MAY 25 2020, FARM NEWS

The usual view of the garden on a fine sunny Sunday

watering newly seeded carrots and spinach

We are just a little late in getting this blog, this report on the week that has passed, written up and posted. The weather has been excellent for getting things done, we have had a lot of help, sometimes as many as seven or eight of us working away. The boys will help for short times but it is difficult to have them out for more than a three hours, We have a those with working CSA shares coming regularly and it is then is that we get so much more done.

The perennial onions on the left and newly seeded beds of onions on the right.

The cultivator setup at the rear of the tractor. They leave three furrows spaced at 12 inches in the right spot for use as rows to seed into.

This week we have finished the moving of strawberries from one spot to another in the garden. The onions are nearly all seeded and today, Tuesday, should see the last of them seeded and all the onion sets are now in the ground. These are all much later than we’d like as weather, availability of seed and circumstance all conspired to delay. But the filling up of the garden is now going quite well. We got our main seed order from William Dams Seeds just yesterday but are still awaiting the tree order from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery. The Whiffletree order will have to be looked after right away when it does arrive. These are all bare root trees and other plants and as it is now very late in the season and warm the 100 fruit trees, 200 strawberry plants and 100 raspberries will need to be put in the ground as immediately as we can manage.

A tom turkey with chickens. We always run the turkeys with the chickens no problem

The turkeys always look enormous beside the hens

In the ground now are onion sets, onion seed, broad (fava) beans, chard, spinach, carrot, lettuce, potato, and more. Sweet corn, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cucumber, squash, zucchini, tomato and pepper will be going In this week.

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MAY 18, 2020 FARM NEWS

The usual weekly view with once again a vehicle in the way. The SUV was carrying the bags of seed potatoes and was in a convenient spot.

At each of the stakes is an apple tree. This is the lot of trees that Aerron has grafted, mostly Melba. If you squint you might make out the bands of tilled ground running across the photo. Trees of many sorts will eventually be planted here.

Much accomplished this past week. A large number of small trees, mostly Manitoba maple, but a few silver maple and black walnut, were transplanted in a wide row just east  of our house. No edibles in there  yet except for the few walnuts but we’ll put in a lot of blackberry, raspberry, current and other small edibles in coming years. We have nearly finished spreading leaf mulch in the garlic beds, we have set out nearly all the Dutch sets onions, we transplanted 3 rows about 200 foot long of tiny lettuces, we planted 11 rows of potatoes, each 300 foot long, and transplanted more strawberry. Much more to be done of course but two days out of the garden now as it is too wet from a welcome rain.

The potatoes all in the ground but only the single rows covered

The potato beds fully covered. There are 11 beds, each 300 foot long. Four beds have two rows, three beds have a single row.

Looking at the disc hillers mounted underneath the tractor towards the front. This was their position to cover the single rows of newly planted seed potatoes. To cover the double rows the hillers were located more to the left in the photo and still covered a single row at a time but a pas in one direction covered one row in the bed and a pass in the opposite direction covered the second row in the bed.

We rented a small tractor with an attached 55 inch wide rotor tiller for the day on Tuesday. We used it to till the entire garden and also to till rows in the adjacent pasture and around the garden where we want to plant trees. We had gotten behind on the garden preparation and though we burned a bit of fuel we got more done in a singe day than we could have gotten done in three weeks working it by hand or three or more days working it with the horses. Most of the garden had two passes with the tiller and some areas with a lot to turn in and mix got three passes.

The rented tractor and tiller at work. Did a great job.

A typical untilled portion of the garden.

The tiller incorporated a lot of straw that was thick on the top into the soil. Most areas were gone over twice.

A blurred photo but it shows the 55 inch wide tiller attached at the end of the tractor.

The cows are  out on pasture now, as are the sheep and horses and are being moved from one pasture to another after two or three days grazing the same one. All except the sheep who more or less are free to roam where they like. We do of course have to keep the sheep out of the garden.

Freshly tilled ground either side of a row of radicchio.

Three rows of very tiny lettuce plants just transplanted into the freshly tilled seed bed.

Weather is much improved now though still a little cooler than we would like it to be for this time of year. Especially overnight. After Wednesday the forecast looks to be much better and we may get the thermometer reading in the high 20s. Soon we can complain that it is too hot. So long as we continue to get some rain each week we’ll be very happy with the warm weather.

Nearly all the garlic has been mulched with leaves. The garlic is growing really well.


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MAY 11, 2020 FARM NEWS

The usual Monday view of the garden. The truck is being loaded with leaves to be spread on the onion area and between the garlic rows.

Same photo but pulled back a bit.

I have to post this once more without all the photos that I wanted. I still have to use a phone for the photos and it is of poor quality and the only way that I can get them on to my computer in order to load them to this blog is to e-mail. I contacted a shop in Brantford to get my Canon camera repaired but they say they are still under the lockdown. No idea why they just can’ t ask to have the camera to be out in a box their door knocked on, and the camera left on the doorstep. Reversing the process for pickup. I’ll add photos to the post as I’m able to get them.

Here we are eleven days into May and the forecast is for snow again.  We had a few flurries two days ago and ait again early this morning and a bit even stayed on the ground for a very short while. Temperatures have been as low as -5°C overnight and are forecast to go there again and down to -6°C Tuesday night. Not so good for blossoms and we have peach and apricot trees in bloom. Unsure yet if they have been damaged as they still look good. This is apparently the result of a stationary counterclockwise rotating vortex of air around Baffin Island which is bringing cold air down to us from the arctic. It would be rather nice if it would just move off. The vortex appears to moving slowly north and west. A good warm spell would be welcome and it is forecast to warm considerably by next weekend. We need warmer weather to get many of our vegetables growing.

Aerron and the gang have been working at spreading manure on that area of the garden where the corn will be grown and are working towards the squash, cucumber and pumpkin area. They have also gone all over the garden to tidy things up in preparation for having the whole garden tilled. We are renting a tractor and a tiller for Tuesday and hopefully will be able to get the whole of the garden tilled up so as it will be ready for planting with only a minor raking out. We have what is apparently a fuel flow problem with our little Farmall 100 tractor and that is my job to sort out. I cannot do it when it is cold and windy nor when it is wet and raining. The job has to be done outside and is likely to take a few hours. I’m looking for a blockage at the screen over the sediment bowl beneath the fuel tank first and after that moving down the fuel lie to the carburetor and taking that apart if needed. They are pretty simple affairs but this one has paint all over it gumming up the exterior. It looks good until you get close.

The sheep have been out each day this week for a short while and really do appreciate the new grass. They have been out just a short while each day and after having first had some hay so as not to get any digestive problems from gorging on fresh grass which can cause bloat. that can quickly be fatal to them.

The chickens and the ducks are still quite happy outside and the egg production is still getting slightly better each week. The cold weather has not diminished their egg count. The lengthening days have more to do with it than any of the other factors; temperature, winds, insects and grasses for food.

A photo from the 14th of May a year ago. This is one of our blue egg laying hens.

Next week we should have a better report on gardens progress. And the weather I hope.

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The usual view on Sunday. Grass is a little greener each week and tree buds swell more and more.



Tuesday May 5. Three photos have been added.

The weather has noticeably improved. We are definitely moving into spring and not back into winter. No heat waves yet, the temperature has barely made it to 20°C this spring and that was but just once, in March, not April, but March 29th, when it reached a high of 20.6. The average of the high daily temperatures over the month of April was 10.2°C and for April 2019 was 10.9°C. I’m guessing that May will be a little cool but that should be good for us. Last May was a little cool too I think. So far we have adequate moisture.

Newly planted apple trees, one at each of the slender bamboo stakes. these are the newly grafted wood on dwarfing roots.

We got a dozen pieces of apple rootstock from Silver Creek Nursey and this past week Aerron took some scion wood from some apple trees and grafted them on to the rootstock. The last of these was planted on Sunday. Some of the scion wood, short straight twigs taken from a tree and about the same diameter as the rootstock, were from our neighbours Melba apple and some from a nice apple tree, variety unknown, growing here on the farm.

Setting out to do some garden bed making.

We finally got the cultivators mounted on the Farmall 100 tractor, it has taken us nearly three weeks, and tried it out. We have, probably, an unconventional arrangement of cultivators but for our purposes it worked rather well on the first try without having to make any adjustments. Some areas that we need to use the cultivators on have too much grass and mowing with the lawn mower is needed we think to get the ground nicely worked.

I’m using a cell phone for photos and have not yet learned to make good photos with it yet. It does not take good photos into the sun but the centre mounted cultivators can still be clearly seen.

I’m not sure just what they found so interesting here but they were pretty busy and ignored the photographer.

The chickens and ducks are rather liking this weather and it shows in the numbers of eggs that the hens are now laying. The hens are all  quite happy with the warmer weather, the warmer and brighter sun, the increase in day length, a few insects to be found, and some green things growing in their other wise bare run that they are stuck in until the grass grows enough.

Nearly the same photo with the white hen on the left now coming over to see what the others are up to.

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The usual garden view at noon time today

No photos of a spring snowfall from this week. The weather has not been the greatest, a little cooler than usual, but we should not complain too much about the rains as, for us if not for others elsewhere, wet is better than dry. We dry out quite quickly here so even if we might have a heavy rain early in the morning we can likely get to work in the gardens in the afternoon. Not so if we were on clay. A bright, clear, sunny morning, about 10°C  as I write this, and little wind. This is perfect working weather for this time of year and I think that our chickens will completely agree.

In the foreground are the daffodils, their first year, with newly planted dwarf apple trees in a row with chives behind and the walking onions behind that.

It has been too cool to not run the woodstove so it is rekindled and relit early each  morning and runs all day. It is a cookstove too and so much nicer to use than the electric. We have an ample supply of wood and have a pretty good lot ready for next season as well. We will likely have the stove going regularly well into May.

A really nice little carpet of flowers between onion rows.

The hens are liking today but they have been down just a very little on the numbers of eggs laid each day. Warmth, especially with sun and no wind will see an improvement in the numbers. We still have them on their overwintering areas. A little too soon yet to have them out on good pasture again. They’ll wreck it far too quickly when it is growing so slowly still.

The hens out in the sunshine on a particularly bare spot in their run.

We are progressing well on getting the cultivators set up on the tractor. We got the sets of spring tooth units from our neighbour and they work well the way we have mounted them. We still have another two to mount behind the rear wheels and we want to put a pair of disc hillers on the outsides to delineate the outside edge of the plant beds. It will take a bit of time to get it set up just the way we want and then it will be a matter of making careful note so that when we do eventually dismount the lot we will be able to mount it all back the same. It would be ideal to have a tractor devoted solely to cultivating so that the cultivators could be left on untouched.

The tractor in the garden with the cultivators on.

The main order of seeds from William Dam Seeds has been sent, it might be several weeks before we get it, and we still have not yet heard from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery regarding our tree and shrub order but that should come available soon. The trees from Silver Creek Nursery have all been planted with the exception of rootstock. We will be getting scion wood for these any time now and get them in the ground and grafted.

The rows of garden looking over the tractor. Yhe rows here have compost dumped on that will be worked in with the tractor cultivators and things like lettuce, carrots, beets and many other vegetables will be planted here.

So much still to be done but still early for planting directly into the garden. We do have a lot of saved seeds that we can seed directly and also seed into trays for later transplanting.


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April 20, 2020 FARM NEWS

The usual view of the garden on this Monday afternoon. Sunny, plus 6 degrees and calm

The usual view of the garden earlier in the week on the morning after alight snowfall.

Spring is still very slowly unfolding with nice, sunny but not really very warm days and then some cloudy and rainy not very warm ones. And then there has been the occasional little snowfall which is pretty thin and stays not long at all and then there are the cold nights down to -2°C, even -4°C. But then there are the spring flowers and the swelling buds on the trees, the growing grasses and scores of various herbaceous plants; dandelion, wild lettuce, stinging nettle, clovers being just some of the common edibles along with garden plants such as mints, onion, chives, garlic and lettuce.

We can get these greens from the garden now along with carrots from last season still keeping in the basement. The greens on the plate are onion, then going clockwise, lettuce, chives, dandelion leaves and stinging nettle. All gently stir fried or with an egg omelette. Carrots separate.

The forsythia in flower with a light dusting of overnight snow.

This onion was in last weeks post and is now a bit bigger even though it got snowed on.

Straw bale, water barrels and garden tools with a thin uneven blanket of snow.

The chickens are really liking the weather when it is calm, sunny, warm and dry but not so much when it gets cool, windy and wet. They’ll mostly stay inside then. The hens are laying a little better this week in spite of the variable and not so really warm weather.

Chickens and Turkeys really liking this days warmth.

Digging a big hole in the ground and having a dust bath is a great thing … if you are a chicken

This rather nice buff rooster is living what fro a rooster is the ideal life… a few hens and a nice hole in the ground to sit in.

The cows and sheep are still ok with being inside but will soon be getting quite anxious to be out in the warm sunshine with fresh green grass up to their knees.

The dwarf apple tree line along the garden edge is now complete

Aerron picked up a small number of fruit trees from Silver creek nursery along with  paw paw a single Kentucky coffee and a few others. The trees were mostly dwarf apples to finish the line along the edge of the garden. We did also get some root stock which Aerron will use to graft on some cuttings including from our neighbours Melba apple tree; if she is willing to let us take some. We are still waiting for the larger order from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery.

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The usual garden view , a photo taken on Saturday. the grass is growing, green coming along everywhere now.

The Forsythia flowers are starting to open up.

Spring is having a little set back. But in spite of a little bit of snow and some much cooler weather at times, even below freezing a couple of overnights, everything is continuing to grow and spring flowers continue to appear. The sun shone nicely yesterday again and it was warm with a only slight wind. Now. Monday afternoon, as I right this the rain has ended, sun comes and goes, temperature is plus 9.1 and it is quite windy. Interesting that the environment Canada weather station just a quarter mile down the road is measuring temperature at 9.1 and our thermometer reads 8.8. Often they disagree, sometimes we are a little under, sometimes a little over the Environment Canada reading. Unsure just why, maybe a quarter mile makes a big difference sometimes.

The garlic survived the winter with no losses and has been growing well. needs to have leaf and straw mulch spread on it now after a pass with the wheel hoe to clean up the roads from weeds

Things are growing well in the garden, buds are swelling quite noticeably on the trees. Much work needs to get done.

A nice Welsh onion growing in the wrong spot. It is in the tomato row and there are garlic and other onion there too.

The horses have been moved to a new bit of ground where they quickly cleaned off the grass and have thoroughly manured a portion of the area; they have been pretty good at dumping manure at around the same spot. But they also have the bad habit of making it at about roughly the same spot where they get their hay. Horses are as lazy as the rest of us.

Leucan and his mother Nell. In the upper right hand corner I the sky some distance off, are crows chasing either a hawk or an eagle. I did not notice when I took the photo

We got the cultivator arms set up on the tractor and tested out the two Spider wheels  and they did a fine job. These are an 18 inch diameter wheel consisting of curved spikes radiating out from the centre that dig into the ground. they work fine but the width of ground is narrow. We need at least one more set of spiders, one more set of clamps, the two sets of spring teeth from out neighbour, and a set of wide, 18 t0 24 inches would be nice, sweeps to follow the rear tractor tires.

The spider wheel is near the top, tool shanks the right with a clamp near the bottom of the spider and a sweep on a tool shank on the right.

Aerron continues to bring from the barn pickup truck loads of manure  for the corn and vine areas. All that needs to soon be spread out evenly and worked in. He’ll soon be bringing up the well rotted, the composted manure, to be put on other areas of the garden.

A very nice looking Buff Orpington rooster feathers blowing in the wind.

It would save a lot of time and effort if we had a loader tractor for this job. We have a 1947 Cockshutt 30 that we want to put a loader on. We know of a loader in Brockville that is for a 30 we have no way of getting it here. It is in working order and at a good price too.

Chickens wondering if I might just have something they’d like.

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