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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MARCH 1, 2021 FARM NEWS


This morning, Monday, at about 11; cold, around freezing, north west wind, overcast, a bit of snow but muddy.

Ice and snow and mud and firewood covered.

The weather was quite a bit warmer this past week. More spring like and more like maple syrup weather. We don’t have taps in yet but have all the tools, buckets, tubing and taps ready to go. Since we boil down in regular, large kitchen pots on the kitchen stove that part of the operation only takes a couple of minutes. We still have the wood burning stove going all day long for cooking and to heat the house, and until the temperature gets up to between 15 and 20°C outside, then we will still have the stove going and available to render sap into syrup.

We have now completed our orders for trees and shrubs to both Whiffletree Farm and Nursery and to Silver Creek Nursery. We still need to get vegetable seed orders out and we’ll be ordering from more seed sources than usual because of the long delays again this year. We do have a good lot of seeds left over that are still quite viable and we were gifted a significant number of seed packages of which most will also be quite viable. So we’ll be alright. We should have ordered early like we were planning to do but were not able to for several reasons.

Sweet cherry trees planted bareroot last June. The plastic guards are wrapped round the trunks and if not, the rabbits would eat through the bark on all of them in a matter of a couple of days. As I stood at this spot taking pictures a rabbit, snuggled in the debris of dead flower plants, not a metre from me, suddenly dashed away. Too quick for me to get a photo.

We have had three lambs born so far with more to come. One has subsequently died but the other two are doing well so far. All the animals are doing well having gone through a relatively mild and easy winter. The hen chickens are again laying a little more, after slowing just a little the past two weeks, so that is another sign of spring. The ducks are still on holiday though I expect eggs will begin to be laid in about two weeks. The larger flock of ducks is now getting older and they have been laying a little less each year so we won’t get so many this year and the small flock is only 2 hens but they’ll likely do an egg a day for long periods and keep it up until next winter.

All heads down at the feed trough

Heads up.

We are starting this week to put some seeds into trays or pots. We’ll start with cabbage things; kale, broccoli, sprouts, head and leaf cabbage,and rapini. Onions soon too, though we’ll possibly buy some sets as well. Red, white and yellow onion, a Spanish and some of the specialty types later. We might start some lettuces and other greens too. Still just a bit early do get too much started.

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FEBRUARY 22, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden scene at around noon. A cloudy day with a bit of misty rain and snow and a temperature at about 1°C. Positively balmy.

Turning to my left 90° to look down the lane way toward the road. The lane can just barely be distinguished . The line of apple trees can be seen on the right each tree beside a bamboo pole.

Winter is still with us and was with a lot of people last week who don’t usually experience our version of it. Our lane way was a little difficult to exit and so the cars have not moved as we have relied on the four wheel drive SUV to go out and in. Even that vehicle had some difficulty due to the snow being like sand or tiny hard spheres that rolled around a lot and made traction difficult. At 8 in the morning Sunday the temperature was at its lowest at -18°C and that was not far off the lowest we’d had all winter which I think was about -20°C. Temperatures are forecast to be above freezing over the next few days. February though is done in a week’s time, so maybe that’ll be the last of the most severe winter temperatures.

William headed to the chickens and ducks with three buckets half filled with water. He has no gloves and his work pants have a hole in the knee and asked if he is cold he’ll say “mmm, no!” With the snow being a little wet now it was a bit of a harder job. The boys are helping out each morning and evening by doing Grandad’s job while he recovers.

Sending in orders today to Whiffletree Farm and Nursery and to Silver Creek Nursery, for trees and plants. We’ll pick these up in about a month and get them in the ground right away. More seed orders to go out still

That is Gabriel heading down to the chickens with a bucket of waterThe trees just behind the chicken huts are Manitoba maple trees which we can tap for maple syrup.

We’ll likely do some maple syrup this year though we have not set any taps yet. Most of the trees that we tap will be Manitoba maple, Acer negundo which yields less maple syrup for an equal measure of sap than does sugar maple, Acer saccharum. So more boiling down. but we don’t do very much and the stove will be going anyway and we cannot discern any difference in flavour between the two varieties of maple. We might try a little walnut syrup too. Harder to get a sap flow from the black walnuts in our experience.

A black copper Marans hen the hens that lay the darkest brown eggs.

The peacock up in the rafters.

Chickens are doing well laying a good number of eggs even in the cold. We expect that the lay rate to increase as the weather warms. We’ll start hatching eggs near the end of March. No lambs yet and no calves until next fall at the earliest. Horses are well and we are hoping at least one mare will foal.

Our three horses. Standing in the old equipment yard

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FEBRUARY 15, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view today late afternoon

It has remained quite cold, well below freezing even during the day and not forecast to improve much in the next 7 days. Tomorrow night I think, it is forecast to be -20°C. Only five weeks until solar spring, the vernal equinox. The cold makes it much more difficult for the boys when they water the chickens each morning but in spite of that no gloves or mittens are worn and sometimes no hats. Usually a coat but maybe only a warm sweater. I suppose I was once like that but now only remember cold hands and feet and freezing cold water slopped into my thin rubber boots. We keep the wood burning stove well stoked and the firewood we are burning now is of excellent quality We have been lucky that there has been no wind and so far not very much snow either. The lane way is snow covered and firmly, and smoothly, packed and is easily driven on. We have not had to clear any snow from the lane way.

Hiding behind the peacocks tail is a buff hen. Not actually his tail though, these are those long back feathers.

I think that I get a lot of photos of this silver laced Wyandotte he.

The most of our eggs are the brown versions but w have a good number of the greens and blues too.

The hens are laying a good number of eggs each day. The rate of egg lay seems to be more influenced by the lengthening day light hours than by the temperature. There are a couple of breeds of chicken that have not yet started laying well and the ducks are laying nearly no eggs. The older flock are laying none at all still. we’ll have to incubate some eggs soon. First we’d better buy an incubator and we’ll have to separate the the breeds into separate flocks, each with an appropriate ratio of roosters to hens.

Even though this guy has a short pea style comb, he had a little frost damage last year.

We have had one lamb born so far but it succumbed to the cold after about a week when it got separated from it’s mother overnight. We should have more soon but hopefully not until it warms a little. This is a poor time of year to lamb. May is the perfect month but it is difficult to achieve unless the rams are kept away from the ewes until late fall, into December and then we might risk the ewes not being open. We will have to devise a better way of doing things with the lambing.

This is what the world should look like when the lambs come.

Horses are well but no way of knowing really if the horses are bred or not. Hopefully they are as the two mares have been with the stallion all the while.

The stakes mark various garlic varieties now down somewhere under a protective thick layer of snow.

The garden slumbers under a blanket of snow and we struggle to get orders out for seeds and plants. We have sent an order to Grimo Nut Nursery for nut trees and that has been confirmed. We also got nut cracker and a sampling of several different nuts, hazels, black walnut, Carpathian walnut, heartnut, and hickory as we’ll eventually be getting all these trees and we wondered if one might be more popular than another after a taste testing session. We reached no firm conclusions as to which was more popular. An order has gone to The Grand River Conservation Authority for a large number of trees but we have had no confirmation as yet. The several orders for seeds from various seed companies, with William Dam Seeds being the largest, have not yet gone out.

Devon using the new nut cracker.

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FEBRUARY 8, 2021 FARM NEWS


Monday view of a winter garden.

Just to the left of a photo in last week’s blog. Sunshine this week and more snow.

Another winter week done and yet another even more wintry one to come. A mere 6 weeks now until the equinox and one marker of the start of spring. The very cold weather of this past week has been a bit hard on everyone but as long as we can get all the animals plenty of food and enough water then they are will do alright. We did have the pipes at the well freeze up overnight Sunday/Monday but it was quickly thawed and the leak allowing in cold air was fixed so we don’t expect a repeat of that problem. Some chickens were let out today and they happily gathered outside in the sunshine in spite of the cold.

Gabriel having taken a bucket of food and a bucket of water to what we call the rooster hut to the left and the turkey hut to the right. The rooster hut has a bunch of elderly hens and the turkey huts has but three old turkeys and many more chickens; some of the heritage breeds flock.

We completed and sent off the order for trees to Grimo Nut Nursery near Niagara-on-the-Lake. this is part of our Agroforestry plans, the great ongoing decades long project though some of these trees will bare a small harvest in as soon as 3 to 5 years. We are just about ready to send out orders to Silver Creek Nursery and Whiffletree Farm and Nursery for trees, mainly fruit trees. The William Dam Seeds order for vegetable seeds is also nearly ready to go.

Gabriel with another bucket of feed and another bucket of water heading to the main chicken house with our main laying flock.

Job done, Gabriel returns with eggs and empty buckets. The mink was last seen scurrying beneath the large blue container at the end of the chicken house.

Notice Gabriel’s winter togs. He did have the hood up earlier but who needs that now. The sun is out and he started out with no mittens or cloves. Sleeves are long enough if you need to cover the hands. It is only – 16 after all and the sun is shining and the boys regularly dress this way. Usually no coat either.

We saw a mink near our house and the chicken house behind it just today. I scurried back and forth at the windows trying to get a photo but did not get one. This was the first time that we have ever seen one of these animals. Jet black and sleek it was quite a lovely little beast. They are apparently real chicken lovers and can reduce a henhouse to carnage in short order. Luckily this was just before the doors were opened so there was no ready way for the mink to get inside. We’ll keep a close watch out for it to return and be quick to respond to any loud complaints coming from a chicken coop.

Gabriel was not long when the flock came out into the warm sunshine. No wind so it was great for them

A closeup of that snow flock. These are some of the heritage breeds of chickens that we have.

Always nice to have a bit of a close up portrait. This is a particularly fine example of this breed. He is well feathered and nicely proportioned. The combs and wattles of this breed do not often get frostbite in the extreme cold because of the very small comb and wattle. Notice the much larger comb and wattle of the rooster behind, and though that one has no frost damage he seems to be missing the last point of his comb.

A good layer of snow now so we won’t be scraping any leftovers from the garden until at least some of the snow disappears.There is not too very much to be gotten from the garden tough.

We have gotten our ducks in a row. Unlike chickens the ducks are let out every morning regardless of the weather. They usually remain out all day until herded in for the night. They decided to curl up and snooze in the shadier spot without regard for any warming sunshine.

We have now completed the update to the website and our taking on renewals and new participants to our CSA project for the 2021 season. If you might like to be a part of a Community Shared Agriculture program and come to the farm once each week from June until the end of November then read up on the CSA page on this website and contact us.

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FEBRUARY 1, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden this afternoon at around 5 p.m.

 

 

The view across the valley from beside the fence at the east side of our house.

The weather has been more February like lately with most of last week well below freezing But only 28 more days, 4 weeks and we’ll be at March which though it can be pretty cold, snowy and rainy is then only three weeks from the vernal equinox. Spring. Much warmer weather on average by then.

The hens are up on their perch for the night by about 4 in the afternoon when it is dull, cold and cloudy

The chickens are in remarkably good condition given the frozen state of things. Some of the chicken houses just have too few hens to be warm enough and a bit of ice will be on their water each morning. They need a lot of litter on their floors when shut up tight as otherwise their is an excessive build up of ammonia and humidity. The hens have been laying more eggs in spite of the cold so it seems that increasing day length is more important to egg laying.

We have many pics of the silver laced Wyandottes. They are such a pretty hen with all that fine detail in the feather colour pattern

Just an interesting picture of the chickens, two hens and a rooster again all settled in on their roosts for the night.

The rest of the animals, horses, cows and sheep are still the same. No great changes over the past few weeks, everyone just the same and waiting for spring. we should have lambs coming around the end of this month.

This photo was taken about January 20. The horses just standing about well fed and resting. This picture was taken last week

The garden is getting a bit of a blanket of snow now and the rabbits have eaten nearly all the greens that were left in the garden. there is a little bit of the small immature cabbage still there under the snow. Perfectly good eating though a lot of leaf has to be rimmed away.

The garlic rows with the marker stakes. All slumbering under the snow.

Sort of a no news week to report. We are still working up lists of vegetables and trees and shrubs to get for the spring. Our gardening and agroforestry plans are still being fine tuned. Firewood splitting is an on going chore still. Keeping a good fire going in the woodstove to keep the house warm always keeps us busy.

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JANUARY 24, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view early afternoon. The sun had been quite nice earlier but was now just a weak lowering sun.

The weather was not too bad last week though it has been gradually getting colder. Instead of hovering around the 0 to plus 3 or 4°C, we are going to be zero to minus 3 or 4 with overnight temperatures sometimes down around minus 12. But it is and has been quite variable and overall our winter so far has been quite mild. At this point in the calendar it also seems to be stable too. No storms, little or no wind most days though not a lot of sun.

The Barnevelder hens have, like many chickens, very exquisite feather colour patterns.

The rooster trying to impress the hens by finding something really, really interesting.

Not sure that there actually was anything there but they sure spent a lot of time with heads down as if there actually was something of value there.

The hens are quite liking this winter though the next week or so, or maybe for the whole month of February, it may be much colder than they would like. We open up the doors to their houses so they can go outside during the day but only if it is sunny and not too terribly cold. Overcast and well below freezing and especially wit a wind then the chickens just will not go outside and open doors just cool down the inside of the chicken houses.

The horses are just standing around waiting for their afternoon feed of hay.

The horses are perfectly fine outside all the time and it is actually much better for them as their lungs seem a little more delicate tan cattle and they appreciate the cleaner, dust free air when eating hay. Hay does get dusty, even the good stuff. The horses grow a thick coat in early fall which insulates them quite well. After a snowfall they will have a layer of snow, unmelted on their backs. They work up a sweat quite quickly if they are put to work in the winter.

A start on next seasons heating.

We’re still splitting firewood for the house and the yurt, every day, several times a day. We should have enough wood to finish out this year’s season for burning wood in the wood burning stove. But that could run well into May. Mid to late April for sure. At least 10 plus more weeks. Then after that it would be starting the stove every once in a while for an especially cold day.

These are the garlic rows. All the greens are now beaten down and partially covered in leaves. Nothing will happen here until April

Bunny rabbit tracks are almost everywhere.

The chard looked alright last week but rabbit tracks all over the chard rows and they have eaten it right down to the ground. It will not likely recover in the spring.

So far the rabbits are uninterested in the turnips hopping right past. that may change as all else gets eaten.

So far the rabbits are uninterested in the turnips hopping right past. that may change as all else gets eaten.

Not much at all left in the garden. The rabbits devoured the kale first then moved on to the cabbages and are now working their way through the chard.  We need to fence off a portion of the garden to protect these things from rabbits. They are not a problem during the growing season. The rabbit numbers are increasing each year. This happened about 20 years ago such that after an overnight snowfall our front yard would be heavily covered in tracks. Then the next year there were none at all. It took another year before we saw a set of rabbit tracks and several years for the numbers to increase much. Now they seem to be increasing very rapidly. May be another number crash soon.

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JANUARY 18, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the gardens taken today at about noon. Gloomy grey day, not a speck of sunshine but at just over 1 degree the temperature was enough to melt away the little bit of snow that later fell.

Cat tracks along with boot prints, a car track and William’s lines from his ice skates. A not too bad layer of ice on the driveway.

Another fine week of weather, mostly above freezing during the day and just a little below at night. Little or no wind for most of the week, no new snow on the ground for us either. But the forecast is for colder weather ahead. We’ll see. Nine more weeks until the vernal equinox, nine more weeks ’til spring

Possum tracks just to the right in the last photo. Two opossums live in our garage and if we don’t get the cat’s evening meal leftovers picked up right away the opossums will be there.

We need to update this website, spruce it up a bit as not much has been done to it over the past year and for some parts of it a lot longer ago than that. We have to make changes to reflect our repositioning as to agroforestry, forest garden, forest food, and permaculture. We’ll be doing the CSA vegetable program again, our 28th season. We can happily brag that we are one of the earlier CSA organic farms in Ontario.

The Swiss chard is all looking similar to this. The small centre leaves are doing well still but the outer and usually much larger ones are heavily damaged by the cold and the freezing.

Our one legged duck. He does actually have another. It is just tucked up to keep it warm.

We have evolved our methods over the past 28 years (more than 30 counting the years before we began the CSA) but we still work the garden with a minimum of input from other than people and horses. We are much less dependent on horses and while we have always had a lot of help from those with working shares, or from volunteer labour, they have been of increasing importance to us over the past few years. We have increasingly been adapting practices that require less work in the garden, such as heavily mulching which keeps weeds to a minimum, retains soil moisture, keeps the soil cooler and adds organic matter to the soil.

Noon time and most of the chickens are just lounging around inside.

We have a nice assortment of colourful hens and roosters which give us a nice assortment of colourful eggs.

The poultry, sheep cows and horses are all doing very well. We had another 14 bales of hay delivered this week, the large round ones. We are using about a third of a bale per day so these will keep everyone fed for another 42 days and we had others in the barn already so we have enough hay for about 60 days. It will be about the middle of May before we can get everyone back on pasture.

Actually the roosters give us no eggs. They just hang about; eating, picking on, or pecking on, friend and foe, breeding the hens, bragging loudly, scrapping with others and sometimes like these two, just getting along perfectly fine.

Another silver laced Wyandotte hen just sleeping off her breakfast and lunch.

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JANUARY 11, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view. Stuff is beginning to accumulate

Gabriel putting away the young ducks for the night. He is carrying Gregory, the blind drake.

The weather is still relatively mild with daytime temperatures around the 0°C mark and night time down to around -5 or maybe as low as -8°C. But it has even been a bit above freezing overnight. The small amount of snow that we got a while ago has melted but only a little, even on the sunny days. But the foot packed snow on the drive way and the pathways is getting quite icy.

Sleeping chicken. Typical pose. The head end is to the left.

Another hen up on the roost for the night. All these photos were taken at around 4:30 p.m. It was overcast so quite dim but the light was on.

A Welsumer on the left and a Black Copper Marans on the right. Just a little bit of a Silver Laced Wyandotte showing on the left marg

All this is good for us as it means we are much more comfortable both indoors and out. The chickens and ducks are happier too and therefore egg laying has not dropped off so much as we’d expect. The days are getting noticeably longer now so that also helps. The horses, cows and sheep are comfortable enough and might even get a bit overheated on a sunny, windless warm day. They eat noticeably less hay when the weather is nice.

This is either a Whiting True Blue or an Americauna rooster, the hens of which breed lay blue-green eggs.

We have been scouring vegetables from the garden, kale, cabbage, greens of various sorts and turnips when we can. But the cold and the snow do make that a bit more difficult and each freeze-thaw does more damage and the turnips are still frozen into the ground.

The chard leaves are mostly picked or damaged by the cold with only these small centre ones looking good. If we are lucky these plants will survive the winter and regrow in the spring.

The work getting up a seed and plant list is going far too slowly and we really have to get our seed and plant orders away. So much time researching the pros and cons of this variety as opposed to that and there are hundreds and thousands of vegetable and plant varieties. Too much candy.

There are quite a few good turnips still in the garden. They are buried in the snow and some, like this one, had a thin layer of snow which has melted away. the turnip root itself is frozen firmly to the ground though.

There are also many small projects that are wanting to be done and we do peck away at them. Somewhat hard to make progress when the weather is cold even in this relatively mild weather and so much of just the mundane everyday stuff is happening too. Aerron’ and Maggie’s two boys William and Gabriel have been of great help though. Each has a group of chickens and ducks to look after. their job is to go round each morning around 9 and each afternoon around dark to feed and water and gather eggs and to herd them inside and shut them up securely at the end of the day. We have lost no poultry to predators since the early fall coyote intrusion of the one chicken flock.

This is what much of the turnip row looks like where the snow is thin enough that the sun has melted through

Firewood as always during the winter keeps us busy. this winter we have been doing quite well as so far our wood has been well seasoned and has been kept out of the weather and dry. Even though the weather this winter has been relatively mild does not mean we have burned less firewood but only that we have been able to keep the indoor temperatures warmer than we might have otherwise.

Firewood. Spruce logs, or rounds as we call them when they are cut to stove length. Ready to be split. This is still not fully cured and will be difficult to split though it is dry enough to burn. We will not use this unless we absolutely have to and will try to save it for next season.

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JANUARY 4, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden on January 2 after a light snowfall.

The stove has been stoked after having been burning for a while, otherwise smoke is not seen.

Well !  HAPPY NEW YEAR !!  Now, a chance for a fresh new start and for us it is now officially the start of the 2021 vegetable growing season even though we’ll not actually be setting out plants, tilling ground or sowing seeds for quite some time. The planning has been stepped up the last few days and we are actually working quite hard to get our seed orders out. We really wanted them out before this so as to not run into the same delays in getting our seeds and plants that we did last year. No idea yet if the same sort of thing will happen and our seed suppliers have probably been trying hard to figure out just what they should be expecting and yet not end up with too much.

The hens mid morning, 30 eggs can be seen, all from the red hens. There were another 7 eggs under those hens still in the nests and 10 more from the heritage breeds were laid a little later.

The hens continue to lay as expected. The one breed, the hybrid red sex-link, quite well as they always do, while some of the heritage breeds have, just stopped laying and this is also The ducks are now laying maybe an egg a week but most stopped about the end of October. Only our three young ducks will still lay the occasional egg. The chickens are inside a lot know with the snow and cloudy days. A bit of sun and little to no wind will however bring the  chickens outside.

The boys heading back up the hill from the barn. The horses paying but scant attention.

The horses, sheep and cattle are fine though only the horses are out side all the time. The fences are just not good enough for the cows to be out overnight. It seems that the cows can figure out quickly, within but a couple of hours if there is no power in the electric fence whereas the horses will not know a fence is without power for months. Sheep just move, seemingly unaware that the electric fence wires are even there.

We had some more hay delivered on Tuesday last. The truck is on the road out of sight, hidden by the barn. The skid steer tractor, on rubber tracks instead of wheels, carries two bales at a time and goes up the hill with them no difficulties regardless of weather.

The weather has not been to very bad at all the start of winter. We are after all only starting today with our third week of winter. The last few weeks of fall were worse for cold temperatures. The forecast this week is for slightly warmer than usual temperatures. They will be a little above, 1 to 2°C above freezing during the day time and just a few degrees below freezing at night and no major snow fall is expected. only 11 long weeks until the vernal equinox on March 22.

Two bales as deposited by the tractor and before they have been rolled anywhere. Once at this spot they are turned and moved all by hand.

The bale moving gang worked pretty hard. Sometimes these bales roll easily while at other times they might have a flat spot and be looser and more difficult to push around.

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DECEMBER 28, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday garden photo. The snow had been rained on and at the time of this photo, around 3:30, it was near zero again

The big news for us this week past was, as for many people, that Christmas 2020 happened. So little to report on happenings at the farm as we did nothing extra at all.

The cows on their way out to get their hay.

This is as far as these chickens ventured today. Too windy, too cold, no sun.

Thursday the temperature reached a maximum of 9.4°C before falling to below freezing and starting to snow. By Christmas morning a nice layer of snow, about 9 mm, was covering the ground and it stayed cold. Yesterday, Sunday, it got a little above freezing again and a bit of snow melted. Today, Monday, it has warmed to +2°C  for a brief time before once again dropping below freezing, but this after an overnight rain that washed away some of the snow leaving bare patches.

This is Nell, pateintly waiting for the afternoon feed even though there is hay on the ground from the last feeding.

This is Marta, making do with the last feeding.

It seems Leucan and Nell were interested in what I might be up to and if there was anything in it for them.

The horses hay from the barn piled on the sled pulled out to their pasture

The horses have been moved to their over winter spot outside. It is near to the barn for ease of feeding and watering. They may move around to adjoining areas later and one spot is a little more sheltered.

The young duck, 7 drakes, 3 hens in their new location

We moved the young ducks to their wintering spot last week. It is close to our house and is a little more sheltered as well. When there is no snow they have a nice lot of grass and we can move them a few feet to either side as they wear out the grass.

The pile in the woodshed actually got bigger over the week. Note the little cat curled up on the floor wondering just what I might be up to.

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DECEMBER 21, 2020 FARM NEWS


The customary heading photo taken Sunday near noon. Rain just finished.

The days have been getting shorter by an increasingly tiny amount the past while, but, as of tomorrow, days will be getting longer by an decreasingly tiny amount.  We reached the maximum depth of winter, by one measure, at 10:03 a.m. today which is, co-incidentally, the time when this blog was published. By most measures though, this day on the  calendar  is deemed to be the start of winter. We should set up some rocks so that the first rays of the rising sun illuminate in a particular manner, a particular spot, at this particular time of the year, the winter solstice.  Of course we would then have to add in a feature to do similar at the summer solstice and again at each equinox. Stonehenge light.

The lane was muddy at one point a few days ago but is ok now. If the frost were to come out of the ground then it would be muddier than before.

This rooster and hen seem to be comfortable out side. On this day anyway they figure it is better out than in.

The chickens will not likely have notice, but this is, or will be in a while, better for them as they much prefer longer daylight and that eventually brings more warmth. I’m on side with the chickens. They are still laying reasonably well but it will be some month and a half or two months before those that have stopped for the winter begin to lay again. So much to do and so much needs to be done now.

As well as her feather pattern and colour, this breed of hen is distinguished by the feather muff and the slate coloured legs. An Orloff hen.

These silver laced Wyandotte hens have an intriguing colour pattern.

One never ending daily chore these days, and for all days until well into the spring, is firewood. We have a pretty good supply but much needs to be cut to length and much of that again needs to split. We have two wood burning stoves to feed but it is the one in the house that needs the most. It is much harder to heat the house than it is to heat the yurt.

The jumble of wood in the wood shed looks far worse than it actually is. There is an orange cat just visible sleeping in the small white box furthest to the left on top the pile.

The sheep, cows and horses are doing well. The sheep and cows are now eating hay alone whereas the horses are still out on pasture though they do get hay less frequently.

The horses grazing with the snow now gone entirely from their pasture.

We still manage to get a little from the garden though since the regrowth is so slow there is nothing new coming on. A bit of spinach, chard, lettuce, turnips, cabbages, kale and maybe a bit of other. There is very little left and should we get much snow it will be that much harder to retrieve though the snow would maybe give some protection from the freeze/  thaw cycle which seems to cause most of leaf damage.

It is getting more difficult to find good chard leaves.

The turnip leaves though still mostly green are now really looking the worse for wear.

The cabbages all actually look quite good in spite of the freezes.

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