NOVEMBER 12, 2018 FARM NEWS


More fall colour from last week. The leaves this week are nearly all now on the ground.

I have been unable to load the photos to the computer from the camera. No amount of  fiddling would fix it. The photos this week are from last week, same week as the last blog posting.

Winter gets closer each week. We have been very busy this week on several fronts. We are working to get the garlic planting finished; we are  doing repairs to the laneway to make it more passable; we are bringing up firewood to the wood shed,  cutting and splitting as well; we are doing several other things to prepare for winter and as well are doing maintenance on dwellings and equipment.

Looking down our lane way towards the road from near our CSA pick up location. A couple of weeks ago but already a very muddy lane way.

The laneway has been a big concern as it becomes unusable when the late wet fall comes. We scooped out all the mud down to a solid base at the end of the lane at the road and Aerron has been bring up large stones placing them tightly together and spreading some fine gravel and crumbled asphalt mix over top of them. This is a slow process requiring hard work because the heavy stones are brought some distance in a wheel barrow. We hope to at least get the end finished and a short portion further along the lane before the ground freezes.

Garlic on the garden wagon ready to be hauled out to the garden for planting.

We have nearly finished planting the garlic. We now have seven beds mostly planted; three rows per bed each bed just over 100 feet long, about 30 metres. There are nine varieties of garlic in the ground and three more to go. There is a short bit, about 10 feet at the end of three beds that will be planted with these three varieties even though there are not a lot of them.

Garlic on the garden wagon ready to be hauled out to the garden for planting.

The jumbled pile of fire wood alongside the lane way has been noticeably reduced as we have moved a good portion of the oldest, the most seasoned wood, to the woodshed where we cut it again if need be, into stove lengths and do what splitting is needed. We split with axe, maul and wedges and cut with a gas chainsaw at the outside wood pile, an electric chainsaw in the woodshed and with a ten inch table saw for those smaller pieces; less than about three inches diameter and reasonably straight.

Again from last week these are the heritage chickens out much like they were this week past.

The poultry and livestock are faring well though the lay rate for our chickens and ducks has dramatically fallen off. There are several reasons for the drop off. We had a problem earlier this fall with the timing of the lights the poultry need for at least 14 hours of light each day to promote laying. Falling light levels will induce a hormonal change in the hens that starts to shut down the egg production. Our hens are also older, and as the hens age the egg production is going to fall off and finally many of our hens are of a breed that typically will not be a good winter layer. We will struggle through the winter to keep the egg lay rate up but it will return to more normal levels with spring, with warmth, more daylight, and fresh vegetation. Even the older hens will once more lay well … like ‘Spring Chickens’.

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November 5, 2018 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday garden view. Each week the garden looks more and more ready for winter.

A few cool nights again and early Sunday morning saw a low of -2.8°C at the Environment Canada weather station just a quarter mile down the road from us. More of a bother has been the rains, sometimes quite heavy, but more often just very light. Any rain accompanied by temperatures down around 5°C and sometimes with a wind, is enough to make outside work quite uncomfortable.

Looking down the hill to the east of the house at the fall colours.

We did get more garlic planted but as much as has been planted still needs to get put in the ground and as well, we have only done a token 15 foot of one bed with compost leaves and a covering of straw mulch. The whole garlic planting of some 12 beds with three rows per bed will have to be done before too long. Each bed is some 110 feet long and 3 foot wide. We have other work to do in the garden, mainly spreading straw mulch, but we would also like to do a planting of potatoes with a heavy straw mulch cover. This method was tried inadvertently last winter when, as a result of not harvesting a few beds of late planted small potatoes that were judged to not be worth the time, the potatoes grew well in the spring with no apparent over winter losses. We thought that to have been quite incredible so we’ll seed some of our 2019 potato crop that way.

Preparing another three rows for planting garlic. The newly rebuilt cultivator on the left has a choice of three tools on a rotating bar and the one selected here is a single long spike. For preparing the garlic rows this tool is used to scratch a mark, the cultivator on the right has a mold board plow attachment which is used to get a deep furrow. The other tool is used once more to finish the furrow by loosening up the soil at the bottom. Then the garlic is planted at 4 inches apart.

We bought 5 of these at a very low price. They are very light and not strongly built but they have proved to be very useful in the week that we have been using them.

We have much else too that we’d like to do so there is no shortage of work for us. The horses, cows and sheep are still not in their over winter areas so that is a major chore as a lot of work is needed to get that ready the way we’d like.

The sheep decided to have a break and were sleeping peacefully in a tight bunch. All but the black one.

We have done some equipment repairs and assembled four small light garden wagons that we just acquired for a bargain price. More things need to be fixed and we” need to put all our tools under cover. More often than not our hand tools are stored in the open because of a lack of covered shelter for them. This very obviously not good at all.

A very nice looking buff Orpington hen, now about a year and a half old. Orpingtons are a heavy breed of chicken.

The end of the woodshed has been cleared and wood has been stacked there as we go through the large pile of logs and branches cutting it into stove length pieces and carting it, with our newly acquired wagons, to the woodshed foe splitting and stacking.

We have been digging away mostly at the left end of the woodpile and have made a considerable dent even though it may not be obvious here.

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October 29, 2018 FARM NEWS


The garden viewed from the usual spot on a rather dull cool late October day. A photo of this view is at the head of nearly each of our weekly blogs so that week to week changes in the garden can be readily seen.

The CSA pick up list for the last pick up day of this season. A small share could take home those amounts of the veggies listed. A large share would be able to take double those amounts.

This week past was the last week that CSA members came out to the farm to get their weekly vegetables for this season. We’ll do it all again starting in June of 2019. This was the 18th week and we had a very good variety of vegetables available as can be seen on the photo of the last days pickup list. This amount of vegetables needing to be picked in one day is quite a large amount of work for just the two of us but some things were gotten the day before and the squash and large summer squash have been out of the garden now for more than a week. Still, it was a very busy day.

Inside the pick up shed; the east end. The green things under the table are large zucchini. Small pie pumpkins are in the immediate foreground along with the snap beans.

Looking over the pumpkin and the large summer squash to he winter squashes at the west end of the pick up shed.

Looking along the north wall of the pick up shed with potato, onion, of several sorts, garlic, and more.

The carrots and baby leeks and the large green onions along the north wall.

We have not been able to get any more garlic planted and that is the most important thing to be done now as the garlic should have been planted more than a month ago. The weather has been somewhat too wet to do anything and other things have gotten in the way but with the CSA finished for this season we will now be able to concentrate on garlic.

Halloween with summer squash carvings cleverly done by Gabriel and Aerron.

We did get a good some firewood cut and into the woodshed before the rain started again and that needed some fiddling with the chainsaw. We also spent time on assembling some small garden wagons and a battery run lawnmower that we acquired for real cheap prices. Turns out we got them cheap as they were returns and some parts are missing and the mowers battery will not take a charge. Still the missing parts, which are mainly nuts and bolts will be pretty inexpensive to acquire or to fudge, and the battery will be replaced with a new one. These things are for the garden for next season.

More creative genius from Gabriel and Aerron following a suggestion by Aliki. This is their pumpkin eating Sunflower-Zucchini Spider.

Another view of our giant mythical beast

The horses on dwindling pasture. Another week and those trees behind will be nearly bare of leaves.

The horses and cows have only about a week’s worth of pasture and then we have to move them to the spot, the pasture, where they will spend the winter, and start feeding out hay. Some work needs to be done there to make the pastures secure and also the horses need to have their shelter finished. The chickens have also eaten up all the greenery so we’ll have to give them more greens from the garden and wherever we can find them just to supplement their regular chicken food.

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October 22, 2018 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view late Monday morning.

Another week gone by. Another week closer to winter. A couple more frosts but we still have not gotten as cold as was several times forecast, so that’s a good thing. There are still vegetables in the garden but we are trying to finish up. This is the last week of CSA pickups for this season and will be the 18th week that those with a CSA share have come to the farm to get their week’s vegetables.

The CSA pickup board for Thursday October 17

Thursday inside the pickup shed. Squashes and pumpkins, sunflower seeds, chard, lettuce, celery, and endive.

Still inside the shed, the potatoes, onions and garlic.

It was a real good season. We did not get several vegetables planted but we got planted most of the vegetables that we wanted to get in and they did very well. We had a short drought in July and there was plenty of very hot weather but there was eventually plenty of rain too so things grew and grew and we had a bountiful harvest all season long. Right up until now.

Still inside the shed, the potatoes, onions and garlic.

This past Tuesday was pretty cool, windy and damp, Not a fun day for working in the garden but it was a CSA pickup day so we had no choice. Thursday was a pickup day too so we spent most of Wednesday putting a cover ’round all the walls of our pickup area. With the roof covering that we already had in place, we were then fairly well protected from the elements. It is unheated but there is no wind to contend with so it feels warmer than the outside. And it is dry. If we could only get a wood stove installed in there then things would be near perfect.

The well covered pick up shed. The garden end. Large summer squash on the outside tables.

We have been busy cutting dried firewood in the woodshed to keep house and yurt at comfortable temperatures and for cooking too. The usual routines caring for all the animals does take a bit of our time each morning and evening and we have done small things each day in preparation for winter. The water hoses are still in place but are partially drained each night so that fittings will not freeze and be damaged. But the water has not frozen yet. We will soon have to completely drain all the hoses, remove all fittings and store the hoses in safe places so they’ll not be damaged over winter. Then we’ll be bucketing water from the outdoor tap at the house,each day, until at least the end of March but likely mid-April.

Aerron preparing a another row for planting garlic.

The garlic has not been planted and we got serious about that just today. there are, I think, some 5 beds, 15 rows each about 105 feet long to be planted. By hand, a garlic clove about every 4 inches. But that is after pushing by hand a wheel hoe fitted with a pointy tool to make a groove to pop the garlic cloves into, upright of course, then rolling a wheel along the freshly disturbed soil so that projections on the wheels surface will make a planting mark at every 4 inches. Then it gets covered by a bit of soil and then heavily covered with straw mulch to finish the job. Not really so hard, it just takes a long time. Hope the weather is dry, not too cold and for sure not windy. We’ll see if that works out! And it did work out well.

Six rows of garlic planted. About nine, maybe twelve more to go.

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October 15, 2018 FARM NEWS


Looking out to the garden from the pickup shed. Did not get a photo from the usual spot this week so this will have to do as a substitute

This week coming will be the 17th week for this season’s CSA. Next week will be the last week of CSA pickups. We have a had a pretty good year. We did not get several vegetables planted but most of the many vegetables that we grew did very well. As is usual for this time of year there are also many vegetables that have finished up; tomato, sweet corn, cucumber, summer squash, pepper and so on. However there are many things still doing well; lettuce, chard, beans, peas, carrot, beets, onion and we still have a plentiful supply of garlic and a somewhat lesser supply of spuds.

The CSA pickup board for October 10 our 16th week. This is the list of what was available for a small share this week. A large share would be double everything listed.

This week past we have spent a lot of time fixing a water pump and cleaning wood burning stoves and their chimneys. Water pump still not running like it should, but pretty sure we know what to do to fix it when we get the time. A lot of wood into the wood shed but many  more times that to still bring in. And we are still working in the garden bringing in everything that might get frosted. We had a light spotty frost early Sunday morning which spared some things entirely but touched other planted seemingly at random but it looks like the entire length of the beans rows has been done in. Hopefully the beans themselves will be salvageable but won’t know ’til we go in to pick them this afternoon. It looks as though we are likely to get a very severe frost overnight as the forecast is for -1° C.

Tomato, tomatillo, ground cherry and beans were all available in good quantities this week past.

Spaghetti, buttercup, hubbard and butternut winter squash, many sunflower heads and celery.

For the October 10 CSA pickup. Onion, garlic carrot in this photo.

We will have CSA vegetable pickups this week and next and then will be finished for the season. It has been a very good season for us. A short intense period of drought caused some worry but after that we have had a good amount of rain, lots of heat and lots of sun. Perfect conditions for the most part. We did have the usual problems of trying to get all the things done that we needed and wanted to get done but we are learning much about how to get things done more efficiently and we have finally fully committed to straw mulch.

A coral fungus growing on a poplar log. We have not seen these before so very unusual around here.

The coral fungus does look just like pure white coral. It measures about 6 inches across.

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October 8, 2018 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view Monday late afternoon The garden is looking quite a bit more tired than last week.

This is the only named duck we have. this is Johnny de duck and she is nicely tufted

Ducks and pompadours. Tufted duck heads are, for most of these duck breeds considered

J de d is an older duck, about 4 years old.

a fault. However as with most things; one persons fault is another’s fancy. We like the tufts and so long as this is not negatively tied with other desirable traits such as egg laying or longevity or associated with some disease, then bring on the tufts. With care and patience, ducks with tufted heads could be selected for and in the course of perhaps 5 or 6 generations the trait could be fixed such that you’d have a new breed of duck. Maybe.

A tufted buff hen duck

We have three ducks with tufts. This one seen here with the buff is a breed called Cayuga

One more picture of Johnny de duck. The tufts are tiny fuzzy feathers.

Monday was quite wet. Rain or drizzle pretty much the whole day and it was cool with temperatures around 7 or 8°C but eventually by 8 pm climbing to 11. We did not get too much done. Tuesday was drizzly rain to begin with but by noon had pretty much cleared up and was significantly warmer than Monday. Quite comfortable through the afternoon and a good thing as we were quite busy picking vegetables for the Tuesday CSA pick up. We had 33 different items on the list of available vegetables. that includes the large zucchinis as being a separate item from the smaller tender summer squash; Sunflower heads, Sunflower bouquets and Cornstalks. New vegetables available this week; endive, chickweed, pea shoots, celery, butternut, spaghetti and pepper squash, pie pumpkin, decorative pumpkin and corn stalks. Wednesday turned out to be fine and since we had a lot of vegetables to be gathered for Thursday, we spent much of the day doing just that. Thursday was fine day as well. Cannot now remember what we did on Friday and Saturday but Sunday was our day for thanksgiving dinner for the whole of our family.

These green beans are looking perfect.

Beets on the left peas centre with carrots and beans on the right.

The chickens won’t be able to dust bath outside for too much longer. Enjoying it while they can. Can’t do this on rainy days either.

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October 1, 2018 FARM NEWS


The garden view from a few feet to the left and from behind the usual spot. the garden is definitely looking a little worn out.

We are now well into fall weather, much cooler than the coolest summertime days and nights getting even cooler. We had a lowest overnight temperature of 4°C and a few other nights down around 6. Lots of rain now too which does keep things growing well and it was a bit dry for about a week. No frost yet.

A view of the pickup area ready for the CSA.

We have moved the CSA pickup area back just a few feet to underneath the wooden framework over which we pulled a cover to keep the worst of the rain off. This frame is intended to be the basis for a more substantial weatherproof structure, keeping snow and rain out and though unheated will be much more comfortable than being outside. We’ll be dry and out of the wind. This is an ongoing project that is way down on the list of things to be done.

A selection of some of the lettuces that we are growing.

looking down on the lettuces and basil. those are green romaines in the green bin and the red lettuces are a red romaine.

There is still much work that needs to be done including planting garlic, getting firewood under cover, and spreading straw mulch to overwinter on the garden. We desperately need to repair our greenhouse structure attached to the house and to do building repairs as well. Our water pump, located in the basement has been making noises for a few weeks and it is getting louder and worse. I am guessing that a bearing has worn out. We do have a replacement pump but just need to set aside half a day to do the job, which, though pretty straight forward is sure to have unexpected problems that will require a trip to the hardware store. Maybe not. The woodstoves and chimneys also need their annual fall cleaning before we can fire up. So, as the temperature is now dropping, we do not have any heat in the house other than that from cooking and the various heat sources from little electrical appliances such as this computer.

The board showing what each small CSA share got last week on Tuesday the 25th and Thursday the 27th.

Compare to the similar photo from last week. Still a lot of ground cherry and tomatillo but getting to be very few tomatoes. There are some green tomatoes still there on the plants but they’ll not likely get the time or heat to ripen in the field.

The photos this week are all from last week but I don’t have a header photo of the garden. When uploading photos from the camera SD card to the computer, instead of loading just the latest photos that have not yet been uploaded, all the photos on the card get uploaded and that takes a long time and occupies a lot of storage space. Attempts to correct this have not worked. I also have a right click problem on the computer. depending what is being attempted a right click is liable to freeze the computer needing a complete power off period to recover. So this also means that I was not able to get the planned duck and chicken photos for this week.

 

 

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