April 25, 2016 Farm News


The usual weekly garden view to be compared with previous weeks.

The usual weekly garden view to be compared with previous weeks.

It has been such a very nice week.  We had the horses out working the garden on three consecutive days but gave them a break on the fourth.  They cannot be expected to do long and heavy work just yet since they have been little worked all winter.  They were very well behaved when worked and were worked for two or three hours at a time.  They were harnessed to the large disc harrows that we have.  This set of discs is so large that in order to be able to work them continuously for two or three hours we should need at least 8 horses.  We use our team, two horses and since they are two and not eight we have to give them frequent and long breaks.  The routine was to  pull the discs down from one side of the garden to the next, a distance of just over 300 feet and give the horses a long rest, then back down to the other end and another rest.  The round trip including the rests took  about 10 to 15 minutes so the work was slow to get done.  The harrowing was sometimes done twice over if there was a lot of plant material needing to be worked in.  Later the single row cultivator pulled by the horses will  go over the ground at least two and sometimes three times to form a seed bed.  We sometimes go over it again with various cobbled together tools to break up clumps and make a much smoother, finer seed bed; suitable for smaller seeded vegetables which need to be more shallowly planted and will not emerge through large heavy clods of earth.  We need a better horse drawn device to do bed preparation but have not found a really suitable one as yet.

We need a platform on the discs to give us a safe place to stand.

We need a platform on the discs to give us a safe place to stand.

Turning at the end of the garden.

Turning at the end of the garden.

The turn can be made quite tight, about a disc width easily enough.

The turn can be made quite tight, about a disc width easily enough.

Working up the soil.

Working up the soil.

Aerron and the team resting after a round on the 8 plus horse disc.

Aerron and the team resting after a round on the 8 plus horse disc.

We were able to plant the last bed (two rows) of broad beans and also get planted two and two thirds beds of Yellow Spanish onions sets, little bulbs, not seeds.  Our seeded onions are still in the house in the seed trays.  The garlic has been partially hoed to get rid of the newly sprouted weeds of various sorts and the perennial Korean Mint, which is growing very nicely, has had the dead stems from last season taken away.  So work has begun slowly.  not quite as much accomplished as we would have hoped for, and not quite ready to put out a call for help from those with a working share.

The single row horse drawn cultivator with beds of garlic behind it.

The single row horse drawn cultivator with beds of garlic behind it.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

Today, Monday, Aerron will have the horses on the discs again, and later on the cultivator, to get some beds ready for more onions and other veggies and for the potatoes.  We made a trip to William Dam Seeds again, on Wednesday this past week, second trip this year to Dam’s, to get more seeds,  the onion sets and potatoes.  One more trip to in a few weeks to get corn,  squashes and other of the vining crops as well as anything that we may have missed.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

The chickens are continuing to lay very well and our ducks are doing a good job too as their lay rate is steadily increasing and has just today reached 50 per cent.  That is to say that 10 of the 20 hen ducks laid an egg.  So we now have plenty of eggs to sell.  If you would like to get eggs just send an e-mail with your request.  Eggs are $4.00 per dozen.  These are brown eggs, mostly large to extra large and the ducks eggs, except for the odd black or grey egg from the Cayuga breed, are quite large and white.

The egg colours rang from the whit of a duck egg in the foreground to dark and light brown shades and pinks and hints of purple to the almost black egg of the Cayuga ducks

The egg colours rang from the whit of a duck egg in the foreground to dark and light brown shades and pinks and hints of purple to the almost black egg of the Cayuga ducks

A few chickens scattered across the horse field.

A few chickens scattered across the horse field.

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April 18, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view. Somewhat different from last weeks. Much improved. The boards in the foreground are nailed together as the wall plates for the new toolshed being built.

The usual garden view. Somewhat different from last weeks. Much improved. The boards in the foreground are nailed together as the wall plates for the new toolshed being built.

We are having splendid weather now and for the past few days.  The mud and the too wet garden have gone. There is now a lot that can be done.  None of our plants are ready to be transplanted just yet, a week or two from now at the earliest but there are a lot of seeds that can go into the ground.  The next thing for us to do is to go over the whole garden with the disc harrows and break up and turn under all the plant debris from last season as well as the germinating weeds.  In most parts of the garden this will mean one or perhaps two passes with the discs and then the single row cultivators to prepare beds into which will go from one to three rows of vegetables. The horses will provide the power for both disc and cultivator. We have to get our mulch on the garlic and the broad beans and we’ll need a lot more for all the things we’ll be putting in the ground. We will need to get a lot of work done in a short time. We are also building a new and larger tool shed. Better organized and better built than the old quickly put up shed. The next structure is a shed near the road for egg and veggie sales and then we need some sort of shelter for the CSA veggie pick up at the same spot where we have had the pick up area in the past.

Three horses soaking up the morning sun and waiting for breakfast.

Three horses soaking up the morning sun and waiting for breakfast.

The garlic is really growing quite well.

The garlic is really growing quite well.

This patch of walking onion has been transplanted here from another spot in the garden.

This patch of walking onion has been transplanted here from another spot in the garden.

The chickens are laying better than ever now. The lay rate is now around 80%.  That means that for every 10 chickens 8 will have laid an egg in a 24 hour period.  Some of our birds are rather poor layers. An excellent egg laying breed of chicken might lay as much as 330 eggs in a year, a very good breed will average between 280 and 300.  Our Barnevelder and Marans chickens will likely lay less than 200 eggs in a year. But theirs are the darkest eggs.  We have 5 Marans hens and 10 Barnevelders and we will be hatching out their eggs so as to increase the flock sizes.

In the new run with the barred rocks, reds and the single white silkie hen looking back towards their house.

In the new run with the barred rocks, reds and the single white silkie hen looking back towards their house.

Another look at the hens. There are two barred rock roosters in that flock somewhere.

Another look at the hens. There are two barred rock roosters in that flock somewhere.

We have made new pastured runs for the chickens and are in the process of sorting out the flocks in preparation for the new grass coming and for when we have new chicks. We also moved the duck hut and have a new run for them off their wintering spot on the garden.  there are more runs to be fenced and we will have to move the chickens from one run to the next often enough to prevent them from doing too much damage by scratching but leave them on long enough to allow the previous to recover.

The flock of barred Rocks and reds in their new run .

The flock of barred Rocks and reds in their new run .

All the new lambs have come now but we are still awaiting a calf.  The cow made an udder very early on but that is alright, the calf will come when it’s ready.  Still more than a month before the horses, cows and sheep can get out on the grass.

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April 11, 2016 Farm News


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The usual garden view

A couple of things to note first:     1.We have not yet sprung the annual $99 needed to buy the 13 Gb of data space in order to post photos and video.  Along with everything else we were trying to determine just what to do. Do we continue with WordPress or look for another site host?  We will likely continue with WordPress and purchase the offered media space even though we likely won’t need that much. So hopefully before next week there will be photos once more.   2. I have just discovered the workings of the comments page and uncovered a lot of messages that I did not know where there and therefore did not respond to them.  I’ll have to check the “Comments” more often.  For a quick response contact me by e-mail at devonacres@hotmail.com, and one more important note:    3. Until we get our photo option up and running once more, go to Facebook,com/devonacres and we’ll have photos there

Update: 11:47 Monday, just purchased more space, added photos.

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Leucan Nell and Marie

The weather has continued mostly too cold to do any work but at times warms just a bit above freezing, just enough and long enough, to get things, especially the laneway, very muddy and for a time impassable.  Now as I write this early Monday morning, the snow is heavy an the ground but disappearing quickly.  It has warmed to about +5C, and earlier it was raining steady.  Definitely not the sort of weather to allow for any gardening and not even allowing us to do much in the way of preparation.  This mornings forecast though is the most optimistic seen since the end of March. The temperatures overnight will go a bit below freezing for the next three or four nights but the highs during the day are going to be above freezing and gradually increasing.  We suspect that we are going to have to get a lot of garden work done in a very short period of time. The month of May is forecast to be warmer than usual so we’ll need to get most veggies seeded and planted as early in the month as we can. Over the past decade May has often been dry for the last two weeks and then in June there has been a bit of a rainy period. We’ll keep that in mind as we plan. The horses have not been worked much the last while so we’ll have to start using them to get them into working condition physically. The last time we had them working Marta was very nervous and would not stand well at all.  We’ll have to get her calmed down and confident about things.  We really don’t know why she was acting like that but it is very had to get work done when a horse is acting up.  It can be quite dangerous too.

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Leucan wondering what is with the guy with the camera.

So look to our Facebook page for photos and if you need to contact us, do so by e-mail and I’ll respond within a day or two.  If you have not heard from me after two days, e-mail again.  I sometimes get bogged down with things, e-mail and a lot more, and lose track.  But as you can see we now have photos.

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April 4, 2016 Farm News


No photos with the post yet.  We’ll add them in a day or two. Look to Facebook for photos today.

The weather this past week has not been very good for doing any garden work.  So close, nearly was dry enough, but then it snowed and froze up.  It is only the beginning of April.  the polar vortex has fallen apart and though that has brought this recent cold and snow, it is the definitive sign of spring.  Another week of cold but warming (night time temps a bit below freezing some times) and then we’ll have warm and warming more.  Temperatures above freezing by a good amount each night and daytimes sometimes up in the twenties.  That is my humble prediction.

We do have a good amount of seeds planted in trays and located in strategic places in the house and the yurt,  Something like 25 trays with onion, kale, cabbage, broccoli and some herbs.  They are germinated in the yurt, transferred to the house to get the seed leaves going and if we can we’ll hold them until a few true leaves appear then it is out into the greenhouse.  The plan is to have them in the greenhouse next week as the weather warms a little bit more.  This should work fine for everything that we have planted now as all those things are cold hardy as seedlings.  More veggies such as cauliflower and lettuces will go next and then following that will be the more sensitive things such as tomatoes and peppers. These will need heat.  All the things being seeded into trays are of course the vegetables that will be transplanted.  As soon as we can work the garden we will be seeding directly into the garden again, things such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, peas, radish and various herbs.  Seeding will continue well into June before we are finished and then we’ll start replanting to a second crop in some parts.

All of the animals are doing fine.  We have 11 lambs now with only a few more yet to come.  There is still a cow due to calf.  She made a big udder two weeks ago so she is due to drop one any time now.  Then we’ll have to make a lot of cheese and yogurt to keep up with all the milk.

We still have room for anyone wanting to join our CSA (Community Shared Agriculture ) venture for the 2016 season.  Small weekly share of vegetables for $350, large share for $600 and working shares for $175 and $300. Read the other parts of this website for more details, contact us by e-mail at:   devonacres@hotmail.com  if you’d like to join or if you have any questions.  The ‘phone has often been noisy lately and sometimes impossible to carry on a conversation so avoid using the telephone.  Look at our Facebook page:  facebook.com/devonacres  for photos as we cannot post photos to the blog just now.

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March 28, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view on Monday morning March 28, Looking a bit wet but a slight but distinct green hew is becoming visible as plants start growing

The usual garden view on Monday morning March 28, Looking a bit wet but a slight but distinct green hew is becoming visible as plants start growing

This has been a really variable week in the weather department.  Snow, sleet, freezing rain, yer ordinary everyday rain, fog, lots of mud, freezing cold, warmer cold and then yesterday, Easter Sunday, a fine warm, sunny spring day, with a no sweater afternoon.  It has been somewhat difficult to get a lot of things done for most of the week.  But of course we were trying.  Aerron and Maggie have seeded a good number of trays the past two weeks.  A lot of onions.  It has been too wet to do any garden work and anyway the soil is too cold.  The broad beans planted earlier have still not sprouted but they should be ok.  The sprouted garlic will be just fine as well and all those things and more will grow well when the soil warms.

The usual garden view when we had all the freezing rain put a layer of ice on everything. Some trees are bent over, branches bent towards the ground but little damage around here.

The usual garden view when we had all the freezing rain put a layer of ice on everything. Some trees are bent over, branches bent towards the ground but little damage around here.

Spring is here for sure because we got our first duck egg on Sunday.  The chickens are laying eggs very much better than they have been.  The egg lay rate has been steadily increasing for the past couple of weeks.  They are not yet up to 100 % and probably won’t actually get there as that would be all the chickens laying an egg one day.  Possible.  But not likely.  But they will approach 100 %.  The trick is to get as close to that as we can.

The other animals are doing well.  Several more lambs were born.   A cow is due to calf pretty much any time now.  That should be exciting.  As long as all goes well.

Leucan on this wet Monday morning tail between his legs as he is standing with his back to the wind.

Leucan on this wet Monday morning tail between his legs as he is standing with his back to the wind.

Can’t post too many pictures with to-days blog as we are running out of space and we have not yet sprung the $99 needed to get more.  Look to our Facebook page were we will be able to post a lot of photos from today and the past week.  https://www.facebook.com/DevonAcres?

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March 21, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view on Monday morning March 21, our first spring day of 2016 and it does look much more spring-like than the same spot a week ago even though it is colder.

The usual garden view on Monday morning March 21, our first spring day of 2016 and it does look much more spring-like than the same spot a week ago even though it is colder.

In spite of the recent cold, below freezing nights, the weather is very spring like and it is getting to be late March and here we are at the vernal equinox.  We were unable to put any more seeds into the ground but that is o.k. as it is cold anyway and nothing will germinate,  soil was mostly too wet last week as well and we were unable to work the ground properly.

A Barnevelder hen doing what hens do for much of their day.

A Barnevelder hen doing what hens do for much of their day.

The chickens are laying much better.  Those breeds that were not giving us a single egg all winter have been very slowly starting to lay and the rate of lay has been slowly increasing.  The Plymouth barred Rock variety that we have is not a winter layer at all, the Black copper Marans would lay about an egg every two weeks and the Barnevelder breed might lay about as much as the Marans.  These two breeds, Marans and Barnevelder, are not the best layers at the best of times.  Their strength, the reason that we keep them, is the egg colour, very dark brown in the case of the Barnevelders and a dark chocolate brown, the darkest of the brown egg layers, in the case of the Marans,  They are very pretty birds as well and the Marans are a good size, possibly big enough to make a decent roasting hen at a young age.  The ducks have not yet begun to lay but we expect them to start just about any time now.  They have not laid a single egg among the twenty of them, since November some time.

A kale plant, the dwarf green curled variety with new leaves coming in the centre

A kale plant, the dwarf green curled variety with new leaves coming in the centre

The Kale in our garden, the stuff left over from last year and not eaten by the winter rabbits, has begun to sprout new leaves.  It appears that nearly all the green curled leaf variety will grow again, the Lancinato appears to have all died out and not sure yet if the purple kale has survived.  There were some tiny lettuces from last season coming back too and most of the parsley.  These two will likely give us a very tiny harvest and bolt to seed when the weather gets hot in May. We’ll have new plants coming long before then. The garlic has done well over the winter with pretty much all of it surviving and growing good. The total amount that we planted may be somewhat short of what we’ll need but for the most part they’ll be good big and tasty garlic.  We have some 15 different varieties planted and growing.

A typical small share of veggies on a particularly bountiful week in September of 2014

A typical small share of veggies on a particularly bountiful week in September of 2014

Remember that you can still contact us if you are wanting to become a CSA share member or if you are renewing for 2016.  Send us an e-mail as our telephone is not working well with a lot of static on the line.  Also look at our Facebook page for more photos.

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March 14, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view on a misty Monday. Today. The three mulched beds, each with a stick marking their ends, are planted in Garlic and the two freshly worked beds to the right of the garlic are the broad beans.

The usual garden view on a misty Monday. Today. The three mulched beds, each with a stick marking their ends, are planted in Garlic and the two freshly worked beds to the right of the garlic are the broad beans.

The great weather continues and are we ever happy,  So are all the animals … horses, cattle, sheep, donkey, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and one rose ringed parakeet.  And those are the domesticated farm animals (except the parakeet).  On the wild side we have seen numerous flocks of Tundra Swans passing on their long migration to the Arctic; Turkey Vultures, Killdeer, and Robin, are obvious others that we have seen and heard as well as the usual hordes of Sparrows and Starlings.

the four horses on this misty Monday morning. Still sleepy and waiting for the morning feed.

the four horses on this misty Monday morning. Still sleepy and waiting for the morning feed.

There have been some lambs born over the past two weeks and they are all doing fine.  More to come. There should also be a new calf in the next month or so.

Two new lambs and there two mothers.

Two new lambs and there two mothers.

We have purchased our first lot of seeds from William Dam Seeds in Dundas, the types that can go in earliest.  We planted 4 rows of Broad Beans (Fava Beans) from our own supply of saved seeds and as we get the garden worked up several other vegetables will be seeded directly into the garden.  We have to have the soil dried a little, just enough so that it does not stick to the tools and implements.  It is  just barely there but when we have any rain we can’t do too much.

The second bed of two rows of Broad Beans getting seeded.  Gabriel and William are doing a very good job.  They worked very hard did a lot of the seeding.

The second bed of two rows of Broad Beans getting seeded. Gabriel and William are doing a very good job. They worked very hard did a lot of the seeding.

 

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