October 16, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden. A very cool but sunny day.

The weather has been quite good for us as it has been reasonably warm and we’ve had a good amount of rain. We still have some things growing and in need of warmth and rain; beets, leeks, Swiss Chard, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and more. But the wet weather this past week has made things a bit difficult in that we get quite muddy digging out the potatoes and the last of the onions. Very muddy when we are out there in the garden digging in a steady rain. We are running out of time to get things done before winter is here. We have a lot of work to do to repair and to finish the various structures, we need to get more of the garden ready for spring, and that is vital to getting a real good start in April and we still need to get more wood into the woodshed.

Brussels Sprouts with two types of Kale in the background

Radiccio in various sizes, some loose, some heads and two colours but most green.

We’ll likely do two more weeks of CSA vegetables before closing down for the season. But then we’ll still be very busy preparing for the rapidly approaching winter and getting things ready for spring. We are preparing beds and rows which will be planted in the spring by tilling them now, making a furrow for seeding or transplanting and then covering the rows and the walking area with a thick layer of straw mulch. We are continuing to split and pile firewood in our woodshed and already have about 4 full cords (4 x 4 x 8 feet) of wood stacked in the woodshed. Our firewood is cut into lengths of about 12 to 15 inches.

This area of the garden has been spread with compost. We’ll make furrows in the ground, plant garlic at about 3 inch spacing and cover thickly with straw mulch

The woodshed, stacked and some just randomly piled.

We thought that we would be getting more bales of hay and possibly straw on Friday but our hay delivery man did not show up and have not heard what happened. He’ll be here before long though with 30 bales of hay and about 30 bales of rye straw. The hay is coming from Macland Farms on Bethel Road and the straw from Edgar’s farm on Rest Acres Road. The hay is winter feed for sheep, cows and horses and maybe a bit for chickens while the straw is mostly for the garden as mulch with some going for bedding for cows and sheep (cows will eat most of it) and also a good bit for the chickens.

The potatoes are out of this spot and more straw, foreground, will be spread thickly over the rows for next season’s crop.

 

 

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October 9, 2017 FARM NEWS


Marie horse almost exactly two years ago. She was about 28 years old at the time.

This is Marie in October 2015 with the 4 month old colt Leucan.

One of our loved work horses died this past week.  Our Belgian Mare ‘Marie’ was about 30 years old. She had been quite thin and we’d started giving her a small amount of oats each day to try to get more weight on her to help see her through the winter. We found her in a shallow small valley lodged up against a large honeysuckle bush. She had likely been there all night and in her weakened condition could not get up from her awkward position. She had gone through the fence to get there. The horses never do that, really no idea why she did so this time except to think that her doing so was a result of her deteriorating condition and she knew that she was going.

Marie with the younger team of Nell (Leucan’s mother) and Nell’s sister Marta.

We acquired ‘Marie’ in 2000 after one of our original team, ‘Popeye’, died suddenly. She was a good horse in that she was quiet and well behaved, standing well when needed. She had her quirks. She had sensitive feet and when we ran the team on the road she could come up lame after a few days. The other horse, her team mate Wimpy would be fine. She would attempt to get relief by running on the gravelled edge of the road but this was not a good place to run a wagon fully overloaded with hay. She would also try to shirk the load on the downhills when the horses job, without brakes on the wagon, was to hold back the load, and the load would be held by the britchen straps across the horses butt. They could be holding the wagon and load totalling about 4500 pounds on about a 30% grade so this would not be the occasion to do funny things or for something to break. Nothing ever broke. But her team mate would know what she was up to and would reach over and bite at her giving us perched some ten feet up on a pile of hay, or on the front of those big round bales some tense moments trying to prevent disaster. No disaster happened. Same thing when backing a load into the barn because backing was like holding the load on a hill. She’d give us a hard time. ‘Marie’ had been retired for about four years now. She was Leucan’s pasture companion and he is still often standing watching over where she died and where she has been buried.

On the single row team cultivator in June of 2012 with teammate Wimpy on the far side. Aerron driving.

The Marie horse will be missed but remembered with fondness as with our house cat, Buffy, who mostly lived outdoors. He disappeared about a week ago without a trace, likely the victim of a coyote or an owl attack. Then a new litter of kittens was discovered a few days after with a single buffy lookalike there. Things happen!

Our house cat Buffy in July

Still a few weeks left in the garden and we are still quite dry. The recent rains have been but slight and the ground is quite dry right through the top soil into the sand a couple of feet down. The unusual warmth has been welcomed and we are getting things done. The garlic planting will begin this week. Mulching of the garden which will be in place in the spring will continue. Packing the woodshed continues.

The woodshed as of last week. A good amount of wood in here but we’d like to see at least 4 times this amount in before the snow flies.

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October 1, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view very early on this first Monday in October and a cool 5 degrees C it was.

Happy October and we seem to have gotten a frost early Sunday morning, with the temperature down to just above zero. The sweet peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, some tomatillos and of course the tender basil were all badly affected. We think that the fruits will still be ok as it was not a very hard frost and some small areas were unaffected.

The frost was on the pumpkins on the weekend and though not good for them it was far, far worse for the zucchini plants to the left. They are completely finished off now.

We have been irrigating regularly still but as we’ve noted before, it is difficult to get enough water to the garden. This is why it is so important for us to improve  the soil, to get organic matter in for both water retention and for fertility and why we need to put straw mulch down all through out the garden. The straw mulch works well to suppress weeds, to retain moisture and eventually, as it decomposes, to improve the soil quality. Wherever we use it the improvement is obviously noticeable.  It is some what time consuming as we do it but it saves time in the longer run. And those bales of straw must be paid for but again the results are well worth the price.

Looking down the rows of Swiss Chard and a sprinkler head watering away at the other end. A few beets to the right are also getting that water.

Looking down the cabbage rows from the well straw mulched eastern end.

The other nice thing about straw mulch is that we will be putting it down in most of the garden in the fall on mostly prepared seed beds so that come spring we will either just plant through the mulch or pull the mulch back, only as far as needed, seed or transplant, and then push the mulch back in place. This saves most of the preparation time and effort in the spring allowing for much faster planting and time in the spring is always very tight.

Looking down from the western end of the garden with the cabbages way over to the far right and in the fore the kale and the Chinese cabbage which two are not mulched yet.

We have again this week split a lot of firewood for the winter and have gotten it stacked in the woodshed. There is a lot more to go but we’ve made a significant dent in the piles and are well on our way to having the entire winter’s supply stored away in a nice dry place.

The duckies and in behind them a flock of laying hens and one rooster which is the blob to the left. A fine day for the ducks and chickens and generally fine weather for them for the past several weeks.

All the animals are doing well. The ducks continue to lay a few more eggs and the chickens are holding steady at a good though somewhat short of excellent rate. The newer chickens, those hatched at the end of April are just now starting to lay a very small number of eggs and sometimes it is only one a day.

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September 25, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view on the day before.

A bit of a short blog and few photos this week as I have not been able to find very much time to spend on it and the photos are very slow to  load to the website.

A very hot week again which is really quite nice for the vegetables. But we are also getting quite dry which is really not so nice for the vegetables.  We have been doing some watering in the garden now for the past week and more. We have only a single sprinkler head that we move every hour or hour and a half. The water source is our well which is capable of supplying the water that we are taking out this way but we have no other easily gotten water. Hopefully we will get some rain within the next three days but it does not look too promising though cooler weather seems to be coming after Wednesday.

Peppers. The worm’s eye view.

On Saturday we had our annual potluck supper and farm tour for our CSA members. We had a pretty good turnout though we missed several who were unable to make it that day. The supper was really nice with some very inventive delicious dishes of veggies served up. we did a bit of a farm tour before the meal but we need to rethink how we do the tour as it takes too long because we spend a lot of time talking about everything. We need to do more of these throughout the season.

Setting out on the farm tour and already bogged down in a long detailed explanation.

Moving along nicely on the tour through the garden.

We are now a little better stocked up on beef and we have another beef going to the butcher’s on October 3 and several lambs will be going in over the next month too. Contact us if you are interested. Send an e-mail, don’t use the comments section as It is difficult to use from my end.

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September 18, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view

Now, with only three days until the end of summer we are getting some really nice, sustained warm weather. But it has been very dry. We have started to do a bit of irrigation but as usual our supply of water is not very great and we don’t have the means of getting a lot on to the garden anyway. So hopefully we will get a good dump of rain before too long but also we hope that the warm weather continues long into the fall.

Without the rain the Kale while still looking good has slowed in growth. There are 4 different kinds of kale in this photo

We have split a good lot of wood over the past two weeks and have gotten a pretty good pile, just a little more than a full cord is now stowed away out of the rain in the woodshed. We begin preparations for the coming winter.  Much of the work throughout the garden from now on will be to get the garden prepared for next season so that our workload will be eased in the spring. We will be planting garlic and mulching the garlic with straw very soon and we will also be making up and preparing beds and rows and then covering the empty rows with straw. Then come planting time in the spring we will pull back the straw just a bit, do our seeding or transplanting, and push the straw back around the new plants. We will try to do as much of that as we can.

These two rows are prepared for planting but will just be covered with straw for the winter so that they will be ready to plant into in the spring.

The sheep and cows on the middle pasture Sunday afternoon. Heather’s photo.

We have about 30 bales of hay coming soon and these along with the ones that we got earlier in the summer, will do to feed the horses, cows and sheep until the grass grows again in the spring and maybe we will have two or three left over. We are also getting more straw bales, mostly for garden mulch.

A grey Cochin hen, one of the spring hatch.

Blue Cochin rooster.

Chickens and ducks doing great and they are still laying quite well with the young ducks beginning to lay and the young chickens, hatched at the end of April, expected to begin laying mid October.

 

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September 11, 2017 FARM NEWS


The Monday morning view of the garden. A fine, warm, no wind Monday morning.

A short blog this week. Photos have been loading very slow, up to 10 minutes to get a single photo to upload to WordPress,  So that has delayed the publishing until now.

The cabbages half mulched.

The weather has been less than ideal because of the very cool nights, down to as low as 4 C some nights and the days are often only about 20 if that. This is, of course, nice weather for working but less than ideal for growing things such as basil, tomato, pepper, eggplant. These are not producing well at all and though they do not seem to have any cold damage yet that is always a possibility and that will finish them. If we could get a warm period with night temperatures not less than 18 and some day temps around 25, then we should get a lot of fruit growth.

To theleft is the basil after harvest and very slowly growing back, Basil needs a lot of sun and heat. Next, to the right is the ground cherries which are producing slowly and have a lot of yellowed leaves that are likely due to cool weather and damp. To the far right are the hot peppers which have a lot of nice green foliage and are mostly a good size but have not so many fruits.

Some of these potato varieties are only slightly bothered by blight and others significantly affected.

 

The cabbages half mulched.

Sweet peppers looking very good with lots of healthy foliage on sturdy tall plants and quite a bit of fruit though none is near mature.

The celery is looking good though it is not all that tall and we did not attempt to blanch it.

We have some things doing quite well though nothing is producing as well as it could and plant diseases have been evident in nappa cabbages, tomatoes, potatoes and tomatillos. The tomatoes effected by blight, and that is nearly all of them, are pretty much destroyed and our harvest of tomatoes has been and will remain very, very tiny compared with what should have been there.

A khaki Campbell hen duck doing the usual duck snuffle looking for tasty insects.

All the chickens and ducks are thriving and some of the ducks hatched mid April, have begun to lay eggs. Not so much yet but in about a month they might be laying well though we expect none to lay well over the winter.

Nell and Marta. Their forelocks need deburring.

Nell and Marta just snoozing and enjoying a nice quiet warm morning.

The horses, cows and sheep are doing well and w have not fed out much hay yet as the pastures have mostly stayed good with the plentiful rain.

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September 4, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view. The bags in the foreground brought 15 minutes earlier by the wood guys from Paris. Compostable twigs and vegetation.

September already but we are hoping for another two months of vegetable growing. It has been unusually cool for much of the summer and is now quite a bit cooler, especially the nights. Warm weather would certainly help things to grow and hot weather would be even better. The cool nights are especially bad for growing vegetables such as tomato, basil, cucumber, pepper, and eggplant. Yes, we need a good July heat wave about now.

The cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli straw mulched half way and wqith a wheelbarrow of compost headed for a little bit more at the other end.

And, just to the left of those cabbages, with an empty bed in between, is the Kale and to the far left again is the lettuce.

The eggplant and the cherry tomatoes with to the far left I a bed of peppers, two rows and over to the far right a single row of sprawling tomatillos.

Blight has affected the potatoes to varying degrees depending on the variety of potato. there are two blights that affect potato as well as tomato. Late blight, Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete and is what caused the great potato famine in Ireland. The other, and likely the one that we have, is called Early blight, Alternaria solani which is fungal.  Difficult to treat once established and they happen fast. Less than 5 days from start to doomed plants, fruits and tubers when conditions are right, and the first stages are barely noticeable. We still have potatoes but the tubers are likely going to be affected too and the longer that we leave them in the ground the more damage will occur. Tomatoes are badly affected with only a few fruits not severely damaged.

The blue potatoes are to the left and though they do have some blighted leaves they appear ok in the photo. In the centre are 3 rows of finger potatoes which hve been severely affected by the blight but the tops are still green and growing. Off to the right are several rows of white potatoes, Kennebecs and Superior and they too are somewhat affected though not seen in the photo.

The oldest flock of chickens is declining significantly now in egg production. These are the ISA type from Pullets Plus which are coming up on one year of laying. The spring flock from Frey’s Hatchery are still laying good but we have a half dozen os so which have gone broody so they are not laying eggs at all. The young chickens, hatched at the end of April will not be laying eggs until at least the end of the month and likely not well until the end of October. We will not give them any extra light so as e can delay the start of egg laying and thus have somewhat larger eggs.

Some of our hen’s from Frey’s hatchery, red sex links. A photo last week by Lauren Simon.

We hope to get a young bull off to the butcher’s an Tuesday morning so we’ll have more freezer beef in two or three weeks. Then we have a second one to go and several lamb as well. All the horses cows and sheep are doing well and still have a good amount of pasture.

Nell and Marta just snoozing and enjoying a nice quiet warm morning.

We will also be getting about 30 more large round bales of hay, soon, and that will give us enough hay with what we already have, to see us through the winter.

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