May 23, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view on a fine sunny Monday morning.

The usual garden view on a fine sunny Monday morning.

Horses on grass

Horses on grass

It is now very good growing weather, though it would also be  nice to have a good inch or two of rain before another week passes.  The forecast is for hotter weather in the next few days so things will really start to dry out quite quickly.  But as long as there is enough moisture, germination and growth will be quite fast.  We have seeded lettuce, parsnip and carrot and these three, if no others, will have narrow wooden boards laid over the seed row and be watered regularly; daily or at least every second day until germination. Then the boards will be removed.  This is a neat trick that gives us an excellent germination for those small seeds that are at or near the soil surface and hence very easily dried out if not protected from direct sun and from winds.

Looking across onion and fava bean rows at the garlic rows in the background

Looking across onion and fava bean rows at the garlic rows in the background

Everything in these trays can go into the ground now!

Everything in these trays can go into the ground now!

Most of the veggies growing in these trays need more time before being transplanted to the garden

Most of the veggies growing in these trays need more time before being transplanted to the garden

Many of the seedlings in trays; kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leek and onion, are now ready for transplanting and we’ll start working on that.  The horses were used earlier this past week to work the soil with the disc harrows and to make seed beds using the cultivator with roller attached behind it. Then, the rows for the transplants, generally two per bed, are marked out by walking the row pushing the wheel hoe with a plow attachment.  Almost always at least two passes are made.  When we are getting ready for transplants, another one or two passes are made to get a good depth.

Aerron is harnessing the horses

Aerron is harnessing the horses

Bringing the horses round to hook up to the buggy

Bringing the horses round to hook up to the buggy

One should not stand up in the moving buggy but it is a better view.

One should not stand up in the moving buggy but it is a better view.

Emma having a ride on Nell

Emma having a ride on Nell

The horses, cows and the sheep were turned out on to grass for the first time this week.  They were all held in a smallish area over winter and until the grass had made a good growth.  Now they will rotate through different fenced paddocks, the cows two or three days on each area. They may stay longer or even a shorter time depending on the grass quality, rate of regrowth or pasture grass quality on the individual grazing areas. They are all very much happier to be out on fresh grass after eating hay all winter. All the hives are now stocked with bees and they are very actively foraging for pollen and nectar.

The mother of one of the calves.

The mother of one of the calves.

Cows on the new grass

Cows on the new grass

Lots of activity at our old hive

Lots of activity at our old hive

Lots of activity from Leucan in the new grass

Lots of activity from Leucan in the new grass

We are anticipating the CSA to begin in late June and will e-mail all of the CSA members before then. Somewhat behind where we would like to be this far this season.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 16, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view

The usual garden view

We were able to get some seeds and more onion sets planted.  Only a small number of sets to go in.  We had help and thank Dawn, her daughter Sadie and Dawn’s mother Marg for spending a good part of their morning helping out with the planting.  A long tedious job was finished much, much quicker and with pleasant conversation.  We have had a bit of rain which was much needed and welcomed, though it has slowed planting a bit.  It has been a bit too cool. Saturday night was about 2 degrees C and last night got down to about one degree, but with the wind there appears to have been no frost.  We will have to wait a day or two as there might have been small areas here or there were there was some frost.  So we escaped damage luckily.  Just a year ago, May 18 2015 we again had frost which again missed our garden but damaged newly emerged leaves in the valley.

Two wheel hoes in the fava beans (broad beans)

Two wheel hoes in the fava beans (broad beans)

These trays of kale and broccoli are now ready for transplanting.

These trays of kale and broccoli are now ready for transplanting.

We are getting set to put the horses, cows and sheep out on to their pastures and begin the rotation from one spot to the next.  They have been outside all the while over winter and until now but only on the same spots and have been fed hay.  The sheep have already been on some small areas with new grass but not the cows and horses.  They will be very happy to get out there and munch all the green stuff.  Getting all this ready has meant much time spent by Aerron in fixing fences.

Last years kale is growing well but starting to flower. We'll try saving some seed from these plants.

Last years kale is growing well but starting to flower. We’ll try saving some seed from these plants.

The chickens and the ducks continue to lay eggs at a very good rate.  They will be moved on to fresh pasture having pretty much worn out the bit they have been on. Kari Bishop brought her bees to their new hives here on Saturday and they are now safely housed and poised to get out and do their thing collecting nectar and pollen.  Seven hives in total plus our very own single hive, which has been quite active in the nice warm weather and needs another box put on.

The new hives, cool right now so only one bee about but expect they will get lively as the day warms.

The new hives, cool right now so only one bee about but expect they will get lively as the day warms.

The one bee outside on the top of a hive.

The one bee outside on the top of a hive.

The barred rock herd.

The barred rock herd.

So the farm work just progresses with the spring, work getting done here, not enough here and the list of things to do seems to grow longer.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

May 9, 2016 Farm News


Our usual garden view showing about the same as last week

Our usual garden view showing about the same as last week

This will be a very short blog this week.  We are so busy, not a lot of extra time. Weather has been good though we certainly still do need a lot more rain.  A good all day downpour is what we are after and then a warm up to about 20C  and sunny and not much less overnight.  That would be perfect.  But we’ll takes what we gets and do our best with it.  The major chore this week has been getting manure out of the barn from a pen where it is fairly well rotted and then spreading this on the garden.  Along with that Aerron has been doing fencing repairs and putting up new fence for both cows and for chickens.

New Calf trying to hide

New Calf trying to hide

New calf going to find a new hiding spot.

New calf going to find a new hiding spot.

Leucan; a fine looking horse.

Leucan; a fine looking horse.

We have had two calves born over the week and they are both perfectly fine.  One little bull and one little heifer.  Nice looking calves they are. Horses, cows, sheep and the poultry are all just fine and liking this weather and this time of year.  There are few flies right now, so no one is bothered yet by that.  That is a great thing.

Trays of veggies growing nicely and soon to be planted out

Trays of veggies growing nicely and soon to be planted out

Onions and broad beans and garlic

Onions and broad beans and garlic

More onions planted but not much else.  Progress slowed somewhat.  This must be a week when we get a lot into the ground.

Chickens, bees and Land Rover

Chickens, bees and Land Rover

The main laying flock after being let out in the morning

The main laying flock after being let out in the morning

Three hens; a white Silkie, a Barred Rock and a Rhode Island Red all doing their laying thing

Three hens; a white Silkie, a Barred Rock and a Rhode Island Red all doing their laying thing

Lots of eggs these days should you need any.  We’ll try to get a stand set up out by the road so as to sell eggs and later on our vegetables. Eggs are $4 per dozen and we have duck and chicken eggs available, both the same price.  These are not organic eggs as we do not feed them an organic feed as yet but they are allowed out on pasture every day.

On a sleepy Monday morning

On a sleepy Monday morning

Four horses on a sleepy Mother's Day morning

Four horses on a sleepy Mother’s Day morning

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

May 2, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view on a wet and misty Monday morn

The usual garden view on a wet and misty Monday morn

All set for use. Just need frames and occupants.

All set for use. Just need frames and occupants.

Cows, mists and Monday morning

Cows, mists and Monday morning

The weather has been a bit too cool this past week but the trend is for a slight warming so that is hopeful.  We welcome the wet weather of the past few days as the ground had been getting dry with very little rain having fallen.  But the recent amount is far less than we would like: the total for the month of April was not much over an inch, less than 3 centimetres and less than 10 mm has fallen over the past 24 hours.  This lack of rain has not been too serious, but as the month progresses, and temperatures during the day start to be around the mid twenties and the sun shines bright and perhaps we get windy days; then things will start to dry more quickly and as grass and herbaceous growth really takes off and the trees start to unfurl their leaves,  then all those roots supplying the growth will remove a lot of water from the soil in short order and we’ll have serious dry.

One of the rhubarb clumps.  It is growing quite well.

One of the rhubarb clumps. It is growing quite well.

A bit of a damp Leucan

A bit of a damp Leucan

We did get a bit more planted, the ground was worked a bit more but much more still needs to be done.  We were hampered somewhat by the cool and then by the wet, and then sidetracked by projects, but that is going to be happening to us frequently.

Trays of sprouted veggies and some that are putting on their second set of leaves and which could now go into the garden.

Trays of sprouted veggies and some that are putting on their second set of leaves and which could now go into the garden.

Spring green onions and the overwintered Kale sprouting leaves all along but mostly from the base of the stems

Spring green onions and the overwintered Kale sprouting leaves all along but mostly from the base of the stems

We did a big chicken move this week.  We combined our flock of ISA and our flock of Red Sex Link hens, our better egg layers, into one flock and moved them all to the chicken house behind our house and to a better fenced enclosure and combined the Rhode Island Reds, the Barred Plymouth Rocks and the Marans into one flock out front near our CSA pick up area and have opened up another fenced yard for them.  The Barnevelders, eleven hens and one rooster, have been moved to daughter Heather’s yard next door to the west of us.

The Barred Rock, Rhode Islands, Marans and the Silkies.  A grey Silkie rooster in the foreground.

The Barred Rock, Rhode Islands, Marans and the Silkies. A grey Silkie rooster in the foreground.

Some of the better laying flock.

Some of the better laying flock.

We prepared an area for a proper bee yard.  Kari Bishop has brought out colourful boxes to assemble 7 bee hives and her bees will arrive on the 14th. Kari needed a spot to park her bees as being in an urban area restricted the number of hives she could keep.  Bree Akesson, our enthusiastic and very knowledgeable beekeeping friend, whose Chestnut Farms honey some of you may have had last season, will be helping me, I hope, with our own bees here.  Our single beat up hive has a good population of honey makers but I need to add more space for them real soon.

Bee hives.  Ours is the beat up one in the near ground, a strong hive though and Kari' new colourful lot .

Bee hives. Ours is the beat up one in the near ground, a strong hive though and Kari’ new colourful lot .

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

April 25, 2016 Farm News


The usual weekly garden view to be compared with previous weeks.

The usual weekly garden view to be compared with previous weeks.

It has been such a very nice week.  We had the horses out working the garden on three consecutive days but gave them a break on the fourth.  They cannot be expected to do long and heavy work just yet since they have been little worked all winter.  They were very well behaved when worked and were worked for two or three hours at a time.  They were harnessed to the large disc harrows that we have.  This set of discs is so large that in order to be able to work them continuously for two or three hours we should need at least 8 horses.  We use our team, two horses and since they are two and not eight we have to give them frequent and long breaks.  The routine was to  pull the discs down from one side of the garden to the next, a distance of just over 300 feet and give the horses a long rest, then back down to the other end and another rest.  The round trip including the rests took  about 10 to 15 minutes so the work was slow to get done.  The harrowing was sometimes done twice over if there was a lot of plant material needing to be worked in.  Later the single row cultivator pulled by the horses will  go over the ground at least two and sometimes three times to form a seed bed.  We sometimes go over it again with various cobbled together tools to break up clumps and make a much smoother, finer seed bed; suitable for smaller seeded vegetables which need to be more shallowly planted and will not emerge through large heavy clods of earth.  We need a better horse drawn device to do bed preparation but have not found a really suitable one as yet.

We need a platform on the discs to give us a safe place to stand.

We need a platform on the discs to give us a safe place to stand.

Turning at the end of the garden.

Turning at the end of the garden.

The turn can be made quite tight, about a disc width easily enough.

The turn can be made quite tight, about a disc width easily enough.

Working up the soil.

Working up the soil.

Aerron and the team resting after a round on the 8 plus horse disc.

Aerron and the team resting after a round on the 8 plus horse disc.

We were able to plant the last bed (two rows) of broad beans and also get planted two and two thirds beds of Yellow Spanish onions sets, little bulbs, not seeds.  Our seeded onions are still in the house in the seed trays.  The garlic has been partially hoed to get rid of the newly sprouted weeds of various sorts and the perennial Korean Mint, which is growing very nicely, has had the dead stems from last season taken away.  So work has begun slowly.  not quite as much accomplished as we would have hoped for, and not quite ready to put out a call for help from those with a working share.

The single row horse drawn cultivator with beds of garlic behind it.

The single row horse drawn cultivator with beds of garlic behind it.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

Today, Monday, Aerron will have the horses on the discs again, and later on the cultivator, to get some beds ready for more onions and other veggies and for the potatoes.  We made a trip to William Dam Seeds again, on Wednesday this past week, second trip this year to Dam’s, to get more seeds,  the onion sets and potatoes.  One more trip to in a few weeks to get corn,  squashes and other of the vining crops as well as anything that we may have missed.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

On the far right, a row is being made to plant onion sets. Onions are already in 6 rows to the left of that.

The chickens are continuing to lay very well and our ducks are doing a good job too as their lay rate is steadily increasing and has just today reached 50 per cent.  That is to say that 10 of the 20 hen ducks laid an egg.  So we now have plenty of eggs to sell.  If you would like to get eggs just send an e-mail with your request.  Eggs are $4.00 per dozen.  These are brown eggs, mostly large to extra large and the ducks eggs, except for the odd black or grey egg from the Cayuga breed, are quite large and white.

The egg colours rang from the whit of a duck egg in the foreground to dark and light brown shades and pinks and hints of purple to the almost black egg of the Cayuga ducks

The egg colours rang from the whit of a duck egg in the foreground to dark and light brown shades and pinks and hints of purple to the almost black egg of the Cayuga ducks

A few chickens scattered across the horse field.

A few chickens scattered across the horse field.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 18, 2016 Farm News


The usual garden view. Somewhat different from last weeks. Much improved. The boards in the foreground are nailed together as the wall plates for the new toolshed being built.

The usual garden view. Somewhat different from last weeks. Much improved. The boards in the foreground are nailed together as the wall plates for the new toolshed being built.

We are having splendid weather now and for the past few days.  The mud and the too wet garden have gone. There is now a lot that can be done.  None of our plants are ready to be transplanted just yet, a week or two from now at the earliest but there are a lot of seeds that can go into the ground.  The next thing for us to do is to go over the whole garden with the disc harrows and break up and turn under all the plant debris from last season as well as the germinating weeds.  In most parts of the garden this will mean one or perhaps two passes with the discs and then the single row cultivators to prepare beds into which will go from one to three rows of vegetables. The horses will provide the power for both disc and cultivator. We have to get our mulch on the garlic and the broad beans and we’ll need a lot more for all the things we’ll be putting in the ground. We will need to get a lot of work done in a short time. We are also building a new and larger tool shed. Better organized and better built than the old quickly put up shed. The next structure is a shed near the road for egg and veggie sales and then we need some sort of shelter for the CSA veggie pick up at the same spot where we have had the pick up area in the past.

Three horses soaking up the morning sun and waiting for breakfast.

Three horses soaking up the morning sun and waiting for breakfast.

The garlic is really growing quite well.

The garlic is really growing quite well.

This patch of walking onion has been transplanted here from another spot in the garden.

This patch of walking onion has been transplanted here from another spot in the garden.

The chickens are laying better than ever now. The lay rate is now around 80%.  That means that for every 10 chickens 8 will have laid an egg in a 24 hour period.  Some of our birds are rather poor layers. An excellent egg laying breed of chicken might lay as much as 330 eggs in a year, a very good breed will average between 280 and 300.  Our Barnevelder and Marans chickens will likely lay less than 200 eggs in a year. But theirs are the darkest eggs.  We have 5 Marans hens and 10 Barnevelders and we will be hatching out their eggs so as to increase the flock sizes.

In the new run with the barred rocks, reds and the single white silkie hen looking back towards their house.

In the new run with the barred rocks, reds and the single white silkie hen looking back towards their house.

Another look at the hens. There are two barred rock roosters in that flock somewhere.

Another look at the hens. There are two barred rock roosters in that flock somewhere.

We have made new pastured runs for the chickens and are in the process of sorting out the flocks in preparation for the new grass coming and for when we have new chicks. We also moved the duck hut and have a new run for them off their wintering spot on the garden.  there are more runs to be fenced and we will have to move the chickens from one run to the next often enough to prevent them from doing too much damage by scratching but leave them on long enough to allow the previous to recover.

The flock of barred Rocks and reds in their new run .

The flock of barred Rocks and reds in their new run .

All the new lambs have come now but we are still awaiting a calf.  The cow made an udder very early on but that is alright, the calf will come when it’s ready.  Still more than a month before the horses, cows and sheep can get out on the grass.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

April 11, 2016 Farm News


021

The usual garden view

A couple of things to note first:     1.We have not yet sprung the annual $99 needed to buy the 13 Gb of data space in order to post photos and video.  Along with everything else we were trying to determine just what to do. Do we continue with WordPress or look for another site host?  We will likely continue with WordPress and purchase the offered media space even though we likely won’t need that much. So hopefully before next week there will be photos once more.   2. I have just discovered the workings of the comments page and uncovered a lot of messages that I did not know where there and therefore did not respond to them.  I’ll have to check the “Comments” more often.  For a quick response contact me by e-mail at devonacres@hotmail.com, and one more important note:    3. Until we get our photo option up and running once more, go to Facebook,com/devonacres and we’ll have photos there

Update: 11:47 Monday, just purchased more space, added photos.

012

Leucan Nell and Marie

The weather has continued mostly too cold to do any work but at times warms just a bit above freezing, just enough and long enough, to get things, especially the laneway, very muddy and for a time impassable.  Now as I write this early Monday morning, the snow is heavy an the ground but disappearing quickly.  It has warmed to about +5C, and earlier it was raining steady.  Definitely not the sort of weather to allow for any gardening and not even allowing us to do much in the way of preparation.  This mornings forecast though is the most optimistic seen since the end of March. The temperatures overnight will go a bit below freezing for the next three or four nights but the highs during the day are going to be above freezing and gradually increasing.  We suspect that we are going to have to get a lot of garden work done in a very short period of time. The month of May is forecast to be warmer than usual so we’ll need to get most veggies seeded and planted as early in the month as we can. Over the past decade May has often been dry for the last two weeks and then in June there has been a bit of a rainy period. We’ll keep that in mind as we plan. The horses have not been worked much the last while so we’ll have to start using them to get them into working condition physically. The last time we had them working Marta was very nervous and would not stand well at all.  We’ll have to get her calmed down and confident about things.  We really don’t know why she was acting like that but it is very had to get work done when a horse is acting up.  It can be quite dangerous too.

015

Leucan wondering what is with the guy with the camera.

So look to our Facebook page for photos and if you need to contact us, do so by e-mail and I’ll respond within a day or two.  If you have not heard from me after two days, e-mail again.  I sometimes get bogged down with things, e-mail and a lot more, and lose track.  But as you can see we now have photos.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments