September 17, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual garden view on a very hot and sunny Sunday afternoon.

The tables on September 13 for the CSA pick up.

The fall weather has so far been very good for growing. We have had a few nights down around 10°C and that was not near the best for many vegetables but the days, except for three or four, have been mostly quite warm and the past while has been quite hot. Most everything is growing just great and we should even be able to get a harvest from the late planting of basil. The bush beans are in flower now too so that’s a good thing.

The beans are in flower. Carrots to the left of them and then two rows of peas also in flower.

The Monarch butterflies have been quite plentiful this season. We have several patches of the common milkweed growing in the garden and in one of these there are at least 10 caterpillars munching on the leaves. There are about six plants, they are young and only about 12 to 15 inches in height. A couple of weeks ago I had watched a single Monarch Butterfly fluttering about these same plants and it appeared to be laying eggs though I could not tell for certain. It was an interesting butterfly because it was lacking in both the hind wings and fluttered about with a bit of difficulty though even with a good wind blowing that day it seemed to manage well enough flying about and going from one plant to the next.

There are 8 monarch butterfly caterpillars on this one plant but this was the most I could get in one photo

The munching end is to the left and it is munching leaving the characteristic eaten leaf pattern and under it’s nose on the lower leaf is a pile of characteristic caterpillar poop.

The sunflowers are extraordinary; many are still blooming and there are plenty of unopened buds though in the Mammoth Russian sunflower row many of the first to bloom are now drooping quite low under the weight of the developing seed head. We have been giving out large sunflower bouquets to the CSA members at veggie pick up. They are quite varied in size and colours, look so nice and usually last the whole week.

The mature headed sunflowers are drooping lower.

These many varied sunflowers are still blooming profusely.

One of the sunflower bouquets. Typical of those available on September 13 CSA pick up.

The chickens, ducks, cows and horses are doing well. Lots of pasture still. Hot weather and plenty of moisture have been great for growing grass as much as for growing vegetables. they all seem to tolerate the hot weather and likely do prefer hot to winter’s cold.

A nice gray Cochin hen. They are big birds, calm not prolific layers and the tinted egg is small to medium sized. Good setters though.

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September 10, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual garden view on an overcast and windy Sunday, September 9 morning.

A good week though a bit of a cooler one at the weekend. Not so cool as to cause any great harm to the growing and producing vegetables. Small amount of rain overnight Sunday which will help to keep the soil damp.

Lettuce, basil, celery. All would like a little more warmth though they’ll be ok if not.

Young onions with small leeks to the left.

The chickens and ducks and turkeys continue to lay eggs well and the pullets continue to grow.

A buff hen pared in a nest box. This haen prefers to hang out here. She laid her egg earlier and she is not broody. Just prefers to be here.

A silver laced wyandotte hen.

Same hen, notice her type of comb.

All of the animals are doing fine and do appreciate the somewhat cooler weather but I’m sure that warmth is more appreciated.

Leucan, our young stallion.


The sunflowers are even more spectacular than ever. A photo of the rows and close ups of some of the mixed varieties in the shorter row.

The shorter variety mix in the foreground with the row of tall mammoth sunflower behind.

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September 3, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual weekly garden view. Notice all the flowers on the sunflowers

Compare to previous photos. The first flower has lost it’s petals and the seed head is ripening and getting heavier and sagging lower.

the squash vines to the left of the sunflower have formed an impenetrable matt and there are a lot of squash under there.

Nothing too news worthy has happened over the past two weeks. But we have been very busy doing all the usual stuff. The garden is growing very well. Some things are finishing up, sweet corn for instance. Some things such as our recently planted (two Mondays ago) peas, beans, beets and carrots are just starting but they are looking real good. Maybe we’ll have enough time to get a harvest from these and we should if the weather stays above or at least near normal warm.

the squash vines to the left of the sunflower have formed an impenetrable matt and there are a lot of squash under there.

The carrot rows in the centre(with the cover boards piled in between them), beans then lettuce to the right and on the left peas then beets. This photo is a couple of days old and the growth difference since then is large.

We have had no huge problems with insect pests this season. The corn earworm was totally absent for the first three weeks of giving out sweet corn but is getting to be a bit of a problem just now. Potato beetles were a problem early on but we picked them off with some regularity and soon the plants were large enough that the few that remained were of no consequence. The tomatoes were host to a fairly large number of tobacco horn worms which differ from tomato horn worms only in small details. The experiment to raise some of these in a terrarium was a failure with 100% mortality of the emergent moths. But because we plucked off most of the hornworms the damage was not a problem. The only other thing was the white grub which were not really bad but there certainly was quite a few of them. We lost a few young transplants and there are dugouts in some potatoes. And that was about the worst. There is a lot of other minor damage to various things, thrips on onions and cucumber and probably from other things too. Nothing else to cause any concern at all.

Chieftan red potatoes and going clockwise, white Kennebecs, purples and Yukon Golds. Four plants here, one of each colour.

A very nice looking Buff Orpington hen, a good layer of a medium to small tinted egg.

The chickens get shelter from the hot sun and dig holes for dust bathing and just hang out in the weeds.

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August 20, 2018 FARM NEWS

The latest pic of the sunflower on Tuesday

The usual garden view on Tuesday.

Another week gone by, week 8 for the CSA this year.  Again much has been accomplished by us here and by those who have helped us. We have done seeding of beans, beets, and carrots and have placed shade boards over the carrots and peas and have pulled them off again as the seeds germinate. The peas and carrots have been mulched heavily with straw. The beans and the beets will be mulched just as soon as possible. We also transplanted onions and leeks and, though it is a bit late, we will still get something of a crop. There are more vegetables yet to be seeded and transplanted, there is more areas that need to have straw mulch laid down and there are many more weeds that need to be pulled. Everything is growing astonishingly well.
The horses are just now finishing up mowing the grass around the garden, horses do a good mowing job when they eat the grass. The sheep are well though their overnight shelter has gotten really wet and muddy with the recent heavy rain.The cows have ben pretty well behaved and were until sunday evening when they broke a gate wire and got into places that they should not of. They were a bit difficult to get back in. But they are back to being happy.

Leucan, our stallion

Leucan and his mother Nell background taking care of flies.

Chickens are fine though the egg laying is off a bit. We are getting fewer eggs than we’d expect. Not sure why, maybe the hot weather, just don’t know.

Chicken fix 3. Note the difference in the combs on these roosters

Chicken fix 2.

Chicken fix 1.

A few insect photos. We are seeing lots of butterflies this year, monarchs seem to be little more plentiful and we have a lot of their milkweed growing. Some insects are a problem for us; the tomato or tobacco hornworms can cause a good bit of damage, potato beetle larva cause huge losses if we don’t pay very close attention early on, corn ear worm cause a lot of cosmetic damage some years but only just starting to see them now. No damage yet. Squash bugs can also be a serious pest but little concern this season. Usually there are enough predators about to keep pest populations low. Usually but not always.

A tobacco hornworm loaded with the eggs of a parasitic wasp. Has been here immobile for at least 4 days.

Parsley worm on carrot, the caterpillar of Swallow tail butterfly.

A bald faced hornet nest on the front of the chicken/peacock house.

Note the torn right wing.

this particular butterfly has been hanging around the pickup area and apples for several days now.

Same butterfly with the wings folded up.

A garden spider tending her web on the milkweed on our front yard.

The goldfinches have been feasting on the Swiss Chard leaves again and they can rapidly damage a lot of leaves.

The damage done to chard leaves by the Goldfinches.

A monarch caterpillar on the milkweed just below the garden spider.

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August 13, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual regular garden view photographed last Sunday, the 11th

This shot also in last week’s Even more growth to be noted this week.

On Monday last we got a good amount of rain in the afternoon and overnight with about an inch and a half in total. We got some garden work done in the morning, weeding, lettuce transplants and more garlic pulled. Tuesday was nice the whole day, not too warm and sunny but not too cloudy either and it stayed dry, good thing too as Tuesdays we have to pick vegetables for the CSA pick up in the later afternoon. But again we had rain overnight Tuesday and in to Wednesday morning, about an inch, so we have gotten plenty of rain and could actually do with a short dry spell. We are a bit concerned with the tomatoes getting blight. This is an annual occurrence at about this time of year as the nights become cool and the days are warm. The humidity and continual damp and soil splash from rain soon distribute the blight over the plant, fruit and leaves and some times the entire crop will be lost including green tomatoes. We were unable to stake our tomatoes so air circulation to dry beneath the plants is poor but we do have them mulched well with straw to avoid the soil splash distribution of blight. But no rain since and it is getting a tad dry so more rain will be welcome at any time now.

Aerron in the garlic patch. Garlic has all been pulled and in piles ready to go. Already have set out transplants: lettuce, celery and basil.

Some of the garlic already removed to here to dry and the heads selected for replanting.

A lot of work has been accomplished. The sweet corn was thoroughly weeded, transplants have gone into the ground, late seeding has been done, all that took a very long time and was helped by very dedicated people working with us as volunteers or as working shares. Their work is very much appreciated.

This bed of lettuce is coming along real well and should be ready for harvest in two weeks.

The various four footed beasties and the two legged, two winged ones too, are all well and appreciative of the great growing weather providing them with good fodder.

Some of Heather and Kevin’s chickens. They are looking very nice.

More of Heather and Kevin’s.

The garden veggies and the weeds are all growing really well and the tomatoes are, as of today, starting to ripen. The blight has not yet taken hold though I think that it is there.

The end sunflower in the unfold position. Was like this several days.

And now fully opened.

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August 6, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual weekly garden view on Monday morning just before nine.

The sunflower giants. These are the Mammoth Russian variety and are about 8 feet tall, most of the row is a little shorter than at the very end.

I can’t remember what happened during the past week. But then I never can when I start the blog each week. However, if I persist long enough then some memories of the week gone by do come trickling back.

The sunflowers with the zucchini to the right of them

The squash patch which is to the left of the sunflowers

We were of course, as usual, extremely busy. There was no need to do a lot of irrigating, only on the new planted lettuce and on the carrots. We also were doing transplants so they of course needed to get regular waterings. If we can get some more rain in the next few days though it would be really nice. We are not dry yet but the plants are mostly all big, which means lots of leaf area which then means lots of water being evaporated, lots of water coming up through the roots and stems. The water, the moisture in the soil, being steadily depleted.

it is just possible to make out that there are three rows of tomatoes here. lots of fruit but nearly all is still quite green.

The garden is looking a bit like a jungle with squash vines sending out long runners, tomato plants thick and sprawling, zucchinis flowering and fruiting profusely, maamoth sunflowers 8 foot tall at their highest, sweet corn growing thick and well and throughout, lambs quarters, foxtail grass, pigweed, tomatillo, cape gooseberry and other weeds filling any gaps.

These sunflowers self-seeded and are pretty tall though not quite the height of the others.

The garlic being pulled and stacked and lettuce planted already at this end of the first garlic bed

We had left some milkweed to grow in places and have been rewarded with Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Not sure how many caterpillars are there as they appear and disappear and leave only ragged leaves as evidence that they were there. Quite a few of the large green horn worms on the tomatoes. These are tobacco hornworms which have a slightly different appearance from the tomato hornworm. Gabriel and his brothers have collected more than 20 and put them in a dry aquarium with a layer of dirt on the bottom and lots of tomato leaves as food. Most have already gone to the soil to pupate and they will emerge in short while as hawk moths and if released will head straight to our tomato plants to begin the cycle all over. Tobacco and tomato hornworms can inflict a lot of damage on the tomato foliage, and on the fruits, so it is best to keep them out of the tomatoes.

A couple of fine hen ducks

Horses, cows, sheep, turkeys, peafowl, ducks and chickens are doing just fine, the heat not being much of a hardship to them. The lay rate of the chickens is down just a bit because of the high temperatures. Pastures are holding up pretty good, the recent rains saved them. And the garden.

The sheep flock .


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July 30, 2018 FARM NEWS

The usual view of the garden on Monday July 30 in early afternoon. The growth on everything is quite amazing.

Slightly different position taken in the morning.

Some pretty impressive clouds which came along and gave us even more rain last Thursday.

The previous week was mostly quite warm and on going dry. Seriously dry, almost desperately dry. We had to water a lot and often. The water comes from our well which has a good supply of water if we only use the single 3/4 horsepower deep well jet pump. When we use two pumps the water level drops. The inflow to the well can keep up with the one pump drawing water but not two. We have no appreciable water storage but it would be very useful to us if we had a large capacity water storage. A 10,000 gallon tank filled in the spring from snow melt and spring rain runoff would go a long way to alleviating our lack of water woes. The past week however ended the drought. What a difference! We have had about 1 3/4 inches total over several days though the most came on Thursday past and several of our brave CSA members got quite wet. So did we. More rain is welcome but if we got none for a week all would be ok. Temperatures, though, are forecast to go back up tonear 30C by the end of the week so it will be very nice to get more rain before that happens.

Yellow zucchini with the sweet corn to the right side.

Yellow zucchini with the sweet corn to the right side.

Cucumbers sprawled across the ground flanked by Zucchinis.

The mammoth sunflower beside the zucchini with bins of apples ready for the animals … too many worm holes and damage for us to eat.

The mammoth sunflowers on the right and those are squashes to their left. Right beside the sunflower though their is a row of runner beans which are just starting to climb towards the sunflowers.

The vegetables are all growing quite well and so are the weeds. Even with the straw mulch, the weeds are still growing there. But they are easy to pull. In most situations, if we had been able to pull the straw in really close to the young plants and it was laid down very thick, then no weeds, or at least very few weeds, would have germinated. But it is difficult to get the straw tight around the new plants without smothering them or damaging them and by the time it can be done the weeds will  have themselves germinated.

A young Welsumer hen, hatched out at the end of April.

The one young Turkey, likely a Tom, is doing his display routine. When he is mature this will be quite an impressive display.

A Bourbon Red turkey and a Bronze turkey with a young chicken

Our chickens and ducks are doing well and manage alright in the hot weather. Ducks never seem to vary their routine but the chickens will spend more time inside or in the shade during the hottest time of the day. Cows and horses seem alright with the heat, spending time, no surprise, in the shade of trees. Sheep will be out in the sun and heat and will after a while retreat to the cool of the barn.

One of many tomato plants loaded with green fruit. None have coloured up even a tiny bit as yet.

Looking across the tomato rows at bore beds prepared for planting. Peas, lettuce, and spinach among the veggies to go in for the fall.

Vegetables are still being seeded and transplanted and this will continue through August. The harvest has been good so far. For the CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) pickups here each Tuesday and Thursday, this week’s veggies include: Lettuce, Potato, Swiss Chard, Onion, Garlic, Broad Bean (Favas), Summer Squash (Zucchinis and similar), Spinach, Cucumber, some herbs, small Apples and maybe more things will be found to be ready.

Looking across our front yard. The grass has been cut only three times this year, twice with a riding mower, to get it done quick and the last time with a little electric push mower to get it done good. I’ll still have to go around with the hand clippers to tidy up. We have mowed around several nice plants,: milkweed, viper’s bugloss, tansy, a small mulberry tree, nd various flowers and in the foreground, our lilies, redbud and a box.

We are still extraordinarily busy with the vegetable garden. I have not had the time to post on Facebook and my blog post here post has been delayed. But here it is at last and with a good number of photos too.

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