APRIL 12, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden late this afternoon shortly after a good rain. Noticeably greener than last week.

The perennial onions are looking quite good.

The spring weather continues to improve each week. Still up and down but the downs and ups are now, on average, much higher. The coming week’s forecast though seems to be that we’ll have a colder week than we’ve had for a while. But a good amount of rain today and over this past week.

William’s excellent photo of the mares Nell and Marta, patiently waiting for more hay. They got the last of it just shortly after. See next photo.

Finally breakfast. Another photo by William.

We are slowly getting seeds plated in trays and in the ground. We planted about 10 trays of various onions, about 200 seeds per tray. These will not be potted on but will be grown to a suitable size in the trays and will be transplanted out into the garden sometime in May. Two more rows of broad beans were planted into the garden and two more still need to go in. We still have not worked up very much ground in the garden as yet and that is what we really have to do next. We did get our main seed order from William Dam Seeds last week too so now we have no hold up waiting for seeds. We still have more seeds to get but they are seeds that go into really warm soil so no hurry on them.

Horses, a kid n a dog. The photographer getting photoed

Our latest acquisition; a 1942 Ford 2n tractor often just called a 9n. Confusing yes. It is about 20 HP.

We got another little tractor on Saturday. It is a Ford 9n, or maybe a 2n, judging by the serial number which places the date of manufacture as late 1942. There are still a lot of these tractors around, they are very popular, though few are used very much anymore. Replacement parts are readily available and are reasonably priced so maintenance is easy. Our other tractor, the 1955 Farmall 100, will be used exclusively, or almost so, as a cultivating tractor and for any work where the cultivators will fit the job. Cultivating tools can often be used to mark rows for seeding of vegetables. The 9n could then be used for pulling things such as plow, harrows, manure spreader, wagon and trailer. Along with the tractor we also got a Massey-Harris manure spreader, old but not likely as old as the tractor; a three point hitch two furrow plow, 14 inch I think; a set of small drag disc harrows, double disc and a hugely popular set for small garden work. Again the discs are really old and could even be as old, or older, than the tractor. But all of this stuff should be just fine in spite of it’s age. We do have to treat it carefully of course, but we should do so with even brand new equipment. Also coming with the tractor was a small well built trailer which will be very handy, and a platform that goes on the three point hitch making it kinda like a trailer without wheels built on to the back of the tractor. The platform will be a very handy device for smallish loads, up to as much as 800 pounds if kept close to the tractor, and for maneuvering in tight spaces.

The garlic in the background is looking very good now and growing well. The two furrow 3 point hitch plow is new to us, Ford made and 60 to 70 years old, two 14 inch bottoms. It mounts directly to the back of the tractor

The Massey-Harris manure spreader looks to be in very good condition and is a perfect size for garden work.

The set of double drag disc. The large wheel atop the tongue is for adjusting the angle of the disc gangs, The gangs are in the straight position and need some angle to bite into the soil.

The chickens are doing well still. Most are laying a good number of eggs and the ducks have just started to lay so that we now have a good supply of duck eggs to sell as well. We are getting 20 more blue egg layers tomorrow but these are young 4 to 5 week old chickens and they will not be laying eggs for another 17 or 18 weeks. 

Young William took a lot of photos of the sheep and lambs and cattle at the barn. The young lambs are now doing quite well with the warm weather being quite to their liking. The young calf ‘Easter’ is doing well too. But everyone is anxious to get out on grass and it is still way too early. The grass needs to do a lot more growing before the grazers can start chomping it down. Likely at least another 4 weeks before they can be out regularly. We are now out of hay but will be getting more soon.

In black and white.

The outdoor pen is a poor substitute for a pasture but has to do for now.

Some lambs are both black and white and various shades of charcoal grey.

more lambs, and some of the same lambs.

And some of the black and white markings are quite distinctive. Notice the very tip of the white half of that black tail.

The new calf ‘Easter’. Guess when this calf was born.

William had something in mind for this photo.

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APRIL 5, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view with dark clouds threatening. This was at about a quarter to one on April 5 and the weather radar showed a bit of rain approaching though it looks like it will miss us to the south.

A few cold nights again the past week and even a couple of cold days. The week coming is forecast to be much nicer with no nights below freezing and day time temperatures to be in the middle plus teens. Spring advances ponderously with many retreats. But each week’s retreats seem to not be quite as far as the previous week’s. It’ll be far too hot soon enough.

A really nice little dandelion growing in the garden. I a few days we’ll be able to gather some leaves and flowers for eating.

Not sure what was up with the chickens as most of this flock was under this tree as if it were a summer’s day with a blazing hot sun. Very little sun and no leaves on this mulberry yet. But it is a warm spring day with no wind so maybe perceived as hot.

The chickens are really happy with this weather but are real anxious to get out on fresh grass. We still have to work on getting that arrangement set up for them and for now they are still in their winter quarters with only a small outdoor run for the one flock, a much larger for the other and only the two smaller flocks t the front have access to grass as yet. The older ducks are right now free to wander where they like. Once we get a few more things growing in the garden we’ll have to keep them out. The 9 younger ducks will have access to the entire area in the front of our house, which now just has cats lounging about and occasional escaped chicken flocks.

The nine younger ducks, six drakes and three hens. Their little compound needs to be enlarged now. It will require a bit of work digging in posts and stringing a fence and a little planning as we need gates and need to ensure they don’t go on the house porch nor into the cat’s food.

The horses are still on the second of their over wintering pasture with no grass left now,  the cows, though they get turned out into the barn yard each day, are still not on pasture and same for the sheep who are allowed out to a small outside paddock for the day. Horses, cows and sheep will not get out on to pasture for a few weeks yet and in the mean time the grass will grow lush.

We have already had some stinging nettle in a meal but will wait a little longer to harvest this so as not to have to pull whole little plants.

The garden preparation and planting, which has been going in fits and starts matching the weather, will no longer so restrained and we’ll go all out. Nearly. We’ll still have to be careful about the frost sensitive things.

A single parsley plant is growing. This plant is now into its third year which I think is a bit unusual.

 

 

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MARCH 29, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden just after noon hour today. Still quite messy.

Our spring bulbs have just started to flower nicely. In our location we are at least a week later than more sheltered locations in town less than 2 miles away from us.

There are a very small number, less than a half dozen or so, of dandelions in flower. There will soon be thousands. Great for eating and an early flower for the honey bees.

Another week into spring but not a whole lot more done. Mostly the weather has been nice and the temperatures a bit above the expected average, and we did finally get some rain. I’ll need to set out a rain gauge and keep a record since the Environment Canada weather station, located but a quarter mile away from us, does not record precipitation amounts. It was a good bit of rain, probably a coupe of cm, so that was very nice as it had been getting very dry.

The main flock of laying hens and a few roosters.

These are the standard commercial brown egg layer for small flock owners, in this case being Frey’s Hatchery’s Red Sex-Link.

All the animals are doing quite well. I’ll have to get some photos for next week of the bees, sheep and cows. The chickens and the ducks are liking the nice weather and unless it is cold and rainy and with a wind then they will spend a good amount of time outdoors. The chickens are laying quite well still and the ducks started laying this week. Some did as for the whole week we had a total of 3 eggs with another two this morning.

Apricot buds. Nicely swollen and waiting for some prolonged nice warm temperatures.

Buds, leaf or blossom i know not, on a columnar apple. Again these are some way from opening up.

I the garden there are a few things regrowing from last fall. Most of it will n0t be kept but might be useful for some early snacks before it needs to be turned under. The garlic and the green onions (the perennial onions)  will eventually be harvested.

A very small number of Swiss chard plants from last season have survived the winter. Some of these may grow enough to give us a few leaves for lunch.

Nearly all of this late planting of spinach has come through the winter intact and living, and should provide for a few pickings.

Every row of garlic is now growing and it looks like most if not all have, as expected, survived the winter.

The perennial onions, in this case the Egyptian walking onion, are growing nicely now and should be cleaned up, all the dead stalks broken off and laid in the rows.

 

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MARCH 22, 2021 FARM NEWS


 

The usual view of the garden taken on the 22nd. Some of the stuff littering the foreground has gone.

The usual garden view on a sunny March 15 with all the over the winter accumulation of stuff still littering the foreground and leaf bags littered every where else.

Looking down our much less muddy lane way on the 15th

A week later on the 21st. The once muddy lane way is rapidly drying . We need rain. Just a bit. No mud.

I did not get a blog published last week, just got overwhelmed with other things.

A warm spring afternoon .brings ot kids in wheel barrows and kids barefoot on bikes.

The week of March 8 to the 14th was an improvement as the ground was by then, not muddy … in most places, and we had been able to work up a small amount of ground in the gardens. It was all done by hand, raking off debris, and using the wheel hoe to make nice straight grooves for seeding into. Two 100 foot rows of broad beans were sown. At least two more rows to go. The beans will just sit there in the soil thinking about it and when there is enough warmth they will begin to germinate. The area between the rows has been thickly mulched with leaves and straw, which will cool the soil and slow germination a bit, but the soil covering the seed rows is exposed, so that part will warm in the sun. More ground will be worked up this coming week, not too much will be planted over the next few weeks.

Two rows of broad beans and further over to the left a row of peach trees. All well mulched with leaves and other good garden debris.

The tools used to prepare the soil for seeding. At the top is a wheel hoe with a mold board plow attachment. This tool is used to make the groove and sometimes for covering the seed. The next tool is a two toothed cultivator on along handle which is used for covering the broad beans and many other seeds. Works great. The bottom tool is a row seed spacer. It is a wheel with short dowel pieces taped on so that when rolled down the groove leaves a dimple every 4 inches. Set a seed in each dimple and there is 4 inch spacing. A seed at each dimple and one between each and two inch spacing and so on. Again, works great.

Dwarf apple trees growing in the garden. These should begin to bear some fruit in 4 to 5 years.

During the week of the 8th to 14th we also got a small number of apple tree whips to plant. We did get a small order of vegetable seeds, some of the broad beans planted were part of that order, but the main order is some weeks away. Most of our suppliers of plants and seeds are extraordinarily busy again this winter and spring and delivery dates are sometimes weeks from when an order is placed.

A few lettuce plants overwintered but though they show so much promise early on they usually don’t do well.

The walking onions always do well. They do need to be cleaned up a bit now but then they are fine on their own.

There is a lot of this chickweed growing and it will make a nice green for salads and cooking in just a few weeks.

A chard plant from last season. There are several that are growing well.

The weather has been gradually improving but the temperatures have been not too much different over the past two weeks. Some really nice warm days of course, when it gets well above freezing on a windless sunny day, but in a lot of places the frost is still just a few, maybe 4, inches down. Despite that there are many little plants left from last season that are slowly growing back. Some of these might grow back enough to give us a small harvest.

The garlic beds. The three rows at the right side grow noticeably larger each week.

A bed of spinach that was late seeded last September and not harvested. Garlic to the right. The spinach may grow out ok, we’ll see.
it is going to need some rain soon and lots of warmth. Really hot weather will not be good for it though.

These turnips were ready for harvest last fall but we did not get to them. They are still just perfectly fine. Nice and firm and cook up well and are growing back.

For the last two weeks we have been quite occupied with planting the apple trees, bringing manure up from the barn, turning milk into cheese and maple sap into maple syrup. The planting of the trees was compounded by the still frozen ground, making it a lot more work than expected. These apple trees could not be held too long as they were bare root and really needed to get into the ground. There is a large manure pack at the barn and it has been in need of moving for some time. Some of this will be worked into the garden this season but most is being put into piles to be composted. We have had excess milk so it is being turned into cheese and yogurt. The cheese is several variations of a simple white cheese made by heating milk slowly to 180°F then adding vinegar or lemon juice to curdle the milk. The curd is then spooned into a colander lined with cheesecloth to drain off the whey. Sometimes it is pressed to remove more whey and left for a few hours in the cheese press with the handle turned frequently. The maple sap has been flowing quite good most days but we cannot process more than about 30 litres a day. We have made about 5 litres of syrup so far. That would be something over 300 litres of sap as we are using Acer negundo, Manitoba maple, instead of Acer saccarum, sugar maple. Not so much sugar in the one as in the other. The sap is boiled off using the wood stove in our kitchen so space is limited. We also cannot boil too vigorously as we cannot overheat the kitchen stove and we don’t want sap splattered all over and making a sticky mess.

A pot of milk, with the requisite thermometer,in the double boiler on the wood stove. Small pot of Maple sap behind it, and the always present coffee pot and kettle at the cooler end of the stove. The white apparatus sitting in a shallow pan, is the cheese press which is only there for the photo.

Maple sap evaporating away water on the kitchen wood burning stove.Counter clock wise from upper right with the freshest sap to lower right with sap getting close to being finished as maple syrup.

The chickens and ducks are really liking this weather now but still not all of the hens are laying quite to their fullest and the ducks have not yet laid an egg this spring. We need to build the chickens new moveable little houses and an incubating and brood house.

An older but fine looking Welsummer hen on the blue plastic road

The hens at the water. The water is now kept out side so as to keep the house drier. The hens were also let out quite late this morning and were quite thirsty.

Leucan. Looking his usual fine self. The other two horses start looking pretty shabby this time of year as their winter coat starts to shed.

Marta, Leucans auntie. Her coat is so much duller than Leucans. But she’ll be nice and shiny soon.

 

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MARCH 7, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual weekly garden view.

In case the mud in the heading photo above was not obvious.

And a little further back it is like this from just one drive out. It’ will all easily rake out.

This past week was a bit of retreat into winter. Again. But we are scheduled, according to Environment Canada Weather, to have higher temperatures these next three days before dropping back to more wintry temperatures for the end of the week. Two more weeks and it’s the vernal equinox. March 20 is, at 5:37 a.m. (or 9:37 UTC if you are more internationally inclined) the beginning of astronomical spring here in our corner of southern Ontario. Spring will last 92 days, 17 hours and 54 minutes. The night and day lengths are not quite equal on the 20th, that occurs on March 17, which date is referred to as the equilux. March 16 day length is 11 hours 58 minutes 05 seconds, whereas the 17th is 12:01:03, and the 20th is 12:09:56. When it turns summer, June 20, day length will be at it’s maximum of 15:22:44.

Two taps, one pail, no sap, too cold

Three pails and three taps and again no sap here. We did get a whole half pail of sap from all the taps so far.

Buds on a twig of the Manitoba maple.

For a few weeks, from about the middle of February each year, it is male syrup making time. We as usual, got off to a bit of a late start on the sap flow season. It was Tuesday of last week when we finally got around to getting the first taps into trees. Then it got to cold for the sap to flow and has been cold since. Last night was -12 and today was up to +8 but no sap flowed at all. The tree buds are not swollen too much yet so still some time maybe. We will not put in very many taps, maybe about 30. Most will be in Manitoba maple (Acer negundo) with about 3 maximum in our single sugar maple (Acer saccharum). We cannot notice any taste or other difference between the two maples in the finished Maple syrup. The only real difference is that we will need a good amount more of negundo sap to get the same amount of syrup. But the wood burning kitchen stove is going all the while anyway so it takes only a little more wood to get syrup. The whole stove top can get loaded with pots though.

There is a good supply of firewood in our woodshed. still another month or more of heating needed.

We have had several lambs born. We have lost a couple though, to hypothermia and it happens so fast and is difficult to remedy. The last lamb that started to show symptoms of hypothermia and we were able to save this lamb by bringing it indoors during the coldest times, keeping it warm and taking it back to it’s mother for milk several times. We need a major rebuild of our lambing pens. Many more lambs to come so it is very nice that the forecast is for somewhat warmer weather. 

Another sign of spring is when the majority of the flock gathers outside.

This guy is a particularly fine rooster and he was quite friendly too.

When i went inside, most everyone followed me in.

And here they are inside plus a few that did not come out.

Fine looking roosters

Just a nice photo of the hens.

We had a calf born but no one was there at the time and it was found lying with it’s head twisted beneath it so that it suffocated. So frustrating that these things happen. We seldom have birthing difficulties with these cows and assistance is not needed. But the mother is being milked and we will have plenty of milk for the house. We usually don’t separate cream so we don’t make butter but we do make yogurt and cheese. The first milk is loaded with colostrum so it makes great pudding and eggless eggnog.

A pot of colostrum milk slowly (two hours) heating on the stove and turning to a sweet custard. Milk and sugar are the only ingredients, no stirring and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

 

 

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MARCH 1, 2021 FARM NEWS


This morning, Monday, at about 11; cold, around freezing, north west wind, overcast, a bit of snow but muddy.

Ice and snow and mud and firewood covered.

The weather was quite a bit warmer this past week. More spring like and more like maple syrup weather. We don’t have taps in yet but have all the tools, buckets, tubing and taps ready to go. Since we boil down in regular, large kitchen pots on the kitchen stove that part of the operation only takes a couple of minutes. We still have the wood burning stove going all day long for cooking and to heat the house, and until the temperature gets up to between 15 and 20°C outside, then we will still have the stove going and available to render sap into syrup.

We have now completed our orders for trees and shrubs to both Whiffletree Farm and Nursery and to Silver Creek Nursery. We still need to get vegetable seed orders out and we’ll be ordering from more seed sources than usual because of the long delays again this year. We do have a good lot of seeds left over that are still quite viable and we were gifted a significant number of seed packages of which most will also be quite viable. So we’ll be alright. We should have ordered early like we were planning to do but were not able to for several reasons.

Sweet cherry trees planted bareroot last June. The plastic guards are wrapped round the trunks and if not, the rabbits would eat through the bark on all of them in a matter of a couple of days. As I stood at this spot taking pictures a rabbit, snuggled in the debris of dead flower plants, not a metre from me, suddenly dashed away. Too quick for me to get a photo.

We have had three lambs born so far with more to come. One has subsequently died but the other two are doing well so far. All the animals are doing well having gone through a relatively mild and easy winter. The hen chickens are again laying a little more, after slowing just a little the past two weeks, so that is another sign of spring. The ducks are still on holiday though I expect eggs will begin to be laid in about two weeks. The larger flock of ducks is now getting older and they have been laying a little less each year so we won’t get so many this year and the small flock is only 2 hens but they’ll likely do an egg a day for long periods and keep it up until next winter.

All heads down at the feed trough

Heads up.

We are starting this week to put some seeds into trays or pots. We’ll start with cabbage things; kale, broccoli, sprouts, head and leaf cabbage,and rapini. Onions soon too, though we’ll possibly buy some sets as well. Red, white and yellow onion, a Spanish and some of the specialty types later. We might start some lettuces and other greens too. Still just a bit early do get too much started.

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FEBRUARY 22, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden scene at around noon. A cloudy day with a bit of misty rain and snow and a temperature at about 1°C. Positively balmy.

Turning to my left 90° to look down the lane way toward the road. The lane can just barely be distinguished . The line of apple trees can be seen on the right each tree beside a bamboo pole.

Winter is still with us and was with a lot of people last week who don’t usually experience our version of it. Our lane way was a little difficult to exit and so the cars have not moved as we have relied on the four wheel drive SUV to go out and in. Even that vehicle had some difficulty due to the snow being like sand or tiny hard spheres that rolled around a lot and made traction difficult. At 8 in the morning Sunday the temperature was at its lowest at -18°C and that was not far off the lowest we’d had all winter which I think was about -20°C. Temperatures are forecast to be above freezing over the next few days. February though is done in a week’s time, so maybe that’ll be the last of the most severe winter temperatures.

William headed to the chickens and ducks with three buckets half filled with water. He has no gloves and his work pants have a hole in the knee and asked if he is cold he’ll say “mmm, no!” With the snow being a little wet now it was a bit of a harder job. The boys are helping out each morning and evening by doing Grandad’s job while he recovers.

Sending in orders today to Whiffletree Farm and Nursery and to Silver Creek Nursery, for trees and plants. We’ll pick these up in about a month and get them in the ground right away. More seed orders to go out still

That is Gabriel heading down to the chickens with a bucket of waterThe trees just behind the chicken huts are Manitoba maple trees which we can tap for maple syrup.

We’ll likely do some maple syrup this year though we have not set any taps yet. Most of the trees that we tap will be Manitoba maple, Acer negundo which yields less maple syrup for an equal measure of sap than does sugar maple, Acer saccharum. So more boiling down. but we don’t do very much and the stove will be going anyway and we cannot discern any difference in flavour between the two varieties of maple. We might try a little walnut syrup too. Harder to get a sap flow from the black walnuts in our experience.

A black copper Marans hen the hens that lay the darkest brown eggs.

The peacock up in the rafters.

Chickens are doing well laying a good number of eggs even in the cold. We expect that the lay rate to increase as the weather warms. We’ll start hatching eggs near the end of March. No lambs yet and no calves until next fall at the earliest. Horses are well and we are hoping at least one mare will foal.

Our three horses. Standing in the old equipment yard

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FEBRUARY 15, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view today late afternoon

It has remained quite cold, well below freezing even during the day and not forecast to improve much in the next 7 days. Tomorrow night I think, it is forecast to be -20°C. Only five weeks until solar spring, the vernal equinox. The cold makes it much more difficult for the boys when they water the chickens each morning but in spite of that no gloves or mittens are worn and sometimes no hats. Usually a coat but maybe only a warm sweater. I suppose I was once like that but now only remember cold hands and feet and freezing cold water slopped into my thin rubber boots. We keep the wood burning stove well stoked and the firewood we are burning now is of excellent quality We have been lucky that there has been no wind and so far not very much snow either. The lane way is snow covered and firmly, and smoothly, packed and is easily driven on. We have not had to clear any snow from the lane way.

Hiding behind the peacocks tail is a buff hen. Not actually his tail though, these are those long back feathers.

I think that I get a lot of photos of this silver laced Wyandotte he.

The most of our eggs are the brown versions but w have a good number of the greens and blues too.

The hens are laying a good number of eggs each day. The rate of egg lay seems to be more influenced by the lengthening day light hours than by the temperature. There are a couple of breeds of chicken that have not yet started laying well and the ducks are laying nearly no eggs. The older flock are laying none at all still. we’ll have to incubate some eggs soon. First we’d better buy an incubator and we’ll have to separate the the breeds into separate flocks, each with an appropriate ratio of roosters to hens.

Even though this guy has a short pea style comb, he had a little frost damage last year.

We have had one lamb born so far but it succumbed to the cold after about a week when it got separated from it’s mother overnight. We should have more soon but hopefully not until it warms a little. This is a poor time of year to lamb. May is the perfect month but it is difficult to achieve unless the rams are kept away from the ewes until late fall, into December and then we might risk the ewes not being open. We will have to devise a better way of doing things with the lambing.

This is what the world should look like when the lambs come.

Horses are well but no way of knowing really if the horses are bred or not. Hopefully they are as the two mares have been with the stallion all the while.

The stakes mark various garlic varieties now down somewhere under a protective thick layer of snow.

The garden slumbers under a blanket of snow and we struggle to get orders out for seeds and plants. We have sent an order to Grimo Nut Nursery for nut trees and that has been confirmed. We also got nut cracker and a sampling of several different nuts, hazels, black walnut, Carpathian walnut, heartnut, and hickory as we’ll eventually be getting all these trees and we wondered if one might be more popular than another after a taste testing session. We reached no firm conclusions as to which was more popular. An order has gone to The Grand River Conservation Authority for a large number of trees but we have had no confirmation as yet. The several orders for seeds from various seed companies, with William Dam Seeds being the largest, have not yet gone out.

Devon using the new nut cracker.

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FEBRUARY 8, 2021 FARM NEWS


Monday view of a winter garden.

Just to the left of a photo in last week’s blog. Sunshine this week and more snow.

Another winter week done and yet another even more wintry one to come. A mere 6 weeks now until the equinox and one marker of the start of spring. The very cold weather of this past week has been a bit hard on everyone but as long as we can get all the animals plenty of food and enough water then they are will do alright. We did have the pipes at the well freeze up overnight Sunday/Monday but it was quickly thawed and the leak allowing in cold air was fixed so we don’t expect a repeat of that problem. Some chickens were let out today and they happily gathered outside in the sunshine in spite of the cold.

Gabriel having taken a bucket of food and a bucket of water to what we call the rooster hut to the left and the turkey hut to the right. The rooster hut has a bunch of elderly hens and the turkey huts has but three old turkeys and many more chickens; some of the heritage breeds flock.

We completed and sent off the order for trees to Grimo Nut Nursery near Niagara-on-the-Lake. this is part of our Agroforestry plans, the great ongoing decades long project though some of these trees will bare a small harvest in as soon as 3 to 5 years. We are just about ready to send out orders to Silver Creek Nursery and Whiffletree Farm and Nursery for trees, mainly fruit trees. The William Dam Seeds order for vegetable seeds is also nearly ready to go.

Gabriel with another bucket of feed and another bucket of water heading to the main chicken house with our main laying flock.

Job done, Gabriel returns with eggs and empty buckets. The mink was last seen scurrying beneath the large blue container at the end of the chicken house.

Notice Gabriel’s winter togs. He did have the hood up earlier but who needs that now. The sun is out and he started out with no mittens or cloves. Sleeves are long enough if you need to cover the hands. It is only – 16 after all and the sun is shining and the boys regularly dress this way. Usually no coat either.

We saw a mink near our house and the chicken house behind it just today. I scurried back and forth at the windows trying to get a photo but did not get one. This was the first time that we have ever seen one of these animals. Jet black and sleek it was quite a lovely little beast. They are apparently real chicken lovers and can reduce a henhouse to carnage in short order. Luckily this was just before the doors were opened so there was no ready way for the mink to get inside. We’ll keep a close watch out for it to return and be quick to respond to any loud complaints coming from a chicken coop.

Gabriel was not long when the flock came out into the warm sunshine. No wind so it was great for them

A closeup of that snow flock. These are some of the heritage breeds of chickens that we have.

Always nice to have a bit of a close up portrait. This is a particularly fine example of this breed. He is well feathered and nicely proportioned. The combs and wattles of this breed do not often get frostbite in the extreme cold because of the very small comb and wattle. Notice the much larger comb and wattle of the rooster behind, and though that one has no frost damage he seems to be missing the last point of his comb.

A good layer of snow now so we won’t be scraping any leftovers from the garden until at least some of the snow disappears.There is not too very much to be gotten from the garden tough.

We have gotten our ducks in a row. Unlike chickens the ducks are let out every morning regardless of the weather. They usually remain out all day until herded in for the night. They decided to curl up and snooze in the shadier spot without regard for any warming sunshine.

We have now completed the update to the website and our taking on renewals and new participants to our CSA project for the 2021 season. If you might like to be a part of a Community Shared Agriculture program and come to the farm once each week from June until the end of November then read up on the CSA page on this website and contact us.

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FEBRUARY 1, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden this afternoon at around 5 p.m.

 

 

The view across the valley from beside the fence at the east side of our house.

The weather has been more February like lately with most of last week well below freezing But only 28 more days, 4 weeks and we’ll be at March which though it can be pretty cold, snowy and rainy is then only three weeks from the vernal equinox. Spring. Much warmer weather on average by then.

The hens are up on their perch for the night by about 4 in the afternoon when it is dull, cold and cloudy

The chickens are in remarkably good condition given the frozen state of things. Some of the chicken houses just have too few hens to be warm enough and a bit of ice will be on their water each morning. They need a lot of litter on their floors when shut up tight as otherwise their is an excessive build up of ammonia and humidity. The hens have been laying more eggs in spite of the cold so it seems that increasing day length is more important to egg laying.

We have many pics of the silver laced Wyandottes. They are such a pretty hen with all that fine detail in the feather colour pattern

Just an interesting picture of the chickens, two hens and a rooster again all settled in on their roosts for the night.

The rest of the animals, horses, cows and sheep are still the same. No great changes over the past few weeks, everyone just the same and waiting for spring. we should have lambs coming around the end of this month.

This photo was taken about January 20. The horses just standing about well fed and resting. This picture was taken last week

The garden is getting a bit of a blanket of snow now and the rabbits have eaten nearly all the greens that were left in the garden. there is a little bit of the small immature cabbage still there under the snow. Perfectly good eating though a lot of leaf has to be rimmed away.

The garlic rows with the marker stakes. All slumbering under the snow.

Sort of a no news week to report. We are still working up lists of vegetables and trees and shrubs to get for the spring. Our gardening and agroforestry plans are still being fine tuned. Firewood splitting is an on going chore still. Keeping a good fire going in the woodstove to keep the house warm always keeps us busy.

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JANUARY 24, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view early afternoon. The sun had been quite nice earlier but was now just a weak lowering sun.

The weather was not too bad last week though it has been gradually getting colder. Instead of hovering around the 0 to plus 3 or 4°C, we are going to be zero to minus 3 or 4 with overnight temperatures sometimes down around minus 12. But it is and has been quite variable and overall our winter so far has been quite mild. At this point in the calendar it also seems to be stable too. No storms, little or no wind most days though not a lot of sun.

The Barnevelder hens have, like many chickens, very exquisite feather colour patterns.

The rooster trying to impress the hens by finding something really, really interesting.

Not sure that there actually was anything there but they sure spent a lot of time with heads down as if there actually was something of value there.

The hens are quite liking this winter though the next week or so, or maybe for the whole month of February, it may be much colder than they would like. We open up the doors to their houses so they can go outside during the day but only if it is sunny and not too terribly cold. Overcast and well below freezing and especially wit a wind then the chickens just will not go outside and open doors just cool down the inside of the chicken houses.

The horses are just standing around waiting for their afternoon feed of hay.

The horses are perfectly fine outside all the time and it is actually much better for them as their lungs seem a little more delicate tan cattle and they appreciate the cleaner, dust free air when eating hay. Hay does get dusty, even the good stuff. The horses grow a thick coat in early fall which insulates them quite well. After a snowfall they will have a layer of snow, unmelted on their backs. They work up a sweat quite quickly if they are put to work in the winter.

A start on next seasons heating.

We’re still splitting firewood for the house and the yurt, every day, several times a day. We should have enough wood to finish out this year’s season for burning wood in the wood burning stove. But that could run well into May. Mid to late April for sure. At least 10 plus more weeks. Then after that it would be starting the stove every once in a while for an especially cold day.

These are the garlic rows. All the greens are now beaten down and partially covered in leaves. Nothing will happen here until April

Bunny rabbit tracks are almost everywhere.

The chard looked alright last week but rabbit tracks all over the chard rows and they have eaten it right down to the ground. It will not likely recover in the spring.

So far the rabbits are uninterested in the turnips hopping right past. that may change as all else gets eaten.

So far the rabbits are uninterested in the turnips hopping right past. that may change as all else gets eaten.

Not much at all left in the garden. The rabbits devoured the kale first then moved on to the cabbages and are now working their way through the chard.  We need to fence off a portion of the garden to protect these things from rabbits. They are not a problem during the growing season. The rabbit numbers are increasing each year. This happened about 20 years ago such that after an overnight snowfall our front yard would be heavily covered in tracks. Then the next year there were none at all. It took another year before we saw a set of rabbit tracks and several years for the numbers to increase much. Now they seem to be increasing very rapidly. May be another number crash soon.

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JANUARY 18, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the gardens taken today at about noon. Gloomy grey day, not a speck of sunshine but at just over 1 degree the temperature was enough to melt away the little bit of snow that later fell.

Cat tracks along with boot prints, a car track and William’s lines from his ice skates. A not too bad layer of ice on the driveway.

Another fine week of weather, mostly above freezing during the day and just a little below at night. Little or no wind for most of the week, no new snow on the ground for us either. But the forecast is for colder weather ahead. We’ll see. Nine more weeks until the vernal equinox, nine more weeks ’til spring

Possum tracks just to the right in the last photo. Two opossums live in our garage and if we don’t get the cat’s evening meal leftovers picked up right away the opossums will be there.

We need to update this website, spruce it up a bit as not much has been done to it over the past year and for some parts of it a lot longer ago than that. We have to make changes to reflect our repositioning as to agroforestry, forest garden, forest food, and permaculture. We’ll be doing the CSA vegetable program again, our 28th season. We can happily brag that we are one of the earlier CSA organic farms in Ontario.

The Swiss chard is all looking similar to this. The small centre leaves are doing well still but the outer and usually much larger ones are heavily damaged by the cold and the freezing.

Our one legged duck. He does actually have another. It is just tucked up to keep it warm.

We have evolved our methods over the past 28 years (more than 30 counting the years before we began the CSA) but we still work the garden with a minimum of input from other than people and horses. We are much less dependent on horses and while we have always had a lot of help from those with working shares, or from volunteer labour, they have been of increasing importance to us over the past few years. We have increasingly been adapting practices that require less work in the garden, such as heavily mulching which keeps weeds to a minimum, retains soil moisture, keeps the soil cooler and adds organic matter to the soil.

Noon time and most of the chickens are just lounging around inside.

We have a nice assortment of colourful hens and roosters which give us a nice assortment of colourful eggs.

The poultry, sheep cows and horses are all doing very well. We had another 14 bales of hay delivered this week, the large round ones. We are using about a third of a bale per day so these will keep everyone fed for another 42 days and we had others in the barn already so we have enough hay for about 60 days. It will be about the middle of May before we can get everyone back on pasture.

Actually the roosters give us no eggs. They just hang about; eating, picking on, or pecking on, friend and foe, breeding the hens, bragging loudly, scrapping with others and sometimes like these two, just getting along perfectly fine.

Another silver laced Wyandotte hen just sleeping off her breakfast and lunch.

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JANUARY 11, 2021 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view. Stuff is beginning to accumulate

Gabriel putting away the young ducks for the night. He is carrying Gregory, the blind drake.

The weather is still relatively mild with daytime temperatures around the 0°C mark and night time down to around -5 or maybe as low as -8°C. But it has even been a bit above freezing overnight. The small amount of snow that we got a while ago has melted but only a little, even on the sunny days. But the foot packed snow on the drive way and the pathways is getting quite icy.

Sleeping chicken. Typical pose. The head end is to the left.

Another hen up on the roost for the night. All these photos were taken at around 4:30 p.m. It was overcast so quite dim but the light was on.

A Welsumer on the left and a Black Copper Marans on the right. Just a little bit of a Silver Laced Wyandotte showing on the left marg

All this is good for us as it means we are much more comfortable both indoors and out. The chickens and ducks are happier too and therefore egg laying has not dropped off so much as we’d expect. The days are getting noticeably longer now so that also helps. The horses, cows and sheep are comfortable enough and might even get a bit overheated on a sunny, windless warm day. They eat noticeably less hay when the weather is nice.

This is either a Whiting True Blue or an Americauna rooster, the hens of which breed lay blue-green eggs.

We have been scouring vegetables from the garden, kale, cabbage, greens of various sorts and turnips when we can. But the cold and the snow do make that a bit more difficult and each freeze-thaw does more damage and the turnips are still frozen into the ground.

The chard leaves are mostly picked or damaged by the cold with only these small centre ones looking good. If we are lucky these plants will survive the winter and regrow in the spring.

The work getting up a seed and plant list is going far too slowly and we really have to get our seed and plant orders away. So much time researching the pros and cons of this variety as opposed to that and there are hundreds and thousands of vegetable and plant varieties. Too much candy.

There are quite a few good turnips still in the garden. They are buried in the snow and some, like this one, had a thin layer of snow which has melted away. the turnip root itself is frozen firmly to the ground though.

There are also many small projects that are wanting to be done and we do peck away at them. Somewhat hard to make progress when the weather is cold even in this relatively mild weather and so much of just the mundane everyday stuff is happening too. Aerron’ and Maggie’s two boys William and Gabriel have been of great help though. Each has a group of chickens and ducks to look after. their job is to go round each morning around 9 and each afternoon around dark to feed and water and gather eggs and to herd them inside and shut them up securely at the end of the day. We have lost no poultry to predators since the early fall coyote intrusion of the one chicken flock.

This is what much of the turnip row looks like where the snow is thin enough that the sun has melted through

Firewood as always during the winter keeps us busy. this winter we have been doing quite well as so far our wood has been well seasoned and has been kept out of the weather and dry. Even though the weather this winter has been relatively mild does not mean we have burned less firewood but only that we have been able to keep the indoor temperatures warmer than we might have otherwise.

Firewood. Spruce logs, or rounds as we call them when they are cut to stove length. Ready to be split. This is still not fully cured and will be difficult to split though it is dry enough to burn. We will not use this unless we absolutely have to and will try to save it for next season.

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JANUARY 4, 2021 FARM NEWS


The garden on January 2 after a light snowfall.

The stove has been stoked after having been burning for a while, otherwise smoke is not seen.

Well !  HAPPY NEW YEAR !!  Now, a chance for a fresh new start and for us it is now officially the start of the 2021 vegetable growing season even though we’ll not actually be setting out plants, tilling ground or sowing seeds for quite some time. The planning has been stepped up the last few days and we are actually working quite hard to get our seed orders out. We really wanted them out before this so as to not run into the same delays in getting our seeds and plants that we did last year. No idea yet if the same sort of thing will happen and our seed suppliers have probably been trying hard to figure out just what they should be expecting and yet not end up with too much.

The hens mid morning, 30 eggs can be seen, all from the red hens. There were another 7 eggs under those hens still in the nests and 10 more from the heritage breeds were laid a little later.

The hens continue to lay as expected. The one breed, the hybrid red sex-link, quite well as they always do, while some of the heritage breeds have, just stopped laying and this is also The ducks are now laying maybe an egg a week but most stopped about the end of October. Only our three young ducks will still lay the occasional egg. The chickens are inside a lot know with the snow and cloudy days. A bit of sun and little to no wind will however bring the  chickens outside.

The boys heading back up the hill from the barn. The horses paying but scant attention.

The horses, sheep and cattle are fine though only the horses are out side all the time. The fences are just not good enough for the cows to be out overnight. It seems that the cows can figure out quickly, within but a couple of hours if there is no power in the electric fence whereas the horses will not know a fence is without power for months. Sheep just move, seemingly unaware that the electric fence wires are even there.

We had some more hay delivered on Tuesday last. The truck is on the road out of sight, hidden by the barn. The skid steer tractor, on rubber tracks instead of wheels, carries two bales at a time and goes up the hill with them no difficulties regardless of weather.

The weather has not been to very bad at all the start of winter. We are after all only starting today with our third week of winter. The last few weeks of fall were worse for cold temperatures. The forecast this week is for slightly warmer than usual temperatures. They will be a little above, 1 to 2°C above freezing during the day time and just a few degrees below freezing at night and no major snow fall is expected. only 11 long weeks until the vernal equinox on March 22.

Two bales as deposited by the tractor and before they have been rolled anywhere. Once at this spot they are turned and moved all by hand.

The bale moving gang worked pretty hard. Sometimes these bales roll easily while at other times they might have a flat spot and be looser and more difficult to push around.

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DECEMBER 28, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday garden photo. The snow had been rained on and at the time of this photo, around 3:30, it was near zero again

The big news for us this week past was, as for many people, that Christmas 2020 happened. So little to report on happenings at the farm as we did nothing extra at all.

The cows on their way out to get their hay.

This is as far as these chickens ventured today. Too windy, too cold, no sun.

Thursday the temperature reached a maximum of 9.4°C before falling to below freezing and starting to snow. By Christmas morning a nice layer of snow, about 9 mm, was covering the ground and it stayed cold. Yesterday, Sunday, it got a little above freezing again and a bit of snow melted. Today, Monday, it has warmed to +2°C  for a brief time before once again dropping below freezing, but this after an overnight rain that washed away some of the snow leaving bare patches.

This is Nell, pateintly waiting for the afternoon feed even though there is hay on the ground from the last feeding.

This is Marta, making do with the last feeding.

It seems Leucan and Nell were interested in what I might be up to and if there was anything in it for them.

The horses hay from the barn piled on the sled pulled out to their pasture

The horses have been moved to their over winter spot outside. It is near to the barn for ease of feeding and watering. They may move around to adjoining areas later and one spot is a little more sheltered.

The young duck, 7 drakes, 3 hens in their new location

We moved the young ducks to their wintering spot last week. It is close to our house and is a little more sheltered as well. When there is no snow they have a nice lot of grass and we can move them a few feet to either side as they wear out the grass.

The pile in the woodshed actually got bigger over the week. Note the little cat curled up on the floor wondering just what I might be up to.

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DECEMBER 21, 2020 FARM NEWS


The customary heading photo taken Sunday near noon. Rain just finished.

The days have been getting shorter by an increasingly tiny amount the past while, but, as of tomorrow, days will be getting longer by an decreasingly tiny amount.  We reached the maximum depth of winter, by one measure, at 10:03 a.m. today which is, co-incidentally, the time when this blog was published. By most measures though, this day on the  calendar  is deemed to be the start of winter. We should set up some rocks so that the first rays of the rising sun illuminate in a particular manner, a particular spot, at this particular time of the year, the winter solstice.  Of course we would then have to add in a feature to do similar at the summer solstice and again at each equinox. Stonehenge light.

The lane was muddy at one point a few days ago but is ok now. If the frost were to come out of the ground then it would be muddier than before.

This rooster and hen seem to be comfortable out side. On this day anyway they figure it is better out than in.

The chickens will not likely have notice, but this is, or will be in a while, better for them as they much prefer longer daylight and that eventually brings more warmth. I’m on side with the chickens. They are still laying reasonably well but it will be some month and a half or two months before those that have stopped for the winter begin to lay again. So much to do and so much needs to be done now.

As well as her feather pattern and colour, this breed of hen is distinguished by the feather muff and the slate coloured legs. An Orloff hen.

These silver laced Wyandotte hens have an intriguing colour pattern.

One never ending daily chore these days, and for all days until well into the spring, is firewood. We have a pretty good supply but much needs to be cut to length and much of that again needs to split. We have two wood burning stoves to feed but it is the one in the house that needs the most. It is much harder to heat the house than it is to heat the yurt.

The jumble of wood in the wood shed looks far worse than it actually is. There is an orange cat just visible sleeping in the small white box furthest to the left on top the pile.

The sheep, cows and horses are doing well. The sheep and cows are now eating hay alone whereas the horses are still out on pasture though they do get hay less frequently.

The horses grazing with the snow now gone entirely from their pasture.

We still manage to get a little from the garden though since the regrowth is so slow there is nothing new coming on. A bit of spinach, chard, lettuce, turnips, cabbages, kale and maybe a bit of other. There is very little left and should we get much snow it will be that much harder to retrieve though the snow would maybe give some protection from the freeze/  thaw cycle which seems to cause most of leaf damage.

It is getting more difficult to find good chard leaves.

The turnip leaves though still mostly green are now really looking the worse for wear.

The cabbages all actually look quite good in spite of the freezes.

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DECEMBER 14, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday photo. Last week there was snow and all the rounds of wood were standing on end

A full week to go until the winter solstice and the start of winter at least by the position of the earth in it’s annual orbit of the sun. It is of course only in the northern hemisphere that this occurs as the opposite happens south of the equator where December 21 will be the start of summer. So at 10:03 in the morning the winter solstice officially occurs and the length of daylight hours on the 22nd will be longer … but  imperceptibly so and likewise imperceptibly slow for another few days. The long slow climb to spring at the vernal equinox will have begun.

Proof of above freezing temperatures is the puddle found by the ducks. No ice here

The peacock with his train of feathers growing nicely but still a long way from finished. He seems perfectly happy with this weather too.

This past week’s weather was alright with the temperature being a little warmer and only one day of any amount of rain. The laneway got more muddy but was still navigable. Water hose is still laid out to supply water to the chickens, ducks, horses and the cows and worked well except for a couple of couple of days when it was frozen the whole day. We really should roll it all up and put it away but it is a lot easier to turn on the hose than to carry buckets and maybe it will warm a little again.  The amount of water that the animals are using now is really not that much now though.

The herd of ducks hurrying along to somewhere.

The colours of ducks are quite intriguing.

We planted another small amount of our garlic, about 15 feet. This is a trial. We are wanting to compare the growth of the garlic that is planted in different ways, specifically if the cloves are not planted upright. It is a small trial but hopefully still useful. There are three rows one foot apart divided into three parts. In each part of each row were planted 10 cloves of garlic. One planting was the control, 10 cloves planted upright, the planting was with the cloves laid on their side and the third was with the cloves planted completely upside down. We already have observed that the garlic cloves will grow no matter how they are oriented in the soil but we don’t actually know how well they will grow and if the orientation when planted will affect size and quality. Hopefully we will get some useful results. It may be though that the information we might glean from this trial will not be definitive, we may have to repeat it next fall with a greater number in the planting. No results until we do our first observations in the spring when the garlic leaves start to poke out of the ground. We really should do more formal trials for vegetables where we are looking for changes to various outcomes. We also planted a very few cloves of another garlic variety to see what it is like. It is very different from all the other varieties that we pant and we only planted about 30 cloves. This is called Chinese garlic, was purchased in a grocery store and we think it does come from China. It will be interesting to see how this grows under our conditions.

The tall wood stake marks the end of the three rows and the white stakes divide up the three rowed garlic bed into three parts with the 4th part being the Chinese garlic.

 

The chickens and ducks really are more comfortable with this weather though the ducks often seem to be fine with cold and blowing snow. The ducks will be out in all manner of weather, the sort that has chickens staying entirely inside. Some things in the garden are still growing or at least still living. Growth has stopped or renews only slightly with warm and sunny days.

The chard is still perfectly fine to use if large enough leaves can still be found.

The Chinese cabbage is still good even when cut from beneath the snow.

The flavour of these very small pointy cabbage, a variety called Early Jersey Wakefield, has I think, improved since frosts.

The kale plants are every small too and like the cabbage the leaves now have an improved flavour.

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DECEMBER 7, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden today, Monday, early afternoon. all the following photos except for the much earlier bull photo are from yesterday.

The garden pictured from the end opposite to the usual garden Monday view.

The lane going out from the pickup area is frozen mud now but gets slick muddy when it rains or warms.

Each week the average temperature dips somewhat but so far the late fall weather has not been too bad. The snow fall that we last had is slow to go even though the temperature has warmed above freezing. There has been little sunshine to melt it away and no rain to wash it away so the bare patches are not too large. But it was only an inch or so, about 2 to 3 cm., so it is certainly no bother and needed no shoveling.

A rooster with one of the Frey’s Hatchery red sex-link hens. These are excellent though short lived layers of medium to large sized dark, turning in older birds to light brown eggs

A better photo of the same hen. These hens are in fine condition and are about 30 weeks old now.

We sent a 4 year old bull along with a yearling lamb to the butcher Tuesday morning so a little less hay to feed out and a great deal less trouble. This bull was not a problem until he decided to jump the fence which he would do rather regularly. At 4 years old or near to it, he was kept about a year to a year and a half longer than we like to keep a bull. Over 30 months of age and we have  problems and extra costs because of BSE precautions and we worry about the meat being tough. At about 30 months old too, our bulls tend to have developed an attitude. They start to become unpredictable and more difficult to manage and more prone to push back when we try to push them along. They become somewhat dangerous. At 27 or 28 months they are almost always a good weight and are still relatively docile. Usually. So he is gone and we worry less.

A photo of the bull from early in November munching on the pumpkin bonanza.

The younger flock of ducks with the pompadoured headed duck Kingston leading them snuffling through debris through and around the chard.

I spent 3 days and two nights in the cardiac care unit of the BGH, the Brantford General Hospital this past week as a precaution. But it prove to be an overabundance of caution as I checked out just fine. This was useful as I know now for certain where I’m at. My recovery from the July surgery is proceeding just fine though I do have to work more on sticking to a regular exercise routine to strengthen all those muscles that have been little used since January. But I must be very careful not to overdo the work.

One of the tiny lettuce plants, still growing, though a little tattered

The William Dam 2021 seed catalogue arrived. Always nice, a sure sign of spring even though a couple of weeks of fall still remain before we get to winter. We’ll have to make a list up this coming week and send it off as we might anticipate another high demand for seeds again this coming season. There are other seed sources that we’ll have to get early from as well. Delays in getting seeds last year made for a real problem for us.

The repaired and now running truck.

We got our truck back too. I had been in getting repairs for the past three weeks and we only picked it up on Friday. It starts and runs, though somewhat rough, the back window is repaired after some three years and the gas leak is no more.  We also had some hay delivered and we’ll get some more tomorrow with the revitalized pick up truck. Still don’t have enough to do the winter having used up two winter months worth of hay over the dry summer and early fall.

The 5 year stallion Leucan, looking quite handsome in his winter coat. his aunt in the background.

A rather eventful week on top of the usual constant tending to firewood and all the animals. And the coyote has begun to come back looking for stray chickens. He found one outside the fence this week and made off with chicken dinner. As the grass is not so greener on the other side these days the hens are less inclined to fly out. A good thing unless you are the coyote.

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NOVEMBER 30, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden has gotten pretty cluttered as acquired “stuff” gets piled in the first convenient space.

Around in front of the red SUV another view of the garden. . Cherry trees down the centre with the garlic under the leaves to the left side covering the garlic. The garlic bed on the right beside the cherry trees is poking up quite nicely.

As is usual we were very busy again this past week. The weather has been not so bad really though the temperature is getting lower on average. We had a few dry days too which was very nice and though the thermometer did not read high it was quite warm in the sunshine. Though it started raining here at around 8 a.m. today, Monday, the forecast is for snow a little later on and lasting through Wednesday.  The satellite maps show the snow maybe arriving early evening. It is not forecast to be below freezing for too very much of the time so it seem unlikely that the snow will stay. However it is December tomorrow.

Dandelion flowers are quite rare now. But wait’til May.

The cilantro still is perfectly fine but it has gotten a little flattened and is growing but very slowly.

This week we spent a good bit of time cutting fire wood and also bringing wood in to the woodshed. We have a lot of wood stacked but this season we are going to be pretty close to not having enough. We will be able to get through the next three coldest months and through March but will likely need to find more to get us through April and to the end of the heating season. The hunt is on.

Turnips still looking much the same and as tasty as always.

A Welsummer rooster. He is a pretty good looking one too.

A silver laced Wyandotte hen. They are also a pretty good egg layer and if kept quite comfortable will lay pretty well through the winter.

A Welsumer hen. The details in the feathers are really interesting.

We still need to get the chicken houses fully winterized for the comfort of the chickens but they are not so bad off. We are not so careful now with the ducks, allowing them to roam more or less where they want. We can’t do this with the chickens as they would scratch up around the many places where we really don’t want them to scratch. The ducks don’t scratch but merely snuffle around with there bills doing far less or no damage. Even their big flat webbed feet do little or no damage.

Morning turnout and it is good to have room to stretch one’s wings. Notice the two little curled feathers at the tail. All the drakes have them. the hens don’t.

The two young ducks with the pompadours, the bunch of little feathers on their heads. These two ducks hatched in May. A fine photo from Anca Gaston. Thanks Anca.

A fine closeup of one of the pompadoured ducks. Another really nice photo by Anca Gaston. Thank you again.

One of our three hen ducks, the small one. These three seem to be mostly either buff or more likely Campbell. Although mostly the one rather dull colour there is a lot of tiny exquisite detail in the feathers. This photo also from Anca. Once again thanks.

Aerron and Ashley prepared more rows for next season’s vines, the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers and the like. Shallow trenches were scratched with the plow attachment on the wheel hoe with row spacings of 4 feet. A heavy layer of leaves was placed between the rows with and heavier vegetation, things such as weeds and small branches, were placed on top to help keep the leaves in place. Thanks Ashley for the help.

The squash and vines area for 2021 readied with leaf mulch. No prep work required then except to make sure the seed row is clear and then put the seeds in.

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NOVEMBER 23, 2020


Sunday noon view of the garden at the height of the snowstorm. All of the pictures in today’s post were taken during the snowstorm on Sunday.

WordPress, our site host, I think that is what you’d call it, is frequently changing things, ostensibly improving things, and maybe they are. But it also makes a bloggers job more difficult. So as I prepared to write this week’s blog, meaning I had to figure out once again how to bring up the proper editing and writing tools to get things done, I noticed immediately that the last blog I’d published, I hadn’t. So I tidied it up and hit, for a second time I think, PUBLISH. A week less a day late. I blame, with unsubstantiated evidence, WordPress. Of course I didn’t forget. Why would you suggest that?

Still in the snowstorm looking across the edge of the north gardens at the trees on the fence line

This week past has been somewhat cooler than before and bottomed out on Sunday with a good dumping of snow. Bare ground at 8 a.m. and near six or eight inches of snow by dark. Snow fell all day. Nights this were cool, right around, sometimes just below, freezing, and days were cool but well above freezing at around 10 or so and even a couple of days around 20. So the vegetables still in the garden are doing quite good for this time of the year, and the snow will be gone maybe as soon as this afternoon. Every kale plant will have another leaf by week’s end.

A kale plant just visible under a blanket of snow.

This is chard under the snow. The kale will be unaffected by this snow but the chard while still being alright will have had more leaves looking quite unwell.

The rapini, like the kale, will be fine witht this snowa dn the flowers still liook great. The other rapini variety that we have does not bolt so readily and has much larger leaves.

The broccoli flower buds tend to go purple with the cold and sometimes the flavour of chilled broccoli is not as nice.

A lot of time this past week was spent bringing wood into the wood shed and cutting wood as well. Much of the cut wood was smaller branches that could be cut with the 12 inch blade on the table saw. We filed one end of the shed with a neatly piled stack of branches ready for cutting on the table saw. Our firewood supply is not as good as in previous years and it will be very close this year. We have burned through a good lot already and have been burning wood now only since October 11, a total of only 49 days and I think that for 3 of those days it was warm enough that we did not fire the stove in the morning as is usually done. We’ll likely have to run the stove for at least another 170 days. So we are at least a quarter way through this season’s firewood pile. We’ll scrounge and find enough to keep us warm and the coffee hot until the weather turns hot in May.

The holder flock of ducks . They, unlike the chickens, are perfectly happy t go out in all weathers.

The younger ducks. The drakes can easily be distinguished by the little curled feathers at the base of the tail. The three hen ducks are in the centre of the photo. The one being closest to the camera and the other two are immediately behind her. 

Chickens and ducks do well and sheep, cows and horses are finding a good bit of their food still from pasture though they are getting hay regularly. The poultry houses still need to be winterized but the hens, except for the older ducks and chickens, are still laying quite well.

Looking across the middle field the three horses are standing in a bit of shelter from the trees along the fence line.

 

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NOVEMBER 16, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view mid morning Monday

Another week closer to winter but it was not so bad. The weather has become just a bit cooler though on sunny days quite warm … for a couple of hours in the afternoon almost hot. But that changed on Sunday when it rained and the temperature dropped from around 12.2°C to around 5 or 6 by 7:30 p.m with a bit of snow forecast. But it was Sunday’s very high winds, which for a while between 3 and 5 in the afternoon were at 55 kph, gusting to a high of 81, that were the unusual feature this week. No real damage done other than a unused window placed against the porch wall getting smashed when blown over. Plenty of other things blown around but no damage done. Lots of trees down but have not noticed any around here.

Turnip with mostly huge leaves. The turnip itself, the swollen stem, is white and medium to small in size. Quality is very good though with nice smooth skin, very little or no damage from the root maggot. The leaves also make a great cooked green.

Perpetual spinach. Most likely it will fail to exist in perpetuity though it may come back next year. A very good green to grow.

We still have vegetables growing in the garden. Not quite enough to do the CSA, but quite a bit considering that it is the middle of November. These are the cool season vegetables such as turnip, cabbage, broccoli, kale, lettuce and more. This will all keep growing as long as we do not get it staying too long below freezing and anytime we get above freezing and heading past 10°C.

A chard plant right at the end of the row. There is still a good amount of chard left but leaves are small.

A very small Romaine lettuce which has self seeded.

Red Russian kale.

Radicchio. Like a lot of the coles these are small plants.

Green curled kale. Small plants therefore small leaves so more needed for a bunch. Better quality though.

A nappa or Chinese cabbage. This variety forms a more rounded head.

A different variety of nappa being more cylindrical in shape and taller.

Most of our broccoli is much smaller than these but perfectly good stuff and the leaves are good as well.

Kohl Rabi, small immature plants but nice and tender, not at all woody.

Rapini. Huge tender leaves

Cabbage, small and loose heads at this stage but very tender and perfectly useable.

The Farmall 100 tractor’s motor. The distributor, located alongside, just below the spark plugs, with the black cap, likely needs to be timed properly.

We are trying to do many things and some of it is preparing the gardens for next spring. The garlic, except for a small trial planting, was all planted some time ago and leaf mulch spread on. The leaves were finished on Wednesday. Hopefully they’ll have not all blown off today. We still need to get in our fall planting of potatoes and that needs to be done right away, covered deeply with leaf and straw mulch. that will be another trial planting.

The last 100 feet or so of the three garlic beds now well covered by leaves that stayed put pretty much in spite of Sundays winds.

The truck has been in for repairs for over a week now. Fuel pump, exhaust pipe, back window and fuel filler pipe all need to be repaired. The tractor has not been running. another go at doing the ignition timing is needed. The horses have not been used. the three year old stallion needs to be broke to harness. Or at least to lead. I was going to do the Monty Roberts thing with him this past year but heart surgery got in the way of a lot of things including that. And the tractors. And I haven’t even mentioned building buildings.

Chickens are well and laying a bit. New ducks still laying but usually only 66.6666٭ %. That is the three hens have been laying 2 eggs per day. Old ducks none. New chickens about 80 to 85 %.

A hen sitting on the roost doing a bit of deep preening.

The peacock about 3 feet to the right of the preener. Looking to peck the photographer on the head.

Chickens at their water.

 

 

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NOVEMBER 9, 2020 FARM NEWS


 

Monday morning November 10. A brilliant sunny afternoon with a high today of 22.4 degrees Celcius at 2 p.m.

A little flower and other small plants growing in the crook of an Acer negunda, what we know as a Manitoba Maple. Enough debris has accumulated to provide a bit of soil for these plants at about 3 feet from the ground.

And a little higher up, another 2 feet, at a more distinct crook, are more plants. Looks like maybe Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is one.

The week previous to last week was the last for CSA vegetable pickups for the 2020 growing season. It was a timely last pickup on Thursday, October 29, as the temperature the next overnight went to about -5°C and it became cool and wet the rest of the week. Our first snow this fall was on Sunday evening, November 1, and a very little bit was still on the ground in the morning. But this week past has been superb with near 20°C weather with lots of sunshine. Very un-November like.

Kale, cabbage Nappa and on the far right, broccoli

Nappa cabbage, not the taller variety, regular cabbage to the right and harvested kale further to the right.

Rapini, quite large plants.

Kale, not so large plants but great quality and young and tender.

Brocolli plants just now making small florets. They’ll not likely have time to get nice sized heads so we’ll use them as is and cook up or salad many leaves along with the tiny florets. more like rapini this way.

There are still a lot of vegetables growing in the gardens: lettuce, chicory, carrots, chard, green onions, spinach, cilantro, turnip, parsley, green onion, kale, cabbage, various Asian greens and a few other things too. We’ll sell a bit, we’ll eat a lot, maybe we can freeze much of it though.

A perfect little dandelion flower on a rather small plant though there are several quite huge dandelion plant, no flowers, but wonderful looking leaves, growing throughout our gardens.

Growing not more than a foot or so from the dandelion was this tiny goatsbeard (Tragopogon dubius. Not the other one)

We have collected lots of leaves to go on the garden. Aerron has and still is collecting bagged leaves in the nearby urban subdivisions. A total of just over 1000 so far. Many bags and loose leaves were brought to us by others. So very nice that friends made an extra effort to bring us their leaves. Leaves are an important resource for the garden providing many nutrients. I have not researched this but I suspect that leaves are rich in many minerals that trees dredge up from deep in the soil. When we sell vegetables these minerals and various nutrients are leaving the farm and without things like manure and leaves, that which is sold off would not be replaced. A lot of manure has been moved from the cattle and sheep pens and spread over much of the garden during the past year and that will continue through this winter. We have spread leaves on about two thirds of the garlic and straw mulch will go on top of the leaves. We will spread leaves over the animal manure too and work that into the soil in most areas.

Th leaves on the first two thirds of the three garlic beds are staying in place for the most part in spite of some pretty windy days.

Looking at the garlic beds at about midway with the last 100 foot just visible with few leaves yet and some of the bags of leaves to the side in the centre of the photo.

Our pickup truck, a 1995 GMC Sierra, is getting some repairs made after refusing to start. It is really needed to move a lot of things from manure to wood to leaves and hay. We really make good use of it. We need to fix our tractor too as there are many little jobs we could do with it. Jobs that are really hard and tiring to do by hand and which can be done in a fraction of the time with the tractor. We should get the horses working again too for those small jobs that take more time and for which the extra time spent getting the horses harnessed and unharnessed would be justified.

The truck loaded with a bale of hay for animal feed and pumpkins recovered from bags of leaves. The next day it would not start.

The bull, a shorthorn, munching on the pumpkin. It has taken less than a week and all those pumpkins and more have all been eaten by the cows, the calves, the bull and the sheep.

Trying to break up, to smash, the pumpkins with out getting in with the bull.

The chickens today really liking dust baths in near 23 degree sunshine.

All the animals have benefited from the warm weather and the wet autumn. The cows and sheep really liked all the pumpkins that they had tossed at them. Many thanks to Kari and Russ Bishop, Bishop Family Bees, for bringing two trailer loads of pumpkins, many, maybe most, brought to them by neighbours and friends. We also salvaged a good number from bags of leaves. Aerron also set aside several pumpkins that were interesting and we’ll retrieve seeds for next years planting from these.

Gabriel, chopper of much wood.

Setting up for another swing at the wood, with the two runners, William and Devon, suppliers of wood to be chopped, looking on.

We have a good supply of firewood this year but as usual were far to busy in July to put it into the woodshed and to cut and split it. Another spell of fine weather is nearly done and again we’ve missed an opportunity to get the winter wood under cover. So cutting and splitting continues when we can get at it.

The younger boys are quite good at observing all the rules of safety when wood chopping is in porogress.

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OCTOBER 26, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the gardens but this one taken a couple of days earlier. The calendula flowers in the next photo can be seen in the above photo at the centre on the left side edge.

Calendula flowers with long stems from arugula rocket. They look so good for this late in the season.

Again this week the weather has been quite good with one exceptional day, Friday, when the temperature was over 20°C, for nearly the whole day. We have had much more rain that we immediately need but probably this amount is good for replenishing the aquifer. Another light frost Saturday night/Sunday morning but little damage We have though, already taken off all of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and most everything else was either little damaged or not at all damaged by the several light frosts that we have had.

The pick list this past week. we’ll have just about the same things for our final pickup this week. Amounts have not been specified and we allowed for a ‘take what you think you can use’ policy last week and will again this coming week. For most things anyway.

In this past weeks veg baskets and for this week too. Carrotts, beets, green onion, arugula far right.

Arugula, mustard greens,  green onion, welsh onions, radishes in front.

Daikon radish in front, spinach on the right, Aisian greens on the left

Chard, blue potatoes in front. More potatoes in the green bin to the right with garlic above.

Chinese (Nappa) cabbage, a head making cabbage that has not yet made heads and a bin of Kale on the right.

Chickory plants with roots in the round galvanized tub and more garlic, three different varieties.

Lettuce plants, reds and greens. The bin on the left has chickweed which is the plant growing profusely in this, the ‘basil boat’. Chickweed is a salad green and like all greens is great in stir fries as well.

We have only one more week of this 2020 CSA season. CSA share members will come out to the farm, some on Tuesday and some on Thursday of this the last 2020 CSA vegetable pick up. This will be our 20th week of CSA vegetable pickups this season. We have a pretty good number of different vegetables available this our final week, much the same as the last several weeks actually. It is getting more uncomfortable picking veggies now. We got quite wet two Thursdays back when it rained nearly the whole day but it was not too cold. This time of year of course, we cannot be certain what might happen over the course of just a few days. We could quickly go from a day of calm sunny warm fall weather to wind snow and freezing rain. So it is a good idea that we make this our last week. We are now also very nearly out of vegetables so we’ll soon have nothing to put on the tables anyway.

Beets, I think the yellow variety. They are growing really nicely, getting lots of rain, a good amount of warmth though like most could do with more heat.

Our first planting of spinach is also now doing quite well. spinach does best with lots of water and soil temperatures a bit on the cool side.

The chickens are doing well and though some of the heritage breeds have really fallen off in the number of eggs being laid each day, the new pullets, the hybrid commercial type egg layers, are doing quite well. We have 51 red sex-link hens from Fry’s Hatchery in St. Jacobs and they are now about 25 weeks old. So we have a good supply of eggs right at the moment. 

The hens outside even though it is a real dull day with a threat of rain and cool as well.

This guy does the same thing every morning. Up on the fence, a big crow and then down in with the hens and roosters and the peacock, on the other side.

Here he goes with his cock a doodle. The hens just ignore him.

All the garlic has been planted and some of the first planted garlic has now sprouted. More leaves need to go on the last 200 foot of the garlic rows and then when it is up and growing in the spring we’ll spread straw down as well.

The earliest planted garlic, the music variety, is now poking above the leaves. Little green stems at centre each side of the photo.

Aerron has fetched home well over 600 bags of tree leaves scavenged from the curbside in the nearby urban neighbourhood. And we’ll scavenge more, as much as we can. These leaves will be used as mulch throughout the gardens and around trees, shrubs and bushes. They, along with straw in some places, will be beneficial adding nutrition to the soil and retaining soil moisture for longer and lowering the soil temperature during those real hot summer days. All good things. Leaves also make pretty good litter in the chicken and duck houses though they can some times stain eggs so we’ll have to be careful of that.

Part of the growing pile of bags of leaves. Growing at this end of this garden are beets on the left then carrots in the centre, still growing spinach, and rows of garlic on the right, and in the upper right there are some sweet pepper plants, the end of a 300 foot row.

 

In the immediate foreground is the first 100 feet of 9 rows of garlic, 3 beds, nealy covered with leaves. The next 200 feet has none on yet and the bags of leaves at the side will be spread on this area.

 

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OCTOBER 19, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday view of the garden. A wet day. That is ashes spread on the ground a bit to the right.

Looking down in to the valley. Leucan, Nell and Marta and plenty of nice coloued trees.autumn colour in the leaves.

Each week the heading picture, the first picture in our weekly blog, is about the same, as I stand at approximately the same spot each time. Mostly the picture from one week until the next is not much changed but at this time of the year changes come much quicker and last weeks picture is going to show clear differences from what was seen the week previous. The changes are now sometimes quite significant, such as when the leaves all drop from a tree, or we do a lot of work in a particular spot of the garden. Take note of the changes from week to week.  

The laneway coming up to the veggie pick up area is showing a little muddy today. It was far worse on Thursday as it rained all day long and there was a steady flow of vehicles coming in.

The pick list for Tuesday October 13. This was the list of vegetables available to the CSA sharers that day. In the purple bin is arugula and in the black bin is lettuce with dill flower in front.

The weather this past week has been alright considering it is mid-October. There has been quite a lot of rain which, since the ground was quite dry from the June until September drought, is probably a good thing. The aquifer needs this replenishment. We are still getting a lot of work done. The CSA has this week and one more week before ending for the season. Wet weather and a muddy laneway have been features the last two weeks but we still have had a pretty good selection of vegetables to offer all the CSA members.

On the table for pickup is cabbage s from thinnings, chard bundles, potatoes and nappa cabbage.

More of the vegetables on the table for Tuesday. Tomatoes, sweet pepper, carrots and turnips with the greens, the leaves still on.

We have some nice little lettuces that we’ve just started to harvest, this one is a romaine.

Yesterday, Sunday, Aerron went round with his SUV and picked up bags of leaves that residents of a nearby subdivision had set out at the curb. He managed to snaffle between 180 and 190 bags. Most of them were near full. We’d had some help this past week in distributing the last of last season’s leaves on the newly planted garlic. Nearly one third of the garlic area had leaves spread on it and now that we have more leaves we can finish with the  garlic. Aerron had much appreciated help from some of the working shares with the spreading of the leaves on  the garlic.

The first 100 feet of garlic nearly all covered now with leaves.

About one third of the newly acquired bags of leaves. These will be put on the garlic which is just this side of them. Sunflowers just in front.

The chickens and ducks are all doing fine and the new chickens are finally, within the past three days, laying near to their maximum rate of egg laying with these 50 hens laying over 45 eggs a day now. The three young hen ducks are laying three eggs a day nearly every day so they are doing good too. We need to do a little work on the chicken houses in order to make them more comfortable with minimum air leaks causing uncomfortable drafts on the hens.

Two fine looking roosters though mr. Barnevelder may have a little frost damage on his comb. Mr Orpington does better in the cold weather.

The hens seemed to be enjoying being outside even though it was cool, damp and cloudy. there was no wind and the rain had stopped.

 

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OCTOBER 12, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday garden view. The leaves have not yet fallen on the fence line trees and the yellow leaves on the Manitoba maples and hackberries have not changed much it seems for the past couple of weeks.

This just looks so nice. The young cherry trees add some height and the flowers, though many were damaged by earlier frosts, still make things so attractive.

The weather has been really good this past week. We have had some nice warm fall days, though the nights have mostly been quite cool. No more frosts though. We had a good selection of vegetables for this weeks CSA pickups, our 17th week too. There were a good lot of tomatoes and we still did not get them all picked. The tomato quality can sometimes be a bit wanting now however, due to the cool weather and those earlier frosts. We had really nice carrots, beets and turnips on offer in nice sized bunches and the roots themselves were mostly good and large. We had lots of greens, things such as Komatsuna, mibuna etc., but also nice carrot, beet and turnip tops , kale , cabbage, nappa (Chinese) cabbage, bok choi and chard. still some sweet and hot peppers and we also had tree mushrooms from the Manitoba maple. We still had plenty of garlic to give out. We had plenty of herbs too, sage, mints, thyme, sorrel.

The CSA pick list for this past Thursdays pickup. We also encouraged as many as we could remember to encourage, to take as much as they thought that they might need. Because of Thanksgiving.

Some of the vegetables available on the tables. Here are carrots, beets, mushrooms and radish. This was not a half of what would eventually be needed for the day.

Dill, nappa cabbage, chard, potato. again, much more chard and nappa would be picked before the evenings end.

Looking out on the vegetable tables from the other, the behind side.

We started our kitchen wood stove for the first time since the spring. Sunday the 11th. That is a real performance as the stove and the stove pipe must be cleaned out first. Even under

ideal circumstances this means a lot of black soot on and around the stove and this time was a little worse than usual as the bag leaked catching the soot that drops as the cleaning brush is pulled up the chimney. An extra amount of soot everywhere which needed a lot of vacuuming and wiping down to clean up. But we fired up the stove and cooked most of Sunday’s Thanksgiving supper on the woodstove. And as a bonus we heated the house. So nice to have that warm spot in the house.

The 20 year old Pioneer Maid cookstove. Amish made near Aylmer. Cleaned up and warming nicely.

Gabriel’s plate looked prettier than mind even with his arm partially blocking the view. I think that theonly items on our plated not from our farm were the Cranberry, cheese in the salad, the turkey, and the squash which came from Don, Paulene and Keith McCallister’s farm Macland Farms on Bethel road. Go there if you need any squash or pumpkin.

The young ducks, actually three ducks, three hens and 6 drakes are now in their new duck house, the one made by Rachel and Anca, thanks again you two and seem quite comfortable and happy there. We can move it on the convenient wheels and have a roll of fencing to set up an enclosure to give them lots of grass and weeds to roam but still keep them a bit contained and safe. the chickens all seem just fine too though we really must get to work and soon winterize their quarters.

The young ducks hatched at the beginning of may. they started laying eggs just last week.

The heritage chicken flock now near two years old and finished laying eggs for the season. They will start back again laying at a pretty good rate in around the end of March net spring.

The garlic, as I think I’ve noted last week, has been planted. If we did no more to it would be just fine but Aerron will go along each side of the rows with the hand plow to throw more earth up on the garlic. We’d then like to place tree leaves down in the trench between the rows and in the spring when the garlic is up and growing we’ll cover with straw so the crop will be well mulched to aid in retaining moisture. We got a pretty good harvest with no irrigation at all doing this method and we did not have to do any weeding. I think that the garlic was hoed with the wheel hoe early this spring just before putting down the straw.

Aerron doing the extra plowing to better cover the newly planted garlic. There are27 rows each 100 feet long that are gone over with this hand plow from each side. Aerron has the thing quite deep so it is no easy task. 5400 feet of row in total..

Mihaela planting garlic. The two of us were just finishing up the last three rows. The cloves are going in 4 inches apart in rows one foot apart and are at a depth of about 2 inches to maybe three inches when all is finished.

 

 

 

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OCTOBER 5, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual Monday morning view of the garden pictured on October 5.

Looking back towards the spot from where the previous photo was taken. The dark skies are the clouds that rained on us so long that one day last week. They are moving off to the east.

A very short blog this week as it is late Monday morning, I need to do a dozen things today, all of them taking some time, most will remain not done. It has been really difficult to be able to write my bog. No boring details for you to wade through, suffice to say that if you want to start a blog look very carefully at all the alternatives to WordPress.

The rain approaching. One bed of garlic, 3 by 33 foot rows has been covered  Another bed  (centre left edge) has three, one hundred foot rows, planted with garlic cloves, but still uncovered.

Bee on a mint flower.

It has rained about 30 mm worth this past week which is quite good and probably, no, most certainly, more than we got in the three months of June, July and August. Maybe even including September. Late but still needed for the fall crops and to get the ground table recharged with water.

These transplanted lettuces from this years seed are growing quite nicely and will be ready soon.

These new lettuces are still small but growing well and are ready now.

The fall vegetables including the late planted lettuce are all doing well and the rain has really helped all these vegetables. We could do with more sunshine and more warmth. It is now getting a little long into the fall so we cannot expect too much in the way of warm temperatures. We should have a pretty good variety and quantity of good quality vegetables for the CSA for Thanksgiving.

The garlic planting crew at work planting the variety Music in the first of three beds. William is the lone member of the tam breaking the garlic heads into individual cloves for planting.

The harvest crew, Maggie and Aerron, are seen upper left, harvesting carrots and beets, while the lone member of the garlic planting crew resolutely stuffs cloves into the ground and the four boy garlic head demolition team has paused for a lunch break.

The new hens are starting to lay a little more now and will get up to a much better lay rate soon even though this is exactly the wrong time of the year for them to do so.

Turkeys. It is coming up thanksgiving.

A rather nice rooster and a rather nice laying hen.

Because this is a nice, though very short, row of dill.

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SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view of the garden on Sunday

The Turkey flock on their routine scavenging walk through the garden.

The turkeys also regularly show up here in the early morning.

A white Cosmos. We had a real nice selection of flowers this year available for cut flowers. The frost last week badly damaged most, though some of the varied species are frost hardy. at least to a light frost.

As I write this Monday evening it is raining lightly and is the first rain that we’ve had in over a week, a week and more that has been mostly quite warm, at times quite windy and often quite sunny. So the gardens have dried out again and were in need of a good drink. Hopefully we will get a nice rainfall of at least 20 mm. That would do a lot of good. It is supposed to get cool again though and daytime temperatures forecast for high teens and lows overnight of 12 and lower. The long, slow, descent into winter, interrupted by this now passing period of warmth, has resumed.

Devon trying out the brand new duck house from Rachel and Anca.. He and William decided to sleep overnight in there but awoke at midnight to a bright moon. they mistook it for morning a decamped for home where they spent the rest of the night.

These are the chickens hatched from our eggs by Rachel’s Dad and now coming up on 21 weeks, ready to lay very soon, any time really. they are temporarily housed here but will move tonight to the house with the newly acquired pullets.

A busier than normal week. We had to ready quarters for two batches of soon to be acquired chickens. We got 28 hens from our neighbour just a mile down the road. these are older birds now but still laying well and will do so well into the winter. They started their first year of egg laying last fall about this time. We have them living in our old non-road worthy horse trailer which needed some quick repairs before we could install the hens. The second lot of hens are pullets from Frey’s Hatchery in St. Jacobs. We got 51 just this morning and have them installed in the hen house behind our own house. We had 40 two and three year old hens in there and they were laying very poorly. They were moved in with a batch of roosters and in a week or three will be sent off to the poultry processors an we’ll sell them as soup hens for which they’ll be excellent. It took two days of work to clean the hen house.

Some of the 51 new pullets checking out their roomy new house.. These are 18 weeks old so may not lay much for the next 4 weeks.

One of the new pullets. This breed of chicken, it is really a hybrid hen, is an excellent layer of large light to dark brown eggs of excellent quality.

We have also been busy, with a lot of help, in clearing weeds from areas of the garden: the onion area about two weeks ago and now seeded in oats, which have begun to grow; and this week the potatoes and the area where the garlic will be planted this fall. We should start planting the garlic cloves this week depending on the weather. A little later for garlic planting than we’d like but still o.k. It will begin to grow and maybe even poke through the ground before freeze up. It will be undamaged by being frozen and will resume growth as the soil warms in the spring and be ready for harvest in mid July.

Hard at work clearing weeds for the garlic planting.

Hard at work picking for the Thursday CSA

The boys are often very helpful

The CSA pick list. What was available for the CSA sharers last week. Basically the same for both Tuesday and Thursday.

The frosts that we’d had earlier did major damage to tomatoes, pepper, potatoes, eggplant, cucumber and all the vines. We still have a lot in the garden including some fall crops that do need some more warm weather including rain. They were planted later than they should have been because it was so hot and sunny and dry during late July and early August. We’ll get a lot to harvest from these plants though in spite of them not growing to full maturity. There are still a lot of vegetables to be harvested from the garden over the next two or three weeks.

Sweet peppers and turnips with greens.

There are at least three different colours of carrots

Chard always looks so nice, so colourful.

We usually have two or three different types of beets.

Some of the vegetables for the CSA this past week.

 

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SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual view Sunday morning. It is as dry as it looks, we need rain. The trees are still mostly green though.

Potatoes, sunflowers and blue jays. There were about 20 jays throughout the gardens picking away at the ripe sunflower heads. There were maybe 4 or 5 in this group of sunflowers and one can be seen flying off to the left.

We had a rather severe frost early Saturday morning with a low temperature of -0.1°C having been recorded at the Environment Canada weather station located a half kilometre from our farm. A lot of damage occurred to those tender species of vegetables; tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, eggplant and beans in particular. It seems that none were entirely destroyed but the upper most leaves were all blackened. The plants have mostly all survived but have suffered major damage. We’ll see next week, as the plants recover, how serious the damage was.

Frost damaged tomato with beans behind that and beyond that is Swiss chard which is undamaged but thirsty.

The clock says 7:30. Morning of course. The plants in this, the pick up area and the garlic and basil garage were untouched by the frost. This photo and all the above except the first were taken Saturday morning.

There has been plenty of sunshine this week and the temperatures have been rather warm during most of the day but of course the shortening hour of daylight are not the best for getting plants to grow. Our fall planting in mid to late August was predicated on a warm fall, warmer than so far, and no frost. If we could have planted the fall crops in late July the timing for maturity would have been better. They would have done the fast early growth at a time of more sunlight hours. But we were up against hot and dry which made starting vegetables very difficult. we will get some harvest from all that we have planted for the fall and we will still have much from the early summer and the spring plantings too.

The ducks are doing a good job emptying this water bucket. They are not usually in this area but have discovered a way through the fence and we have not yet discovered the same way.

These are the younger ducks, just coming up 20 weeks old. The ducks in the previous photo are the older flock. The chickens here tolerate the ducks, the ducks avoid the chickens, the peacock is suspicious of them lot.

 

The chickens and ducks are not minding the weather so much and probably prefer it to be a little cooler than July. We got an egg from the spring hatched ducks at 19 weeks, 4 days of age. We have had 4 eggs so far to date from the three hens. They are quite small still at about half the size of an average duck egg. There size will slowly increase and soon they should be laying one egg per day.

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SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view on Sunday morning. The little trailer is being re-purposed as a chicken house on wheels. It will be pulled around by hand to give a small flock of chickens a regular change in pasture.

Looking at the gardens from about 30 feet to the left of the previous photo and at the CSA pick up tables.

This photo is from the other end of the garden looking back towards where the previous photo was taken from. The are spots in this and the previous photo are because crops are finished and this is the area that will soon be planted in next season’s garlic and some of it is in newly seeded vegges for this fall.

No rain this week until Sunday morning early when 5 mm showed in the rain gauge. Things are still looking good since it has not been hot but that small amount of rain was most welcome. Some days did get quite warm for a brief time though we had a couple of nights that were quite cool, less than 10°C. This is far too cool for the basil which suffers damage at temperatures approaching 10C so we have put several of the basil pots in our garlic shed which is a plastic covered green house affair. They have a lot of re-growing to do. Most other vegetables would much prefer a good bit more heat than we are now getting, but it is fall, and this is fall weather. We will have veggies until the end of October and maybe beyond but we will have a frost, and a hard one, sometime between now and then.

These are the youngest ducks hatched the first week of May and now looking very well grown. They are mostly drakes and are having great fun, as they always do, in the ‘duck pond’.

A buff hen. This is a 3 year old bird now and looks really good though she was never a great egg layer. Maybe 150 eggs per year whereas a real good layer will lay 250 or more in a year. But she will continue to lay eggs for more than just one season and is a much longer lived and hardier bird than some of the more productive hens.

This rooster is quite cocky. Actually is so by definition but is also a big chicken when it comes right down to a push and shove by anyone other than another chicken.

The pastures are looking much more green now, much more like pastures and we’ll soon put the cows out on a through the pastures rotation and also move the horses to a good spot where there is food. Meanwhile the sheep continue to roam where they please, except for the gardens, and have made it difficult  for some of the pasture to recover. Chickens are pretty happy these days.

The bees are very busy with the sunflowers.

This sunflower head should be ripening nicely now but a significant amount has been eaten by the bird, most likely golf finches and possibly the hairy woodpecker who may be looking more for insects in the seed head than the seeds.

In the front, yellow beets, then red beets with purple carrots in the next row with yellow and orange carrots beyond that.

The root crops; the beets, carrots and turnips are all growing well and this is perfect weather for them. The various greens, collectively called Japanese, or Chinese or Asian greens are also doing great. These are komatsuna, koho, mibuna, fun jen mustard, tatsoi, and mizuna. The cabbage family crops are growing well too but are still quite young. These include, as well as cabbages, kale, cauliflower and nappa cabbage.

Komatsuna

Koho, similar to bok choi

This is mustard, fun jen

Tatsoi, another which is similar to bok choi

Mizuna

 

 

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SEPTEMBER 7, 2020 FARM NEWS


The usual garden view on Sunday morning since Monday was forecast to be rainy

The cut flower patch between the new cherry trees with the row of sweet peppers running behind.

Sunflower. This fine looking lot are all from seeds spilled by the birds last year as they feasted on the ripe sunflower heads.

Nearly all the sunflowers are like this one: multiple heads on a single stalk. They are mostly smaller in size than the mammoth types but make good cut flowers.

This particular potato variety has done really well. Most varieties did poorly with drought and potato beetles killing off many plants. This variety is a blue potato and is growing well with no gaps., no losses, and though it is a late maturing variety it should produce a lot of late potatoes for us.

THE WEATHER: Sunday morning the temperature was at 6.1°C. The previous temperatures this past week have not been so bad, Saturday morning’s being the next l0west at about 11 . These temperatures are not so good for growing vegetables and can be and likely were, quite damaging to the likes of basil, tomato and cucumber. It might take a day or two for the basil damage to show up and the damage to tomato will be in their not setting or developing fruits. We’ll see what happens. No rain last week though it looked promising a few times and we got some scattered drops a couple of times. Saturday we had enough to moisten the ground but it did not register on the rain gauge. Still it dampened the newly seeded cabbages types and the newly transplanted lettuces.

The newly seeded cabbages, kale and broccolis with a stray zucchini wondering what happened.

GARLIC: We pulled all our garlic about 4 weeks ago now. We did well with the garlic this season. It grew well having survived the winter without loss. We had mulched this spring with leaves and some straw but only after the green eaves were growing and we were careful not to bury them. They were scaped early unlike previous years, and we had the whole lot pulled in one day. We had a lot of good help this year. The garlic bulbs were a medium size on average, somewhat smaller than we’d hoped and likely because of the drought as the garlic got no irrigation. But there were far fewer small garlic heads than in previous years. Next seasons garlic will be planted soon.

The garlic shed is a temporary structure that has worked well to store and sort the garlic.

Turned to look in the opposite direction from the previous photo of the cabbage, kale and broccoli

These are newly seeded rhubarb plant which germinated about two weeks ago. They will remain in pots over winter and be planted out likely next spring. we have a lot of them so will have a lot of rhubarb in a couple of years.

OTHER VEGETABLES: Most everything is doing ok and of course would have done better with a little less heat and a lot more rain. The chard is doing excellent even though it gets quite wilted at times of dry and no irrigation. The beets and carrots have done well with only the occasional watering. The first lot of carrots, a variety called Yaya, would normally have produced lots of good sized carrots but the have been smaller than usual. Some of the later varieties which we are not yet harvesting, are larger. Beets are a good size. The tomatoes have been unusual this year. The quantities have not been as large as expected but the quality is excellent. The tomatoes did well in spite of most having no watering, they had been heavily mulched with straw. The straw and the heat and dry kept the usual diseases including blights away. The cool nights, especially the below 10°C nights in May, just after the tomatoes were set out, were likely the reason for the smaller quantity of fruits. We have just seeded more peas, while cabbages, kale and broccoli were seeded a couple of weeks ago and lettuce transplants were set out last week.

These are two of our older Marans hens. We’ll have to hatch eggs from them next winter, early spring. These hens lay the very dark , chocolate brown eggs.  The lump of grey feathers to the right is a feather legged and footed cochin hen.

This is a really nice hen, a Silver Laced Wyandotte. Unfortunately the egg size is medium to small.

These are the young ducks. Only three are hens and they won’t have any eggs until late in the fall.

LIVESTOCK: Horses and cows are still getting hay and are not being moved around the pastures since the grass is still not grown back and may not this season. The sheep get some hay and wander all the pastures. The chickens are staying with one pasture per flock so as not to scratch up too much while the older duck flock still has a large area to wander. The young ducks are restricted to a smaller area with the peacock and their daily chicken visitors. The chickens fly over the fence to get in with the ducks and also come through a hole in the fence dividing the interior of the chicken house into a chicken side and a peafowl side.

Hot pepper plants in pots with morning glory growing all round.

PROJECTS: We have a number of long delayed projects that we may tackle this fall. We have work to do on the house and on the yurt. This urgently needs to be done before winter. Another urgent before winter project is the digging of our irrigation water storage pond. Other smaller projects are a couple of small sheds and several poultry houses. Even small jobs take an enormous effort and time. We also need to do a cleanup at the barn.

 

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