June 29, 2015 Farm News


The usual weekly garden view.

The usual weekly garden view.

Sorry, unable to upload any photos to this post.  Don’t know why.  Check our Facebook page.  Hopefully I will be able to load photos there. After having writtenthe previous sentences, I managed to get the photos uploaded by doing a systems restore to my computer.

Lots of rain this past weekend.  Too much rain now.  We really do need some more dry and warm weather so as we can get at the weeds that have been germinating and growing madly with all the rain and to do more planting.  Aerron and the team of Nell and Marta on the single row horse cultivator went over the potato patch, all 12 or so rows, and did quite a good job at getting rid of a lot of weeds.  That was the day before the rains.  It had been nice and dry and warm for a few short days and we did get a lot of weeding done with the horses and with much appreciated help from volunteers and working shares, much hand weeding and planting was done.  Many, many thanks to our helpers here; Anca, Jennifer,  Ken, Khanh, Rick and Shawn. Their work has been crucial.

Looking down the recent cultivated potato rows.  Not perfect but most of the weeds have been demolished and in a day or two or three we'll run the cultivators down the rows again and in the meantime will try to do the interplant weeding to get the spuds really nicely cleaned up.

Looking down the recent cultivated potato rows. Not perfect but most of the weeds have been demolished and in a day or two or three we’ll run the cultivators down the rows again and in the meantime will try to do the interplant weeding to get the spuds really nicely cleaned up.

The first of this season’s CSA veggie pick up days was this Thursday passed.  As usual for a first time, it was a bit disorganized, but all went well.  We only had the five veggie items: Green Onions, Spinach, Lettuce, Garlic Scapes and Korean Mint.  It will be the same for the pick up on Tuesday (tomorrow). The garlic scapes are in short supply and that will be the last of them as we are still building our stock after having lost much of our garlic last spring.

Looking over the most recent seeded and transplanted portion of the garden.  In that bare-ish patch are seeded and planted Kale, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, carrots and far down at the opposite end a short length of row in Parsnips.

Looking over the most recent seeded and transplanted portion of the garden. In that bare-ish patch are seeded and planted Kale, Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, carrots and far down at the opposite end a short length of row in Parsnips.

We have several things that we must get done fast.  First among these is to finish planting all of the veggies.  Second is to get caught up on weeding what is there before it gets unmanageable.  Third is to get a structure, a building erected, so we have a shelter for the pickup days.  And fourthly we have a whole host of other time consuming chores; from fencing for chickens, horses, cows and donkey to more work on the driveway to get it a smoother less damaging ride, to training a year old colt and innumerable little things all of which take time.  And some where in there is 49 of the large round bales, 4 x 4’s, sitting in our neighbours field, waiting for three or four days of decent dry sunny not humid days to get them in a dry enough condition to haul home and stuff in the barn.  If we use horses and wagon and the pickup truck we should be able to manage about 24 bales in four trips in one day, so we’ll need two full days to get the job done.  We might be able to get our neighbour, Laverne, to bring them home for us with his loader tractor and larger wagon, in which case it will likely take about one full day.

All this is nothing new of course as it happens more or less in this fashion every year and we’ll get it all done and things will work out well in the end.  Things should work better this season as we do have a lot of extra help from our working shares and wonderful volunteers.

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June 22, 2015 Farm News


The garden view on sunny Monday. Everything is growing well.

The garden view on sunny Monday. Everything is growing well.

This has been a very busy week for us as we try to get as much planted and seeded as we can and also try to get ahead of weeds.  We have had a lot of help from volunteers and from some of the CSA working shares.  Thanks very much to Anca, Jennifer, Jim, Ken, Mihaela, Khanh and Shawn for spending time doing what can sometimes be tedious and very time consuming work. Planting and seeding is all done by hand so nothing really goes in quickly.  The beds are made, but very roughly, with the horses pulling the single row cultivator with a drum roller attached behind to flatten and break lumps.  We then have to use various hand tools, depending on what is going in, to do the final prep work for seeding or transplanting.Tools include rakes, shovels, wheel hoes with different attachments and plant spacing marker. To get ready for a tiny seed such as carrots we need to do a more careful bed preparation and then lay boards over the seed and mulch the bed heavily. Most everything needs to be watered and sometimes the watering is done into the row beforehand with transplants as well as after seeding or transplanting is complete.

Onions, Broad Beans and more Onions

Onions, Broad Beans and more Onions

"...the old brown mare she ain't what she used to be 20 odd years ago..." Marie mare is recovered from her bout with 'slobbers' but she is still underweight, looking just a little thin and still has a persistent cough.

“…the old brown mare she ain’t what she used to be 20 odd years ago…” Marie mare is recovered from her bout with ‘slobbers’ but she is still underweight, looking just a little thin and still has a persistent cough.

The cows, sheep and horses are on pasture though only the cows are being rotated through properly,  The main flock of chickens still needs to have another run set up to get them on fresh pasture.  So more time in setting up, checking and maintaining fences.

Ducks and water, chickens stay back a bit.

Ducks and water, chickens stay back a bit.

The garden is looking very good and though some things have gone in late we will catch up soon and in a short few weeks will have lots of fresh veggies for the CSA members. We will try to load pictures here but of late WordPress has not been loading properly. I can’t get the picture up that I want.  Check our Facebook page too as we might be able to load more photos there.

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June 15, 2015 Farm News


The early morning view of the garden after the fog had mostly evaporated.

The early morning view of the garden after the fog had mostly evaporated. From far left; newly seeded carrots, just barely visible, second bed is three rows of carrot up nicely with Korean mint at the end, three rows of really nice spinach, a single half row of garlic, four rows of fava beans, three rows of onions, two more rows of favas, three more rows of onions, three open beds then potato rows to the far right.

We are pretty sure that we now have had enough rain for a little while.  The persistent damp is now somewhat of a problem for us. It is very difficult to do a good job of weeding.  Weed roots don’t dry out well and the ground, being a bit sticky, makes the work harder and more tiring to do.  Everything of course is growing really well so we will begin the CSA season very soon now.

There will not be very much for the first few weeks nor is there a large variety at first.  This will change fairly quickly though.  We do have a lot more that needs to be seeded and transplanted so the heavy workload continues and we do need the garden to dry out a bit especially for seeding. With our sandy base though we do dry out very quickly and in good conditions we can sometimes work the ground within 2 hours of a heavy rain. It can take several days however for the ground to be dry enough to cultivate and successfully get rid of the weeds.

The horses, cows, sheep, donkey, goat and all the feathered bunch are doing well and really do like to have all this rain to keep their grasses and other edible pasture plants growing profusely.  Our haying has not been even started however so there is another thing that will need do be done as soon as we can get a stretch of 4 or 5, or preferably several more, days of dry, sunny and warm weather.

Just a short blog as there are many more things to do.  There are also several more photos at our Facebook page, so follow the link to that spot.  For reasons unknown, WordPress is not loading any more photos to this blog for me, keeps showing a loading error message.

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June 8, 2015 Farm News


The usual weekly garden picture.

The usual weekly garden picture.

The weather is not perfect for us but we are getting more rain which is much needed and temperatures are alright but would be better if the nights were somewhat warmer.  From 15 to 20 as normal night time temperatures would be very good. The garden is doing quite well though and weeds are under control but they are constantly appearing just about as fast as we can eliminate them. The veggies are growing very good however though we do have a large amount still to be seeded and transplanted.  So much more work needs doing.

The milkweed growing in our purple bean row.  Hopefully a monarch butterfly will lay her eggs on them.

The milkweed growing in our purple bean row. Hopefully a monarch butterfly will lay her eggs on them.

 

Carrots, spinach and garlic with to the far right broad beans and onions

Carrots, spinach and garlic with to the far right broad beans and onions

Nell and Marta resting  with Aerron and the discs hooked behind.

Nell and Marta resting with Aerron and the discs hooked behind.

The horses Nell and Marta are working quite well though they are just a bit out of shape from not doing enough regular work.  We don’t harness them enough.  We had relied on the old team of Wimpy and Marie to do the work that needed more precision, but with Wimpy’s death we have to make do with Nell and Marta for all the work. We could team one of them with Marie for some very light work but Marie is too old for sustained work, even the light variety. We did hitch Nell and Marta to the single row cultivator with the roller attached behind and they did quite well.  Though they did not walk as straight as they should have, Aerron in the driver’s seat was able to compensate with the foot steering on the cultivator.

Working up another area in the garden.

Working up another area in the garden.

The cows on new pasture.

The cows on new pasture.

The cows are very happy on their new pastures and the new method of pasture rotation is working fairly well though it does require a lot of work preparing the fencing, not so much work once it is all up.  We are hoping that this more intensive grazing method will get us more from our pastures as we are on a cycle of more than 40 days. The sheep and horses are on a different series of pastures and the rotation is not so intensive for them. we are hoping to go further into the fall on pastures, ideally right until the snow gets too deep for grazing. the idea being to reduce the hay consumption over winter.

Our hay at the neighbours has been cut and baled and we will have to fetch it up from the field to the barn. not exactly sure when or how we will do this as we are so pressed for time at the present.

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June 1, 2015 Farm News


 

 

An eventful week.  We lost one of our first horses, Wimpy, our 29 year old gelding.  He had been quite underweight as without his few enduring molars, he could not properly chew and swallow hay, and he was surviving and slowly gaining back weight on a diet of soaked alfalfa and beet pulp pellets, chaff which was mostly alfalfa leaf and sometimes soaked and sprouted oats and barley.  But on Tuesdy late afternoon him and his team mate, the mare Marie, were given soaked oats prior to being harnessed for a little light work, which is the only work they had been doing lately, on the cultivator and the row marker.  Wimpy began choking on his oats but it was assumed that he had simply been trying to bolt it down too quickly, it had happened occasionally before, and it was not serious, just a bit of slobber and drooling and it passed after a short while.  This time though he was still doing this after the work had finished.  Both horses did not eat their ration that evening and the next day were both doing this slobbering, drooling thing. They were not getting better so by the evening we had the vet out and she diagnosed it as a condition called, quite descriptively, slobbers. Not much to do for it but to let it pass, as it usually would, on it’s own.  These were two older horses and additionally Wimpy was compromised by his underweight condition.  He was already weakened.  He could not eat or drink and by the next evening was dead.  The mare, though is now eating and drinking, it took her three days to recover, but is still not back to her normal self.

We got Wimpy when he was seven years old.  He was difficult at first but he mellowed just a bit.  He was a likeable, friendly, hard working.  He will be much missed and long remembered.

We finally got our rain to end a long drought that had begun to have very serious effects on pasture, hay crops and the garden,  About 50 mm of rain in total Saturday evening and overnight and all day Sunday. A real relief. But now it is too cold.  The frequent cool weather, often the overnights, has played havoc with the beans and the potatoes in particular.  The beans had poor germination and the potatoes were very slow to emerge, just sitting for about 4 weeks.  Everything will do well once out temperatures come back up in a day or two and in the meantime everything is having a good drink.

THE WEBSITE WILL NOT LOAD PHOTOS FOR ME TODAY.  NO IDEA WHY.  Look to Facebook, facebook.com/devonacres for photos.

 

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May 25, 2015 Farm News


The usual garden view early on a May 25 morning. Things here are growing fairly well.

The usual garden view early on a May 25 morning. Things here are growing fairly well.

We certainly need rain and a good lot of it too.  If we were to get 2 to 3 cm over a 24 to 48 hour period that would be perfect.  Perfection will likely elude us for some time yet and we will have to do much irrigating in the garden.  The pastures however must wait for rains and while they are alright just now, they will soon rapidly begin to wilt and brown.  This has already happened on some small areas throughout the pastures, spots where it is sandier and on tops of knolls. The hay crop may be down too.  The volume of hay is likely to be somewhat less.

The cows still sleeping.  Quite happy these days being finally out on the grass.  We were delaying until the pasture got a good rain but the rain didn't come and the cows had to go to pasture.

The cows still sleeping. Quite happy these days being finally out on the grass. We were delaying until the pasture got a good rain but the rain didn’t come and the cows had to go to pasture.

The cow, horse, sheep, donkey, and feathered animal department is all well.

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The other half of the work gang putting the compost on the potatoes.  There were more young workers but they went for a drink.

The other half of the work gang putting the compost on the potatoes. There were more young workers but they went for a drink.

he garden planting continues,  the frost on Saturday morning was quite severe though with great good fortune we had no damage at all in the garden.  A few leaves on a single Rhubarb clump seem to have suffered a bit but that was all and that was outside the garden.  Leaves on many trees and shrubs, Catalpa, Walnut, Hackberry, the wild Grape  were among the most effected with some of the trees and the Grape having all their leaves destroyed by the frost.  They will likely all recover though this will stress them no doubt and may  with another stressor later in the season cause some of these plants to die over next winter.

A row ogf garlic in the centre, spinach and carrots doing well in the mulched rows to the left and broad beans and onions to the right.

A row ogf garlic in the centre, spinach and carrots doing well in the mulched rows to the left and broad beans and onions to the right.

Shorter blogs these days as I don’t have as much time to sit and think of what to write, but I’ll try to get out the most important events here.

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May 18, 2015 Farm News


The usual garden view.

The usual garden view.

The new two week calf, Rosie.

The new two week calf, Rosie.

A really nice hot summers day in late spring mid-May. Much planting has been finished but much more needs to be done.  More work than ever just now.  The horses have been working well, both teams.  We use the older team on some of the lighter work were more precision is needed.  The new team is, being much younger, capable of doing more and heavier work than the old team, but they are not nearly as well trained.  They are not so good at walking straight and are not experienced enough to get all the commands right and to figure out what we are asking of them.  They just need to do more things, more often in order to gain experience and we’ll get to know them and they will get to know us as well.

The Cockshutt No. 1 Transplanter whaich we use to make the plowed groove in the ground to plant the potatoes in.  This is pulled by the older team so that the rows will be reasonably straight.

The Cockshutt No. 1 Transplanter whaich we use to make the plowed groove in the ground to plant the potatoes in. This is pulled by the older team so that the rows will be reasonably straight.

Chickens are doing quite well and the lay rate from the ducks as well as the chickens is quite high.  We need to get them moving around again on their pasture rotations.  The ducks really do like to splash around in their little swimming pool.  The pool will be filled, it takes maybe 60 or 70 litre of water to fill it to the brim, and within a half hour or so the ducks will have splashed nearly three quarters of it out on to the ground.  They have great fun and the chickens tolerate their antics with dignity.

Our white lilac just full of blooms this year. It gets better each year.

Our white lilac just full of blooms this year. It gets better each year.

The large bloom lilac coloured lilac.

The large bloom lilac coloured lilac.

The horses, cows and the sheep are still not yet on the new pasture as ours has ben somewhat slow to get established.  We probably badly overgrazed it last fall so it is still slow to recover. Soon though.

The pile of hay mulch, a very valuable commodity for the garden.

The pile of hay mulch, a very valuable commodity for the garden.

Lots of nice flowers, sweet smelling  lilacs in various colours, dandelions, apple trees, mulberries, and much more.

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