January 7, 2019 FARM NEWS

The usual Monday morning view of the garden late on Monday afternoon.

We obsess over weather. We are always checking the forecasts and planning around what is likely to happen, how much rain or snow is expected, what the temperatures are predicted to be. Sometimes not very reliable but often very useful for telling us what we should try to get done and what might be better to leave for another day. The weather lately, the past few weeks has been such that we are able to get quite a bit of work done. If it had been colder with lots of snow we would still have done some of this work but it would have been more difficult, mostly much more difficult.

At the beginning of the winter the jumbled wood pile started at the far left of the photo but as of now we have taken the wood from that point to the plastic cover and beyond and have stowed a bunch in the wood shed and converted the rest to heat.

We are doing work at the house, yurt and woodshed; clean up, repair and construction. There is lots to do there and much of it is on the exteriors so pleasant or at least above freezing weather is handy. More pretty unwintery weather is forecast.

Nell awaiting the late afternoon bundle of hay.

From the left, Marta, the hay wagon, Nell and Lucan at the afternoon hay delivered by the hay wagon.

We are also getting seeds organized; we save a lot of our own seeds, and looking at seed catalogues, both paper ones coming through the mail and the online ones as well. We are getting started with spring planting for the garden which is mostly just deciding what we want to plant. Mostly the tried and true but also newer varieties that may promise some previously unavailable benefit and also some new thing that we’ve not planted before.

One of our silver laced Wyandotte hens

We will also be doing our CSA, our Community Shared Agriculture project, again next season, our 26th, and if any one would like to join, get in contact with us. Read about our CSA on the page: “Our CSA Program” on this website.

The first hen is a Whiting True Blue, a layer of blue eggs and the next though is a Welsumer, a layer of terra cotta coloured eggs. a good dark egg.

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This photo from 2011. This trio of chickens did this wandering in the snow several times. Not sure just what they were thinking.

Christmas eve, December 24, three days past the solstice, three days past the shortest day of the year or from another angle, three days past the longest night of the year. And now New Years day, 2019.  A long three months until the spring, the vernal equinox on March 21.  A winter between us and spring. It has not been too bad so far and the thought is, that because of a moderate warming of the eastern Pacific, this winter will be somewhat milder than usual. But of course there is no usual; maybe an average, or an expected. One of the encouraging things that we will notice is that the days will be getting gradually longer. The sun will set a minute or two later and will rise again a minute or two earlier each day. It will likely get colder in spite of the predictions of a milder winter and we are certain to have some real cold temperatures,  perhaps -10 to -20°C. But I like to think that with the lengthening days we are past the worst of it.

Black Copper Marans snow a few years ago.

The quickness with which darkness comes in the two or three weeks before and after the solstice makes our work a little harder. My routine jobs are looking after the poultry letting them out in the morning, shutting them up at night, feeding and watering and gathering eggs and just observing them, and also watering the horses. These are the things that have to be done .. not elective. Lights go on for the poultry at around 6:30 in the morning and off around 9:30, back on again about 3:30 in the afternoon and off again at around 9:30 at night. But otherwise it is going around in the dark, usually no light though we sometimes carry a flashlight to be used when it is absolutely needed but I don’t often have one with me. Most nights there is a bit of reflected light or moonlight, which of course is from the ultimate reflector, but on some moonless, cloudless nights it can be very black and when stepping out from a lit house not a thing can be seen for a minute or so and often it is best to just stand still and wait until the eye adjusts to the very dim lit night. It is just so much easier to go about our work with daylight, but the long summer days with light right up until nearly 10 in the evening do keep us working some pretty long hours.

So no photos of a dark night. I do have some of those, all black with little smears of light in the corner. No photos of a moonlit night either since I have no idea how to do that and my camera is not responding to certain tasks the way it should and the way it once did. No photos of today either as my camera refuses to turn on, new batteries were of no help. So some pictures from the past.

A very Happy New Year to all.

This was from a snowy February about 5 years ago. Aerron with Wimpy and Marie, both now long gone, on the snow dump clearing the driveway. We have not used the snow dump at all the past two winters.

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December 17, 2018 FARM NEWS


The garden view on a very nice Sunday afternoon. Quite muddy, quite brown.

The weather has been petty good for us this past week. A bit too much mud but that is what warm weather brings at this time of the year and warmth is good for doing a lot of things. We’ve been doing a bit of outdoor building so the lack of cold, wind, snow and rain has been

The horses are perfectly happy with the winter sun.

Leucan.I think that he is a fine looking horse.



The birds have eaten the seeds from nearly all the sunflower heads that we’d left in the garden.

But down at the west end of the sunflower row there are several heads that still have most of their seeds.


The sunflower stalks  are mostly still standing and if they survive the winter still standing we will consider planting climbing beans along them so that the dead stalks will be support for the growing beans. Might work if the roots are not too weakened. The sunflowers looked great all summer and very early fall, were a food source for bees and other insects and provided us and a lot of birds with some food. So if they can act as pole bean supports then all the better.

The common milkweed, the monarch butterfly plant. The seed pods are open and the wind will gradually disperse the seeds attached to their little fluffy parachutes.


We had a real good crop of milkweed in the garden, even more than previous years and at that we did pull up a lot of them. But we try to leave a lot growing. Last season there were many Monarch caterpillars hatched out and munching on milkweed leaves. There were probably at least 20 but I’ve no idea at all how many caterpillars morphed into butterflies.

A Buff hen looking particularly nice.

A Silver Laced Wyandotte hen, centre, with a couple of Welsumer hens and a single Buckeye hen.


The chickens all really like this fine winter weather and it is winter even though we have 5 days to go until the solstice. When it goes below freezing the chickens will come out a little but mostly stay close to their hut door and often just stand there huddled keeping warm. A bit of wind will drive them inside and if I notice will just shut their door so as to keep their hut warm.

This little bird, I don’t know what species it is, sat atop this tree tweeting away. Not sure if this one has been at the sunflowers or not. Probably.


Lots of little birds, sparrows finches and the like are around and they along with the jays were the sunflower seed eaters. We have a band of wild turkeys that come around, sometimes very close. They are impressively big.

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The usual garden view on Dec. 5. No snow but otherwise wintery.

We are posting this blog a few days late, so I’ll skip a week as I get re-organized.

Remember what the sunflowers looked like in August? This is what now remains. We thought we’d leave the stalks in place and try to use them in the coming season to give support to climbing beans.

A rather mild week overall culminating in a real spring like day on Sunday, the 2nd, when a temperature of about +14°C was reached. The averages for this time of year are around +3 and -5° and with the bit of sun that we got and the lack of wind it made for quite a pleasant day. The early part of the week was pleasant enough too though cooler and not much sun and too wet.

The woodpile that we are gradually carting away to the woodshed using these wagons. We are re-piling more neatly and covering with a plastic sheet to keep off snow and rain.

Our main occupations this week have been barn cleaning and working on firewood. Aerron is making some progress at the barn and the two of us have gotten pretty far along with the firewood. We do need to get more in the woodshed under cover and drying and the outdoor pile has to be cleaned up and stacked neatly and it would be best if this was also covered with something to keep rain and snow off.

These two hens and several others were safely ensconced in the grass and weeds . Not a cold day but not warm either, no sun but no wind so they must have thought it comfortable.

The chickens and ducks are not laying so very well right now.  A combination of circumstances all causing a reduction in the egg laying rate. They will of course improve in the spring, around the beginning of March, but it would be really nice if they did start to improve sooner than that. Once we pass the winter solstice on the 21st, the increasing day length will trigger a slow recovery and if we can keep the hens comfortable and even a little warm then that will help too.

The tailess tyke testing his wings.

We will soon be looking at spring seed catalogues and planning for the 2019 growing season. That is always a fun and exciting time.

Looking across the garlic beds, bare of snow, still no leaves or straw mulch on them yet.

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The usual weekly garden view on this wet, but rather mild Monday morning.

Winter retreated somewhat this week, leaving a lot of mud in it’s wake as per usual but the retreat meant some warm temperatures. Today, Monday, has been about the wettest with a rain falling steadily, though lightly, the whole day ’til well into the evening.

Looking down the lane way to the woodpile on the left from where we have been extracting firewood and hauling it to our woodshed. This part of the lane is currently too muddy to be used.

Nell, Marta and Lucan standing around waiting for hay and putting up with a lot of rain.

We have been busy this week with many of the same sorts of things that have occupied us this whole month. There is of course the usual daily work of feeding and tending animals, parakeet, chickens, ducks, turkeys, peafowl, sheep, cattle, horses, dog and cats and as well bringing in firewood and carrying ashes out to the garden. Aerron has been cleaning out pens in the barn and since they have been somewhat neglected all summer, there is now a lot to do. Aerron did finish up as much as he could do for now at the end of the lane way and that had held up well during this muddy phase so we’ll have to move on to other parts of the lane that are intent on swallowing vehicles when the fall freeze, thaws and rains come. we have been doing some tidying up around, getting things tucked away for the winter and doing some cleanup that was put off all summer long. And then we continue to cut wood from the wood pile and haul it to the woodshed for further cutting to stove length and for splitting.

The peacock dropped all his long train at the end of July and it is slowly beginning to grow back. He is quite the impressive pretty bird as he is right now.

A peacock portrait. He is a han’some fellow is he not.

The hens along with the rooster, are huddling inside staying warm and dry.

We have already begun planning for the upcoming 2019 growing season and soon new seed catalogues will be here and we’ll have to really get to work then.

This past seasons very late planted kale will be left in place to regrow in the spring and provide us with a few kale leaves from underside plants until they shoot up a flower and go to seed.

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The usual garden view this morning with snow still here though some has melted away.

This was the same view last week. The photo that I did not get posted. We use these little wagons for hauling wood from the wood pile along the driveway, picture at the bottom of this page, to the woodshed.

Second attempt at doing this weeks blog. I was putting up photos but when I attempted to remove a photo that was in the wrong spot, the whole blog disappeared. Now I have had to begin all again. WordPress often does strange things.

Looking down the driveway past the wood piles. This same shot appeared a blog or two ago minus the snow.

We had our first real snowfall of the season on Thursday and when it was all done Friday there was about 8 cm (3 inches) on the ground. Little wind though so that was a good thing. The snow has since melted a bit and the forecast is for warm temperatures, plus 7 or 8°C and sunshine on the weekend so likely it will all be gone after that. Good thing too as there is still much that we need to do.

This is the garlic patch under a nice uniform blanket of fresh snow.

This is the garlic patch just before we planted the last of it. Three row per bed.

We finished up planting the garlic just as the snow started to fall on Thursday afternoon. It was a bit difficult planting as the ground was partially frozen and it was necessary to run the cultivator down the furrow to break up the soil enough that the cloves would stay put. It worked fine and we got it all in and covered as the snow started to accumulate. The garlic will slumber all winter, gradually growing roots when the ground is not frozen and poke green shoots up in mid spring. We do have to spread a mix of compost and leaves on the garlic and cover the entire area with straw mulch to finally finish the job.

These hens are really liking the warm Monday sunshine.

A Tom turkey is quite interesting. He was posturing, trying to be a tough guy as I squatted down to get a photo.

The hen turkey is a little less feisty. Turkeys do certainly have an unusual head.

The hens are off their lay just a bit now. They have been going down all fall. The lay should stabilize at this low level for a while and then gradually increase, especially as the day length increases. When sun and warmth return about the first of March and when the grass greens and insects start to appear, the hens will be back to their full production.

The end bit of the driveway at the road is about one third complete in this photo taken last week.

This is the jumbled pile of seasoned wood from which we are pulling logs and branches cutting them to stove length here if they are large or hauling them to the woodshed if they are a little more manageable.

We still have much to do. The list is about the same as the one that I’ve probably listed before with maybe one or two things stuck off and several more added on. We are still working to finish off the end of the laneway at the road where Aerron has placed stones and a layer of fine gravel to eliminate an area that was prone to becoming knee deep mud in late fall and early spring. That is nearly finished. We are still bringing up wood from along the driveway to the woodshed to have it under cover out of the weather. That is a job that will be ongoing for quite a few weeks yet. No shortage of things to do then.



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