MAY 26, 2022 SPRING PLANTING CONTINUES.


The usual view of the garden. Spreading leaves on the new placed onion sets in the garlic, Aerron in the white top, Robin way back at the spreader in the red shirt, loading leaves.

Cherries slowly developing on our trees. this was one of the few trees to have any cherries and there are not many here. They are young trees only about three years in the ground here.

We are now well into spring planting in our vegetable gardens. The weather has been mostly warm enough over the past month though overnight temperatures have been a bit cool. A lot of vegetables respond well to these temperatures including peas, lettuce and spinach. The fall planted garlic is growing very well and we have planted onion sets in the spaces between the three row garlic beds. Once the onions are all in, we will plant melon seeds between garlic rows so that each bed of garlic will have a row of melons. The garlic was well covered in leaf mulch in the fall. That mulch was raked back to plant the onion sets which were then covered with leaves and the melons will be seeded, one melon seed every foot or so by just making a hole in the mulch to expose the ground beneath. By the time the melon vines are starting to run, the onions will be well established and starting to get bulbs, and the garlic will be harvested. This is a new method that we are trialing. We think it should work, hopefully it will work well.

The garlic with onion sets planted between the beds.

The onion sets between the garlic beds. The mulch is thicker on the garlic.

One of the onion sets growing between the garlic.

We do have rhubarb, green onion, mints and plenty of wild greens all growing quite well and being harvested. The wild greens include lettuce, nettle, dandelion, garlic mustard, lambs quarters and more. The wild greens are not usually considered to be vegetables, just weeds. But though they are nuisance weeds they are also perfectly good nutritious vegetables. It is all in the definition. Weeds are anything growing where you don’t want it to and vegetables are anything that is eaten.

A nice patch of stinging nettle. It grows wild and is a bit of an invasive species though easily eradicated.

Our chickens are still locked inside all the time because we are trying to avoid the Avian flu. We are complying with Canadian Food inspection  (CFIA) recomendations. The chickens are not too happy about that, nor are we. It costs us more in feed to keep them inside. About 25 to 30 percent more. Feed costs are also up about 30 percent over last fall. But for now we are still maintaining our egg prices at $5.00 per dozen for both the chicken and the duck eggs. We now have a cooler (an old chest freezer), parked near the road at the end of our laneway, which is kept stocked with eggs for sale.

The chickens a little startled by the flash and wondering just what the photographer is up to.

Just a nice looking hen. This breed of chicken is known as a Welsumer having originated in the Dutch village of that name.

We finished planting all the onion sets yesterday and got three more rows of potatoes planted as well. There are just 10 more rows to be planted now but mid-July we’ll have another several rows of potatoes to go into the ground. Some of the tomatoes have been transplanted. Much more needs to be done.

A potato plant just a few days out of the ground

A pea plant slowly but steadily growing.

A lettuce slowly growing

 

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MAY 17, 2022 SPRING VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANTING


The usual garden view on the afternoon of May 16. The garlic patch is just visible over the tractor and stretches to the edge of the photo on the right. It had just finished raining.

Until two weeks or so ago, spring this year had been a bit cool and a bit dry. but dry early on is alright, and even preferred, as the ground is more easily worked than if it were too wet. Even the sudden onset of heat is ok early on, and ok even when there has been little rain and it is a bit dry. There is not yet much vegetation drawing the water out of the soil. With grass growing and trees spreading leaves though, the store of soil moisture will be rapidly depleted. But we got a good bit of rain on the 16th, and the temperatures had dropped to below 20°C. And more rain has fallen since.

The garlic beds have three rows per bed The garlic are getting to a good size now, having been planted last October. In between each bed of garlic are two rows of onion sets and once the ground is dependably warm, melons will be seeded in between the garlic rows themselves.

Planting has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this spring, but we are going along at a good rate now. We have 31 rows of potatoes to be planted and 8 are now done. Some of the peas and lettuce are in, 6 rows  of onion sets are in, reds and yellow sweet Spanish. So much more to be done. Lots of potatoes planted.

The 6 duck flock. They are out in the garden where they are really not supposed to be. Not so bad yet but can’t have them there when the corn is seeded

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APRIL 11, 2022 SPRING


 

The sheep flock. They are only out for a while. They’ll still eating hay until the grass has grown up some.

The weather has been a little cool the last while, but still much more spring-like than most of March. There are several new lambs and 5 new calves. They get out daily but only for a brief time then it is back into the barn again. The pastures grasses have to grow quite a good bit before they are ready for grazing and that will not happen before mid-May. But there are many plants starting to grow and any day now we will be putting seeds into the ground. There is now a very large amount of work that needs to be done.

Lambs like to speed about. Mother is at a bit of a run to catch up witht he others.

I cannot remember the name of this tiny plant but it is a pretty little thing that is likely an invasive weed. It does grow, rather thickly in places, all through the gardens.

We have a lot of manure to remove from the barn and chicken houses and this will mostly be spread on the vegetable garden or piled nearby to age somewhat. We’ll use the tractor and manure spreader to spread on the garden and a trailer when we are dumping the entire load in one spot. I have to get the other tractor running again so as to make the work faster. There is a lot of manure to move and we have to get it moved before we do a lot of seeding in the garden. Some areas of the garden were manured last fall.

This is one of the new calves, about 3 weeks or a month old. Not sure who this one is, they do look exactly the same except for the size.

There are a lot of leaves that we need to spread on the garden using the tractor and manure spreader. We spread the leaves first and then put down manure and if we have them, wood chips, or maybe straw depending on what we are doing with that particular plot of garden. The leaves need something to hold them in place, otherwise the wind will blow most away.

One of the milk cows. This breed is known as Milking (or dairy) shorthorn, as opposed to the beef shorthorn. The Durham is pretty much the same cow. They have a variety of horn shapes but they are all generally relatively short.

We have sold several lambs for meat and have taken a bull in to the butchers for beef. We do have more sheep and lamb to go to the butchers but no beef to go until the fall. Also in the fall, probably early October, we will have more soup birds in the freezer. We will be getting some day old chicks tomorrow, future egg layers but not until end of September.

A selection of the kinds of eggs that we have. The top row are all duck eggs. We seldom get the very dark grey eggs like the one to the far right. The second row shows size variation but we take out the small ones like the two on the right in the second row from the top and we eat those.

Several structures need building over the spring, summer and fall. The CSA pickup shed has been a priority for years. We need an implement shed, a shelter for sheep and cows, a tractor shed, a shed for garden tools and wheelbarrows and all those little movable chicken houses. No want of things to do. I post on Facebook now after a long time not doing so. Look it up either as Devon Acres or as Robin Kirby. I’ll do my best to post there regularly, send a friend request, and will also make an effort to regularly post a blog on our devonacres.wordpress.com website

 

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FEBRUARY 13, 2022 WINTER STILL


This photo from the usual spot was from earlier this afternoon. Lots of nice warm sunshine and a light wind out of the north-west. It was pleasant enough outside.

This shot was taken by moving about 3 steps forward from the last photo location and turning 90° to the left.

This is a perfectly good working manure spreader and we really should have the thing under cover and not outside in all manner of bad weather. Just past the spreader is the garlic patch, well covered in thick mulch and a good bit of snow

The past week or so had been relatively mild, for February. But today, as I write this, the temperature has risen to only – 11°C and was down to -18.9 overnight. Actually 7 a.m. in the morning was the time of the coldest temperatures as happens often. Yesterday the high was only-7.4 though the four days prior had all been above freezing, +1.5,  +3.1, +0.9 and +4.4 and sometimes there was sunshine. Sunny today too, and no wind, so it is nice enough. Since it is February, it still gets quite cold overnight.  But the spring equinox, and much warmer weather are now just over 5 weeks away, March 20 at 11:33 in the morning Eastern Standard time.  Things will improve but we will still obsess over the weather.

Chicken pictures this time. Here is a real nice looking Buff Orpington hen, two nice looking silver laced Wyandottes in the background.

We have so much work to be done between now and the equinox and after and once the good weather is here the work load doubles.

Here’s buff again with her fiend, an Ameracauna hen, a layer of blue-green eggs. Buff lays a good size off white egg.

This hen is up on the leaf bag pile. just because she can. She has her feathers a little fluffed up for more warmth.

Just a bunch of curious hens.

The chickens are doing quite well in spite of the cold. We often keep them shut up inside during the very cold weather. Today I’ve left two hut doors open as the chickens do seem to like to come out and stand in the sun and it is pleasant enough so long as there is no wind. Lambs are starting to arrive now. We have had several born but have lost more than one. When it is so cold they get chilled very fast and it is often difficult to get them to recover. February and March are not really very good months for lambing. We also had a calf born a week ago and it is doing just fine. A little bull calf, so likely will be raised for beef.

Just another bunch of hens

These guys are puffy even when they don’t fluff up their feathers.

I’d been taking so many photos that this hen could not stifle a bored yawn

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FEBRUARY 2, 2022 ONE MORE MONTH


The usual view of the garden on February 1, 2022

All of the photos were from yesterday the first of February.

January was particularly cold here it seems. The average maximum was -3.8°C and the average min was -14.4°C. The maximum high recorded was +4.4°C and the minimum low was a brisk -24.3 °C. For us here in southern Ontario, this was cold. At these temperatures it can sometimes be a bit of work to keep water from freezing in water troughs and pipes., and when it does freeze it is a lot of effort to get it thawed and flowing again. So we were happy to see the end of January and have hope that the coming month will be milder. But February can be savagely cold as well. Sometimes our coldest weather comes in February. Yesterday, the first day of February, was warm at +5. The forecast is for a bit of rain today, and it is raining lightly now, changing over soon to snow, and for some significant snow  accumulation over the next day or so. But spring though, is but two days short of 7 weeks away, the equinox at 11:33 a.m. Eastern Time on the 20th of March, and that is the best news.

Looking down the laneway from the vegetable pickup area. The drive is easy enough on the hard packed snow though with the light rain all day it is getting a bit soft.

The two flocks of younger ducks that were hatched from eggs from the farm. The Kingston 6 on the right (a single hen is just out of the picture) and the G/B 5 on the right. They stay quite close to their duck houses which are about 10 feet away to the right.

Nothing much new happening here other than the weather. Animals, horses, cattle, sheep and poultry are doing fine. We still have a couple of loads of hay, 40 large round bales, to be delivered, yesterday would have been a good day for that.

Leucan, on the left, and his mother Nell, at the hay. One of these net-wrapped 4×5 foot bales will last the three horses from 6 to 7 days. The third horse, full sister to Nell, is at the top of the hill dozing in the sun.

Leucan is a fine looking young stallion who needs to have a bit of work done to him. He needs to be settled down and put into harness. He is a Belgian X Suffolk-Punch.

Leucan does not really liked to be messed with (I was just taking his photo) and the ears go back and he would, if the fence was not there, swing his hind end around and threaten to let loose with his hind feet.

We re-submitted our seed order for William Dam Seeds. We’d first placed the order by e-mail but when they pointed out that they would then have to enter the list manually, thus slowing and delaying our delivery date , I went back and did the order again on-line. I had been unable to figure out how to do it until after I’d sent in the e-mail order. Much easier doing it on line. We have a good long list and there were less than a half dozen either sold out or unavailable. We’ll pick up the sold outs later in March or April.

The two combined flocks of older ducks just lounging around the swimming hole and soaking up the sun.

 

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JANUARY 17, 2022 SNOW


The usual garden view this afternoon. Snow stopped falling, sunshine and clear sky on the horizon.

We had the biggest snowfall of the season overnight and this morning. About 30 cm or so, nearly a foot deep. Not a lot really but for us it is a lot. No real problems, just a bit difficult walking around, especially when carrying buckets of water of feed to the poultry. The ducks don’t get a duck pond in the winter. It freezes up solid way too quickly.

Gabriel and his newly constructed quinzhee. Bit of a tiny access hole.

 

The horses are always outside, the duck house is opened up every day regardless of the weather, and they do come out, and sometimes go back in, the chickens are let out only on the nicer days. The cows and sheep are inside most of the winter, only going out for water.

The flock of old ducks. They are something like 8 years old now. They will start to lay eggs again about mid-March.

Not so much happening these wintry days. Planning for the summer season is still on going, cutting and splitting firewood is ongoing, winter is ongoing.

This is the winteriest things have been so far.

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JANUARY 1, 2022


The usual view for comparison purposes. everything looks really wet, and it was, though it had only rained very lightly during the night. Photo taken on 1-1-22

Another picture to compare to one last week. this one taken today shows yesterdays leaf and chip application.

Well, HAPPY NEW YEAR ! Here it is, January 1 and the ground was bare and muddy. Yesterday we pulled carrots, finishing the job today, and, as well, harvesting a bushel of really nice spinach leaves. We also used the Ford 2n tractor pulling the old Massey-Harris Number 10 manure spreader yesterday, to spread leaves and wood chips on a portion of the garden (Number 4), that will be planted in corn in late spring. Photos of spreader in the previous blog. Quite unusual that we could do this work so far along into the winter. Not quite so unusual to be harvesting vegetables at this time of year; kale, cabbage, turnip, rutabaga, and even some small beets, in addition to the carrots and spinach. But as I write, at about 22:30 in the evening, it has been snowing for a while and the weather radar shows a good bit more snow is likely coming our way. Already we have some 2 to 3 cm on the ground. To update, as I finish up this blog at 9 am, on the 2nd, the radar shows the last of the snow will pass over us in and hour or so. We now have something like 3 to 5 cm on the ground.

A cart full of carrots to go inside to have tops snapped off. We’ll put the carrots in cold storage and the horses will get the tops.

A 100 ft double row of kale, some of which has a significant lean to the left, must have been very strong wind gust a while back, and the ground from where the carrots were pulled is to the right. Some tiny beets still in the ground to the far right.

We only have a few cabbages left. They are in fine shape like this one but are small.

A very small head of brocolli looking perfect.

Most of the red kale leaves have been harvested. They do look so nice though. I have been drying a lot of kale in the woodstove warming oven.

We have been as busy as we could be trying to prepare for the spring. We have marked out grooves in the ground where rows of vegetables will be seeded or planted in the spring and covered them thickly with leaves followed by wood chips and manure and finally with straw. This will retain moisture, minimize weeds, reduce soil temperatures, and as everything decomposes, add nutrients to the soil. It should reduce the effort to grow things and provide better yields.

A photo which has appeared several times already in previous blogs but shows the garlic fully treated to leaves, wood chips, manure and straw.

There is still a lot work work that we’d like to get done and we’ll continue to peck away at all that. The more that we can get done before spring, the more likely that it will get done. these are the sorts of jobs that are not directly vegetable garden related. We have seed catalogues to go through and vegetable seeds, plants and trees to be ordered as well.

Some of the ducks snuffling for ducky things in the remains of the chard rows.

The farm animals; horses, cattle, sheep and poultry, require daily and twice daily tending. That goes for the whole year round and now in the winter we are still getting firewood for the two wood burning stoves used for heat and for cooking.

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DECEMBER 14, 2021 STILL WORKING THE GARDEN


It was a really nice day today. Mid-December and the temperature was plus 6 C with warm sunshine and light to no wind. Perfect weather for December. We took advantage of this to spread more leaves. Yesterday we had finished marking out the rows for next seasons (2022) corn planting. We used the 1942 Ford 9n tractor pulling the Cockshutt No 1 Transplanter (built in Brantford, likely sometime before 1950) to get a deep groove in the ground in which we’ll drop corn seed sometime late next spring. Today we covered (mulched) those rows in the corn garden with leaves. Aerron has collected about 1800 bags from the nearby urban neighbourhoods. We use our manure spreader pulled by the tractor and unloaded the spreader, piled high with leaves, three times on each bed. We did two beds. We then loaded the spreader high with wood chips and spread one load of the chips on each bed. The wood chips will help hold the leaves when it gets windy. Previously spread leaves and wood chips had stayed in place during last weeks winds which gusted to over 90 kph at one point. We have already mulched the garlic garden and the squash garden in preparation for next years crop. The garlic went in this fall of course and the squashes will be seeded next spring. The full treatment for each bed (beds are 4 foot apart and 100 feet long) in each garden is three spreader loads of leaves, one spreader full of wood chips for three beds, one spreader full of composted manure for two or three,and finally one spreader full of straw doing three beds. The garlic has gotten the full treatment, the squash needs manure and straw and the corn is a work in progress. We have also done a little of the onion/leek area which is in the same garden as the garlic, the alliums garden, spreading both leaves and wood chips there.

Doing all this mulching with leaves, wood chips, manure and finally straw is a lot of work. It would take an enormous amount of work and time if we’d done it by hand but the spreader does it fairly quickly and quite evenly. More evenly than if we were spreading it by hand. Our tractors though, are a bit noisy and burn stinking carbon producing and pollutant producing fossil gasoline. Getting back to using the horses is what we’d like to do but still use tractors for some jobs that are short duration. It takes a significant amount of time to bring the horses in, harness them, unharness them and turn them out to pasture again. A real pain for a half hour job. And it is safer when using the horses to have two people always. We’d like to convert the tractors to electric and recharge from solar panels. This is a likely doable proposition.

 

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OCTOBER 22, 23, 24, 2021 A COOLING FALL AND MORE GARLIC PLANTING


The 11 garlic beds planted with garlic and ready to be mulched.

Another view of the garlic plantings.

Today, October 22,  we finally finished the garlic planting. Many thanks to all who have helped us get the garlic planted over the past week; Aliki, Mihaela, Marc, Diane, Laurel, Anca, Ron, Ashley and Catherine, planting the garlic and preparing the ground. It was a lot of work, all by hand except for the short time using the tractor to pull the discs. I estimate that the direct carbon footprint was, very approximately, about 20 pounds of CO2 produced. It would be nice to have this tractor, and all of our fossil fuel powered vehicles, converted to electrical power. But fossil fuel use in our tractors is much less than that used in our personal vehicles, our car and SUV as well as all our other greenhouse gas emitting activities.   We need to start using the horses again. For some work that takes enough time to warrant the time spent getting the horses harnessed and unharnessed. A job requiring the horses to work for 10 minutes will still need nearly a full hour to get them ready and then return them to the field. Much of our work with the tractor has been that sort of work. So garlic planting and climate change are linked!

The horses must figure this to be ideal. Cool enough to keep the flies away, no wind and a nice warm morning sun.

Russian garlic is one of the 11 garlic varieties we have planted. It is a smaller garlic with easily broken heads and easily peeled cloves.

The garlic planting this fall is the largest we have done. The planted area is about 4400 square feet, containing 11 beds of garlic with three rows per bed, each row 100 feet long. The garlic cloves are planted at 4 inch spacing in the rows giving 3oo cloves per row, 900 cloves per bed for a total of 9900 (approximately) cloves in the entire garlic planting. It almost seems that we should put in at least one more row to boost our total to over 10, 000 cloves.

The cleaned up manure spreader serving another purpose as a squash wagon prior to becoming a mulch spreader.

The next step is spread leaves over the entire planting, we’ll use the manure spreader behind the tractor for that, more CO2 emissions, then some composted manure and then some woodchips, all with the manure spreader again, and of course more CO2 as well. Too much CO2 and it costs around a buck and a half a litre

The vegetable pickup shed taking on a dual purpose as squash storage.

The shelves really cannot hold any more weight

Today, the 23rd, is ‘pickup squash and pumpkin’ day. We brought in a load yesterday on the spreader (it is a clean spreader right now) and will likely have two more loads today. We need to get it all in as the forecast low for tonight is zero and that will not be good for squash in the field. It took a while but with the 4 of us working, we filled the spreader again with squash and pumpkin and another load was carried and wheelbarrowed in.

The cole crops, kale in the foreground, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and collards. All growing quite well and like the horses finding autumn weather much suited to them.

The late planted sunflower row is dense and full of bloom and right beside it is the slightly lower sunhemp with it brilliant yellow pea-like flowers

The very last of the sunflower plants. All the rest have flowered and formed seed heads of which the birds have eaten nearly every one. This one grew by itself near the garlic beds which were harvested in July.

The frost overnight and into Sunday morning, the 24th, was light and even some light frost sensitive plants survived. But autumn marches steadily further towards winter and each week sees a slight decrease in temperature along with the shortening length of daylight available. Still much work to be done. The wood burning stove in the house was cleaned and  lit for the first time this season and having heat in the house, and a large stove to cook on, is really nice. The woodshed has a new cover. No rain leaking in so our firewood will stay dry. House still needs repairs to be finished before winter, before very long. 

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GARLIC PLANTING


The Ford 2n tractor with the disc harrows working the garlic ground.

Turned around in the driver’s seat looking at the discs. We must remove the Slow Moving Vehicle sign attached to the tractor fender while working with the tractor. It significantly blocks one’s view rearwards. The angle on the disc is much shallower on this second pass.

Two beds of garlic to the left are planted and covered while the third bed has the garlic cloves planted 4 inches apart down each of the three rows and waits covering. The ground to the right has had a second pass with the discs set at a shallow angle to make it level. More or less.

We are mid way through the planting of the 2022 garlic harvest. The 2021 garlic harvest happened this past late July. The freshly pulled garlic plants were brought under cover to dry down for  a month and then the stems were cut so as to give the garlic bulbs a stem of about 4 to 6 inches in length. The bulbs were then stored under cover to dry more while awaiting a planting date. Once we had decided on a date for planting we began to break the individual cloves from the heads. Each garlic head contains from 4 to 10 or more cloves. Most of the varieties we grow have only 4 to 6 large cloves. Those garlic varieties with more cloves almost always have smaller cloves. While breaking the garlic heads we also prepared the ground. First by pulling up all the weeds, the beets and carrots that were there, then by making two to three passes with tractor drawn disc harrows. We then marked out the garlic beds with the tractor. This is just a matter of driving the tractor straight across the newly tilled ground with the tires going in the right spot to give us the proper spacing. The rows are marked out with the wheel hoe with a moldboard plow attachment, man powered. This is Aerron’s specialty; getting a groove in the soil with the proper depth and unerring straightness. Two passes are needed, maybe even a third. Then each grooved row, there are three rows in each bed, are marked out to give spacing for the garlic cloves. We use a large diameter, something like 4 foot, steel hay rake wheel to mark out the clove spacing. This wheel has large bumps on the outside of the rim. These bumps are 8 inches apart on the wheel circumference so that when the wheel is rolled, by hand, down the plowed groove, a dimple is made in the soil every 8 inches. We plant a clove at 4 inch spacing so one garlic clove is placed at each dimple in the soil and one in between dimples. The cloves are placed as upright as possible with the root end down. They will still grow if placed upside down or on their side but do slightly better if upright. The following photos are, except for the first photo, of the garlic planted last fall and pulled from the ground this past July. We began breaking the loves from the heads last Monday and began planting on Tuesday. We have been interrupted by other pressing work and by the rain. But we have gotten a total of 6 beds planted so far. I’ll update when we finish the planting.

The disc harrows parked where the 2021 garlic was planted and harvested from. The sweet corn will be planted here next spring along with, probably, a few pumpkins.

It is all just in piles over the ground but all the vegetation has been pulled. This is the ground where we are planting the garlic this fall, 2021. Potatoes were harvested from here earlier.

The 2021 garlic which had been planted in the fall of 2020. The middle of April and the garlic has just started to put on growth. A long way to go. The leaf mulch in the rows is quite evident.

This photo is in mid-June. The leaf mulch still has not been entirely spread. Scapes are just starting to show.

Standing in the middle of the garlic patch in mid-July. The scapes have all been removed. Two weeks or so until harvest.

The garlic here is a couple of weeks from being ready to be pulled from the ground. We look for a little more than half of the leaves turned brown.

The entire garlic planting has been pulled from the ground and is lying for a couple of days in piles of 10 to dry before bringing inside.

The garlic piled in the CSA pickup shed drying down with the full stem still on, just as pulled from the ground. This was in the last week of July and the garlic would stay here until mid-September when we began trimming the stems.

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OCTOBER 10, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden on Sunday afternoon, October 10. Everything now looking a little tired, tree leaves starting colour and fall, many vegetables finished.

It has been quite a while since we posted last. No real good reason, other than we have been exceptionally busy. The summer began alright but soon got too dry. No rain and plenty of day time heat though the nights were rather cool. It soon changed however and little damage resulted from our mini drought and the rains have been quite steady since. It got quite hot throughout August though the nights continued to be rather cool. Overall we had good growing weather. The following photos were taken on Thursday, October 7, and are of the vegetable shed with the vegetables on display for the CSA pickup that evening.

The approach to the vegetable shed this past Thursday.

The display of vegetables seen from the door.

The list of vegetables that were available for the CSA pickups on Tuesday and Thursday.

More of the vegetables available at the right side when entering the shed.

The next set of photos were shot on Sunday afternoon, the 10th of October.

These oats were sown when the garlic had been pulled in late July. They have seed heads on them that are near ready for harvest.

A great many flowers are still blooming and not only looking great but also providing food for the bees.

The oats were sown a few weeks ago into the area were this season’s potatoes were planted

Kales and broccoli

And just to the left of the previous photo are the cabbages.

And further to the left more rows of cabbagy things and two beds of spinach.

Sweet potatoes. Planted a little late but maybe. Sweet potatoes need a long growing season and plenty of warm weather. These probably have not gotten enough of either.

Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) with sunflowers in the background. Both these are being grown for the biomass and the sunn hemp is, since it is a legume, a nitrogen fixer. All that is good for the soil.

There are still many squashes in the field. Some are still ripening. we’ll have to get them all inside before too long.

This is a large squash and though it does not look like it it is a butternut and will soon colour up.

This is an even bigger one. They can apparently get as large as 45 pounds and this one is more than 2 feet long.

One of our chicken flocks, 20 Azure Blue hens along with another 6 or so other chicken friends including two roosters.

These same ducks were in the background in the previous photo and are here snuffling through the long grass in search whatever ducks search for in the long grass.

Leucan is looking his usual magnificent self.

Leucan and his mother Nell. The horses have been trimming the grass on the north pathway in the gardens.

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JULY 19, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden taken a couple of days ago. this photo was better than today’s.

Dandelion flower with a bee.

Tansy flower and friends.

Cornflower and friends. this is growing in the garden but is commonly seen along roadsides.

Wild lettuce flowers.

The weather continues to be good to us, plenty of rain, enough sun, lots of heat. Things are growing well. It is really unfortunate that early on in May it was so cool, even cold and therefore difficult to get things growing and then we had the short but significant drought. All of that has caused the delay that we are still trying to catch up to. But we are only just getting to mid-season so plenty of time still, to get many things planted and growing.

The sweet corn patch with the columnar apple trees and rhubarb plants.

The ducks and chickens are all doing well. The older duck flock has been wandering far at times. They are two age different flocks that are housed together and go out together but tend to stay in their separate groups. The one lot, and I’m not sure now if it is the older or younger comes out near the gardens but does not go into the gardens. They are allowed to do that as no harm is done. They could eat a few vegetables such as carrot tops or lettuce but mostly just ignore vegetation and instead snuffle along in the soil and grass looking for insects we suppose.

Top sets on the walking onion. Not bent down yet.

The carrots are a lot less weedy now. thanks to Diane.

I think maybe i took a photo from this same spot a week or two back. Everything has grown so much more since then.From the tall weeds on the left, then hot peppers still alright but weedy, then green beans, okra, yellow beans, sweet pepper, green beans and sweet pepper with eggplants at the far right of the photo..

Sunflower growing randomly throughout the garden.

We will harvest the garlic very soon. Some varieties are more mature than others. Maturity is denoted by the number of green leaves remaining. We’ll pull some of the varieties this week I’m sure but the main variety, Music, should probably remain in the ground and growing, for a while yet.

Ground level with the main crop of garlic. the brown tips on the leaves are due mainly to the earlier drought, but gradually increasing.

Sweet peppers are looking very good but we’ll hold off for a while on harvesting any and let them get more size and at a better stage of maturity. The tomatoes are looking good with plenty of green fruits but only two or three plants having only a few red fruits. The beans are now all flowering quite well so maybe another two weeks and we’ll be picking those. Not much else is near ready.

Green bean flowers.

The all-blue potatoes have a white flower.

These Yukon gold potatoes, a yellow skin and fleshed variety, have these flowers.

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JULY 12, 2021 FARM NEWS


The Monday morning view of the garden. Still quite cloudy when the photo was taken but it got nice and sunny later on.

The garlic. We will pull the garlic very soon. still a lot of green on it so more growing to be done and bigger heads will result.

We are now getting almost too much rain. Quite a change from about a month ago when it looked like this season was shaping up to be a repeat of last year’s drought. We still have no rain gauge and my rough and ready estimating tool, the driveway puddle, is inoperative as it has been paved over with some small stones. But plenty of rain has fallen and the growth of the weeds and vegetables in the garden and the grasses in the pastures, are indications of just how much rain there has been. The continued warm temperatures have greatly helped growth too.

The first planted sweet corn is growing nicely but is still a long way off of being ready.

The purple potato plants. These are a late maturing variety and we’ll likely leave these in the ground until mid fall to get the most from them.

From the right are several 100 foot rows. First green beans, then okra, yellow beans, sweet peppers, purple, beans, eggplant and more sweet pepper.

There are several pepper fruits developing.

The eggplants are quite large but will get larger before fruits appear.

The purple beans have flower buds. the purples will be the first to be ready.

The vegetables have been growing well though we were initially delayed by cold during May and by the dry in late May and June. Now growth is rampant. And we are still not through planting. Succession planting for some things will continue on until the fall.

This is a milk thistle flower that is white in colour instead of the more usual red. We will try to keep this variety going by saving seed and replanting it this fall.

A very quick, short blog this week. So much to be done, we are way behind.

Two runner ducks coming up the lane way on their way to who knows where or what.

The blue azure hens, layers of bright blue eggs, still in their overnight lockup.

 

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JULY 5, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday view of the garden

Coreopsis flower self seeded into the garden from last years seeding. Various colours.

More self seeded flowers

More rain last week, lots of rain. Must get a new rain gauge so we know just what we are getting. The present rain gauge is a puddle. Lots of rain is a real full puddle. When the mud at the bottom of the puddle dries and turns to dust, we are then having a drought. In that regard it is a very accurate measure. Maybe won’t need a rain gauge after all.

The garlic scapes were all removed this past week. A little later than we’d wanted. The garlic will be ready to be pulled in another two or three weeks.

Green, yellow and purple beans, eggplants, sweet pepper, hot pepper, and okra. And weeds.

Onions at various growth stages. The ones to the right have a long way to go.

We have been very busy over the past week tending the gardens. The workload has been lightened with the rain as watering is not needed but countering that is the very rapid growth of weeds. But the vegetables are rapidly growing as well so we are doing good by all the rain and warm (sometimes very hot) weather.

There are some fruits on the tomatoes. most are still small and quite green.

There are a grand total of two near ripe red tomatoes

Seeding has been on going and we have used the manure spreader pulled by the Ford tractor to spread leaves on the sweet corn. It works really well, laying them down quite evenly, and though somewhat thin, a second or even a third pass gives a really thick layer. As a weed suppressor, thicker is always better but even at the thinnest, there will be far fewer weeds and we’ll have the benefit of water retention at the soil surface as well as adding slow release nutrients to the soil as the leaves decompose.

The chickens will not eat potato beetle or their larvae but do like curds and whey from our cheese making. Mostly it is whey.

These hens are the blue egg layers.

We also have gotten ahead of the potato beetle in the potatoes. there is a lot of damage but it is likely to have a minimal effect on the eventual harvest. We have had a lot of help doing this. The control of the beetle and it’s larvae is all done by hand picking and sweeping the potato plants. We have had a lot of help from those who have Working CSA Shares as part of our CSA program.

These flies are common. That is a 4 inch spike it is looking at.

This spider is common too but we know not the name of either the fly or this spider.

We have been observing the local flora and fauna a little more closely this year. The boys ages 13, near 11 and 7 are taking keen interest and are always posing questions. We are undertaking an informal survey of the many plants and animals that are on the farm. Coincident with this we have seen groundhogs on three separate occasions this past week and these are the first sightings of the Eastern Marmot, Marmota monax, on the farm in decades. This should be interesting, and even valuable, to show more clearly what pests are about.

Another unidentified insect.

This is also quite commonly seen but we have not identified it.

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JUNE 28, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view this evening around 7. The dark clouds brought us about an inch, 25 mm or rain about a half hour after I took this photo. So total of about 50 mm for the whole week.

Devon took this photo on Sunday. It is a little wider than todays.

We had more rain. It had been getting dry again as last weeks rain was only a small amount. This weeks rain, coming mostly on Saturday with just over an inch, 25 mm, was a good soaker and will do much good for all the growing plants. More is forecast and rain, along with the heat, will be very good at growing the vegetables and trees.

We have a large number of various flowers that self seeded this spring from our sowing last spring.

There are large numbers of these pretty little flowers and are in several colours. I should look up the names of all these flowers.

Things in the garden have been doing well as we have managed to irrigate sufficiently. As usual though, with a minimal irrigation plants do not grow near as well as when a good rain comes or a huge amount of water applied to the garden with a proper big irrigation sprinkler. We just do not have the water source for that sort of indulgence.

Rows, each 100 foot long of beans, pepper, eggplant and okra. Nicely weed free.

The potato row, All Blues, Yukon Gold and Norland in this photo

Most of the tomatoes are growing quite well and many do have a few flowers. and even some fruits.

The sweet corn has mostly all germinated and it does look like we have had a good catch. there are some small gaps but overall it looks good. Corn responds well to lots of moisture, lots of heat and little competition from weeds. The next step with the growing of corn is to put a net all around the patch and attach an electric fencer as a raccoon deterrent. We have not tried this before but are confident that if properly done will solve the raccoon damage problem that occurs each year.

The rows of sweet corn do not look like very much yet. They will soon shoot up though.

A duck and chickens. No particular reason to put this photo here. just needed photo this week of the poultry.

We have had pretty good luck with the tree plantings this year. we have managed to get water to all the newly planted trees at the proper times so that losses have been a minimum. Last year we lost a lot to the drought and to having had to plant late. This year again was a late planting but survival rates have been better. We also have planted some hardy Kiwi plants and should get a harvest in about 4 years. There are just 10 plants and a couple are no fruit producing males for pollination but the quantity of fruit produced from a single plant is said to be eventually in the order of 100 pounds per season. The hardy kiwi survives our winters just fine and gives a light green fruit about the size of a grape but the fruit is sweeter and the skin is tender and edible unlike the usual store bought imported varieties.

The row of columnar apples alongside the corn planting. Most of these were planted last spring and the last few were planted just last month. Columnar apples grow about 3 foot wide and 10 to 12 foot high. Rhubarb planted in between each tree.

Th mulberries grow prolifically all on their own. The larger ones are bearing an abundance of fruit this year.

A kiwi planted now about three weeks. It should begin to rapidly grow soon.

Grandson Devon has taken a fancy to photography as has his brother William and some of this weeks photos are by Devon. He and William are quite keen insect observers often finding an unknown insect and bringing it to me for a photo and an I.D. I’m not always so good at the identification. A survey of insects on the farm would be a very useful tool for us growers. A very few insects are problems for us but the vast majority are either directly beneficial to us as pollinators or as predators or indirectly beneficial in that they give us more diversity. There are those that do minor damage eating small holes in leaves for instance but that is of no consequence. The main problem insects for us are the Colorado potato beetle and it’s larva, the European cabbage butterfly larva and the corn ear worm. We have had occasional outbreaks of other things, aphids and a beetle on fava beans for one and of course the LDD moth this year on our fruit trees. Those cause us the most serious problems.

Potato beetle larva doing their thing. If left long, these, and many more not visible in the photo, would strip this and other plants of leaves and much of the stem in a matter of 2 to 4 days.

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JUNE 21, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view. the greenery belies a drought which is evident in the brownish tinge from dried up grasses and thinning vegetation.

We have a few spots through the garden where flowers, wildflowers and domesticate varieties, are growing. Theylook great and provide habitat and food for many insects that are beneficial to us gardeners.

Until very early this morning it had been really dry. We had a good rain and more came just after 7 a.m. The earlier small amount of rain, though welcome, was far too little to be of much help. The ground was quite dry and getting drier. Plants were suffering and a drought is the last thing a Gypsy Moth ravaged tree needed and there are plenty of very big trees with pretty much all their leaves eaten by the Gypsy Moth caterpillar. In our area it seems that it is mostly black Cherry and Birch that are the most affected and many seem completely defoliated. The vegetable gardens and the newly planted trees have needed a lot of water too and we have barely been able to keep up. Almost everything is growing quite good but this rain will certainly make a visible difference and growth will be that much better. We can seldom get enough water by irrigating.

The line of trees in the distance are along the top of the river bank a quarter mile north of us. There are many trees with all leaves eaten by the gypsy moth caterpillar. 

The snow peas, the flat edible podded ones, are now ready.

The potato patch. The spuds are growing nicely with some flowers now forming and new potato tubers expected in 2 to 3 weeks.

We are doing an informal assessment of the variety of insect life on the farm looking to document with a photo as many of the various insect species that we can find here. The boys take a keen interest in ‘bugs’ and are always on the lookout for the unusual. The trick is in the identification and the work is in the documentation. William likes to do photography and is quite good at composing shots. Devon and Gabriel are good at spotting things.

An unknown on a grape leaf. Appears to be a wasp, species unknown.

Another unknown, again on a grape leaf, the bottom side.

This one, once more on a grape leaf, is likely a katydid. These three photos are William and Devon’s.

The sheep, cows and horses are now running out of pasture and luckily hay has become available. The hay will supplement what grass they can get from their pasture and we may have to pull cows and horses off pasture to some small area to allow regrowth. Feeding out hay increases our costs as this would ideally be used only in the winter. It takes time and a lot of water in the ground to get the grass to grow back.

The hay bales were first just rolled off the trailer onto our field edge on Saturday and today, Monday, were brought into the barn.

We had about 30 straw bales kindly donated to us by a Brantford resident who was moving and needed to dispose of them. These were the last 5 to be taken to the barn in the spreader.

Work done this week in the garden included the ongoing picking off from the potatoes of the Colorado potato beetle and it’s larva, the seeding of the final sweet corn variety, transplanting more onions, weeding, and harvesting for the CSA for which this was the first week of vegetable pickups.

The larva of the Colorado potato beetle munching on a potato leaf. These increase in numbers exponentially and will soon turn a potato plant into blackened sticks if left unchecked. We hand pick the adult beetles and these grubs plopping them in a little tub of water where they will drown.

 

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JUNE 14. 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view. It had rained a very little earlier but was now clearing.

This has been well weeded even though it may not look like it. Peas, carrots, chard

Eggplants down the centre, peppers to the left and right and 6 rows of just now sprouting beans.

Newly set out onion transplants to the left, onion sets then various kinds of garlic with cherry trees in the background.

Another week done and a lot of work done. The sweet corn plot  is nearly 3/4 seeded. There are 30 rows each 100 feet long, 7 remain to be seeded. They will be seeded later so that the corn will come ready later than the rest. The entire area had composted manure applied using the Ford 2n tractor to draw the manure spreader. The compost was then tilled in using the disc harrows, again behind the tractor. The tractor was then hitched to our transplanter, the Cockshutt No. 1, which made a nice deep groove in the ground.  Finally we use a large old steel hay rake wheel with large bumps on the  circumference. The bumps leave a dimple in the ground at 4 inches apart. The pre-soaked corn seed was planted by hand at 8 inch spacing. The photos which follow show all these steps except for the spacer marking. The last of the potatoes were planted too and about 2/3 of the onion and leek have been transplanted. Much weeding of the carrots, peas and chard was also done. This is and was very tedious work. A little more moisture, rain or irrigation, or both, and we’ll have have a good crop. Beans and Okra are up too so we need the rain and continuing hot weather.

The business end of the manure spreader. It does a good job laying down an even layer.

The whole arrangement of tractor plus spreader is quite long for a small garden but is just manageable.

The area to the left has had more than one pass so it is well worked up. Three passes usually are needed.

It was very windy but I was going quite slow so very little dust was made.

The next to final step preparing the garden soil for planting corn. Making straight rows. Aerron is riding as he sets the furrow shoe and the disc openers in the soil at the beginning of the run and lifts them out at the end. The tractor was in low gear and the engine at idle. Worked perfectly.

We try to keep the rows straight and evenly spaced. It does require close attention keeping that spot on the tractor cowling lined up all the way along. We did a fair to good job. Rows are spaced at about 30 to 32 inches apart.

The weather has been too hot and too dry. We have had small amounts of rain but nothing close to what we need. We need a good 24 hours of rainy weather to  give us a total of about an inch and a half, 30 to 40 mm of rain. That would be really good. We are watering constantly now. As I write this early Monday morning, it is looking very much like it will rain and we have had a light sprinkle. But it does not look, from the satellite maps, that we’ll get a lot of rain. The 24 hour soaker version would be really nice though.

The potato patch is looking very good. We have managed to keep the potato beetles and their larva to a minimum by constant monitoring.

Apples on the columnar tree two years in the ground now. This variety is ‘Scarlet Sentinel’.

The chickens continue to lay well but the ducks are laying a little less. Several hen ducks seem to be broody and may not be laying or have been laying eggs in hidden spots. The danger there is that they may accumulate a clutch and start setting and then get found at night by a raccoon. 

The chicken run is being overgrown with things that the chickens do not really care for.

Just a nice looking older hen.

Our Azure Blue hens plus 5 others of unknown breeding of which one at least is a rooster.

We will be starting the CSA this week coming, Tuesday and Thursday, the 15th and 17th. This is two weeks later than we had expected but nearly a whole month later than we had hoped for. Cool early spring temperatures slowed us down a lot. But we’ll be started and will have vegetables until well past the end of October.

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JUNE 7, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday view. All this week’s photos were done on Sunday.

Wildflowers in the garden: orchard grass, two lots of ox eye daisy, bladder wort and not yet in flower are wild lettuce and tansy.

We did get a good amount of rain last week but are drying out again. As I write this late Tuesday afternoon it has rained lightly a bit more is coming. There was also a light rain overnight Monday so altogether we’ll have had a good amount and we had a light rain a couple of nights earlier. All of our recently purchased trees and shrubs are now in the ground and many are leafed out. They have needed a lot of water and we’ll have to keep close watch on them to ensure that none dry out and none are too badly damaged by the Gypsy Moth caterpillars. This is the very first year that this caterpillar has been a problem for us and I think too that it is the first year that we have even seen them. Only one tree near us has suffered any degree of defoliation and that is a single 25 year old paper birch near to our house that has lost most of the leaf on the upper third of the tree. We have been hand picking from many of our newly planted apple trees which would have otherwise been completely stripped of leaves. Clearly we will have to do much more before next spring stating with looking for and removing egg masses this year.

Two lines of hardy kiwi along the garden edges. There are just three so far with Plantra tree shelters installed over them. Hopefully these will in about two years, provide a nice boundary planting with the vines going over the pathway at either end.

These are the columnar apple trees in the garden. They are the most affected by the Gypsy moth caterpillars. About two thirds were planted last spring and we added the rest just a week ago. Eventually they will have rhubarb between all of the trees.

We continue to slowly get vegetables seeded and much work is done to ensure that what is seeded already is kept watered and weeded, and, in the case of potatoes and eggplants; kept free of potato beetles. The vegetables that we do have growing are doing quite well. The recent period of very hot weather was fine for most things and we did keep things well watered. The major push now is to finish planting beans and seed corn and vines. We are 6 to 8 days late on these. All kinds of seeds to be put in the ground.

The garlic scapes have been showing, unfolding and growing longer. Ready for harvest now.

The garlic patch is pretty tall but there has been some tip browning because of the dry weather. The bulbs however will still likely be of a very good size.

Peas, carrots and Swiss chard. Carrots are quite tiny and really cannot be seen there beside the peas. the chard is largest.

The potatoes are also looking very good and the potato beetles are well under control with really no damage.

A speckled romaine lettuce growing by itself all alone with the onions.

The flocks and herds are all good and grass in the pastures are holding up well. The chickens and ducks are still laying plenty of eggs. Raccoons are an ongoing threat which means that we cannot let the birds out of their overnight houses too early and we must put them away around 7 in the evening. The gardens where we work are not too far, maybe about 200 metres or so to the furthest chicken yard, but it takes us a while to hear the commotion when the raccoon is in with the flock chasing them about. Then there is the time taken to run down and chase the raccoon, or raccoons, out. So we put birds away early.

A Welsumer hen, one of our heritage breeds and a layer of a nice dark egg.

In the hot weather the chickens will gather in the shade and spend a lot of time there but will often just go back in their chicken houses which are cooler for the early part of the day.

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JUNE 1, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden scene photoed on Sunday afternoon late. Starting to look wildly overgrown.

The tomato rows all potted up to protect from the frost. Pails, sap pails, flower pots anything pot like.

Sunday early morning and Monday early morning were very cool, around 3°C to 4°C each time but luckily no frost. We had covered the frost sensitive tomato, eggplant and pepper in anticipation of a frost. Even the below 10°C temperatures alone are liable to do damage. They seem to have gotten through the ordeal mostly unscathed. We’ll see. After a week or so any damage from potting will show up but more serious damage to fruiting ability will of course not show up until the fruits start to appear. We’ll depot them today.

The columnar apple trees are developing some nice fruits.

The greeneryin the large planter box is doing really well. That large plant upper centre is comfrey and the other plants are sedums

Aerron picked up our order of fruit trees from Whiffletree Farm and Nursery on Friday. Pear, Apple and Kiwi mostly. About a third of it has been planted now. We had lost  large number of trees last spring as they arrived late then as they have now. Being so late means that the trees have not established any roots (they are all bare root plants) before the real hot weather arrives. It gets difficult to keep up with the watering. The rain last week was very timely and badly needed. We got less than an inch and need more before too many days have passed, and it is supposed to get hot again. This past week, after the rain has been much cooler and that was a relief though it was really far to cool and too close to us having a frost. Thing though are growing well. Weeds too.

Our Cows, sheep behind and below and on the hill in the distance one of our mares.

All the various beasties here are doing fine. Pastures are still good though we had to go on the front pasture too soon and we don’t have the fence to keep the sheep off so that pasture is not growing back too good. We have not fed the cows outside on pasture the past few winters, keeping them inside instead. Not the better choice of things to do for many reasons, one of which is that we don’t get the pastures manured quite the way they were before and there is more work to get the barn cleaned out. The hay consumption in the warmer barn is not as much though and hay has gotten to be really expensive now.

Swiss Chard is growing along quite well. There will be a lot of chard in a few weeks.

The lettuce is slowly growing.

All this garlic was planted at the same time. The garlic on the right is the variety called Music while the shorter garlic on the left is the variety called Israeli. They just grow somewhat different and the Music bulbs are somewhat, but not a lot, larger than the Israeli.

These geraniums were in a bag of leaves in the leaf bag pile outside over winter. We rescued and re-potted them this spring. They seem to be doing quite well.

Still a few weeks off from starting our vegetable CSA season and the first few weeks will have, as is usual, not much variety in vegetables. Hopefully it will stay warm, mid 20s and not too hot and hopefully too we will get adequate rain to keep thing lush.

Potato rows not yet cleaned up or hilled.

Potato rows cleaned up, hilled and ready for mulching

The peacock. Looks just like India there.

One of the younger ducks in their quite grassy yard. Mostly these ducks are hidden from view in the long grass.

William was very patient and careful to get this photo of the resting and would be sleeping, ducks.

The poultry are fine, chickens still laying an excellent number of eggs but the ducks are down just a little. At least three ducks are broody and setting and some hen chickens are also tending broody though none is setting yet. All through spring and early summer is best for poultry.

Two setting ducks. Not ideally situated but another couple of weeks and we’ll see if it has worked.

Another setting duck just outside the nest box where the other two are setting. Since the ducks just lay their eggs anywhere now, they have to be checked before selling for eating so as to be sure any egg is not an errant partially incubated one.

 

 

 

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May 24, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden, mid-morning today. Starting to look a little dry in the foreground.

The redbud earlier in the week was at it’s fullest. As of today, the flowers are mostly finished

The weather has turned hot and there has been no rain. Not good. Rain is forecast for Tuesday night and for Wednesday but as of this morning it is but a 60% chance and for our location that translates to not likely.

The tomatoes planted in the usual row with leaves packed around them.

Two rows of tomatoes here but only for a short distance so far.

Some of the potatoes are sprouted and showing leaves like this and we are now daily walking the rows picking off potato beetles like this one.

Potato to the left and milkweed to the right and just out of frame at the top are a couple of sunflower.

We have gotten more veggies sown and some 56 tomato plants in the ground with a lot more going in this coming week. Aerron got more seed potato, four 50 pound bags, so we have those to go in. We had a lot of help on Thursday getting leaf mulch spread on onion sets and on the newly emerged chard seedlings. And there was lots of watering of everything seeded and planted in the garden and of the trees that are located at various spots around.

The garlic looks very good but there is a bit of tip burn showing indicating a lack of water.

The garlic is to the right and the onion sets are now well covered with leaves. Thanks Marc!!

The chard to the right covered well with leaves and the pea /carrot beds to the left. The newly seeded carrots are covered with boards.

An old trampoline has been repurposed as a chicken yard. The Azure Blue chickens, our recently acquired, now 10 week old, blue egg layers. there are 20 of them and in addition we have just this week taken in 6 unwanted young chickens about the same age as the Azures. They are in the new tramp quarters along with the Azures and everyone is happy.

The trampoline chicken yard will be moved every day or two to give them fresh grass.

The inside of the tramp.

These are the most recent acquired birds. They are in with the tramp birds but tend to stay together separate from the others, the Azure blue chickens.

We really want to get our corn and beans seeded while the weather is still hot but the forecast is for cooling off somewhat in another few days. We are also trying to set up the tractor with a water barrel on the 3pt hitch platform on the back of the tractor so as we can drive it down the rows for watering the vegetable beds. nothing complicated and we may already have all the parts hanging around so as we can quickly throw a working prototype together and test and calibrate it.

A cucumber, one of a number of native trees that have been planted this spring.

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MAY 17, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden on Monday morning. The piece of machinery to the right is a Cockshutt No. 1 transplanter, same as the one used to make the potatoe rows. We have three. This one will be converted to a water trailer for watering trees.

The weather is now trending hot, with little rain forecast. We are already dry, not desperately so, but it is concerning, and we will need to do more frequent watering of newly planted or seeded vegetables and keep our newly planted trees well watered too. We are still awaiting our order of fruit trees from Whiffletree nursery. It is unfortunate that this tree order is coming so late as spring planting of trees should be planted as early in the spring as is possible. We have just finished planting all the trees that were got from the Grand River Conservation Authority and the week before a Grimo Nursery order. All of these trees are the ones that will need a lot of water to keep themgoing during dry weather.

Our pincherry is spectacular but this lasted for but a few days. This tree came on it’s own about 6 years or more ago.

The pincherry flowers had many visitors, this butterfly being but one.

The change in weather this week past has been quite dramatic. It is has been more hours of sun, fewer clouds and higher temperatures. We still had a couple of nights below freezing and the other nights were barely above. Day time temperatures were closing on 20. This was better for growing things though there was no significant rain it was not a problem as there is still abundant moisture in the ground. This will change as temperatures increase without rains.

Typical carton of eggs that we sell. Try to put a blue egg in each carton. The colours of the eggs do not show so well in photographs, The bottom row of chicken eggs shows colour variations from a bright light blue to an olive green at the right.. The four eggs at the top are duck eggs.

Chickens and ducks still laying a lot of eggs and liking this weather. We have one duck setting a clutch of about 15 eggs. Others may still go broody and chickens are likely to go broody soon too. If a hen chicken does go broody we’ll have to carefully separate her into a small brood house where she can set on her eggs without being disturbed.  

This was one of the captured swarms Most of those bees are in their new hive while the rest are gathered at the front or flying about. One group is still on the fence boars upon which the swarm alighted. Fortunately it was a loose board an could be carried carefully to the hive.

We have had at east three swarms of bees this week and we managed to rescue two of them and get them to adopt to a new hive. The third left just as we were about to capture it in a bag and take it to an empty hive. It just kept going it and it lost us as it went through the trees near the river.

The Ford tractor and spreader at the barn for another load.

We disced up the gardens again to get weeds that had been germinating after the initial light discing and we used a much more aggressive angle so that the disc coulters dug deeper into the soil. Only one of our seven garden patches, our seven garden rotations,  has needed manuring, the patch that will be seeded into corn, and this area we have disced once deeply and are now manuring with some well composted manure from out front the barn. This was disced once, will get one layer of manure be disced again, get a second layer of manure and will be disced a third and final time before seeding the corn. Seeding will happen in a week to 10 days from now. The seed is soaked overnight and must be seeded by hand as none of our seeders will uniformly put down expensive corn seed.

Eight rows of peas on the left and five rows of chard, just watered,on the right.

We have finished seeding all of the potatoes that we had on hand and are awaiting another two bags. In the ground so far are the Blues, the Norlands, an early spud, Yukon Golds, a mid season, some yellow Fingerlings and a small amount of whites of an unknown variety. We are looking to get a bag each of either Superior, a large white potato or a bag of Kennebec, also a white and maybe a bag of Russets. These will go in as soon as we can get them.

Sweet cherry flowers, not certain of the variety, with garlic in the background.

A lot of seed is already in the ground, but so much work still to be done in the garden. We have gotten a lot of valuable help from several of those with working CSA shares and their work has been a tremendous help.

Arugula from last year looking quite spectacular. The very biggest of only a half dozen plants

 

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MAY 10, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden late Monday afternoon

Sweet cherry trees to the right, lots of blossoms, maybe we’ll have cherries, garlic straight ahead and to the left is looking quite good.

The weather remains a little too cool for our gardening liking. Would be nice to have temperatures in the day at over 20 and night times no less than 15, but we’ve at least had no snow though we’ve had a frost or two.  It is going down to -1°C tonight while last night it went down to -2°C and the night before right around the zero mark.We also have not really had enough rain. Everything is OK still, and the lack of rain is not noticeable at all. Yet.

Aerron, William and Devon watering the tulip trees and the sycamore trees. They are mere sticks about a foot tall.

We have seeded a few more things, potatoes about a third done. Much, much more, to do. We have disced two of the three  gardens on the south side  trying to eliminate or at least partially eliminate some patches of grass. Nothing seeded here yet. Grains, beans and flowers in the one, squash, pumpkin, cucumber and such in another and corn in the third.

Sleeping ducks and busy chickens. Dirty water duck pond.

The chickens are laying well still and we have plenty of eggs. Ducks have been laying well also but two of them have gone broody and we’ll set up brood boxes for them so as to keep the other ducks out. Once they set they’ll be on their eggs for 28 days. They do hop off at least once each day for food and drink and to exercise a bit. They cover the eggs when they leave the nest and this helps to keep them warm.

Typical carton of eggs that we sell. Try to put a blue egg in each carton. The colours of the eggs do not show so well in photographs, The bottom row of chicken eggs shows colour variations from a bright light blue to an olive green at the right.. The four eggs at the top are duck eggs.

More things in flower. Our redbuds are still opening their flowers but we are about a week, or even more behind the trees and shrubs growing anywhere in the city, the boundary of which is a mere 2 or 3 kilometres east from us. We are slightly higher and much more exposed. It is this way each spring and sometimes in the winter the climatic difference is easily seen.

Pin cherry flowers are tiny but exquisite. The tree is covered in them

This is a small trembling aspen tree with newly opened, very fresh looking leaves.

 

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MAY 3, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday garden view

The flowers on our Redbud trees are slowly opening. We are about a week behind trees and shrubs located in Brantford.

A little more spring like this past week though we did have one night where it got to a low of -2°C, just to confound things just a bit. We have had a little rain but not really very much. Today we had rain all day. A very light rain but falling nearly the whole afternoon so that as it ends this evening we have gotten a nice little bit that has soaked in well. but we’ll need more soon.

Sweet cherry blossoms, the variety ‘Black Gold’. The trees are heavy in flowers and bees and flies were very busy at the flowers yesterday.

We planted potatoes yesterday. Well, at least Diane did. I used the tractor pulling the old tobacco transplanter to mark out the rows at a 36 inch spacing and then spent time pulling out grass roots. Aerron followed the transplanter using the wheelhoe with the small mould board plow attachment in order to clean up the furrow. Once the potatoes are in the ground, Aerron again uses the plow on the wheelhoe to cover the potatoes and hill them, making three passes per side in each row, then runs an heavy old seeder along the top to flatten to help in moisture retention. It is a lot of work. If our cultivator tractor was operating we would use it to open up the furrow and to cover, as well as to hill. A lot faster, a lot less work.

The Ford tractor with the Cockshutt transplanter. We have tried to put seed potatoes in the ground using this transplanter and it would work with two persons but we cannot get any of our tractors or the horses to go slow enough.Garlic in the foreground.

The rows on the left are marked out with the transplanter and the rows on the right have been covered.

Four rows of Norland potatoes planted and covered. The wheelhoe just started on another pass.

We are slowly getting things planted but we have a long way to go.

The garlic and the cherry trees.

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APRIL 26, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden view this afternoon. Tractor is hitched to the plow. Ready to go.

Same scene just a few days ago. This April though and we do frequently see this sort of thing in April and occasionally even in May.

This photo shows better the amount of snow that fell. Most was gone in a day though a little lingered for nearly two more days.

The horses were,I think, not so much impressed with snow in April.

This is the same Mock Orange, Forsythia and Cedar as in last weeks photo. When the snow did melt it revealed everything pretty much the same as before without any noticeable damage.

This weeks weather was a little unusual perhaps but not really unexpected. Snow in April or even in May is not all unexpected in Southern Ontario, it happens regularly over the years. What was perhaps more unusual was that we had three nights in a row where the temperature was well below freezing, in the region of -5°C. But it did warm somewhat during the day. But now we are back to spring weather: light rains, some sun, temperatures in the teens and a forecast for 24°C on Tuesday.

The green onions in the snow

The garlic in the snow.

The garlic a few days later with the onion sets newly planted on the left.

Progress on the garden has been set back a few days so we have to work a little longer to get back to where we should be. We have spread well composted manure from a long row in the garden and into a third of this area is to go our potatoes, in another third will go all of the cabbage family plants which includes Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Kale as well as the cabbages, and the final third will be a mix of other vegetables including lettuce, spinach, chard, carrot, beets, peas, and many more. Today, Monday, we used the tractor and plow to plow in a bit of a grassy area and to define the edges of our gardens so as we can se better where rows begin and end. The next step is do do a lot of tractor disc harrowing of the Cole crop, the potato, and the general vegetable area, then to mark out rows and begin planting. A matter of just a few days.

Striking the first furrows today. The Ford 9n tractor with a two Ford furrow mounted plow.

Aerron on the tractor. The two furrow mold board plow with rolling disc coulters did a good job.

We planted several beds of Spanish onion sets and have about 10 trays of other onions growing in the house. Leeks were seeded into trays this week as well. All the Alliums, the onion family, will of course eventually be planted in the same area as the garlic.

Flower and leaf buds slowly opening on the cherry trees.

The squashes, pumpkin and cucumber, the vines, will soon get planted in their separate area and the corns will be planted in their area last of all in about a month’s time.

William gets to drive the tractor for the first time after a lecture on operating basics under the watchful eye of his father, who has just gotten off the tractor. younger brother Devon is maybe thinking it’ll be his turn in a couple of years.

We spread the compost using the Ford tractor pulling the Massey-Harris manure spreader and it worked very well. So much quicker to do than spreading with forks from wheelbarrows or a trailer. We did have quite a bit of help as Maggies Dad, brother Thomas and sister Angela came and spent the afternoon mulching, loading the manure spreader and planting trays of leeks. We got a lot done. We were all outside and well spaced so COVID was not a concern.

William is driving the tractor to a parking spot for the night. If tomorrow we figure the plowing is done, we’ll park the plow in storage after cleaning off all the soil and after greasing all the shiny surfaces. It can be seen in the field ahead of the tractor that the outlines of the gardens have been delineated by the plowing.

 

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April 19, 2021 FARM NEWS


Monday afternoon gradually cleaning up and things do look a bit different from last week.

This is a great sign of advancing spring. Mock Orange shrub leafing out in front of the Forsythia full of blooms. The Cedar behind forms a nice green back drop.

The terminal leaves on a peach tree with fruit buds near to bloom. The below freezing temperatures forecast for the 2 or 3 nights will likely destroy all fruit tree blossoms meaning zero harvest this year.

The weather has been a little cooler this past week and the forecast is for even cooler this coming week with a bit of snow Wednesday. We have had some rain so that is good as we’d rather it stay a bit over on the moist not the dry side.

QUINCY

We lost our dog Quincy last week. He died Tuesday overnight for no apparent reason. He had appeared to be his normal self the day before, nothing unusual. He finished his evening meal and was found in the morning in his usual overnight spot. He was only eight years old. Dogs always become part of the family. Quincy was a wonderful good natured dog and will be missed.

Gabriel discing with the Ford tractor.

This is the perfect sort of job to gain basic tractor skills. Flat ground and no special path to follow.

We continue to slowly pick away at the preparation work for spring planting in the garden. We used the tractor disc to knock down and break up the stems from last years weeds and that section of the garden only needs marking out and row grooves made in order to put seeds into the ground. At another area of the gardens we began loading up a row of compost into the manure spreader and spreading on the gardens. We got 3 1/2 loads down and estimate that about 1/3 is done. If the weather is O.K. we’ll try to finish the job tomorrow. Seeding will proceed now at a more rapid pace.

The tractor with manure spreader ready for the second load

The result: a fairly evenly spread but also fairly lightly done.

A first try with the tractor plow. It worked fine. This will soon be covered with old leaf bags to smother re-growing grass and then covered with leaves.

Th garlic continues to grow well

We got another load of hay last week. Twelve bales but this time the large square bales measuring, very roughly, 6 to 7 feet by 3 feet by 3 and a half. and each bale weighed 750 pounds. We had them dropped at the end of our laneway and transported them one and about a half at a time to the barn using the newly acquired tractor and small trailer. Each bale, except the last, was taken apart and piled on the trailer. and slowly drawn the short way to the barn. The last bale was slowly, with difficulty and lots of pry bars and blocks, loaded intact on to the trailer and carted the much shorter distance to where the horses are. It’ll take them a week to eat the whole bale. They get a rationed amount each day so as to minimize wastage. This should be the last hay we’ll need until the fall unless we get another drought drying up the pastures during the summer.

The tractor and hay load headed downhill to the barn.

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APRIL 12, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden late this afternoon shortly after a good rain. Noticeably greener than last week.

The perennial onions are looking quite good.

The spring weather continues to improve each week. Still up and down but the downs and ups are now, on average, much higher. The coming week’s forecast though seems to be that we’ll have a colder week than we’ve had for a while. But a good amount of rain today and over this past week.

William’s excellent photo of the mares Nell and Marta, patiently waiting for more hay. They got the last of it just shortly after. See next photo.

Finally breakfast. Another photo by William.

We are slowly getting seeds plated in trays and in the ground. We planted about 10 trays of various onions, about 200 seeds per tray. These will not be potted on but will be grown to a suitable size in the trays and will be transplanted out into the garden sometime in May. Two more rows of broad beans were planted into the garden and two more still need to go in. We still have not worked up very much ground in the garden as yet and that is what we really have to do next. We did get our main seed order from William Dam Seeds last week too so now we have no hold up waiting for seeds. We still have more seeds to get but they are seeds that go into really warm soil so no hurry on them.

Horses, a kid n a dog. The photographer getting photoed

Our latest acquisition; a 1942 Ford 2n tractor often just called a 9n. Confusing yes. It is about 20 HP.

We got another little tractor on Saturday. It is a Ford 9n, or maybe a 2n, judging by the serial number which places the date of manufacture as late 1942. There are still a lot of these tractors around, they are very popular, though few are used very much anymore. Replacement parts are readily available and are reasonably priced so maintenance is easy. Our other tractor, the 1955 Farmall 100, will be used exclusively, or almost so, as a cultivating tractor and for any work where the cultivators will fit the job. Cultivating tools can often be used to mark rows for seeding of vegetables. The 9n could then be used for pulling things such as plow, harrows, manure spreader, wagon and trailer. Along with the tractor we also got a Massey-Harris manure spreader, old but not likely as old as the tractor; a three point hitch two furrow plow, 14 inch I think; a set of small drag disc harrows, double disc and a hugely popular set for small garden work. Again the discs are really old and could even be as old, or older, than the tractor. But all of this stuff should be just fine in spite of it’s age. We do have to treat it carefully of course, but we should do so with even brand new equipment. Also coming with the tractor was a small well built trailer which will be very handy, and a platform that goes on the three point hitch making it kinda like a trailer without wheels built on to the back of the tractor. The platform will be a very handy device for smallish loads, up to as much as 800 pounds if kept close to the tractor, and for maneuvering in tight spaces.

The garlic in the background is looking very good now and growing well. The two furrow 3 point hitch plow is new to us, Ford made and 60 to 70 years old, two 14 inch bottoms. It mounts directly to the back of the tractor

The Massey-Harris manure spreader looks to be in very good condition and is a perfect size for garden work.

The set of double drag disc. The large wheel atop the tongue is for adjusting the angle of the disc gangs, The gangs are in the straight position and need some angle to bite into the soil.

The chickens are doing well still. Most are laying a good number of eggs and the ducks have just started to lay so that we now have a good supply of duck eggs to sell as well. We are getting 20 more blue egg layers tomorrow but these are young 4 to 5 week old chickens and they will not be laying eggs for another 17 or 18 weeks. 

Young William took a lot of photos of the sheep and lambs and cattle at the barn. The young lambs are now doing quite well with the warm weather being quite to their liking. The young calf ‘Easter’ is doing well too. But everyone is anxious to get out on grass and it is still way too early. The grass needs to do a lot more growing before the grazers can start chomping it down. Likely at least another 4 weeks before they can be out regularly. We are now out of hay but will be getting more soon.

In black and white.

The outdoor pen is a poor substitute for a pasture but has to do for now.

Some lambs are both black and white and various shades of charcoal grey.

more lambs, and some of the same lambs.

And some of the black and white markings are quite distinctive. Notice the very tip of the white half of that black tail.

The new calf ‘Easter’. Guess when this calf was born.

William had something in mind for this photo.

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APRIL 5, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view with dark clouds threatening. This was at about a quarter to one on April 5 and the weather radar showed a bit of rain approaching though it looks like it will miss us to the south.

A few cold nights again the past week and even a couple of cold days. The week coming is forecast to be much nicer with no nights below freezing and day time temperatures to be in the middle plus teens. Spring advances ponderously with many retreats. But each week’s retreats seem to not be quite as far as the previous week’s. It’ll be far too hot soon enough.

A really nice little dandelion growing in the garden. I a few days we’ll be able to gather some leaves and flowers for eating.

Not sure what was up with the chickens as most of this flock was under this tree as if it were a summer’s day with a blazing hot sun. Very little sun and no leaves on this mulberry yet. But it is a warm spring day with no wind so maybe perceived as hot.

The chickens are really happy with this weather but are real anxious to get out on fresh grass. We still have to work on getting that arrangement set up for them and for now they are still in their winter quarters with only a small outdoor run for the one flock, a much larger for the other and only the two smaller flocks t the front have access to grass as yet. The older ducks are right now free to wander where they like. Once we get a few more things growing in the garden we’ll have to keep them out. The 9 younger ducks will have access to the entire area in the front of our house, which now just has cats lounging about and occasional escaped chicken flocks.

The nine younger ducks, six drakes and three hens. Their little compound needs to be enlarged now. It will require a bit of work digging in posts and stringing a fence and a little planning as we need gates and need to ensure they don’t go on the house porch nor into the cat’s food.

The horses are still on the second of their over wintering pasture with no grass left now,  the cows, though they get turned out into the barn yard each day, are still not on pasture and same for the sheep who are allowed out to a small outside paddock for the day. Horses, cows and sheep will not get out on to pasture for a few weeks yet and in the mean time the grass will grow lush.

We have already had some stinging nettle in a meal but will wait a little longer to harvest this so as not to have to pull whole little plants.

The garden preparation and planting, which has been going in fits and starts matching the weather, will no longer so restrained and we’ll go all out. Nearly. We’ll still have to be careful about the frost sensitive things.

A single parsley plant is growing. This plant is now into its third year which I think is a bit unusual.

 

 

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MARCH 29, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden just after noon hour today. Still quite messy.

Our spring bulbs have just started to flower nicely. In our location we are at least a week later than more sheltered locations in town less than 2 miles away from us.

There are a very small number, less than a half dozen or so, of dandelions in flower. There will soon be thousands. Great for eating and an early flower for the honey bees.

Another week into spring but not a whole lot more done. Mostly the weather has been nice and the temperatures a bit above the expected average, and we did finally get some rain. I’ll need to set out a rain gauge and keep a record since the Environment Canada weather station, located but a quarter mile away from us, does not record precipitation amounts. It was a good bit of rain, probably a coupe of cm, so that was very nice as it had been getting very dry.

The main flock of laying hens and a few roosters.

These are the standard commercial brown egg layer for small flock owners, in this case being Frey’s Hatchery’s Red Sex-Link.

All the animals are doing quite well. I’ll have to get some photos for next week of the bees, sheep and cows. The chickens and the ducks are liking the nice weather and unless it is cold and rainy and with a wind then they will spend a good amount of time outdoors. The chickens are laying quite well still and the ducks started laying this week. Some did as for the whole week we had a total of 3 eggs with another two this morning.

Apricot buds. Nicely swollen and waiting for some prolonged nice warm temperatures.

Buds, leaf or blossom i know not, on a columnar apple. Again these are some way from opening up.

I the garden there are a few things regrowing from last fall. Most of it will n0t be kept but might be useful for some early snacks before it needs to be turned under. The garlic and the green onions (the perennial onions)  will eventually be harvested.

A very small number of Swiss chard plants from last season have survived the winter. Some of these may grow enough to give us a few leaves for lunch.

Nearly all of this late planting of spinach has come through the winter intact and living, and should provide for a few pickings.

Every row of garlic is now growing and it looks like most if not all have, as expected, survived the winter.

The perennial onions, in this case the Egyptian walking onion, are growing nicely now and should be cleaned up, all the dead stalks broken off and laid in the rows.

 

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MARCH 22, 2021 FARM NEWS


 

The usual view of the garden taken on the 22nd. Some of the stuff littering the foreground has gone.

The usual garden view on a sunny March 15 with all the over the winter accumulation of stuff still littering the foreground and leaf bags littered every where else.

Looking down our much less muddy lane way on the 15th

A week later on the 21st. The once muddy lane way is rapidly drying . We need rain. Just a bit. No mud.

I did not get a blog published last week, just got overwhelmed with other things.

A warm spring afternoon .brings ot kids in wheel barrows and kids barefoot on bikes.

The week of March 8 to the 14th was an improvement as the ground was by then, not muddy … in most places, and we had been able to work up a small amount of ground in the gardens. It was all done by hand, raking off debris, and using the wheel hoe to make nice straight grooves for seeding into. Two 100 foot rows of broad beans were sown. At least two more rows to go. The beans will just sit there in the soil thinking about it and when there is enough warmth they will begin to germinate. The area between the rows has been thickly mulched with leaves and straw, which will cool the soil and slow germination a bit, but the soil covering the seed rows is exposed, so that part will warm in the sun. More ground will be worked up this coming week, not too much will be planted over the next few weeks.

Two rows of broad beans and further over to the left a row of peach trees. All well mulched with leaves and other good garden debris.

The tools used to prepare the soil for seeding. At the top is a wheel hoe with a mold board plow attachment. This tool is used to make the groove and sometimes for covering the seed. The next tool is a two toothed cultivator on along handle which is used for covering the broad beans and many other seeds. Works great. The bottom tool is a row seed spacer. It is a wheel with short dowel pieces taped on so that when rolled down the groove leaves a dimple every 4 inches. Set a seed in each dimple and there is 4 inch spacing. A seed at each dimple and one between each and two inch spacing and so on. Again, works great.

Dwarf apple trees growing in the garden. These should begin to bear some fruit in 4 to 5 years.

During the week of the 8th to 14th we also got a small number of apple tree whips to plant. We did get a small order of vegetable seeds, some of the broad beans planted were part of that order, but the main order is some weeks away. Most of our suppliers of plants and seeds are extraordinarily busy again this winter and spring and delivery dates are sometimes weeks from when an order is placed.

A few lettuce plants overwintered but though they show so much promise early on they usually don’t do well.

The walking onions always do well. They do need to be cleaned up a bit now but then they are fine on their own.

There is a lot of this chickweed growing and it will make a nice green for salads and cooking in just a few weeks.

A chard plant from last season. There are several that are growing well.

The weather has been gradually improving but the temperatures have been not too much different over the past two weeks. Some really nice warm days of course, when it gets well above freezing on a windless sunny day, but in a lot of places the frost is still just a few, maybe 4, inches down. Despite that there are many little plants left from last season that are slowly growing back. Some of these might grow back enough to give us a small harvest.

The garlic beds. The three rows at the right side grow noticeably larger each week.

A bed of spinach that was late seeded last September and not harvested. Garlic to the right. The spinach may grow out ok, we’ll see.
it is going to need some rain soon and lots of warmth. Really hot weather will not be good for it though.

These turnips were ready for harvest last fall but we did not get to them. They are still just perfectly fine. Nice and firm and cook up well and are growing back.

For the last two weeks we have been quite occupied with planting the apple trees, bringing manure up from the barn, turning milk into cheese and maple sap into maple syrup. The planting of the trees was compounded by the still frozen ground, making it a lot more work than expected. These apple trees could not be held too long as they were bare root and really needed to get into the ground. There is a large manure pack at the barn and it has been in need of moving for some time. Some of this will be worked into the garden this season but most is being put into piles to be composted. We have had excess milk so it is being turned into cheese and yogurt. The cheese is several variations of a simple white cheese made by heating milk slowly to 180°F then adding vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk. The curd is then spooned into a colander lined with cheesecloth to drain off the whey. Sometimes it is pressed to remove more whey and left for a few hours in the cheese press with the handle turned frequently. The maple sap has been flowing quite good most days but we cannot process more than about 30 litres a day. We have made about 5 litres of syrup so far. That would be something over 300 litres of sap as we are using Acer negundo, Manitoba maple, instead of Acer saccarum, sugar maple. Not so much sugar in the one as in the other. The sap is boiled off using the wood stove in our kitchen so space is limited. We also cannot boil too vigorously as we cannot overheat the kitchen stove and we don’t want sap splattered all over and making a sticky mess.

A pot of milk, with the requisite thermometer,in the double boiler on the wood stove. Small pot of Maple sap behind it, and the always present coffee pot and kettle at the cooler end of the stove. The white apparatus sitting in a shallow pan, is the cheese press which is only there for the photo.

Maple sap evaporating away water on the kitchen wood burning stove.Counter clock wise from upper right with the freshest sap to lower right with sap getting close to being finished as maple syrup.

The chickens and ducks are really liking this weather now but still not all of the hens are laying quite to their fullest and the ducks have not yet laid an egg this spring. We need to build the chickens new moveable little houses and an incubating and brood house.

An older but fine looking Welsummer hen on the blue plastic road

The hens at the water. The water is now kept out side so as to keep the house drier. The hens were also let out quite late this morning and were quite thirsty.

Leucan. Looking his usual fine self. The other two horses start looking pretty shabby this time of year as their winter coat starts to shed.

Marta, Leucans auntie. Her coat is so much duller than Leucans. But she’ll be nice and shiny soon.

 

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MARCH 7, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly garden view.

In case the mud in the heading photo above was not obvious.

And a little further back it is like this from just one drive out. It’ will all easily rake out.

This past week was a bit of retreat into winter. Again. But we are scheduled, according to Environment Canada Weather, to have higher temperatures these next three days before dropping back to more wintry temperatures for the end of the week. Two more weeks and it’s the vernal equinox. March 20 is, at 5:37 a.m. (or 9:37 UTC if you are more internationally inclined) the beginning of astronomical spring here in our corner of southern Ontario. Spring will last 92 days, 17 hours and 54 minutes. The night and day lengths are not quite equal on the 20th, that occurs on March 17, which date is referred to as the equilux. March 16 day length is 11 hours 58 minutes 05 seconds, whereas the 17th is 12:01:03, and the 20th is 12:09:56. When it turns summer, June 20, day length will be at it’s maximum of 15:22:44.

Two taps, one pail, no sap, too cold

Three pails and three taps and again no sap here. We did get a whole half pail of sap from all the taps so far.

Buds on a twig of the Manitoba maple.

For a few weeks, from about the middle of February each year, it is male syrup making time. We as usual, got off to a bit of a late start on the sap flow season. It was Tuesday of last week when we finally got around to getting the first taps into trees. Then it got to cold for the sap to flow and has been cold since. Last night was -12 and today was up to +8 but no sap flowed at all. The tree buds are not swollen too much yet so still some time maybe. We will not put in very many taps, maybe about 30. Most will be in Manitoba maple (Acer negundo) with about 3 maximum in our single sugar maple (Acer saccharum). We cannot notice any taste or other difference between the two maples in the finished Maple syrup. The only real difference is that we will need a good amount more of negundo sap to get the same amount of syrup. But the wood burning kitchen stove is going all the while anyway so it takes only a little more wood to get syrup. The whole stove top can get loaded with pots though.

There is a good supply of firewood in our woodshed. still another month or more of heating needed.

We have had several lambs born. We have lost a couple though, to hypothermia and it happens so fast and is difficult to remedy. The last lamb that started to show symptoms of hypothermia and we were able to save this lamb by bringing it indoors during the coldest times, keeping it warm and taking it back to it’s mother for milk several times. We need a major rebuild of our lambing pens. Many more lambs to come so it is very nice that the forecast is for somewhat warmer weather. 

Another sign of spring is when the majority of the flock gathers outside.

This guy is a particularly fine rooster and he was quite friendly too.

When i went inside, most everyone followed me in.

And here they are inside plus a few that did not come out.

Fine looking roosters

Just a nice photo of the hens.

We had a calf born but no one was there at the time and it was found lying with it’s head twisted beneath it so that it suffocated. So frustrating that these things happen. We seldom have birthing difficulties with these cows and assistance is not needed. But the mother is being milked and we will have plenty of milk for the house. We usually don’t separate cream so we don’t make butter but we do make yogurt and cheese. The first milk is loaded with colostrum so it makes great pudding and eggless eggnog.

A pot of colostrum milk slowly (two hours) heating on the stove and turning to a sweet custard. Milk and sugar are the only ingredients, no stirring and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

 

 

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