July 16, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual Monday morning garden view. Early on the 16th of July. compare the growth evident in this picture with the recent past photos from this same spot.

Carrot flowers. These, being pinkish/purplish, are likely purple carrots whereas orange carrots have white flowers. We’ll try to leave these to mature and we’ll save the seed as there is no wild carrot growing nearby and the chances of hybridization should be reduced.

As I begin writing this post on Saturday, mid afternoon, it had rained lightly but steadily for a couple of hours and the accumulated amount helped in getting everything a small drink. We need something like five times the amount that has come so far and perhaps more, even a good thunderstorm, can deliver us in the range of 25 to 50 mm. This would be the amount needed to really break the drought. But Saturday’s rain and the little bit this Monday evening are a good start and hopefully more will come very soon.

On the far left, just before the bales of straw are the tomatoes. in the centre are the sunflowers and beside them on the right are summer squash, zucchini. The winter squash are between the sunflower and the tomato.

Looking across the tomato and tomatillo rows to the Welsh onions in seed on the left and the potatoes to the right. One row, beside the onions, has been dug already.

A lot of things are looking very good; the east end of the sunflower row and the two rows of summer squash in particular are getting huge, and the zucchinis and such are producing tons of fruit. The potatoes suffered a little from the drought and the crop yield will likely be down a bit unless we significantly more wet. Many other vegetable types are growing really well too but we still have an enormous amount of vegetables to be transplanted and a lot of reseeding of some veggies too.

These are the winter squash and pumpkin rows that are coming very slowly

Three carrot rows with peas to either side.

Lettuce rows growing quite well. The row on the left had poor germination, the one on the right is solid. Transplanted lettuce will go on the left to fill gaps.

The chickens, ducks, the young turkeys, peafowl, sheep, cattle beast and horses are all doing well but I have no animal photos. The SD card in our camera filled up so I did not get all the pics that I would have liked.


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The usual Monday morning garden view late in the am of today, July 9. Look back at this same view in the previous post to see the change that has taken place since then, June 11.

A summer squash to the right, a very nice bright yellow zucchini type. Cucumber down the middle.

Nearly a month without posting a blog. I could not put this off any longer even though the reason for not having posted for so long is still with us: we have had far too much work to do and far too busy working on the garden to spare the time needed to think and compose and correct a blog writing.

In the foreground is the 4th planting of sweet corn which is taking it’s sweet time about sprouting. I the background is the first planting getting pretty good now.

The 4th, still below the soil planting with the second in behind. If it all comes along ok then we’ll have a lot of sweet corn and some popcorn too.

This is the 4th planting with the 5th down the rows a bit. The 5th has poked out of the ground and the 4th should start to show tomorrow and if all goes weel and the raccoons don’t get it, we’ll have sweet corn through until into October.

The garden is progressing quite nicely but we are about a whole month behind. The reasons are complex but are almost exclusively due to the weather. Too hot, too dry, too cold not yet too wet. We have now been dry for too long, we need a real good rain, at least 30 mm, preferably more like 50 but none has come of late and not much in the forecast. We have been irrigating every day, mostly with watering cans, sometimes a hose and sometimes using a sprinkler. The house pump, which draws the water from the well for house and irrigating, runs nearly all day some 8 to 12 hours depending on what is going on. There is still a lot of planting and seeding to be done, straw mulch to be spread and more watering.

A black barrel, beside a magnificent bull thistle, with a nice lams ears plant with the first planting of sweet corn growing very nicely in the background.

Chickens, ducks, sheep, cows and horses doing well as too presumably are the coyotes and racoons. Short, short blog, getting too late in the evening and must be up early.

The four horses include the miniature horse who has jumped the fence from next door.

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June 4 and 11, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual garden view on June 4.

The usual garden view on June 11 at about 7 am.

Hawthorn flowers just because.

I was too much otherwise occupied to post a blog last week so here are two blogs, two short quick blogs, in one. The week ending June 4 was near perfect for growing but as with most things it was just a tad short of perfection. All week the temperature during the day was hot and overnight was warm and that is always good for growing. The shortfall to perfection was the lack of any rain, and, with the hot weather, that was almost enough to negate the good stuff. But late Sunday afternoon, and on into the evening, a sufficient amount of rain fell to just about bring growing conditions to that perfect state. The next two days and nights however are forecast to be quite cool for a June so that will slow growth down somewhat. But, on the plus side again, it will allow the moisture to be retained in the soil longer.

The garlic has made a huge growth in the last two weeks.

The garden is coming along slowly but steadily. We planted the early sweet corn and laid down a thick layer of straw mulch between the rows. That was a big job that went quick. Cucumber, melon and summer squash are some of the other things planted last week and this week saw the straw mulching completed. Much, much more needs planting.

Sheep, bees ( Kari’s, somewhere back there) and to the right, on ‘t’other side of the fence, chickens. the ducks, in whose pasture the sheep are grazing, have waddled quickly away from the dreaded sheep.

The animals are all well and really like the lush pasture at this time of year. The chickens and ducks are all well and have escaped being eaten by a coyote near their house two weeks back, an attempt by a raccoon to have hen for dinner, an opossum with a baby on it’s back wandering through the chicken yard and just last evening, Tuesday, a raccoon, possible, likely, the same one as before, got it’s paws on a rooster as they went up on the roost and was chasing it and another around the yard before I clued in to what was happening. I was right there but could not see the raccoon at first and thought only that one rooster was chasing another. A loud shout from me and the raccoon was off like a bullet to the safety of the thick nearby underbrush. I did not know they could go so fast. No harm done in either of those four events. No chickens died.

Our opossum trying to look hidden.

The best I could do without getting her too upset. She was quite quiet and waited patiently for us to leave.

A little difficult to see but there is a little baby opossum on her right rear hip.

The week ending June 11 was just as busy if not more so than previous weeks. Once more an encounter between hen and raccoon had a happy ending. For the hen, not the raccoon, as the hen got away unscathed when Aerron showed up. Raccoon also got away unscathed but also chicken dinnerless.

Would you believe that they all jumped up on their perches just to watch me? I didn’t think you’d believe that one.

Much work done again with many thanks to our dedicated and very competent volunteers and working share members. We have altogether gotten a lot of valuable work done but still, much more needs to be done. But the garden is looking very different now and is slowly filling up with vegetables.The weather has not been the best. We had far too much heat with no rain and then it got too cool at nights and still no rain. But then we are very seldom completely satisfied with the weather that we get.

Wendy April 4 – June 10, 2018.

You may have known my little lamb Wendy, the lamb that was unable to use her front legs and whom we had been nursing along and keeping in our kitchen. Wendy died in my arms this morning, Sunday June 10. She was two months and 6 days old.

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May 21 and 28, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual Monday morning garden view on Sunday afternoon, May 27.

The usual garden view on Monday morning early, May 21.

The Iris on the front yard are nicely blended with lush green grass. The lawn needs mowing maybe.

Just a reminder first off, that you can still sign up for the CSA , to be able to come to the farm weekly through the summer and get a supply of a large variety of freshly harvested vegetables. This CSA season will run from about mid June, as early as we can make it, until about the middle of or maybe the end of  October. Give us a ‘phone call or an e-mail. Sooner the better of course.

The lilacs at the end of our front yard are in full bloom

We have been so very busy and there has been so little time over the past two weeks that I could not get a blog written last week. This then is for the past two weeks but will be a short bit of writing. It is 9:45 p.m. as I write this and I’ll be up early.

Leucan looking newly minted in his shiny spring coat.

Nell just standing looking real nice.

The weather has been a fine for the past two weeks and though we could have had a little more rain, the temperatures were pretty good and it made for really pleasant working weather. We have been able to get quite a bit done in the garden. We have had a lot of help from our working shares and from volunteers as well and this has been of immense benefit. We did a lot of work preparing the soil with wheel hoe and the wheeled push plow, seeding and spreading straw mulch. All of this is slow going and is all done by hand and with hand tools. The spreading of the mulch is quite slow but promises so many benefits that make the time spent now well worth while.

The newly sown and mulched rows of Summer squash, Cucumber and assorted Melons

The peas are just barely poking up through the straw mulch.

The peas are just barely poking up through the straw mulch.

The onions have been poking through their straw mulch for over a week. Taken last week.

The ducks in their lush green pasture

The cows and sheep have been out on pasture for a week now and really are happy about that. The horses will be moved on to a nice piece of grass just as soon as the fence can be secured. The chickens are finding more and more good stuff around their pastures and their consumption of the commercial lay ration has been cut by about a half. They are not so keen on the hot weather and gather in the shady spots quite often.

The grey Ameracauna hen and a Buff Brahma hen

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May 14, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual garden view this morning with these few ducks who managed to wiggle through the fence.

Looking across the garlic beds to the alliums, various onions and leeks covered nicely with straw.

By necessity, a short blog today.  We have been very busy getting things into the garden this week and getting a lot of straw mulch spread on the garden too. The straw mulch (we are using rye straw) is very important. The straw prevents most of the weeds from germinating, it provides shelter for insects, it shades the soil from the sun thus moderating soil temperature, retains soil moisture and eventually breaks down and is incorporated into the soil building humus and providing nutrients. It takes a lot of time to spread the mulch but the time spent now saves much, much more time spent later and greatly improves our vegetables.

The garlic really is growing so well

Green scallion onions near the wagon with partially straw covered newly seeded potatoes.

None of the collection of four footed farm creatures are yet out on pasture, that will come in another week as we allow the pasture plants to put on more growth. None of the horses, cows or sheep are particularly anxious to stay off the pastures, they cannot wait to frolic in lush green grass. We took delivery of 14 round bales 4 foot by 5 foot size, on Sunday afternoon as we had run out of hay. This will be enough to get us through until turnout on to pasture.

The communal chicken dust baths

A really magnificent, impressive and beautiful rooster and I can’t remember which breed

The chickens have always been out on their pastures and some of their pastures are getting a bit run down. Chickens will eat everything close at hand and dig big holes for dust bathing. The new chicks, acquired at the end of April are doing just fine and are now occupying their entire floor area. They are still inside with heat lamps on except when the sun gets quite warm.

Some of the ducks just taking it easy or fluffing their feathers.

The weather has been good for us but it is getting dry. We have not had very much rainfall and will get seriously dry in another week or two unless we can get at least 25 or 30 mm of rain in that time. One observation that we have made is that it seems there are much fewer bees and flies around, especially bees of all species. Nothing in any of the huge number of dandelion flowers and we’d have expected to see the bees quite busy. What is going on?

Leucan, as always curious to see what I’m up to.

If anyone has been considering signing up for our 2018 CSA season, contact us as soon as possible to let us know. I do know that I have not yet heard back from everyone.

Peas and lettuce eseeded in the foreground with the nicely grown well mulched garlic in behind.

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April 30 and May 7, 2018 FARM NEWS

Monday April 30 Garden view. A green haze starting to be apparent. Stuff is growing.

A view of the garden on Sunday May 6 late afternoon. Storm clouds were slowly moving in. The green haze is even greener and hazier than last week

A very busy two weeks it has been. I got bogged down with things to do and did not get the time to post a blog last week. So this week it is two in one. The first week first.

The little white and brown miniature horse fell over the fence at his next door pasture and cam over to visit with his bigger cousins.

We had to prepare for the arrival of the newly hatched chicks which were to be picked up on Saturday April 29. Chicken houses needed to be cleaned out and chickens shuffled around. We had previously taken away the flock of older hens so the fancy breeds were moved to where the old hens had been as the fancy’s house was the place where we brood new chicks. So two houses were cleaned out and repairs made to the roosts in the old hen house and everything taken out of where the new chicks will be going.

A chicks eye view of the newly arrived day old chicks under the red light of the heat lamp.

Marie and Aerron drove to Performance Poultry near Carrying Place in Prince Edward County. Just a bit west of Trenton for the pickup late Saturday afternoon. We kept the two boxes of chicks overnight, all day Sunday and overnight again, in our kitchen beside the wood stove. We hadn’t quite finished cleaning and getting ready their brood house. They were somewhat overcrowded but had heat lamps on them as well as the woodstove. The ideal temperature is 95F reducing by 5F each week until at 70F at which time they will be sufficiently fledged to be ok with out supplemental heating. We moved them into their brood house with lots of space and several heat lamps on Monday. We’ll have the heat lamps off after only about three weeks if the weather warms as we would expect through May.

This hen is almost exactly a year old now. She is a silver laced Wyandotte, not rare breed, there are good numbers about. but they are somewhat unusual. They should be excellent layers and we think that ours are.

We have gotten several obscure breeds of chickens as well as two breeds of turkey, the Ridley Bronze and the Bourbon Red. The chick breeds have names such as Spangled Russian Orloff, Silver Grey Dorking, Delawares, Sicilian Buttercup, Blue Andalusian, and Golden Laced Wyandotte. Parts of the names will often refer to some physical characteristic, such as colour and colour patter, type of comb and also the place of origin. Sometimes the colour description in the name is a bit difficult to interpret unless you have seen it described before and sometimes the place in a name is not actually where the breed originated. We are getting all these various breeds for several reasons. We are wanting to find a breed that will work well for us, our location, our management practices, good laying on whole grain feeds and foraging on pasture and good longevity. We would like them to lay eggs economically for more than three years, 1000 days. We are aiming for an 80 to 85 % lay rate in the first year, 70 to 75 % average in the second year and at least 6o % over the third year. We also would like to have a bird at the end of lay which will have a good carcass as a meat bird. We are wanting a good long lived dual purpose chicken.

Inside the fancy chickens house. Nesting boxes at the back to the left of the door. The overnight ladder roost near the door. I have to be careful when opening the door in the mornings as chickens fly off the roosts straight out the door. Several times I have had chicken wings brush my nose. The cage on the left wall has 5 newly acquired ISA hens who were kept in the cage for two days in order to get to know their new room and room mates.
They are out with all the others now, no problems.

Grandson William had the camera and took several fine photos. Spring flowers.

The weather has now finally been good enough to get working in the garden. We have been held up too long by the poor April weather.  We picked up most of our seeds and sets at William Dam Seeds in Dundas. More seeds are in the mail from Prairie Garden Seeds in Saskatchewan and there are one or two packets that we need to get from a couple of other places by mail order. There is still much work to be done to prepare the garden. Work that could not get done until now because of the weather. Seeding rows have to be prepared, straw mulch spread. Seeding will be done both before and after spreading straw depending on what it is we are planting.

The fall planted scallions are growing quite well. Another of William’s photos.

We are still burning wood though a week ago Saturday we had let the fire go out for the day, re-firing in the evening for overnight and we did again let it go out for a day and did not have the stove on for just one overnight. Hopefully we can soon let it go out for more extended times.

This is Wendy a 4 week old lamb with a severe handicap. She is perfectly healthy lamb except for not being to use her front legs. She was born this way. She lives in a box In our kitchen, skitters about the house and outside. Just now starting to eat a little grass. Her back legs propel her along quite quickly if need be and she can spin around in a blink when she gets playful.

Horses, cows and sheep are still not yet out on pasture. It will not be until near the end of May that the grass will be grown enough to turn them out. They are going to get quite anxious for fresh grass long before then. If the weather stays warm enough but not too hot and the rain comes regular then we might have enough rapid grass growth that we will have to get them out so that the grass does not get over mature.

The rhubarb is rowing really quickly now. Rhubarb stew and pies soon.

Stinging nettle, Korean mint and parsley.

This past week has seen us really getting our hands dirty preparing seed beds and planting. There is now so much to do and so little time in which to get it done. The weather is fine and we do need a bit of rain every week or so. An inch or 20 to 25 mm would be ideal each week.

Two of the main flock of Red Sex-link hens. You’d think that they could come out with a better name. They are scratching under the junipers at the front of our house.

Last Friday the big windstorm held things up a bit. Wind gusts at the weather station a quarter mile down the road, were recorded at 94 kph late in the afternoon. The rafters in the green house attached to our house became detached from the house at about that time. The plastic covering fastened to the rafters tightly and I had to cut it away with my knife as I was concerned that the whole thing might go with possible damage to the house. So that is a real nuisance and the only damage that we sustained. It really did need a rebuild but we don’t have the time now.

My photographer helper William hand feeding his Brahma chickens and others.

All else is well. The horses, cows and sheep are still waiting to get out on new grass but that will have to wait a little bit longer just now. So much do be done in the spring. Seeds from Prairie Garden Seed arrived. Even more to plant now!

The hairy woodpecker getting set to strike a peck.

Mid strike.

A belly view and feet tightly gripping a brittle little stem.

He was drilling away sideways and upside down too.

A male Hairy Wood pecker spent a lot of time over two or three days pecking away at the dried last years flower stems of Yucca (probably Yucca filamentosa) on our front lawn. No idea just what he was finding there but he sure was busy. Lots of photos and here are but a few.

The red patch on the back of the head says male, the downy feathers on the back say hairy.

Another view of his hairy back.

He just looks so nice.

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April 23, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual Monday morning view of the garden. it is a fine April morning today.

This is what you do a lot of when you are a horse on a real nice, warm April morning.

Cleaning up the last of the previous evenings hay.

I think that we had winter last week.  Already, with the warm temperatures, nice sunshine, and just plain fine weather over the past few days, winter seems a distant memory. Maybe last week was just a movie, a dream. Nope! We still have a bit of snow in the out of the sun spots to remind us that winter was here and just a short while ago too. The forecast for the next 5 days is encouraging but it will be cooling off just a little after tomorrow. Still we can now get some work done in the garden. Unfortunately the last two days have seen us tied up with distracting social activities and a birthday celebration. But that’s ok., we have to make room for such family events. Tomorrow will see a good lot of work done.

If you look vey carefully you can se some garlic poking through the straw mulch. There is beginning to be a long green line showing down the row.

We took another lot of older hens and some roosters in to the processors last week and now need to do some major shifting of flocks. we have to separate out some of the various breeds of chicken that we are keeping and save back some eggs for hatching. Our prime focus is on the Barred Rock, Marans, Barneveldr and Rhode Island Red chicken breeds. The Barred Rock, properly called the Barred Plymouth Rock, is an old chicken breed dating from the 1860s. Barred refers to the colour pattern. It was a good dual  purpose breed meaning it was a good layer of large eggs and had a good meat carcass as well. It is no longer quite so good as it once was, especially as a meat chicken. We will be selecting for heavier birds, good layers and long lived birds. We want hens that will lay around 2oo eggs minimum a year and lay for 3 to 4 years at a good rate and be a good heavy meat bird at the end.

The little black lamb with the crippled front legs. Growing real well and very healthy except for the front legs.

Horses, cows and sheep are still not back on grass as it will be at least three weeks probably longer before we have enough growth on the pastures. We are running short on good hay and will have to purchase a few more bales to get us through.

We have a Red Bellied Woodpecker nesting at the top of a poplar tree along our laneway. They are quite common but many others which once were common are not so any longer.

We are pretty sure that this is a Red bellied Woodpecker. Pretty sure since even though I did get a photo of a bit of his belly there was no red to be seen.

The woodpecker did this going hallway into the hole trick, several times.

The launch. He/she is flying away from us.

A report has come out; STATE OF THE WORLD’S BIRDS from Bird life International, of which Nature Canada is a supporter. This is an important if somewhat depressing report that highlights what we already have suspected and known: numbers of the majority of bird species are in sharp and rapid decline. Agriculture being the number one reason, among many. It come down to there just being far too many of us.

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