April 20, 2015 Farm News


Our Shrub willow, flowers just about finished and leaves rapidly unfurling.

Our Shrub willow, flowers just about finished and leaves rapidly unfurling.

The garden view on a soggy Monday morning looking very different from last week.

The garden view on a soggy Monday morning looking very different from last week.

The garden is finally being worked and we have some seeds in the ground.  We have prepared an area of about 150 by 300 feet which needs just final bed preparation to be ready for planting.  One bed of two full rows has been seeded with Broad Beans (Fava Beans).  Todays rain, and the rain and cooler temperatures predicted for the rest of the week will slow down the garden work if not bring it to a complete stop until it warms and the garden dries out.  It will only take less than 24 hours for the garden to dry enough for us to work.  The benefits of having sandy subsoil.

Onions growing nicely for greens.

Onions growing nicely for greens.

There are a lot of things growing already that we should be able to use; onion, garlic, mint, camomile and more.  Some of this will have to be replanted into different spots while it is still small and that which we will leave in place needs to be cleaned up and tilled.

Garlic up and growing.

Garlic up and growing.

We have seeded a lot of trays of onions and leeks and many of these trays are growing quite well already in our greenhouse.

The disc Harrows.

The disc Harrows.

We used the new team on the disc harrows to prepare the garden.  It was set at a shallow angle so that the pull would not be too hard.  The horses worked well for the most part and we only worked them for a short time and gave then a rest every round, so that it was not to difficult for them.  When we get back into the garden we will have to use the horse drawn cultivator to make up seed beds.

The horse drawn single row cultivator

The horse drawn single row cultivator

We have 6 X 75 pound bags of seed potatoes which will go into the ground fairly quickly once we can disc the potato area and make the furrows in the rows to drop the potatoes into. We will be planting Yukon Gold as an early as well as a main season potato, and for reds we will plant Norlands, red skins with yellow flesh. For a white potato we will have Kennebecs and maybe Superior, and we will be planting Russets as well.

Our Shrub willow, flowers just about finished and leaves rapidly unfurling.

Our Shrub willow, flowers just about finished and leaves rapidly unfurling.

As we plant we are also spreading compost so there is another thing to slow us down but of course a sprinkling of compost will make a big difference to how the veggies grow.  Gotta go, lots to do.

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April 14, 2015 Farm News


022Spring is now full sprung it seems.  We have stopped collecting Maple sap and Aerron has pulled most of the taps.  We still have 300 t0 400 litres to boil down which will amount to 7 to 10 litres of syrup. Our syrup this season came mostly from the Manitoba Maple.  The Sugar Maples were not producing nearly as much and the taps were mostly on Manitoba Maple trees.  We did not get far with the Walnut syrup trial.  What little we got there got mixed with the Maple syrup during boil down.  It is now getting too warm outside to have a wood stove running full tilt in the kitchen.  Windows and doors need to be opened.

The best bird picture I could get, needed more time.

The best bird picture I could get, needed more time.

We have seen butterflies, house flies, several other kinds of flies, moths, lady bugs and honey bees flying about , not many but they have been seen now for over a week. Our one hive of honey bees appears to have survived the winter, neglected as they were.  They have been quite active the past few real nice days and some had been seen flying about almost two weeks ago. Lots of different birds have now returned and in another week the last of the migrants, the Barn Swallow, will be here.

The Duck herd and a chicken or to at the old watering hole first thing in the morning

The Duck herd and a chicken or to at the old watering hole first thing in the morning

Not been able to get into the garden yet but all set to get a start today.  A lot of onions are up and growing in trays already and many more veggies will be seeded into trays to be grown out in our greenhouse for transplanting into the garden in May and June.

Tippy Shorthorn looking imminent. She has a firm udder but it is not bursting.

Tippy Shorthorn looking imminent. She has a firm udder but it is not bursting.

All the animals are doing well. The one cow that has looked as if she has been going to have a calf for the past month is still looking quite imminent, have not looked yet, hope she has it soon, weather is perfect for calving now. Frost is finally out of the ground so we can now get posts dug in and fencing put up and repaired.  Chickens are really looking forward to a new area to scratch up.  The new flock of Barred Rocks is still not laying, quite disappointing there and the ISA Browns, the main flock of older birds has dropped off their lay rate quite a bit. Most of the new spring lambs have been born.

Nell in the morning

Nell in the morning

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April 13, 2015 Farm News


Nell, Leucan and Marta soaking up the warmth of the morning sun on a cold spring morning.

Nell, Leucan and Marta soaking up the warmth of the morning sun on a cold spring morning.

Today’s scheduled post will appear tomorrow, Tuesday, mid morning, instead of today.

Thanks all     …   Robin.

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April 6, 2015 Farm News


The usual garden view at 7 in the Monday morning. Hand wheeled cultivator sitting in the row.

The usual garden view at 7 in the Monday morning.
Hand wheeled cultivator sitting in the row.

Nell and Lucan

Nell and Lucan

 

A bit of a set back in the spring weather this past week.  The snow storm yesterday did not last long, was not too significant here and the snow on the ground had all but gone by late afternoon.  Temperatures have been a little too cool for us to do much in the way of garden preparation and still a bit of frost in the ground preventing us from digging post holes and such.  We did run the hand wheeled cultivator up and down in preparation for a seed bed and that will continue.  Nothing much being planted just yet.

Three cows doing the bovine rumination thing.

Three cows doing the bovine rumination thing.

We have a cow, a Dairy Shorthorn, which is due to calf almost any minute now, though she has been looking imminent for more than a week, and could go on another week, hopefully not more.  All of the animals could do with a significant warm up so as to bring on the growth of the pasture grasses.  Everyone is getting pretty tired of old hay and the quality has been far from the best.  We got in the rest of the hay we bought from our neighbours, the rest of the round bales that had been parked outside as well as a few of the large squares which are of real good quality having had no rain and having been stored inside.

030The laneway continues to dry out so it is more passable from that aspect but it needs to be smoothed out as there are still ruts from the muddy season.  It is interesting now as we dry out and as the weather warms that there is a danger of not enough rain.  Everything will be alright even with no rain until all growing plants, grasses, trees and all else in between, has reached near full size.  Then they will rapidly pull the last of the moisture from the soil and, without rain, a real drought will set in.  We have had no significant precipitation for the past month so a good soaking would come in handy soon.  It would be best if it came after the frost is all out so that the ground can soak up the moisture and best too just as things are greening up.

Two of four Killdeer that were flying all about.

Two of four Killdeer that were flying all about.

The Tundra Swans were spotted several times this past week but it has been a few days since we have seen any so perhaps they now have all passed through.  They were late this year and usually we don’t see any from late March on.  Lots of Killdeer, Robin, Turkey Vulture among other birds.  I also spotted a single Cedar Waxwing.  Another three weeks before the Barn Swallows show up.

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March 30, 2015 Farm News


The usual garden view looks to be little changed form last week.  the bank of snow in the far background seems not to have shrunk by much.

The usual garden view looks to be little changed form last week. the bank of snow in the far background seems not to have shrunk by much.

In spite of the cold weather the past while, spring does continue to advance.  We are getting about 2 or 3 extra minutes of daylight each day and the sun gets warmer.  It is just a very slow advance. We have seen several flocks of Tundra Swans in flight and Killdeer, flocks of Turkey Vulture, Robins and probably other of the feathered spring migrants.  We have planted a few seeds into trays but are going toned to invest in something to provide bottom heat if we want uniform germination in the normal length of time.  Various ideas out there that won’t cost too very much.  We’ll have to look around.

The hairy herd of bovine ruminating on the days events.

The hairy herd of bovine ruminating on the days events.

This is Tippy a purebred Dairy Shorthorn cow due to pop a calf anytime now. she is a very nice cow,looks good, nice horns, good temperament, easy to handle.

This is Tippy a purebred Dairy Shorthorn cow due to pop a calf anytime now. she is a very nice cow,looks good, nice horns, good temperament, easy to handle.

Most of the snow except for that which was in deep drifts or is on north facing slopes, has gone and the ground is drying well in many places.  If the weather warms a bit more, if we have some sun, and if we don’t get too much rain, then I think that we will be working a little ground within two weeks and then we can seed the broad beans and a few other cold hardy things directly into the garden outside.

Marta and Leucan just idling away the hours waiting for spring.

Marta and Leucan just idling away the hours waiting for spring.

Our good neighbour, Laverne, brought us more hay from the field near us with his tractor and wagon and I drove our truck to his barn to get a large square bale of the high quality hay as we had just finished the last bales of both types that day. We probably will not get the horses, sheep, and cows out on to pasture until mid May.  So we will burn through a lot more hay.  We have to bring them all on to smaller outside areas ’til then so as to allow the grasses to come uneaten until well grown.

The main flock of ISA Browns and the ducks.

The main flock of ISA Browns and the ducks.

A closer look at the buff ducks.  Supposed to be runners but I don't think so. A couple of Campbells in there too.

A closer look at the buff ducks. Supposed to be runners but I don’t think so. A couple of Campbells in there too.

I head out to William Dam Seeds on Wednesday to pick up an order of seeds.  This will be most of the seeds we require though there will be potatoes to get in about two weeks and maybe the odd package of something we have forgotten or changed our mind on.

The new flock of ready to lay Barred Rocks.  These birds are around 20 weeks old.  they are being kept inside for about a week or so to get familiar with the place. Only two or three eggs a day so far and they are of course very small.

The new flock of ready to lay Barred Rocks. These birds are around 20 weeks old. they are being kept inside for about a week or so to get familiar with the place. Only two or three eggs a day so far and they are of course very small.

The two Barred Rock roosters.  Everyone looks so young.  They are just maturing now.

The two Barred Rock roosters. Everyone looks so young. They are just maturing now.

Chickens and ducks are still laying quite well and anxious too to get on to better ground.  The flock of special birds have more space to roam right now as there are fewer of them to do significant damage to the pasture.

A Marans rooster doing a little dance with Silkies and Marans hens.

A Marans rooster doing a little dance with Silkies and Marans hens.

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Maple syrup production still continues though we only get about 20 t0 30 litres of sap a day when the weather is like this. Takes up a lot of space on the old woodstove still. This tap and bucket are on one of our few Sugar maple trees as most of our taps are on Manitoba Maples.

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March 23, 2015 Farm News


The week over week view is showing only small changes from last week but is a change for the better.

The week over week view is showing only small changes from last week but is a change for the better.

The vernal equinox has passed a couple of days ago and here we are well below freezing at night and even a touch below during the daylight.  An unanticipated set back for sure.  Just delays getting rid of the last remnants of snow and keeps the frost in the ground longer.

Last week Aerron heard Tundra Swans but could not see them, it was dark, and on Saturday we sighted two separate flocks each flying in exactly the opposite directions, one of about 10 birds and the other perhaps 30.  I wonder if they are later this year.  Have seen and again heard a single Killdeer flying about and an American Robin too was heard.  No sight nor sound from them since early last fall.

Nell, Leucan and Marta soaking up the warmth of the morning sun on a cold spring morning.

Nell, Leucan and Marta soaking up the warmth of the morning sun on a cold spring morning.

Still hope to get something, maybe Broad Beans into the ground the first week of April.  We made a voyage to William Dam Seeds near Dundas on Saturday and got a good quantity of the seeds we need and will have some flats, some trays, sown in Onions and Leeks sometime today.  they will have to be germinated in the house and even there it will be difficult to get a good bottom heat for the soil all the time.  Always a major problem with no simple easy solution.

The cow on the right is Tippy, due to calve about any time now.

The cow on the right is Tippy, due to calve about any time now.

All us animals are well.  Two lambs, twins born on the weekend are doing well.  Several losses of lambs this year.  Poor nutrition likely due to poor hay and insufficient grain supplement was a contributing factor though we suspect that much more than that is going on.  The Shorthorn cow Tippy is due to calve anytime now so that will be nice.  Good if she waited another week for the weather to warm a bit.  She has been looking imminent for a few weeks now though has not made much of an udder yet though even that is not a sure sign of anything.

I t is a cold morning but the front of the coop is out of the wind and sunny.

I t is a cold morning but the front of the coop is out of the wind and sunny.

Maple syrup making is still a big thing.  Always large 4 pots on our stove and big pots and a large pan on Maggie and Aerron’s too.  Total made so far is but 2 and 3/4 litres.  No sap flow for the last two days as it has been too cold.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Farm News


The usual heading photo is quite a bit different from the photo of the same spot just last week.

The usual heading photo is quite a bit different from the photo of the same spot just last week.

No sledding on the lane way this week.  In last week's post we put in a photo of Gabriel and Devon just about to start another sled run.

No sledding on the lane way this week. In last week’s post we put in a photo of Gabriel and Devon just about to start another sled run.

I’ll post a few days earlier this week.   The weather has greatly improved from February and the work of running the farm has gotten much easier.  We have now laid a hose over the ground to water the cows and horses and don’t have to worry so much about it getting frozen.  It usually warms enough during the day to thaw the pipe if it goes below freezing at night.  Today, Tuesday, is nice and sunny, but only a little warm and their is a good gusty wind blowing strongly out of the north.  The pipe may actually be frozen in the odd spot that has had no sun.

The tree tapping gang inspecting for a spot to place taps, or maybe they are just having fun.

The tree tapping gang inspecting for a spot to place taps, or maybe they are just having fun.

Two of the Manitoba Maple trees with two taps per tree. Aerron just behind one of those trees is tapping a third.

Two of the Manitoba Maple trees with two taps per tree. Aerron just behind one of those trees is tapping a third.

The temperatures have been right for getting the Maple sap to flow and Aerron has tapped quite a few trees.  We tap quite a few Manitoba Maple as well as the Sugar Maple since we have far more of the former and the end product is the same no matter which tree the sap comes from.  We got our first buckets of sap on Sunday, others of the tree tapper crowd may have gotten some much earlier but we were a little late in setting taps this season.   We think that until now the sap flow has not been very high anyway.  Aerron will also be tapping a few Black Walnut trees so we can try Walnut syrup to see how it might compare to the highly popular Maple syrup.  Today, Tuesday, was the start of the boiling down process which will be carried out, for as long as the sap flows, on our two wood stoves.  We do our ‘sugarin’ in the kitchen with no problems other than it is difficult to find room to boil the kettle to make coffee, never mind to find enough room to set out 2 or 3 pots for making supper.

Four pots with Maple sap, the coffee press near empty, the kettle in a cool spot, Marie's coffee cup full but mine is empty. The wood stove is humming along quite hot.

Four pots with Maple sap, the coffee press near empty, the kettle in a cool spot, Marie’s coffee cup full but mine is empty. The wood stove is humming along quite hot.

I heard, Monday afternoon,a Killdeer calling.  Didn’t see the bird, just heard it the one time, the first time this spring.  Always surprised how early they return each year.  Have not seen the Tundra Swans yet, they should be by any time now.  I think that in past years they have been by even earlier. We usually hear them before we see them. Really nice to be talking about all these spring things.

All the ducks and a few of the main flock ISA hens out in the sunshine with the ducks snuffling through the water bowls and puddles.

All the ducks and a few of the main flock ISA hens out in the sunshine with the ducks snuffling through the water bowls and puddles.

The hens really like this spot at the foot of the polar tree.

The hens really like this spot at the foot of the polar tree.

The elderly team just enjoying the sunshine out of the wind.

The elderly team just enjoying the sunshine out of the wind.

The snow continues to disappear and in it’s place is a lot of very soft earth which is of course churned quickly to mud with too much traffic.  The frost is still in the ground in most places so we have a long way to go before we can think about preparing any ground in the garden. Lots of ice still around so the footing can be a little precarious in spots.

More of the special chickens with a Red Silkie hen at front, two Barnevelder hens in the middle and a Dark Brown Leghorn hen in behind.  Notice the white ears on the Leghorn and on the Silkie.  these are indicators of white or nearly white eggs.

More of the special chickens with a Red Silkie hen at front, two Barnevelder hens in the middle and a Dark Brown Leghorn hen in behind. Notice the white ears on the Leghorn and on the Silkie. these are indicators of white or nearly white eggs.

Three of the Special chickens.  From the left are a Barnevelder hen, a Red Silkie rooster and a Black copper Marans hen.

Three of the Special chickens. From the left are a Barnevelder hen, a Red Silkie rooster and a Black copper Marans hen.

Black Copper Marans Rooster.  Grey lightly feathered legs. Welsumer hen in behind.

Black Copper Marans Rooster. Grey lightly feathered legs. Welsumer hen in behind.

Barnevelder rooster. Clean yellow legs.

Barnevelder rooster. Clean yellow legs.

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