  But, the eggs are on average getting bigger.  So given all that and more, we will increase the price of the pullet eggs from $2 to $3.  These 59 hens cost about $25.00 each week in feed alone.

There are several favoured spots to lay eggs.

There are several favoured spots to lay eggs.

Two is company, three is even better company.

Two is company, three is even better company.

The young colt Leucan is still somewhat untamed.  We have not yet attempted to put a halter on him and do not work with him every day though we should.  It will take time but we think it important to move slowly and keep his confidence in us.  He grows well and there do not seem to be any health issues at all.

Leucan and Nell

Leucan and Nell

Leucan; wondering why I'm leaving.

Leucan; wondering why I’m leaving.

The sheep are well and we have had no coyote problems at all this year.  though we lost none to coyotes last year, the sheep were always very nervous and easily spooked because of the coyotes just watching them.  This year they are a lot calmer.  Our dog has not done all the barking at the distant wooded area that she did last year so it would seem that the coyotes are not around quite so much as before.  The Maremma guard dog is not yet doing guard duty, it will take until he is about two years old, the fall of 2015, before he settles down and no longer plays like a puppy.

Sheep paying no attention and Alfalfa the goat always on the watch.

Sheep paying no attention and Alfalfa the goat always on the watch.

The vegetable garden looks good, the help from all our volunteers over  the past while and specifically from Ken, Jacob, Suzanne, Anca and Mihaela this past week, has been the prime reason for that. Once more, thank you all so much.  Stupendous efforts have been expended in expelling weeds.  We have continued too with planting of fall crops of vegetables though more needs to be done. The weather has been very good for the vegetables.  Nice daytime temperatures, though the nights are still a little cool, especially last week, and of course plenty of moisture to keep things growing well.

Tomatoes, peppers, red cabbage and green.

Tomatoes, peppers, red cabbage and green.

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July 31, 2014 Farm News


The garden at the bean rows in Wednesday rain. Two drops on the lens on the right side of the photo.

The garden at the bean rows in Wednesday rain. Two drops on the lens on the right side of the photo.

It was getting pretty dry but then we got a real good dump of rain.  We are set for at least a week now.  The temperatures have been a bit on the cool side both night and day.  A night time low of near 10°C is pretty chilly for July.  But now, Wednesday afternoon, we get another brief rain shower.  There has been much weeding done, especially today, when with Ken, Suzanne and Jacob here helping for a good long while, we managed to clean up the entire length of a weedy tomato and pepper rows.  Thanks very much to the three of you.  We have been busy during the week finishing all the transplants and doing more seeding with lots more seeding still to be done for fall crops.    Most everything is growing well though the worry now is the blights which usually affect tomatoes and potatoes when the weather is cool and damp at nights.  The pepper plants  are producing a lot of peppers in spite of less than ideal temperatures, they like it hot.  The potatoes are also susceptible to blight but so far not much is there but then it is still early.  The Yukon Gold potatoes that we have been harvesting for the last few weeks are plagued with a scab that shows up as digs in the skin, usually not to deep but still must be cut off.  The Yukon Gold variety is susceptible to a good number of potato diseases and is often better suited  to commercial growers who put on all kinds of fungicides etc.

Mineral Blocks are very popular. This one has been in place for over a week now and is still often chawed on.

Mineral Blocks are very popular. This one has been in place for over a week now and is still often chawed on.

We are working slowly at training the new colt Leucan, with the first steps being to get him used to us touching him all over.  He just wants to play right now.  He has so far kept his feet on the ground which is really good and kept his play to a lot of mouthing, which we need to keep from turning into biting.  We’ll keep this up until we can put the halter on.  We also then have to be sure we can take it off again as he cannot be let loose wearing a halter, too likely that he could get it caught on something.  This will take quite a while as we have to do it in small steps.  After we can get the halter off and on without any fuss then we can start to lead him around.  We may have to build a round pen or paddock after that so as we can do the horse whisper thing with him, but that is a bit in the future.

Nell at the mineral block looking really good in spite of having to nurse a rapidly growing foal.

Nell at the mineral block looking really good in spite of having to nurse a rapidly growing foal.

Leucan, wet from the rain and also looking very good.

Leucan, wet from the rain and also looking very good.

I tried to get a close up of Leucan but he just kept getting too close. Nice eye though don't you think ?

I tried to get a close up of Leucan but he just kept getting too close. Nice eye though don’t you think ?

Quackers and young chickens roaming for insects and other choice bits.

Quackers and young chickens roaming for insects and other choice bits.

 

Loads of help in the garden again this week so once more to everyone who helped out; it was very much appreciated, a lot was accomplished and it was very worthwhile.  Difficult to keep ahead of the weeds with the wet weather that we have had lately.

The new hens, the pullets, at the round feeder.

The new hens, the pullets, at the round feeder.

More of the pullets at the nearby long feeder.

More of the pullets at the nearby long feeder.

The hens are all doing well and laying very near to their maximum.  The new hens’ eggs are getting slowly larger with many now in the medium range and far fewer are small.  A few are still pee wee sized but a few are large and extra large sized. The small eggs are still $2.00 per dozen but we should up it to $3.00 in a week or two and the Jumbo eggs from the older birds are still at $4.00 for each dozen.

We are now opening up on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am until 6 pm for all those outside the CSA who would like to buy vegetables and eggs.

 

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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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