August 14, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly garden view taken this morning, August 14

The usual garden view last Monday morning, August 7.

The lettuces with Kale to the right.

We keep plugging away at things. This past week we were able to get a lot accomplished. The weather was good for us as we did have a bit of rain but plenty of dry weather too. If anything we did not get near enough rain though we’ll be alright if we get another 10 mm or more in the next few days. We really need an all day soaker with a total of at least 25 mm with near 50 being much better. But the vegetables are growing well as are all the things that veggie growers consider to be weeds … that is, of course, anything that is not a vegetable that we planted.

Eggplant, Sweet Pepper, Tomatillo

Six rows of cabbage and cauliflower nicely cleared of weeds – mostly, two rows of broccoli far right.

A really nice potato flower from a plant in our front yard. This photo taken by William.

We have managed to get the potatoes well hoed and hilled and then on Saturday we held a working bee here with 9 of us spreading straw on the spuds. These are a late planting of potatoes and the straw mulch laid thick will suppress much of the weed growth, will help to keep the soil moist, will moderate the soil temperature somewhat and ultimately as the straw breaks down over the fall and winter will provide some additional nutrients and will help greatly to improve the soil structure as it retains moisture and hosts a whole community of microbes and insects.

The young potatoes, thirty 100 foot rows of them, heavily mulched with straw.

The Blue and Partridge Cochin and Brahma chickens. These are not great egg layers but should be laying some eggs by the beginning of October.

We finished weeding 5 rows of cole crops, cabbages mostly,  and cauliflower, in preparation for spreading straw mulch there too.  We also separated some of the new chickens, the ones we acquired as day olds at the end of April. The feather footed types, the partridge Cochin, the blue Cochin and the Brahma, 37 birds, hens and roosters, are now in a separate house. We started irrigating the cole crops with a sprinkler but then it rained. we’ll start again now. We rebuilt two wheelbarrows this week. A job long overdue and they have been used quite a bit over the past few days.

Jonny D Duck by William again, wandering through the sage and oregano in the duck’s pasture.

William filling up the duck pond with ducks waiting impatiently or just doing their snuffle while the chickens could care less and in the background maybe 2 or 3 hundred thousand bees.

A buff Runner duck with a larger Saxony duck. They were the best of friends maybe they are still.

All the rest of the ducks and chickens are doing well as are the four footed critters, the horses, cows and sheep and our herd of cats.

Sleeping ducks all tucked up against the fence, the whole lot of the young ducks.

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August 7, 2017 FARM NEWS


This blog is being published without photos as after three tries when the loading of a selected photo was proceeding very slowly it ended with the note HTTP Error. I suspect that it is because there is just too much traffic on the internet and I will have to try again later.

An eventful week again.  Much of our work this week past was weeding the garden.  The rains have been very good at getting everything growing very good! Weeds and vegetables both. But weeds do tend to outgrow the veggies which mostly do not tolerate competition so well. But even those veggies that have the past two weeks been overwhelmed by weeds, are doing alright and will grow out to be an excellent harvest. We are weeding diligently.

We are planning to have a work bee here at the farm on the Saturday, August 12, the coming Saturday. The idea is to work from about 10 am until noon and from 1 until 3 in the afternoon. We’ll break for a lunch at noon and have persuaded Kevin to fire up his BBQ for the lunch making task. The major job is to lay down straw mulch around the vegetables.  Although it may seem a bit late there is still nearly 3 months or more of the growing season left. The straw will retain moisture if we run into another dry spell, it will moderate the soil temperature, it will suppress weeds and make easier removal of those that do come and it will be in position for next season’s vegetables.  And it eventually becomes a good soil builder as it breaks down over time.

All else is well. The chickens continue to lay well. The older flock has dropped off a bit in egg production and their is still too much breakage. The newer flock is also down just a little, very few breakages and overall egg quality is very high. But there are 4 or 5 broody hens in the older flock and these will not be laying eggs. They should be removed to be setting on hatching eggs but we have not arranged that yet. The chicks that we acquired at the end of April are hardly chicks anymore and are growing well and mostly looking like smaller versions of their parents. They should be laying around the beginning of October and we will try to delay the beginning of lay a little so as to increase the egg size. Mostly be trying to keep the hours of light to less than 10 though since they are outside that might be really difficult. We’ll see. The two duck flocks are running together in the same area though the older ducks do tend to stay together. The lay of the older ducks has fallen off to less than a quarter and is likely due to the stress from the introduction of the younger ducks. The young ducks should start to lay at the beginning of October too and hopefully the older ducks lay will increase then too.

Sheep, cows and horses are well. Not much work for the horses of late, two cows still be milked for the house. A good number of sheep to be taken to the butchers as soon as we can figure out a way to get them there. Pastures are holding up well and there is still enough though the cows think otherwise and two or three of them keep breaking fences as the grass is of course always greener on the other side.

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July 31, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view this morning with some progress evident.

The garden view on July 24

This is the July 31 blog but a week later I discover that it was not published as I thought it was last week.  So I shall try once more to publish this blog before I start this weeks blog:

I am pretty sure that last week was the first week since doing this weekly post that I did not have a blog or photo or anything posted.  We were really pressed for time last week, a lot seemed to be happening and when trying to do this blog I could not get access to my website for more than 24 hours and by that time there was no time, to do the blog.

The barn floor half filled with the 4 X 5 bales of oat hay. Good stuff.

So we’ll try again this week. So far so good !!

Some of the chicks that we acquired as day olds on the 28th of April. They can hardly be called chicks now. they should start laying eggs in about two months, the beginning week of October though we expect few eggs until November.

The whole day Monday was taken up, from about 10 in the morning on, with getting hay into the barn and we finished up around 8.  We had 79 of the large round bales delivered and we got over 40 tucked in the barn with the remainder in long rows just outside. The outside bales will be covered with a plastic sheet to keep the rain and snow off them. we’ll need a few more to be able to see us through the winter.  We transplanted about a half of the third lot of lettuces and are well started on getting leaf mulch and straw down on them. Lettuce is not at all keen on hot weather so a thick layer of straw mulch should help the lettuce do well. Straw mulch helps reduce the numbers of weeds and grasses that will germinate, helps retain moisture, shields from the sun thus somewhat reducing soil temperature, provides a nice shelter and a bit of food for insects and microbes and in the end is really great at building soil structure and fertility for the next season.

The cattle herd photographed near two weeks ago. They were quite happy to be on this pasture which had no animals on it until then.

We have several different varieties and this black and white one is a Silver Laced Wyandotte.

This Blue Indian Runner duck illustrates the typical very upright stance of these ducks with the contrasting stance shown by the Cayuga drake just behind her. the two white birds behind are Leghorn chickens, hens.

Last week was also the week we finished planting the potatoes. The first planting is almost ready for harvest. We took advantage of the short dry spell to do a lot of weeding and hoeing, usually and mostly with the wheeled hoe, which is easier and so very much faster and it actually does a much better job at getting the weeds

The sheep flock out eating the horse pasture and wrecking the fences too.

 

 

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July 17, 2017 FARM NEWS


This is the usual weekly garden view taken unusually on the Sunday evening. Yesterday. Change since the rain is quite noticeable.

We had a small amount of rain yesterday, Sunday, which was nice to have to follow up on the 50 odd mmm that we got on the 13th, last Thursday. Previous to that we last had a good rain on July 1, but that was only 2.8 mm. So lots of moisture now and lots of growth. Vegetables as well as weeds. Total precipitation in April was 107 mm, May was 109mm and June was 73. So much better than last year.

The rows oriented north-south with potatoes looking good and just starting to flower and in the foreground left newly prepared rows for the last late seeding of potatoes.

We still have a lot of things to be seeded and a few things yet to be transplanted. But this week again we did get a lot in.  So we are very late with our planting but slowly catching up. Much will be coming ready over the next few weeks including kale, potatoes, broccoli and basil and more. Everything is looking good.

To the far right are the lettuces, many of the early planting have bolted toe seed, next are three rows of kale and on the right is a row of Brussels sprouts.

In the centre of the picture is a row of cabbage with two more rows to the left and two rows of broccoli to the right.

Nine rows of onions some of which are being pulled as green onions. most will be allowed to mature as slicing onions and keepers.

All the animals are well. New calf last week, must get a photo. The calf and the mother are doing good and are on pasture with all the other cows. The young ducks have been moved to another spot so that they now will be sharing pasture with the older ducks. They will need to be kept in their house separate from the old ducks until the young ones are familiar with their new house. This will be only two or three days then they’ll be free to explore the new location and wander more or less freely. They won’t be allowed near the garden, ducks love lettuce. The chickens continue to lay eggs though the lay rate for the older flock of hens is dropping off and there are more frequent breakages.

The young ducks, nearly full grown, in there new location. They, like all ducks are a nervous bunch.

 

 

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July 9, 2017 FARM NEWS


A pretty hectic week as this was the first week for the CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) veggie pick ups here at the farm. The daily work is all aimed at getting caught up in the garden. We have had a lot of volunteer help over the past few weeks and also working share help this week.  We are getting a lot planted, it is just that there is a lot to be planted and as always we have a lot planted and a lot more to go in. Big thank yous to all who have helped, it is very much appreciated.

 

The usual Monday morning garden view

The chickens and ducks are all well.  The chicks that were day olds at the end of April are now getting to be quite large.  They will begin laying eggs around the last week of September. They will not be laying at a good rate until mid-October at the earliest and the egg size will be small for the first month or more.  We have several different chicken breeds. Several are for trial.  We are looking for a hen that will lay a good number of eggs over the year and will have a good weight and be suitable for a meat chicken, not just a soup hen, at the end of lay, and for a chicken that is still good as a meat chicken after more than two years. We got the various breeds knowing some seemed to have these characteristics. The chicken also has to do well under our conditions.

The cabbages, cauliflower and broccolli

Four buff ducks . They are very good layers though they have just now started to fall off a little bit in egg production.

The pastures could do with more rain as could all of the vegetable garden. We have not had a good rain since July 1, and though things are not nearly desperate as yet, it is getting a bit dry, and we have to do a lot of watering of the vegetables. Ideally we would like about an inch of rain every week. Not too much to ask? But the temperatures have not been too warm in the day, not over 30. and the nights are comfortable in the range of 15 to 18ºC.

The tomatoes in our version of a hugelkulture bed.

The cows, horses and sheep are eating up there pastures at a pretty good rate but are not down to eating just hay, just yet. We have not harnessed the horses for work for a week now but should soon as a few empty garden beds could do with another cultivation to get the weeds down.

Nell and Marta on an extended break

An ordinary week seeing Aerron working late; until 1:00 in the morning and the usual quitting time being around 10 or 11. Not so good really but only because we were overwhelmed in the spring. Lots of reasons which I’ll have to delve into another time.

This is the little silkie rooster that has decided to move in with the ducks. they get along well.

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July 3, 2017 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view at a somewhat earlier hour than normal. about 8 am. should finally be able to see things growing out there.

This week will be the first week of pick ups for our 2017 CSA season.  Look at our CSA page in this website for more information on how that works. A very busy and productive week transplanting veggies from the growing trays into the garden. Still more to be done and more seeds to go into the ground.  We also have to hoe and mulch a lot of the garden and even put down some more compost in places. What is planted is growing well and though we have been late getting things into the ground there will likely be a very good harvest.

Onions to the left and centre, Broad beans to the right and the Garlic far right.

Broccolli , Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Kale all needing a quick hoeing.

The weather has been both good and bad for us. Good because we have had a lot of rain and the temperatures have not been too hot.  Bad, but not really so bad, because it has been a little too cool daytime and often too very cool at night. And the rain has been a little much at times though we’d always like to have too much rain than too little.

Looking across at the lettuces and the cole crops. empty growing trays at the right.

All the animals are doing well. the horses were worked quite a little bit over the past two weeks and they have not been too bad. They don’t stand well and the one, Marta is quite fidgety especially before setting out and when we are trying to hook to a piece of equipment. Can be difficult most times and somewhat dangerous. We have to be very careful and one of us has to be on the lines at all times. No setting the lines down for even a brief few seconds with this team.

The hugel bed with two rows of tomatoes, thanks to Mihaela. A lot of sticks and branches covered with compost and soil and then rye straw on top. Welsh onions to the left.

The roadside stand should have a small selection of our veggies in it this week for the first time.

Nell and Marta having a rest in the pasture.

 

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June 26, 2017 FARM NEWS


This is our version of a hugelkulture garden bed. All the straw in the immediate foreground is straw off the big round bale just waiting to be spread. There is a row of Welsh onions to the left but in the spread out straw can be seen the two rows of recently transplanted tomato plants and between the rows is a mound with sticks and earth and composted manure covered with straw and with the straw under the plants. too. All this to suppress weeds, retain moisture, provide nutrients and eliminate soil splash to the foliage thus reducing the spread of molds and the dreaded blight.

I have been unable to load more than this one photo. It can take more than 10 minutes to load a photo to WordPress and after 5 more tries I could not get another photo loaded.  It comes up as an http error, which is a pretty meaningless concept to me.

We cannot complain too much about the weather this season. We do have abundant rain, a lot of rain but better this than to be like last year when we were so dry. Temperatures, while sometimes somewhat cool , especially at night, are not nearly so cold as last spring and the hot days not nearly so hot. Hopefully the trend will continue throughout the summer.

I’ll have to be quick with this blog as this week there has been so much more to do with planting and with preparation for the start, with the first week of July, which is next week, of our vegetable CSA pick ups. Earlier today I had to go out to put the trays of peppers under the tables to give them some shelter in the event of a repetition of yesterday’s hail. We’d had two separate storms drop some hail on us on Sunday and though most everything was just fine, a lot of the peppers and a few eggplant suffered damage to leaves and many pepper leaves were knocked off.  Not so much that the peppers will not recover but still there is no point in subjecting them to more damage. More damage from Sundays hail may show up in the coming days.

We have a lot of the seeds and transplants in but there is much more still to be planted. We are somewhat behind where we’d really like to be but once it is all in we should have a much better result this year than we had last.

If anyone has been thinking of getting a CSA share from us please do contact us right away to let us know. The small share is $400 and the large share is $700. And as mentioned it all starts July 4,  Some sharers will pick up veggies on Tuesday July 4 and others will pick up on Thursday July 6.  There is not going to be a lot at first nor for the next few weeks but come the end of July and into August we should be overwhelmed with produce. that’s the plan!

Everything else and everyone else (chickens and all 4 legged critters) is fine.

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