September 26, 2016 FARM NEWS


The weekly garden view this morning

The weekly garden view this morning

We spent more time with the chickens this week.  Aerron has built two new  nesting box complexes.  One has 18 nests in it (three rows of 6) and the other has nine (three rows of three) and most eggs are laid on the lower rows.   These supplement other nests and replace some rough and ready temporary nests.  There is still a problem most days with the older flock breaking too many eggs and though it helps that we gather the eggs more frequently this does not completely eliminate breakages.  We likely will have to eliminate some hens to eliminate breakage completely. The duck hut will be relocated to an overwintering location close to the chicken house. We also need to do the fall cleanout of the chicken houses get that manure on the garden before winter.  The plan is to spread compost and manure, from both the chicken houses and the barn, quite heavily, in specific locations where certain specific veggies will be grown next season.  It will be spread,worked into the ground a bit with the horse drawn cultivators and covered with straw mulch for the winter.  It will be in fine condition when the time comes for spring planting.

A bit of mutual grooming.

A bit of mutual grooming.

The horses, cows and the sheep are all doing well.  Leucan, the two and a half year old stallion is becoming calmer and more easily handled.  Maybe we can get a halter on him again soon.  He will soon be old enough to work and though he is going to be a bit smaller than his mother and aunt, who are Belgians, he should be a strong horse.  His father is a smallish Suffolk Paunch so this is why I think he is not likely to get too big.  He’ll be easier to harness if he’s a little shorter as throwing the harness up on a really tall horse can be a real effort.

More vegetables, morning glory and resting garden hand tools.

More vegetables, morning glory and resting garden hand tools.

A look down over the morning glory flowers at various greens, beans,  gladiolus, spinach and lettuce

A look down over the morning glory flowers at various greens, beans, gladiolus, spinach and lettuce

Looking across the kales.

Looking across the kales.

The garden vegetables are growing well though we do now need another good rain of at least around 10 mm.  It seems that we may get some rain later today.  We now have a lot of greens  including Lettuce, Bok Choi, Cabbage, Collards, Rapini, Tatsoi, Mizuna, Cress, Komatsuna, Mustard, Kale of course, Arugula, and a few others and we have been harvesting several of these greens for the past few weeks. Radishes and turnips are also growing and will be ready in a couple or three weeks.  We are getting a little late into the season.  Because of the hot and dry through August we had to delay our fall seeding and we did lose a few things as they failed to germinate, likely as a result of it being too hot and dry.  The beets failed a second time this year and this along with the failure of our carrots has been a major disappointment for us. Doubly disappointing too as, when asked early on if we would have certain veggies, we would reply something like, ” Oh yes, of course, we’ll be growing that!” and now it turns out we did not.

Another viewing angle of some of the greens.

Another viewing angle of some of the greens.

 

 

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September 19, 2016 FARM NEWS


the usual garden view this morning. a big difference from two weeks ago.

the usual garden view this morning. a big difference from two weeks ago.

The weather has been quite favourable for us this past week.  We have had some good warm, even hot days, and lots of moisture with 19.9 mm of rain on Saturday and an additional 0.9 mm on the Wednesday prior.  Saturday’s rain would have been perfect for mid-July.

The large bushy plants are the Korean Mint and next to them are coming towards us are a row of Chinese Cabbage, the Bok Choi, Cabbage and the Rapini.

The large bushy plants are the Korean Mint and next to them are coming towards us are a row of Chinese Cabbage, the Bok Choi, Cabbage and the Rapini.

We are about finished seeding things into the garden with the exception of planting garlic cloves and some onions for overwintering.  Almost all of the newly seeded vegetables are germinated and growing well and some of the earliest of the late summer seedings are being harvested; arugula, bok choi and rapini being gathered last week as thinnings for CSA pick up.  We have made only a small dent in the rows.

The rows from the left are three of Asian Greens including Mizuna, Tatsoi and Cress, two rows of Beanswith the mound of Morning glory in front and Gladiola to the right.

The rows from the left are three of Asian Greens including Mizuna, Tatsoi and Cress, two rows of Beanswith the mound of Morning glory in front and Gladiola to the right.

The hens with the white feathers laced brown are I believe, th lohman breed and the more brown hens are ISA

The hens with the white feathers laced brown are I believe, th lohman breed and the more brown hens are ISA

On Saturday we bought some pullets, which are young hen chickens just coming into lay, from Pullets Plus near Elmira.  Most were the ISA/Lohman  brown egg layers but we also got 10 Leghorns which are a white egg layer. On Sunday the leghorns still had not laid an egg but the ISA/L were laying at a 92.5 % lay rate, which is excellent. This morning we have at 8:30 a single Leghorn egg.  We needed to get these hens as replacements for the Barred Rock and the Rhode Island Red hens which were have not laid very well and are currently laying at under 50% .

The New Leghorns keeping to themselves.

The New Leghorns keeping to themselves.

the Barred Roick and Rhode Island Reds, the old flock and there are 7 Marans with them somewhere

the Barred Roick and Rhode Island Reds, the old flock and there are 7 Marans with them somewhere

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September 12, 2016 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of our garden

The usual Monday morning view of our garden

Looking across at Chinese Cabbage Arugula, and Kale with the Korean Mint there centre left and the sweet corn in the far background.

Looking across at Chinese Cabbage Arugula, and Kale with the Korean Mint there centre left and the sweet corn in the far background.

We have kept busy as ever this week.  Even though it is getting a little far into this season we still have a lot of work to do, maybe even more than earlier.  We are also starting to plan and get ready for next season.  Some areas of the garden, as they are cleared of this season’s veggies, are not being replanted with vegetables for this season since for most things there will not be enough time for the vegetable to reach maturity.  We will do some fall planting of vegetables mostly the Garlic.  We will also prepare beds as though to plant into but we will then cover with the straw as mulch and leave them over winter, ready for planting come spring.  For the past few weeks we have been seeding quite a few things for this fall’s harvest including Arugula, Bok Choi, Tatsoi, Mizuna, Beets, Mesclun, Collards, Cress, Chrysanthemum and Cabbage.  These are vegetables, mostly greens, that grow quickly and can be used long before they reach maturity, if needed, or if time does not allow maturity.

The three rows to the right have newly sprouted spinach that can be seen if you get out your magnifying glass and the little green sticks in three rows are gladiolus and beyond that are three rows with Tatsoi/Mizuna, something else and Cress.

The three rows to the right have newly sprouted spinach that can be seen if you get out your magnifying glass and the little green sticks in three rows are gladiolus and beyond that are three rows with Tatsoi/Mizuna, something else and Cress.

Greens growing great

Greens growing great

Snoozing horses soaking up sun on a cool Monday morning

Snoozing horses soaking up sun on a cool Monday morning

We are quite pleased with the growth of things now.

We are quite pleased with the growth of things now

Sweet corn is also growing well

Melons and squash not looking quite as good but still time for them to recover and produce well.

Melons and squash not looking quite as good but still time for them to recover and produce well.

The horses cows and sheep are doing well but the chickens and ducks are not laying quite so well. their lay rate had been off just a very little bit earlier but has dropped more since.  We do have a light on in each of the coops but none in the duck hut. The chickens are now getting about 15 hours of light each day and this is needed to keep the laying hormones tricked into ‘thinking’ that is still summer.  We will have to get replacements chickens very soon as the Barred Plymouth Rocks and the Rhode Island Reds, two old heritage breeds, once known as very good egg layers and as decent meat birds, have not been laying well since we got them.  They did not lay a single among the entire lot for three whole months during the winter.  These breeds were once noted for being alright winter layers.  There has not been enough care taken in selecting and culling for the desirable breed characteristics which include a good lay rate of at least 300 eggs per hen per year. but that requires work and careful attention to the flock.  Most of us are busy and the hatcheries are not paying enough to make that worthwhile.  My thoughts.

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September 5, 2016 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden

The usual Monday morning view of the garden

The morning glory looks glorious as does the arugula bed just beyond it next to the kale. The spindly kale was harvested of the lower leaves on Thursday.

The morning glory looks glorious as does the arugula bed just beyond it next to the kale. The spindly kale was harvested of the lower leaves on Thursday.

All is going along quite well.  Another very light rain shower and though we are not any where near desperate dry we could do with another good soaking soon. We have several new seedings that are up and growing well and more that are still to germinate. We have been watering these to give them that extra boost needed for their best growth … a steady supply of moisture.

Yellow and green beans are doing very nicely and if the weather stays good we'll get a harvest.

Yellow and green beans are doing very nicely and if the weather stays good we’ll get a harvest.

Chinese cabbage with to the right Bok Choi, then cabbage

Chinese cabbage with to the right Bok Choi, then cabbage

We gave the lawn a cut again for only the second time this year.  Likely the last time but maybe, if the rain comes regularly and it stays warm, we’ll have to cut the grass for a third time.

Newly cut lawn and we'll use the clipping on the garden as mulch.

Newly cut lawn and we’ll use the clipping on the garden as mulch.

Another two Barred Rock chickens have died unexpectedly.  We have had a lot of the Barred Rock die since last fall but not the other breeds or the ducks.  They are also poor egg layers.  This must be a bad line as the Barred rock breed once was an excellent layer and a hardy breed.  We’ll replace these with ready to lay ISA pullets from Pullets Plus in Elmira.

A Maran's rooster with his harem.

A Maran’s rooster with his harem.

The rest of the zoo is fine.  Horses, cows and sheep all doing well on good pasture once more as are ducks and chickens other than Barred Rock.  It was surprising just how quickly the grasses grew back after the long drought.

The old horse Marie, still a bit thin but seeming otherwise to be in good shape.

The old horse Marie, still a bit thin but seeming otherwise to be in good shape.

Our sweet corn recovered very well too even the small patch that had looked quite shriveled.  It is more thickly planted than recommended as we did not get in to thin it but it seems to be doing well regardless.  Similarly we are pleased with nearly all the vegetables and with the newly seeded lot. The notable exception is the broccoli which was badly affected by the drought.  It continues to produce but many of those plants that came to maturity before the rain s returned are in poor shape and not producing side shoots as they should.

The Chinese cabbage in the centre is looking very good.

The Chinese cabbage in the centre is looking very good.

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August 29, 2016 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning garden view.

The usual Monday morning garden view.

This broccoli is doing well.  It is an unusual variety that forms a smaller more open head. Said to have an asparagus like flavour.

This broccoli is doing well. It is an unusual variety that forms a smaller more open head. Said to have an asparagus like flavour.

Things are progressing well now that we have had several recent rains.  The ground has not really dried out that much and not any where near to cause any wilting even with the 30°C temperatures that we’ve had.  For the month of August we had about 101 mm of rain. July was 45 mm, June 31 and May only 21.  Since late May we had 29 days over 30C.  A huge and much welcomed improvement this month.

The team and Lucan are now closer so that I can get photos without walking a long distance.

The team and Lucan are now closer so that I can get photos without walking a long distance.

Horses, cows, sheep and chickens all have much better pasture now, grass has grown rapidly.  No one likes to eat hay during the summer.  Some of the chickens are not laying so well.  The Barred Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Red that we have are two older breeds that are not laying anything like they should be.  We have gotten new pullets in and will likely replace the Barred Rock and RIR with new ISA pullets to get a better lay .

A Rhode Island Red hen.  She looks healthy, nice red comb and wattle, she is bright, should be a good layer.

A Rhode Island Red hen. She looks healthy, nice red comb and wattle, she is bright, should be a good layer.

The vegetables are doing well though some did not recover well from the drought.  The tomatoes have both early and late blight and are doing poorly as a result of that, even though otherwise the plants are growing well and their is plenty of fruit.  The tomatoes were very slow to develop this year…

Sweet corn and Zucchini

Sweet corn and Zucchini

More summer squash to the left with cucumber down the centre and zucchini and sweet corn to the right.

More summer squash to the left with cucumber down the centre and zucchini and sweet corn to the right.

Sweet corn is developing well but we’ll really be concerned about raccoons getting in and ruining cobs.  It is unlikely that we’ll be able to set up the electric fence deterrent but we” try. The reseeded veggies are doing well except for the lettuce for which again we had poor germination.

Some of the newly seeded area.

Some of the newly seeded area.

 

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AUGUST 22, 2016 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view

The usual garden view

The compost pile Morning Glory plants look great but they also did well when it was dry. Just behind them is the next lot of lettuce which will be ready in another two or three weeks.

The compost pile Morning Glory plants look great but they also did well when it was dry. Just behind them is the next lot of lettuce which will be ready in another two or three weeks.

A good week for us because of the rain and just because it was a nice week.  On Friday, August 12, in the previous week we had that drought breaker rain of about 31 mm.  Then on Monday the 15th about 8 mm of rain came, followed by 9 mm on Tuesday and a further 1 mm on the Wednesday.  On Sunday morning early we had less than 1 mm of rain but it was still useful.  This makes things a lot easier for us but the workload is the same.  Vegetables and weeds are now growing and looking a lot better.  The pastures quickly changed from brown to a green haze to substantial growth by the grasses and other plants.

the newly seeded Arugula has been up and growing well for a while now.  On the right the three rows of lettuce are very slow to germinate.  lettuce seems to be the most sensitive to the high temperatures.

the newly seeded Arugula has been up and growing well for a while now. On the right the three rows of lettuce are very slow to germinate. lettuce seems to be the most sensitive to the high temperatures.

Not sure if the ducks and chicken were much affected by the very hot weather.

Not sure if the ducks and chicken were much affected by the very hot weather.

The chicken pasture is also growing back

The chicken pasture is also growing back

We have been able to do more seeding and transplants.  Until now it has been too hot and too dry to get things to germinate and to grow.  We are hoping that the somewhat cooler temperatures will prevail now and that all the seeding that we have done will be successful.  Already some of what we have seeded has come up and is growing well.  We have chosen the veggies to seed keeping in mind their days to maturity, the dwindling daylight length and the likely temperatures when the vegetable will be reaching maturity.

the newly seeded Arugula has been up and growing well for a while now.  On the right the three rows of lettuce are very slow to germinate.  lettuce seems to be the most sensitive to the high temperatures.

the newly seeded Arugula has been up and growing well for a while now. On the right the three rows of lettuce are very slow to germinate. lettuce seems to be the most sensitive to the high temperatures.

Broccoli, Tomatillo, Kale,. All doing so much better now.

Broccoli, Tomatillo, Kale,. All doing so much better now.

So this week it is a very short blog.  But I do have several photos.

 

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August 15, 2016 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view

The usual garden view

We had a very good rain on Friday and Saturday.  The total was about 9 mm on Friday and about 31 mm on Saturday, as measured by the Environment Canada weather station not  a quarter mile from us.  It rained very hard at times so there was some runoff but the rain lasted long and steady enough that the ground was well soaked. By Sunday pasture grasses and sundried and burnt grass everywhere had started growing once again and suddenly things are looking quite green.  It was of course a huge boost for the weeds but just as much a boost for all the vegetables.  We are also taking advantage of the damp soil and the somewhat cooler weather to do some transplanting and some seeding that we could not do while it continued very hot and dry.

003007We got 50 of the 4 X 5 foot big round bales delivered from the Edgar farm and parked at the west end of our garden.  These will mostly be used for mulch on the garden this fall and next year from the spring onwards.  Some of it will be used as litter for chickens and ducks and bedding for sheep but more so for cows.  Some of it will even provide a bit of food. All of it will provide a good spot for kids to play. We also took delivery of 22 large round bales of hay.  This is older hay and the bales have been outside uncovered since 2014 and 2015.  The two year old lot are very poor but the year old lot are not so bad. We still must get quite a bit more hay in for the winter. We’ll likely get more of this older hay, at least the 2015 stuff.

The skid steer loader used to un load the bales

The skid steer loader used to un load the bales

The new playground?

The new playground?

Hold on Briar  !!

Hold on Briar !!

The chickens are laying well though we lost one last week in the middle of the night.  Probably carried off by a coyote.  This is a problem with free ranging them.  The missing hen was from the flock at that has access to pretty much anywhere they want to go and sometimes one or two hens will start laying eggs in hiding spots around.  Raccoons and skunks are pretty good at sniffing these out.  Not so much us. And once in a while when night comes a hen will be comfortably ensconced somewhere and will not bother to get off and go to the coop for the night with the others.  A target for weasel, skunk, oppossum, raccoon, coyote and owls and probably something else. It is too hard to do a count when I shut them up and anyway, if one were missing I would not know where to look.

The corn showing the effects of the drought.

The corn showing the effects of the drought.

Horses and cows will be much happier out on pasture now as there will be at least a little and increasingly more, grass to eat.  Another rain, even a small amount would be very useful within the next 5 to 7 days.  Beyond that we’ll start, especially if the temperatures get into the 30’s, to get too dry once more.

The compost pile morning glory pictured ... in the morning

The compost pile morning glory pictured … in the morning

We must thank our volunteers and working shares for valuable work this week.  Weeding is ongoing and seeding and transplanting are critical in this small window of opportunity that we are in now.  Thanks Anca and Vanessa and to Helen and Wayne this morning for cleaning up beds for planting. All jobs well done.

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